Tuesday, April 8, 2014

a glance at the golden rule

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I wrote this devotional a few weeks ago & decided to share it's very simple challenging message with you.

 Plunge through your week with great measures of thankfulness & grace, friends. Talk with you soon.


In Luke 10, a lawyer challenged Jesus with this question. “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered in verse 27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
   If you’re like me, you find that law odd. Jesus says that this is the way to life. He says that these are the two things that we need in order to follow Him. After the whole book of Leviticus, after all of the ten commandments, He chooses to sum it up like this? To sum it up in love?
    As I was thinking about this passage, a realization came over me.
     In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it says, “Pray without ceasing.” Yet another command in Mark 11:25 states, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” These are not suggestions.
       Can any of these commandments be fulfilled without love? We cannot pray without ceasing if we’re not always doing something worth praying over. We also cannot forgive our neighbor if we don’t have a right relationship with God knowing what extremities He has went to forgive us of our sin.
      This is how we can fruitfully live: we love God and our neighbor. Truly, if we follow these two commandments the rest will fall into place as we walk with Him.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

my only Sunshine

My Sunshine? She's gone.

That gorgeous girl - the fulfillment of a dream - down to her name - that I had years before her precious former owner's came into my life, a blessing I received two years ago in the early hours of a surprising Christmas morning. It was a bitter cold day, but that didn't seem to get in the way of us getting to know each other.

In one of those early days I held her purple rope tight around my hand, still timid of her majestic self right next to me - they can smell fear - & I whispered into her ear, "I have so much to tell you."


You've heard the quote, "If you want to have a stable relationship, get a horse."

It's so true. 

I didn't get to tell Sunshine too many deep dark secrets, because there tended to be people around us all the time in some way or another. Dreams had to die when she did. When her broken leg broke my heart. 

Grandpa Kerwin told me the day I received my fancy-first-name-Dancing-Sun - less than a month before he died - that horses can teach you everything you need to know in life.

...and it's so true. 


Have you met a more forgiving, majestic creature?

Grandpa - he was awfully worried about getting my Sunshine her own saddle. Even though I had some beautiful hours with my beautiful girl, we always borrowed one of her clan's. She never had her own saddle, but she was styling in whatever she had on nevertheless. On the occasions that I rode her, she rocked the color of royalty oh so well.

Now there's this pair of boots, though, that will now be worn with a sting, because they're just for pretty now...

Sunshine stretched my comfort zone. I've always liked horses - but I have only loved them from afar.
It was such a fun challenge to work with her & to finally become comfortable with her on my own.

That day - the Thursday morning of Spring Break that turned everything upside down - we celebrated her life, three little ladies & I, with frozen pizza & Disney movies. When it seemed like all the tears had been poured out already, I pull into our driveway & I think about what I'm going to have to do. Wash my hands. Wash the dirt from under my fingernails from loving on my Sunshine for the last time. It's those things that made me leak. It made me weak, to be filled with His strength in a fresh way. There is a helplessness in grief that only brings relationships closer together.

That line about being a mentor being the best accountability? It's so true. I wanted to have a pity-party all day, but I had three little ladies watching every move I made. I've lost enough relationships lately, & one of the most faithful ones He took away. I had to turn my back on that voice & instead ask, What would happen if they learned how to use grief to bring Him glory in their lives this early on? So, instead of blaming God, we swung on the front porch & talked about the reason bad things happen to good people - the sin we allowed to first slither into the garden of our hearts.

That Sunshine song that inspired my hope-to-be wedding colors & the song I didn't get to sing to my Sunshine enough times? The lines streamed through my head in a happy scene of one of those Disney movies & weakness in my flesh abounded. Remember, though, being heartbroken, dear heart? It isn't a sin. Maybe, someday these words that pour salt in the wound will be happy again, but not right now.

You are my Sunshine 

My only Sunshine

You make me happy when skies are grey 

You'll never know dear 

How much I love you

Please don't take my Sunshine away 


Those last lines ruin the mood & make me lament. Last Sunday morning though - one phrase added to such a well known truth - changed my week. Began to change me a little bit more.

"Faith is built on trust: trust is founded on the belief that God is good - & that He intends to be good to you." -Pastor Grant

There is an incompleteness that I feel when I reflect on Sunshine's death. We were going to go to camp this summer together. I still had to introduce her to so many of my friends. We weren't finished yet.

I started a Job 1:21 wall. It's incomplete, because it lacks an actual picture of Sunny yet, but it's beautiful. Because love will have the final word.

There's a mistake in that canvas - but there is not a mistake in this master plan of His.

He intends to be good to me. He is good to me.


 He has given so generously. 

Some people are wanting to find another horse. I understand their want for me to jump right back in - but I have no intention to do so in the near future. For now, at least, I'm going to work on filling this grief healthily. If I got another horse now, I would simply compare it to Sunny & be only taking care of it to fill some void that she left. Someday, the Lord might open a door for another horse to walk into my life. Sunshine was given to me directly from His hand. If He leads me to another sweet horse, then I will have no choice but to say yes.

It's a freeing thing when you truly realize that every void in your heart can be filled with the love of God.

He has taken away... & because I got to yell "Hey beautiful!" as she came running at my sight,  because I got to know the unconditional love from such a sweetheart, because I literally was able to hug the Sunshine, & because somehow the sun still shines on the grey skies of confusion through His peace:

Blessed be the name of the Lord.


 In Abba,


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

lies & truths when it comes to beauty.

"Today the Lord taught me that being myself is okay....Once I dug back into my roots & settled there, He blessed the desire of my heart - for now." -from my journal on Thursday, March 27, 2014

I hate my laugh.

I hate that I'm shy.

I also hate that when I do talk, I talk too much & too loudly.

Everyone reading this has some sort of pre-conceived notion of me. Whether it be from the background of this blog template, the fact that you've met me, or simply know of me from one of the many places I've lived.

Maybe you don't know you do, but somehow in some shape or form, you have expectations for me.

We all have expectations that we try to fulfill for someone else every single day.

Trying to ignore those expectations can be so fruitful, but your heart can still be beat up in the process.

We long to please everyone. It's no mistake. Why? Because, especially as women, we were literally wired to bring beauty into this world. We desire to please, to help, to satisfy. 

"Aware of our deep feelings, we pour contempt on our own hearts for wanting more. Oh, we long for intimacy and for adventure; we long to be the Beauty of some great story. But the desires set deep in our hearts seem like a luxury, granted only to those women who get their acts together. The message to the rest of us - whether from a driven culture or a driven church - is try harder." -Captivating, John & Stasi Eldredge

When someone lashes out at me in any tiny way possible, I beat myself up. Suddenly all the lies that are running through my head on a daily basis about my ugliness and annoyance to society are true, because someone else insulted me.

I could let that get to me. I could let the fact that so many fallen people that leave me feeling undesired get to me. Or I could trust in the fact that the One man that has never fallen - loves having me around.

Would I rather bank on a fallen man's views of me because I'm weird & intimidating from their point of view or would I rather insure my trust in the unfailing God's affection for me? Not only that, but a God that not only tolerates my quirks, but delights in them?

Words whirl around from past & present making our future look unbearable.

"So... I can have other friends."

"Well, yeah, maybe for you, but for the rest of us..."

"I don't like your new hair."

"Oh, we'll talk about that later..."

"You intimidate me."

...and the list goes on & on.

"And if she cannot secure her relationships, then she kills her heart's longing for intimacy so that she will be safe & in control." -Captivating, John & Stasi Eldredge.

Thoughts like these intervene. Truth speaks louder - if only we listen.

" 'What do I have to offer, really? They're probably doing fine.' Don't you believe it for a moment. You have been sent by the Trinity on behalf of love, of relationships. Fight for them." -Captivating, John & Stasi Eldredge

If I bank on their words whether implied or spoken, I'll miss out on my calling as a woman:

" There is a radiance hidden in your heart that the world desperately needs." -Captivating, John & Stasi Eldredge.

That fact that I'm so sensitive in itself makes me want to crawl into a hole & never come out.

"We need not be ashamed that our hearts ache; that we need and thirst and hunger for much more." -Captivating, John & Stasi Eldredge.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her." -Hosea 2:14

Maybe I can't feel it right now, but... Oh, how He loves me for-some-miraculous-reason.

Words giving life to weary bones. 

"We choose not to shut down. We let the tears come. We allow the ache to swell into a longing prayer for our God." -Captivating, John & Stasi Eldredge

But here is the thing:

"We don't get to stay in hiding until we are whole; Jesus invites us to live as an inviting woman now, and find our healing along the way." -Captivating, John & Stasi Eldredge

Your heart will be broken in the process of being yourself - or just trying to figure out who you are. Because we're a sinful people, we're not all going to get along. Words are thrown around in pride and words are received in shame. It's how this world has been turning for a long time.

Don't let it get you down. Remember that it is okay to feel hurt. Being heartbroken? It isn't a sin. In fact, the Lord is very passionate about binding up those wounds.

Let Him.

Healing has to be fought for.

Relationships have to be fought for.

Sanity has to be fought for.

...& beauty has to be displayed.

You truly are His (peculiar) treasured possession.

Live in that truth this week.

In Abba,

P.S. You need to read Captivating.

{Also, want an encouraging song to bless you in your 'being you' journey? Here are just a few:

Beautiful - Group One Crew

The Definition Of Me - Mandisa

Gold - Britt Nicole

More Beautiful You - Jonny Diaz

Every Bit Of Lovely - Jamie Grace}

Coffee for Your Heart 150