Make Room

Sitting in the sunshine on a misty beach one morning after a run, I am filming a video for my hubs. It’s been 6 weeks since we’ve seen one another face to face. Our plans for reuniting, fugacious.

I’m in my natural position for prayer...meaning I’m breathing, alive.
I’m on a daily quest for the Spirit to move in me regarding my Word for the Year; PURPOSE.
My walk, expectant. My eyes, upward. My heart, wide open.
I’ve had a great season in Costa Rica and also had the opportunity to fly up to Guatemala to spend some time. What an incredible country! It just drove home in me our love for culture and travel and people and an appreciation for this wide world of experience and chance and imaginings. I pray we never lose our sense of playfulness for adventuring and shenanigans. It’s one on a list of a million things that bonded us as a young 20-something couple, and as we age, I continually pray God’s favor on our health and an everlasting enthusiasm to traverse the globe.
But this morning, as I soak in a few moments of sunshine, I know it’s time to return to the sticky, hot of the South. Leaving one appreciation and devotion for another. One palm-treed, golden sand beach for the city, foodie delights, white sand beaches, and mountains to climb.
I talk this morning, post sent video, to my hubs and we get a ticket home for a couple of days later. Just enough time for those last-minute cocktails, dinners, hugs, and to get packed.
Is there anything better than a homecoming? Both here and there. Trading the friend-filled nights of delicious, home-cooked vegan food, wine, laughter and reunion with the open arms of my readied hubs as I traipse off the plane, suitcase, backpack, and surfboard bag slung over my shoulder.
Being alone for a month and a half (ok truly never alone but you get my drift) has allotted me some wonderful time to soak in the presence of God. NOT that I can’t do this anytime, but there is something about that set-apart, independent time that the Bible talks about. That night-silence, when it’s just you and your prayers and the whispers that you only hear in a placid mind until you fall asleep to a cicada-fueled symphony.
Day after day I felt the infusing of God on my heart as I prayed about PURPOSE.
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After returning, I was flung headlong into dog slobbers, Indian food, trail friendships, morning coffee brought to my bedside, and the bottomless love of a soul mate. Also back to our church family, which proved to be one of the best weeks to come back as we sat in worship with Kari Jobe and her husband Cody to sing a gorgeous song as a blessing over humanity. Joining that with a teaching on our “stories” and how the stories in our lives and what we believe affects us. We all have stories. I have saturated myself in this message over the past week. Considering the ways I have implemented the Word of God into my life and trying not to miss the bigger story of what God is telling me and teaching me. To not fill in the space that is in me, meant for him, with unnecessary baggage, so that His bigger story can be told in me and through me.
Over the years as G & I have made transitions in our lives together... BOY have there been plenty, we firstly go in seeking guidance through prayer and know that when there is tension or conflict to look at it through a lens of goodness. Our God lens. To get quiet and not allow doubt to cut off what God is speaking in our lives.
We BOTH found it remarkable that as we are sitting together in church last week , the title of the message was MAKE ROOM FOR THE NEW.
Oh Lord, how you know our hearts.
“Make room for the new even when you don’t see it coming.”
I love a good Spiritual nudge.
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Just over a year ago, we made a move we were both scratching our heads over BUT are now seeing the fruit from. A plan that worked out, just not quite in our plan-frame, is now syrup-dripping with goodness. The two of us at odds over a few things. He; feeling led in one direction on a major purchase, and me… n o t quite feeling right about it in my spirit. We continued to pray. We both felt the sparks of confusion and tension.
“Did you know,” our Pastor said, “that God can be giving you exactly what you want, but the tension it takes to produce growth is super uncomfortable?” “Things may come into your life in one season as a problem or opposition and are the same things God will use to create opportunities to know him better and make him known.”
Have we made room to receive the new things that God has sent us that we’ve asked for?
Sometimes, I have the feeling that I may NEVER see the purpose, or at least to the extent to how God uses me. I DO know that although it’s not right in front of my eyes, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had an impact. I get glimpses...but we don’t see the way God sees. I don’t always see how something I’ve said or have done has affected others good or BAD minutes or years down the road. I am human and know I am not immune from being a fool sometimes. Then….there are those fleeting moments when I get a small peek and see in tangible ways how I’m fulfilling His purpose. My daily prayer is always “allow me to be open for YOU to use me in any way you see fit and allow me to always turn others towards YOU.”
I know He uses our past experiences, good and bad. The pain I walked through decades ago, that has long-since healed, may just be the balm that someone else needs for their own hope to bloom.
I DO pray for discernment. Because some people are just out for a hurtful story to learn about you and not because they are interested in walking along side you in healing. If you’re out to judge a book by its cover….you’ve come to the wrong illustrator.
I have a confession. It will sound TERRIBLE...but when we knew God was giving us the opportunity to move to the southeast United States, and by saying, “giving us the opportunity,” I mean….uprooting our semi-laid plans, for His flawless recipe...my first thought was “but….that accent!” I know, I know! Hate me now...I’m just being authentic. So….as we are sitting in church together this past week, I am NOT kidding AT ALL...our pastor is talking about CHANGE, and he says “maybe you didn’t want to move to Charlotte...because you hate the southern accent.”
Ummm…. I sat real still and moved only my eyes around through the hundreds in the  congregation because I was SURE everyone was looking directly at me.
Boy, did I prejudge what is and isn’t good for me. What limited thinking.
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I am happy right now to be back with my love. I’ve realized that I’ve allowed some doubt to creep in and cut off mid-sentence, some things God might be speaking into our lives. Like our Pastor has said “When God is speaking don’t stop at the comma! If you stop at the comma you never see the..“but….”
Trust me, that tiny, diminutive, oftentimes inconsequential conjunction can connect you to a multitude of healing. Of fulfillment. Of joy! It can take you from, “I feel stuck” BUT “I know new possibilities are coming my way?” From, “I have guilt from my past” BUT “God is a God of forgiveness and second chances, never guilt. He has washed me clean of my past, only to use my experience to help someone else.” It can take you from a diagnosis BUT turn you towards His healing, learning to rely solely on Him and open an opportunity for family and friends to soothe you with their hospitality, love, and prayer. ONLY later to use you for a future person that may be feeling scared because of their diagnosis. It can take a past mistake that has haunted you BUT now that you have walked the path, you have a voice to share your knowledge with others. From a past prison, into a bright future. It can take you from a place of feeling like you lost something but knowing God just moved it.
Change is amazing. New circumstances grow you so much as a person. You learn so much about yourself, your resilience and your passions. As I look back on the changes we’ve had over the years, God’s goodness is all over them. So prominent. He used some incredible opportunities to sharpen us, to bond us, to realize what’s truly important and what’s just unnecessary. To forge long-lasting, true, friendships over many miles and many countries. To drop off the unneeded baggage. I know God often uses a change in ways that we don’t always feel good about; losses, finances, marriages, sickness...Do you use these as opportunities to turn to Him? Sometimes we are thrust into a position that ALL we can do is rely on Him, which IS exactly where we should be. So if there is change, or tension, be expectant for transformation. Feeling mournful over a situation, believe the miracle. Fear or failure, choose faith.
I pray that we always allow room in ourselves for the new.
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Just a Few Simple Things

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We are apart for our first Valentine’s in twenty-six years. We’ve never been much to celebrate the day because we feel that an everyday love is better than one day of Hallmark devotion. Still,, we are apart….

I DID notice when I unpacked a few weeks ago that a little, secret card slipped out from between my shirts. It’s just like you to sneak that into my bag when I wasn’t looking. It made me smile BIG. IMG_4959

Of course, I am thinking about you today. So I thought I’d be sappy and syrupy and sentimental.

Sometimes it’s nice to show you the funny, quirky ways you have made our lives into this extraordinary love story. 

 

*The way we can sit in a restaurant talking for hours like we’ve just met. 

*Encouraging and celebrating the wild, independent, adventurous young woman in me. 

*How we showed our kids what true love is. 

*Our endless supply of inside jokes.

*The way you sit and really listen with incredible, curiosity when you ask about my day. 

*That one night at that one BBQ when our knees touched and we felt enough electricity to light California. 

*The way your muscles flex when you wrap your arms around our grown kids. 

*The way we can have nothing and everything and it’s never mattered. 

*The way you hold my hand when I need a good cry.

*Our first kiss as young adults. 

*The Japanese love notes you mailed me before we had email. 

*Your bold, expectant prayers.

*When you laugh so hard and I see your retainer and it reminds me of being kids together. 

*Your never-ending sense of adventure. 

*You are truly the biggest romantic I know.

*Our nightly foot rubs before bed. 

*The deep, profound love you have for our children. 

*That first cup of coffee that you bring me and we share in bed together every morning. 

*The tiny specks of silver in your hair. 

*How the simplest things in life matter the most to you. 

*Your passionate, on fire, love for God. 

*Music. 

*The way you find the best Speakeasies.

*Our ease of traveling the world together. 

*The way you make everyone feel at such ease around you. 

*How you always share your last bite with me. 

*Your complete adoration of our kids. 

*That you always have been and always are my biggest cheerleader, supporter and advocate for any and all shenanigans I cook up. 

*The way you have animated my feet with voices. 

*The way you love to hide scary masks in our house to frighten the living daylights out of me and then run to hug me when you know I’m terrified.

*That one night grocery shopping that we can always laugh so hard about. 

*The way our feet find one another under the covers in the middle of the night.  

*Your sweet lips. 

*When you laugh so authenticity and slap MY knee over it. 

*The sweetness when you kiss my forehead every day. 

*Your incredible work ethic. 

*Your remarkable generosity and willingness to help people. 

*Your skin. 

*Your sincere smile. 

*The way you take me by the hand and parade me into a room. 

*The way you get excited about our date nights after all these years. 

*Our cooking show date nights. 

*The love we both share for hitting up hot new restaurants.

*The way you love our fur-kid. 

*When you leave our home and come back to pick me up for a date. 

*Our 3am Netflix binges.

*How you have a way of making me feel like I’m the only woman on the entire planet. 

*Your respect, admiration and, love for your parents. 

*The way we laugh so much and so often together.

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*Our kitchen dance parties. 

*Your unfailing, steadfast and intentional faith. 

*How you always empower and encourage me and make me feel like I can conquer the world. 

*Your easy going and peaceful presence. 

*Your extraordinary culinary skills. 

*How we don’t need anything at all to have a perfect evening together. 

*The way you’ve never expected me to change the person I am deep down inside.

*The way you allow me to cheat a little when we play board games but act like you don’t know. 

How even though we are apart I feel your heartbeat. 

Love~

Your PJ

No Better Timing

Want to know how God works and shows up in my life? The confirmations he gives me?

As I continued through the month of December in prayer for my Word of the Year (I’ve always done this instead of resolutions), I was getting nowhere. I battled over this in frustration, my impatience getting the better of me. I was praying with no response. 

My hubs, on the other hand, came home one day mid-December, sat down, and revealed his Word to me. I was so happy for him, honestly, but was feeling stalled. 

I’ve had years when as November/December rolls around and I start praying and asking for my Word, it’s there. Immediately and rapidly coming to the forefront. I’ve also had years when, like this year, God has taken his time in delivery. 

As if, His timing isn’t perfect. 

As if he didn’t have this Word in mind for me before I was even on this earth. 

As if he knows better.

As if the timing that needs to happen for His clarity to shine through and for me to be READY to receive is inadequate.

I continued in daily prayer. I sat for days, silently, in the mornings on the floor of our bedroom in meditation and nothing… 

Que more frustration. images

It’s funny how prayer works and moves. I was FaceTiming with a friend today, and we were talking about how they are teaching their young kid(s) about prayer and how it’s not always for bedtime or before a meal, that you can pray anywhere and always. It’s those silent whispers to God, in the car, on a walk, in the shower or as you’re doing the dishes or laundry or in the case of kids… even on the playground. 

I felt like I was on prayer overload (is there such a thing as TOO much prayer? The answer is NEVER) and my husband kept asking if I’d heard my Word yet, I was getting antsy. 

Man, if that isn’t a terrible place to reside. Antsy. Restless in the desert, feeling deficient and lacking. I prayed on just that for a few days… I mean here I’m just waiting on a WORD for the year when others are waiting for so much more to show up. 

So. Much. More. 

Then it hit me; waiting is a proactive stance of drawing closer to God. Through waiting, at times, our faith can be tested, but it also cultivates good fruit in our lives, such as patience, perseverance, and endurance. It also draws us closer to God. 

When we choose to wait quietly and trustingly, we honor God, and I know God’s goodness is promised for those who wait patiently for him! No matter how long.

Sigh

I knew one thing; I wasn’t going to stop praying, and I wasn’t going to stop anticipating an answer. I waited more eagerly for our Creator to act. 

When my Word finally did show up, I was discouraged at first. My husband, who had weeks before me, came home with his and shared, I thought, “how powerful!” He was almost in tears over it. It both scared him and made his heart pound with hope and expectancy.

I sat down that night and talked with G. Was this really “the word” for the year? What does it mean? I wanted a fun word, a word that sounded more “me,” a word that is fruity and felicitous. Something amusing and cheerful with punch and significant meaning behind it. Me, me, me… why are we always drawn back into making everything about ourselves? 

I mean… what am I to do with THIS Word? 

Nothing. I am to do nothing with it. 

I wrote it down. 

P U R P O S E 

I quietly uttered an enormous “thank you.” and then thought… “I am going to do absolutely nothing with this Word, but the Maker who gave it to me is going to turn my life upside down this year with it. I’m quite sure of this.”

A few days later, my daughter and I decided to attend a different campus from our regular church. We did this because my husband was mixing sound at this campus for the worship team (on a day that he wasn’t originally scheduled to be there) so we thought we’d go. It was a Saturday night, not our regular Sunday service, and this particular week each campus pastor was speaking individually at each campus instead of our lead pastor. Which hardly ever happens. 

A L L of this is out of the norm… but you know… When God shows up, it’s always out of the standard norm. 

After worship, the pastor comes up and says his title for his message that night was: 

PURPOSE REVEALED THOUGH PROCESS. 

Read that again. 

PURPOSE 

Revealed 

Through

Process. 

I stood in complete reverence and amazement! 

As the pastor spoke, I felt the nudge of God. His breath all over me. Then the pastor said;

“Never feel so common with God that you’re not expectant.” 

Oh, me of little faith. 

He continued saying, “God is a God of the process, not the product, and God reveals himself and his purpose in the process.”

In my process of waiting on my Word, He showed up. Just like He always does. In His own time and in His own way. 

Then something came to the forefront;

Maybe I’m running after things that are not my assignment (my purpose.) Things that are in my heart, but God never assigned for me. 

My hysterics and tantrum about my Word dissolved right there onto the floor of that unfamiliar church. 

Full stop & Mic drop. 

Unknown-1       Allow me the honor of praying for you friends. In whatever way you need. Text me, call me, message me. And I ask one favor of you; Pray for me. Pray that this year God works in the most unimaginable, unthinkable, incomprehensible, intentional ways to reveal what this Word will bring to life in me. His purpose. My purpose in Him. What use (purpose) is He calling me to? Pray for me to live with a more God-driven purpose and ALWAYS to live a purpose bigger than myself. 

I believe to live a life with both passion and purpose; we must continue to learn who Jesus is. God has better plans for us that we can even imagine.