1.23.2017

You CAN Sit With Us


Have you ever seen those cheeky graphic tees with the phrase "You Can't Sit With Us" plastered boldly across the chest? Personally, the cute factor of such an isolating phrase is lost on me, but maybe I'm still working through some residual pain of being that middle-school-aged girl who truly was uninvited.

I'm thankful my Savior would never say that to me. In fact, if Jesus had worn graphic tees back in his earth-inhabiting days, I'm sure His would have said, "You CAN sit with us." And the invitation would have been real and all-inclusive. That's just how Jesus lived his life; he made a pointed effort to notice the unnoticed and call the unworthy to do big things with their lives.

Romans 5:11 says that because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, we have been made "Friends of God."

You guys, we're in. We're worthy. Not because of anything we can do but because of everything Jesus did. I'm blown away by this title: Friend of God. My natural inclination is to question my place in Jesus' group, to feel I haven't earned my spot, or worry Jesus might notice I've crept into his circle and decide to cast me out.

But Jesus will never do that to you or me. He's the best friend we could ever have.

And because we have been eternally accepted by Him, our lives become part of something so much bigger than anything we could ever accomplish on our own:

Romans 5:2:
"Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of UNDESERVED PRIVILEGE where we now stand, and we CONFIDENTLY and JOYFULLY look forward to sharing God's glory."
[emphasis added]

Being a friend of Jesus means so much more than just getting a front-row seat to all the incredible ways Jesus works and touches lives; it means that sometimes we get called onstage to play a significant part. We get to participate right alongside Jesus in getting our hands dirty and changing the world. As members of his crew, we have a purpose, and are delegated unique tasks by Him that only we can accomplish.

There is no one in this world that God can't use or doesn't want to use. There is not a person in this world that God doesn't desire a close friendship with. So if you're wondering where your place is, go ahead and approach Him with the confidence that you have already been called, and there's a seat saved for you.

Put yourself back in the cafeteria of middle school. Timid, and clutching your tray, you quickly scan the room for an empty seat near someone who desires your presence. To your surprise, instead of multiple tables scattered across the room, each surrounded by various cliques, there is just one large table. Everyone's favorite friend is seated at the head, and one empty chair is open next to Him. You make eye contact, and all your anxieties wash away. He smiles with radiant joy at the sight of you and waves you over to the empty chair right next to Him. His friends turn to see whom the object of His excitement is, and upon realizing it's you, excitedly join Him in welcoming you over.

He stands with sincerity as you approach, looks you in the eye, and says, "You can sit with us. You are wanted here."

>>published on bravegirlcommunity.com<<

12.28.2016

11.10.2016

The Giant


God's calling. How many of us have heard it clearly, know exactly what we are being beckoned to do, but still stand paralyzed in the thick, immobilizing quicksand of self-doubt and uncertainty? God's calling can feel like a giant that we are compelled to and captivated by, yet at the same time, utterly terrified to approach. 

If only we had the confidence David had when he approached Goliath. Though small and ill-equipped for victory according to the world's opinion, David didn't falter. His feet walked towards the impending battle with confidence. His hands skillfully placed the stone in the sling, and with unfaltering confidence in what God had called him to do, he carried out the task and conquered the giant. 

David was small but bold. He was human but empowered by the Holy Spirit. An unworthy man was called, and his obedience made all the difference.

He didn't question his ability to succeed based on his physical stature, vocation, or social status. He didn't listen to the discouraging voices around him that said he wasn't good enough for such a battle. Nor did he accept the help of what the world told him he would need in order to have any hope of succeeding. When they said he'd need heavy armor to survive, David chose instead to go only equipped with the talent and skill God had created him to be specifically confident in: his shepherd's staff and sling.

David was just a shepherd who said yes to God. And because he did, his story was written down in history as one to inspire believers such as ourselves that through God, all things are possible.

What if David had disqualified himself from God's calling on his life because he was "only a shepherd?"

What are you being called to do that you feel utterly unworthy to carry out?

What child might never experience a loving home if you never listen to that still, small voice calling you to foster or adopt? What co-worker might never hear of the saving love of Jesus if you never accept that job in the field you feel called to even though it won't pay enough for you to keep living with the same level of materialistic comfort? Who will never know they're worthy if you never tell them? Who will fall between the cracks of society if you never step out of your comfort zone to reach them?

Time is short and precious, and the stakes are high. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, "Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest."

The time is now. Step out and go boldly towards God's calling on your life. Not because you are able, but because He is.



>> published on bravegirlcommunity.com <<


10.10.2016

Be Still and Know


This weekend I got away with a girlfriend to a cabin on the lake, and it was a refreshing time for my soul. We did some leisurely shopping and ate a lot of yummy, bad-for-us food. It was all wonderful, but my favorite part of the whole trip was the time we spent resting. We threw on sweatshirts and enjoyed a slow morning on the deck, sipping our coffee while nestled under a quilt. We marathon watched HGTV and colored in adult coloring books. We were intentional about not being busy, and we didn’t feel guilty about it.

It got me thinking about the value of resting in the midst of a chaotic, loud, busy world. Jesus created us to work. But he also created us to need rest. Not only does he allow us to rest; he encourages it.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

I know a lot of us struggle with the concept of rest because it can sometimes carry with it a certain amount of guilt. We get used to the busy schedules, traffic jams, ringing phones, and – if we are so blessed – noisy households. We are so conditioned to the busyness, we feel like we are wasting time or being lazy if we carve out some time for quiet.


Can I just remind you that it was God who created the Sabbath? He is Holy and perfect, and he himself rested on the seventh day after creating everything.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2)

Resting refuels our soul. It makes us better parents, employees, spouses and friends. It extends a shortened fuse, recharges our enthusiasm, and allows us time to hear God’s voice.

Remember Mary and Martha? Martha thought she was doing right by staying busy in service to God, but Mary was the one who was praised for sitting at his feet. I think God knew we as a people would need lots of reminders that rest is not only okay, but it is very good!

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

God wants more for us than constant motion, service, and completed tasks. He wants us to sit at his feet, hear his voice, and simply be still in his presence. It is a gift he has given to us as his dear children.

When is the last time you sat at His feet and let him refresh your soul? He is ready, waiting and well-equipped to lavish you with love and soothe the unrest that burdens your soul.


Breathe in his goodness. Be still and know.

>> Published on bravegirlcommunity.com <<

9.16.2016

My Pre-K Classroom


I'm a little bit crazy about my classroom this year. The overall theme is "Art." We utilized lots of bright rainbow colors and paint chip cards. Here's a closer look at some of the details!


Our circle time bulletin board is bright and cheerful! This board will stay up all year, and we use it to discuss the calendar, weather, alphabet, colors, numbers and shapes. I'm crazy about the doubled border, and the bottom one that actually looks like paint chip cards. 


The twine lines with clothespins now displays art work done by the kids. The paintbrush was created by my co-teacher last year. She used big sheets of bulletin board paper. To me, the quote from Vincent Van Gogh is perfect for Pre-K. (And the fact that it came from an amazing artist carries out our art theme even further!)



Our writing center is my favorite area in our classroom. I found the red table on craigslist, and my husband cut the leg height down. Our art theme is carried over to this area with the small paint buckets that hold the dry erase markers.



We grabbed paint chip cards from Lowes and turned them into our cubby tags.


We also made our own job chart and utilized paint chip cards to write the kids' names on.



We are a month into this school year, and I can truly say it's already the best year I've ever had as a teacher. After 8 years working with 3-year-olds, I was ready for a change. There's nothing I don't love about teaching these older kids. And the fact that I get to share a classroom with such a good friend just tops everything off. 

9.12.2016

Dream Big, You


When I was a kid, my brother and I would spend hours recording our favorite Disney shows to a blank VHS tape, then hooking a second VCR to the first one and recording what we called "over and over" repetitive clips of our favorite lines from the show.

We would also spend hours choreographing, styling, and filming ourselves lip syncing to our favorite songs. We wrote and filmed our own short films. We. Filmed. Everything.

Even as an adult, I couldn't stop with the videos. I discovered the Vine app and challenged myself to come up with funny 6-second creations.

God put particular care and detail into each and every one of us. He instilled within us unique interests, passions, and desires. Because of that, we enjoy different hobbies. I believe that the things we are drawn to are not there by accident. Their purpose is for us to be able to find ways to serve Him that bring us joy and fulfillment.

Today, I channel my love for videography by filming and editing videos for my church. By no means do I consider myself a professional, and I still have a lot to learn. But my passion for it fuels my desire to become more knowledgable, and with knowledge comes better material.

This quote greatly inspires me: "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."

img_0028

Why is it so easy for us to tell little ones to dream big, yet we ourselves settle for filling our days with the mundane, required tasks of adulthood?

What do you dream of when you can't sleep at night? And what holds you back from chasing those dreams?

Do you dream of entertaining but immediately count yourself out because your house doesn't look like Joanna Gaines', it's really small, or you can't afford expensive dishes? (Preaching to the choir, here...) Make the best of what you have. If your table only seats four, invite three women over once a month for intentional conversation. (IF:Table conversation cards are a great place to start.) Scour thrift stores and yard sales to find mismatched dishes that reflect your style. Pick wildflowers from the side of the road and put them in a mason jar. Then brew some coffee, make a pie (or thaw a frozen Edwards pie--they're delicious), and invite your friends over.

Maybe you dream of owning your own shop, but you can't afford the start-up. Create a Facebook page, invite your friends to join, then post cute pictures of your handmade or repurposed items. You might be surprised how quickly word spreads about your creations.

Blog. Write a book. Sign up for that course. Start an exercise group out of your home. Pour into others over coffee. Turn trash into treasure, then sell it. Mentor. Feed the hungry. Take pictures. Adopt. Lead a Bible study. Bake. Build furniture. Train for a long run. Explore.
Do that thing your soul was made to love.

img_0042

That passion you have is not there by accident. It is God-given, and you'll never find yourself in a sweeter spot than when you are living fully in the midst of His plan for you.

Chase after your passions. Dream big, You.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
(Philippians 1:6)

(Published on bravegirlcommunity.com)

8.11.2016

Embracing the Mess



"Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."
Lamentations 3:23

With each new sunrise, we are given a fresh shot at this thing called life. Sometimes we wake up and hit the floor running, creative ideas spinning in our head. On these days, nothing can bring us down. We sing in the shower, wave to the neighbors, and hit all the green lights on the way to work. Other days are just plain hard. Painful circumstances that we feel the weight of can keep us burrowed under the covers and immobilized. But because we are adults, we often have obligations and schedules to keep, so we force ourselves to get up, put on a "happy" face, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until we can drop back into bed at the end of the day.

Pretending and going through the motions of life will always get the best of us eventually. At some point, we have to be real about the struggle we can't shake. We have to take a day off from pretending and allow ourselves to embrace the mess and face it head on.

A few days ago, my sister came over for a marathon viewing of Fixer Upper episodes and just to catch up. Due to my husband and I being in the middle of painting our kitchen cabinets, my house was in disarray. (We're talking Pyrex bowls and crock pots strewn everywhere from the living room ottoman to our bedroom end tables.) But quality sister time trumped the condition of my home, plus I knew she'd have McDonald's breakfast in tow, so I swung the front door open and welcomed her into my messy world. 

Over our breakfast sandwiches, I told her how overwhelmed I was feeling with everything around me being so out of place. Then, with Joanna Gaines' shiplap dialogue in the background, I got honest about all the burdens I was carrying: my messy house; all the half-finished projects looming over me; the beginning of a new school year that I as a teacher am preparing for; and, of course, that ever-present desire for a baby. Everything I had been keeping inside came unexpectedly spilling out like a flood.

Even still, I was trying to hold myself together and not lose it completely. Unfortunately, the straw that broke the camel's back came when I let my new puppy back in the house from being outside.  She ran inside covered in clumps of mud and grass, leaving a messy trail behind her. I picked up my puppy to clean her but immediately broke down crying. My sister took it upon herself to get my broom and sweep up the chunks of mud that littered my kitchen floor. She didn't complain or tell me to get it together; instead, when I apologized for being such depressing company, she walked up to me, wrapped her arms around me, and told me, "It's okay to have a messy day."

Her permission for me to not have it all together was exactly what my soul needed. But she also loved me enough to not leave me to drown in my own pity. Instead, she motivated me to get proactive about taking care of business and reclaiming my joy. We gathered up some of the excess clutter I had already bagged up to donate, and we loaded it in my car.

We also decided to treat ourselves to burgers for lunch because not only was it good for me to get out of the house for a little bit, but my sister knows eating out fills my proverbial love tank. (I bet you didn't know there was a sixth love language. And that it involves cholesterol.)

By the time we got out and about, I was feeling much less burdened. My sister's presence alone had played a part, but what resonated with me the most was her grace towards me when I was in a very messy place, both emotionally and physically. Her permission to embrace the mess, along with her companionship in the midst, made a world of difference to me.

So many of us are hurting and barely holding it together. There is so much healing to be found when the mask is removed and we acknowledge our struggles. I encourage you to find that safe person whom you trust and invite them into your mess. Find someone who will listen, encourage you with Biblical truth, and pray with you. Find someone who, after doing all these things, will encourage you to put your armor back on and fight for something better.

If you are not currently struggling, then ask yourself: To whom can I reach out, wrap my arms around, and give permission to have a messy day?

{Published on bravegirlcommunity.com}