{ Desires (DAY 534) }

IMG_5679Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about desires and contentment.  It seems that if you tell someone you have desires for something they think you’re not content.  While that very well may be true I don’t think that’s always the situation.  I believe the two can go hand in hand and while it may be a tricky balance it’s possible.

Desires aren’t bad things.  I don’t know what your desire is.  Maybe your desire is to attend college, land a certain job, marry the love of your life, have children, start a non profit, travel the world, be fit, be healthy, be smarter, own pretty clothing, be a small business owner, find a cure for a disease, or become president.  I don’t know what your desire is but many (certainly not all though) desires are healthy ones and come from a healthy place.  We were created to have interests and wants.  It’s only when you have an over desire for something (i.e. it consumes you) that it becomes a problem.  If your desire is making you unhappy, impatient, irritable, or angry because you’re not getting it then you probably have an over desire.  Yet if not, your longing doesn’t have to be sinful.

Sure desires for all these healthy and good things can’t satisfy us.  But the longing can point us to something more, something that is actually the most amazing thing.  Only Jesus can satisfy us.  I love this quote by C.S. Lewis in his book Till We Have faces.  He says, “It was when I was happiest that I longed most…The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all the beauty came from.”  Our longing reminds us that the best is yet to come.  Our longing says we were created for a better world.  Our longing reminds us that there is sin but one day it will all be gone.  Our longing reminds us that ultimately we need Jesus.  There is no need for you to deny to yourself or others the things that you really hope for and desire.

You can simultaneously hope for something in the future while also being content.   I think thankfulness is key here.  I think appreciating the beauty and gifts of now cause contentment in your life.  Looking ahead is a beautiful thing.  Gratefulness for the gifts right now is equally important.  Have both, and enjoy where you are now and look forward to where you hope to be one day.

Posted on July 7, 2015 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Tom’s Thumb (DAY 533) }

IMG_5602 IMG_5596 IMG_5582 IMG_5580 IMG_5583“Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, till you find your dream.  A dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live.” ~Sound of Music

Hello friends! Last week we took a spontaneous trip down to the beach to see friends-who-might-as-well-be-family.  Every year we go down to see them while they are on vacation and sometimes we hike Tom’s Thumb.  The past few years I haven’t been able/willing to do the hike but this year I was like, “Let’s go!”  I knew I would probably physically pay for doing this hike but I knew it would be worth it and sure enough it was spectacular.

There’s something about trekking through dense forest/bush only to come out onto a glorious view of the ocean.  And there is something exhilarating about climbing straight up a hill and making it to the top to stand on the edge of a cliff.

For the last half of the trek up Tom’s Thumb you literally have to just keep your eyes down and put one foot in front of the other.  The incline is so steep you’re practically crawling up and a few times when my shoes didn’t have traction I had to pull on the long grass around me to make it to the next foothold.

Sometimes life is kind of like that.  You just have to put one foot in front of the other.  But here’s the good news, if you keep on pressing in you’ll make it to the top.  And the view?  Well it’s totally worth it.

UPDATE!!!  $92,419.82  To everyone that donated for my birthday and for the incredible anonymous donation that came to my house THANK YOU! YOU PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!  And if you didn’t get to donate to help children in India get an education then you can donate here!

Posted on June 30, 2015 by | Comments { 3 }

{ Rest (DAY 532) }

IMG_5384Light bulb moments strike when you’re least expecting it.  Last week when I was minding my own business and teaching a student I said something I’ve said about 3,711 while teaching piano.  “Please make sure you count that rest.”  Wait. Pause. Rest.

Most of my students tend to rush the rhythm of the songs.  And taking the time to count out a whole measure of resting is like torture to them.  As adults in a bustling world I think we might have the same mentality though.  We rush around just trying to get done what we’re doing to get on to the next thing.  Or we try to hurry through this season because the next one looks more exciting, happier, you fill in the blank.  We look down on rest or at the very best consider it a luxury.

What if we’re doing ourselves more harm than good by racing along?  What if the rests are just as important to what we are doing?  What if the rests are actually vital?  Maybe, just maybe, the scriptures are on to something when they say that God rested on the 7th day.  If anyone doesn’t need rest it’s God but he does anyway.

It’s in the pauses of the song that the other melodies and sounds round out and feel richer for having the moments of quiet.  The space in between the notes is just as important to the intent of the author of the piece as the notes are.

I don’t know about you but I feel guilty when I rest.  Just this past week I was determined to take a day off at home and rest since I haven’t been feeling too great.  Yet when my rest day finally got there I cleaned like a crazy lady and did laundry and made dinner and all sorts of things.  It’s not that those aren’t wonderful things.  It’s not that I didn’t feel better when I was done cleaning (mentally, not physically…) but it wasn’t rest.  I want to feel productive and like I’m doing something.

Rest is doing something.  Real rest is productive.  Rest resets our thinking and gives us a chance to breath.  The pauses are just as important to our life melodies as the notes are.  We come face to face with our own humanity when we pause.  More than that though I think we can see God in the rest.  “Be still and know that I am God”, he says.  Rest reminds us that God is in control.  How can we hear his still small voice if we’re always rushing around hurrying the rhythm along?  After rest we may just hear his love notes a bit more clearly and distinctly.

Posted on June 23, 2015 by | Comments { 2 }

{ Father’s Day (DAY 531) }

IMG_0134He’s the first man I loved and the one I’ll love the longest.  My dad is amazing and I can’t believe I get to be his daughter.  Last Sunday I perched on a school lunch table bench and listened as person after person stood up and honored my dad.  I thought I would burst with pride.  Here’s the thing: my dad is a humble, steady (oh so steady!), caring, wise, generous, Jesus loving, servant just like everyone said.   He’s all that and more x100.  He’s been serving the church for….well…as long as I can remember.  More than that though he’s been serving our family since before I was born and for that I’m grateful.

I didn’t make my dad a father but he’s made me a better woman because of getting to be his daughter.  He’s challenged me to love Jesus by following Christ in such a way that I knew it wasn’t fake.  Sure he can quote scripture but he also lives it out. He always points me to Jesus.  He challenges me to be the best version of myself I can be.

Daddy thank you for being here for me.  Thank you for loving me with all my flaws and mess.  Thank you for laughing with me. Thank you for all the hugs and talks and walks.  Thank you for being your creative, generous self.  I love how you can make anything and how you never stop learning.  You’re the best! I love you daddy!  Happy Father’s Day!

Forever and always,
Your little girl.

(Picture: Christmas 2014, Dad and baby B.)

Posted on June 21, 2015 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Casting (DAY 530) }

IMG_6659“I keep putting it down and then picking it up.” “Difficult not to keep a rope tied to the anxieties after throwing them!”  These are comments I keep hearing from people I know.  Anxiety seems to be a plague among us.  I know I have struggles with it.  I know it’s a disease that will need to continually be fought in different ways and seasons.  My mom mentioned today how she’d read that 95% of the things we fear or worry about wont actually happen.

The scriptures state in Psalms 55:22 to “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Then again in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  (Emphasis added) If you’re a Christian you’ve probably heard these verses so many times you just now skimmed them.  I know I’ve done that.

In this passage in Psalms the Hebrew word for cast means to throw, hurl, or fling.  That’s pretty intense terminology.  It shows that we can commit to God’s care our worries and anxieties.  When we look at the verse in 1 Peter the Greek echos the same thought.  We are literally called to “Give up to God” our anxieties.  And not just one of them….he takes it a step further… he wants you to give him all your anxieties.

So here’s what I realized.  I need less fishing casting in my life and more shot put casting.  If we are casting our cares in the same way we would fish we just reel them back in but if we cast our cares upon the Lord, like someone shot putting, we literally fling it as far away from us as we possibly can and leave it there.

Why waste so much time worrying and being anxious over things that aren’t even likely to happen?  We can give up this anxious toil because God cares for us and promises to sustain us though whatever happens.  News flash: we aren’t God and we don’t have to carry this burden.

So if we are going to take something away (anxiety) what are we going to replace it with?  It’s simple and profound but I think a lot of it comes down to three words: thanksgiving, prayer, and praise.  This doesn’t mean we have to be happy all the time!  It does mean we can turn our thoughts toward the promises and comfort of the scriptures and give thanks for what God has done and what he will do.  It means praying without ceasing simply as a continual conversation with God.  It means we aren’t hopeless or helpless.  While that shot put stone may be heavy for me it weighs nothing to God.  He can carry it…it doesn’t have to pull you down anymore.

Posted on June 16, 2015 by | Comments { 4 }

{ The Cupcake Mission (DAY 529) }

IMG_5265In our house birthdays have always been a big deal.  My parents taught us how to celebrate people and I absolutely love that.  This year though I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for my birthday.  Then I saw a girl on Instagram giving out balloons and handwritten letters to people on her special day and I thought, “I want to do something like that!”

So the days leading up to my birthday we made 5 batches of cupcakes and decorated them.  On my birthday we went around surprising people with them.  Showing up on someone’s doorstep with cupcakes is insanely fun! Honestly I want to do things like this more often.  I want to stop amidst the busy and say with my words and actions, “You’re loved, I’m thankful for you, and we can make life fun!”

I debated telling anyone about this secret cupcake mission but then I decided that I was really thankful someone shared their idea with me because it was a blast! I hope you go surprise some people this week because I know you will have a grand time.  Plus you never know what people are going through and you just may be the bright spot they need.  Also I really wish I could have given you all cupcakes!

Posted on June 9, 2015 by | Comments { 3 }

{ Twenty-seven (DAY 528) }

IMG_0807 IMG_0728 27thbirthday IMG_0763 IMG_0800Hello you wonderful person!  I’m so thankful you’re here.  Can I be honest with you?  Twenty-six was an interesting year.  The first half started out amazing and I could tangibly feel times where I stood in heaven like moments or days.  But the second half of twenty-six has been straight up hard.  I’ve wrestled deep and quite frankly have been very discouraged.  Yet here’s the thing: there is always hope and joy to be found.  One of the ways I’ve found joy is by praising Jesus for all he has generously blessed me with and more than that just enjoying who he is.  Another way to find joy is to give to others less fortunate than yourself.  Amongst the many gifts in my life my kiddos in India are some of my dearest treasures.  It is an honor to be an advocate for them and give to help their many needs.

So today is my 27th birthday and I would really REALLY love your help! Would you please donate $5, $10, $15, $20, or $27 dollars on behalf of my birthday to my no-longer-orphans in India?  It would be the best birthday gift if I could reach my goal of $100K. :)   Now please go eat some cake and ice cream on my behalf as well! If you donated make sure to eat an extra slice. 😉  Twenty-seven is going to be amazing!

P.S.  If any of you June babies want to give added meaning to your birthdays feel free to share your birthday with these darlings in India by asking people to donate on your behalf!

My twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth, and twenty-sixth birthday posts!

(A huge thank you to Emma Orth for graciously snapping these photos of me!)

Posted on June 5, 2015 by | Comments { 8 }

{ Unusual Gift (DAY 527) }

IMG_5203Some things make for really good stories.  Like the time my dad received the most memorable present not because it was a good present but because it was so completely not him.  You see my dad is really easy going.  He never asks for anything and it’s almost impossible to figure out what to get him for his birthday.  My sweet Yia yia though never let a birthday pass without giving an expensive gift.  She was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known.

This one particular year though after Yia yia had asked countless times what dad wanted (“You don’t need to get me anything”) he finally responded with “Just get me any old thing.”  Well come December 12th dad sat in the green chair and started unwrapping presents.  He pulled out a box and we all just looked at it for a moment thinking that it must have gotten wrapped in another box because the picture just couldn’t be what was inside.  We were wrong….the box was right.  My dad pulled out a singing silver carousel.  Inside the card was simply signed with “This is what you get when you ask for any old thing! Love you!”

Now you have to understand that my dad is one of the manliest men I’ve ever met.  He works with wood and his hands are always cut and stained with paint or lacquer.  After the initial surprise we all started laughing.  Now every Christmas we put out that funny silver carousel because it makes us smile.

Here’s the thing though…I think we’ve all received gifts that we wonder what in the world we should do with.  My birthday is on Friday and as I’ve contemplated it the best gift I can think of would be one where I get to help someone.  While things are beautiful, fun, and enjoyable making an impact on someone’s life is what I want to “receive” this year.  So as this is my birthday week would you consider gifting me with a donation for my kiddos in India?  They are no longer orphans but they still need our help!

UPDATE!!!  $92,024.82 😀

Posted on June 2, 2015 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Refining Gold (DAY 526) }

photo(84)Hello friends! Today I would just like to offer you a bit of encouragement in your week.  Lately I’ve been walking through some deep valleys but that doesn’t mean it is bad.  In fact it is the opposite.  It’s hard but it’s refining.  The dross of my life is getting removed by the grace of God and that’s exciting!  It’s exciting because he’s making me more like him.  More trusting, more patient, more caring…  Sometimes it feels like my limbs and especially my heart are getting hacked at.  I’ve even cried out like the psalmist “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalms 73:26)  Yet here’s the thing…I want to be pure gold and that takes going through the fire.

Over the weekend as I sat with a beautiful group of women for a bible study and took a walk with a dear friend we discussed how it’s so easy to believe lies.  They can come rapid fire and unless we lean into the truth it’s going to be hard to not get wounded.  I don’t know what lies you’re believing or what things you’re wrestling against but I pray this quote will encourage your heart. “Thank you that I can throw the full weight of my anxieties on You, for I am your personal concern.” (Ruth Myers)

We are God’s personal concern! How amazing is that?  In the midst of your storm and struggle God hasn’t forgotten you.  He’s the same amazing God that stilled the storm with a word and kept Daniel from being eaten by lions.  He’s still the God who healed blind men and made a city’s walls fall down with a great shout.  He sees you, he knows you, he hasn’t forgotten you.

Friends, let’s stop believing the lies today and start preaching the gospel to ourselves.  Let’s remember how he’s been faithful because he’s the same God yesterday, today, and forever.  The victory has already been won!  You don’t have to let the arrows pierce you anymore.  “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)  You’re loved.  If you believe that then I think you’ll be a force to be reckoned with!

Posted on May 19, 2015 by | Comments { 2 }

{ A Last Supper (DAY 525) }

photo(83)Sometimes you don’t realize it’s the last super like this, right now, right here until you’re half way through it. It started like any other time before where one thing rolled into the next, casually, spontaneously, family style. A going away party that felt like the hand made quilt that we lounged on, the ones all spread out on the grass. So many different people and prints in a seemingly random conglomeration and yet beautiful. These are the types of friendships you don’t see coming.  Yet all the sudden your heart hurts really bad and you’re wiping away tears that you only just held in till you got in the car and you’re driving away not know when you’ll see them next because this is goodbye for now.

The park time rolls into a stroll through the trees and the sun’s gold gown is trailing behind her when a quick question about dinner turns into, “come eat at our place.” It’s the, “you’re REALLY good friends to see our house this messy” followed by a reassuring, “you’re moving! Stop apologizing!”

So there we are in a tiny kitchen and we’re weaving in and out. Seven of us are prepping for dinner. The screen door opens and shuts again and again as mismatched plates are spread out on the table in the narrow space between one building and the next. Tall chairs and short chairs and one that has my rear is falling through the plastic slats by the end of the night gather round this table. Cold beverages are poured into teacup shaped mugs, each one a little different and silverware is passed in a china blue and white cup. Pot roast, sliced cucumbers, grapes, strawberries, cooked vegetables, bread, and a bowl piled high with sweet, hot pink watermelon spears crowd the table. I laugh with Jonathan about the fact that we can’t cut the roast only to realize we’re using butter knives. Ansley’s laugh rings out and her green shirt reminds me of a gem, just like she is. Sherry is petite but she’s expressive and lovely and her bangs frame kind eyes. Tyler is perched on the tall chair. Mom is fully enjoying the fact she’s sipping something chilled from a teacup and delighting in the little things. We both know this dinner is going to be written about in her gift book without even saying it. Dad is making me smile with his comments. There are questions, there is silence, there are stories shared and friendships built just like that around the table. We commune on a level that leaves me in wonder. It’s so simple this breaking of bread together and yet it is much more profound than that. It’s saying yes to community and letting people in. It’s like Jesus and his friends. I know Jesus was there last night. I saw him in the faces of those dear ones around the table.

By the time the stories about wild animals have humored the group the faces of people I love so dearly are hazy in the dark. I swat the mosquitoes. How can two of these people I’ve only known a few years be family? How can we let them go? We have to because we love them and want what is best for them.

I hate goodbyes. I thank Jesus he came and broke not just the bread but his heart so that someday I won’t have to say goodbye. He knows how I’m feeling. Until then we may sit at different tables and break bread with other people but we’ll still be gathering and enjoying fellowship with others. We’ll be passing on a little bit of ourselves and hopefully a whole lot of Jesus in the hope that one day when we are gathered around the Lamb’s feast the stories will be all the richer for the last suppers had.

Posted on May 12, 2015 by | Comments { 2 }