as you begin this day

Before the morning, before the messages come, before the words swirl and work to define, we say, I am Yours.

San Francisco window

Before we see ourselves with clouded eyes–just ten years old then, decades older now–and believe there is much to work on, to tweak and work out, to correct and improve, Your eyes behold us in our glory now, in our fullness, telling us,

You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are lovely to see.

Before the messages come when we were so young, believing that what matters is what people see, what the world believes about us, how we perform, what we do, how each choice only measures up to matter if praise is given, tangible rewards received, You whisper,

I love you now, right now. My love cannot be earned.

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Before the twisting of what is true tears our heart and we make choices that show we don’t believe, You see us unblemished, pure; we fall and You wash us clean.

Before our trying, and failing, to carry this life on our own strength, You remind us how on our own we can do nothing, that You are all we need.  You offer Your breast to lean on and let us listen to Your heart singing,

You are My beauty, My girl, stay, this is your resting place.

San Francisco railing

Before doubts attempt to shadow hope, the stirrings become questions about whether our rising up, in Your name, matters, You whisper truth within us, turn the lies inside out and offer back the voice You always gave.  You show us what cannot be quieted–this voice that will not be silent until You restore, heal, redeem.

Before the darkness falls and the weight feels heavy, You lift us, reminding us there is nothing we bear alone, there is only light in the end, there is only Your arms holding us.  There is only You, in the beginning.

Praying for you, dear friends, as we begin this week together. How can we pray for you today? And how about this song (below), to kick off your week? The whole You Make Me Brave album goes on sale April 24. But if you can’t wait that long (like me), you can find it over here now. (Just sharing it ’cause it’s what I’m listening to this week, thanks so my dear sister and friend who shared “You Make Me Brave” with me on a day when I desperately needed the reminder.)

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wrestling the finite for the infinite you

desire wrestling the finite

It was late into the evening when he asked me, I remember. I stood at the kitchen sink, the dishes mostly washed, mostly organized and put away. It was the end of a long, normal day–taking care of kids, errands, volunteering. Those were the days when I could hardly think straight and nap time was when I grabbed more than one handful of gummy bears and used my computer to check emails and do on-line shopping. I was usually exhausted, those afternoons, and by the time Justin came home from work and we tackled feeding the kids and getting them in bed and attempting to make the kitchen look like a bomb hadn’t gone off, I was usually weary.

“I want to love you better,” he said. “I want you to think about what you love to do, what you do that brings you joy. . . I want to support you and make sure you do these things, because it is who you are.”

What I love to do–in addition to being a wife and mom and a daughter and a friend? My throat constricted; the room felt hot. I couldn’t answer. How could I answer? What was the right answer? I was confused and overwhelmed. What, really, did I want?

That’s one of the first moments, I realize now, when I saw how far away from God I really felt. I wanted to please Him. I wanted to love Him. But I couldn’t possibly be close with God, truly know more of Him, unless I lived this truth: I am free and filled with God’s joy, only to the degree that I let myself believe I am truly loved. 

Justin’s question,”what do you love to do?” was an invitation to taste God’s personal love for me, to enter into life with God. The question required I search my heart to what it is God has made me to desire. And, yes, while I am made to desire God, while I am made to worship Him and love Him and be with Him, I miss out on the life God has intended me to live with Him if I ignore the unique way He made me to love Him . . . and love others He puts into my life.

Claiming my identity in God–living in His love for me– meant claiming my uniqueness, with God, too. The longings in my heart– moving my body outdoors, reading stories of adventure and faith, writing to and encouraging women, listening to music while baking milk chocolate chip cookies under a light-filled kitchen window–which are all, to some degree, completely ordinary, not-so-spectacular things, might, in fact, be my living out the very whisper of God’s voice to my soul.

desire wrestling finite you 2

Our souls are built to long for God. And while nothing on this earth can satisfy our desire to be with Him fully until the day we are in heaven, our ache to be with Him is, to a degree, satisfied, when we choose to be with Him in this temporal space, on earth. He calls us to awake. He calls us to Himself. He asks us to say yes to the miraculous, beautiful, exquisite crafting of us, His girls, made to do the things He has made us–each of us uniquely–to do.

It took me six months to finally figure out and write down those things I love to do. Then I shared the list with Justin, and he, also, shared his list with me. Together, we checked each other’s lists, helping each other discern if what we were writing down was true about our hearts, or if what we were writing down was a little bit off. The people who know you well need to know about your list so they can love you by encouraging you to live it out.

When we choose God in this finite life He has given us to live, right now, our souls connect with Him in the infinite. We are most ourselves; our spirit sings. Moreover, His presence with us now, His love filling us in the day-to-day decisions to be with Him, fuels us to love others; His love in us overflows.

I create within you a new space, a new self, and that is where your joy is. And when you choose to be with Me you are rejecting the old self and letting the new self thrive. Your joy exists in the space where the two of us get to be together. And that place is within you, in your new self, and nowhere else. You are made to be with Me, and anything that gets in the way of us being together is a choice you get to make. Let Me in, and I will take care of it. Let Me in, and I will clear away the dark places of the old self to let the new self breathe. I do the work once you choose Me.

So choose Me again. And choose joy again. Today, and then tomorrow, and also, when you lay your head down to sleep. (Excerpt from Loop, “How Joy is for You”.)

Would you like to learn more about how to write out your own “What do I love list”? Does anything I’ve shared here, so far, prompt you to want to know more? I’d love to know what stirs your heart, so we may encourage each other.

In His love,

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some kind of vulnerable

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I get to lead a day retreat at my friend’s house for her women’s group next week. I love listening for Jesus’ love song for His girls. So, I have been scratching down His whispers, trying to listen close. And every time I listen, I am brought hard to my knees.

There is nothing like telling a group of women, His girls, that they are astoundingly lovely, breathtakingly beautiful. There is nothing like your heart breaking for the one who believes she can’t imagine being worth another person’s attention–because that is what she has learned, that is what she has been taught.

And this is why I love writing here.

The way He whispers to me is different than how He whispers to you. And I long to hear His voice. Here. There. Everywhere. How each of us hear God’s voice and how we individually live it out propels us, in community, toward Him. We need to encourage each other to listen for and respond to his voice, for then we know who and whose we are.

And we are free then.

Do you see?

His voice is what frees us to be ourselves, known and abundantly loved.

If we let ourselves believe it.

this kind of vulnerable

Jesus has come to save you. He has come for you. For you. He loves you–a love that penetrates you and will never let you go, when you let Him in. You are not yourself, the beautiful, whole you He designed you to be unless you let yourself see Him. And sometimes, to do that, you’re just going to have to let yourself go.

You’re going to have to let Him in to the places where there are no rules and there are no boundaries and there are no schedules and lists and responsibilities. Your job, your life’s mission, the only way you can be free and have joy and love–the love you are designed to live–is to let yourself go and be present with the Lord who made you and who adores you.

And it’s simple, friends. It’s just so simple.

And hard.

It’s simple in how He wants to just be with you, without expectations. It’s hard in that to do this you need to let yourself be vulnerable–because being with Jesus is the most vulnerable place we can ever be.

And, oh, sister, I want to learn to be even more vulnerable.

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There’s the kind of vulnerable when your friend rings the doorbell early and you’re still in your jammies and you feel crummy and she gives you a hug and brings you the best food in the entire world: homemade banana bread. There’s the kind of vulnerable when you think you might die but you have let yourself die already so it doesn’t matter anymore–and you tell the people you trust the thing that you believe will surely change how they think of you forever, and they love you still.

And then there’s the kind of vulnerable when you are with Jesus, in his arms. There’s the kind of vulnerable when you give him your mind and your heart and you let him free your imagination so you can go places with him you didn’t even know you loved to go.

This kind of vulnerable brings freedom. This kind of vulnerable feeds imagination. This kind of vulnerable frees our minds and hearts to connect and let go of all expectation. This kind of vulnerable lets faith lead. This kind of vulnerable knows what God speaks is what is most real. This kind of vulnerable ushers in courage and quiets any deadly whispers of this world.

It is just too beautiful to imagine, truly, the way our God sees us. But more than anything, in this life, I want to try.

It may be too much for me to believe–but I must. I must believe in what He sees. I must let His truth be my truth. Everything else I thought I believed needs to be destroyed, given back to Jesus. Jesus, on his throne, burns the old lies about who we are and our nightmarish past and brings purity and fresh, clean, white-washed beautiful all over again.

There is a lot more God whispered to my heart the other day . . . in Loop. Each word is a favorite. Here is a glimpse:

Me in you? That is what is captivating. That is what shines. That is what brings people hope. That is what lets you care less about productivity and more about being with Me. When you are with Me, you are loving. And when you are loving, you are experiencing my freedom; you inhabit my space. It is what you have been designed to live.

Joy. Freedom. Hope.

So don’t second guess how I’ve made you. I only made one you. Only one. You are the only one, my daughter. So inhabit my love and you will love in abundance without having to try. Because you will be being yourself. And, oh, that’s just the best now, my darling.

God’s love is so amazing, so complete, so astoundingly HUGE I want to jump and run and fall down all at once. And sometimes, when I am alone, and He fills me up, that is just exactly what I have to do. Jesus’ love is not one prompting us, always, to sit politely and stay still.

Being vulnerable may be pretty awesome, after all.

Is this idea about your imagination being set free to see Jesus more clearly something that stirs your heart? Or, what is the most difficult thing for you regarding being vulnerable with God? I’d love to know. But, mostly, I’m just glad you’re here.

Gratefully,

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so, if we can’t fix ourselves . . . (#loveidol)

fixing ourselves

There is a movement starting, a movement by daughters desiring to see. We want to see, with clear eyes, the face of our Father. You are made,  friend. Remember, you are made.

Anything we do to prove our worth–worth previously bestowed to us by God–is in vain. The gift of being loved, of being created by the God who loves us, does not need to be bestowed again. But sometimes . . . too often. . . we feel we need to prove our worth ourselves.

We find ourselves believing a mistake was made when we were created, a problem in ourselves we need to fix. Or else, why would that abuse had happened? Why would my parents have split up? Why would my mom have died? Why would I have married someone I’m not sure I even love?

Do you see h0w God wants our hearts now, this moment, despite what happened twenty years ago, despite what happened yesterday? Do you know that we are not the remedy of our own brokenness? We are not the key to ourselves being fixed?

When bad stuff happens to us in the past, it is easy to see the future as a carrot we want to grasp. It is going to be better, then. It is going to be better when. . . And we think it is up to us to do the fixing of our own brokenness, even though we know, deep down, this isn’t how it works.

Now sister, listen.

Whatever happened in the past, while shaping us and affecting each choice we make this very day, is not what decides who we are. Our Father decides who we are. Our God who made us speaks the truth of who we are. Our present relationship with Him, how we think of Him, right now, this moment, determines whether we reach for Him or whether we reach for something or someone else to fill our aching desire to be redeemed and loved.

You, my friend, are made to be filled up by the love of God. Anything we do to try to replace His love and fix ourselves–by earning, by striving or food or sex or things–is never going to work.

I know. I have been guilty of loving idols rather than loving God, again and again and again.

So I am a sister joining the movement– the heart cry of Jennifer Dukes Lee, in her book, Love Idol: Letting Go of your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself in God’s Eyes. Because I am tired of running and proving and second-guessing my worth, I am going to spend this Lenten season slowing–doing something I never allow myself to do because I love doing it but I feel I haven’t earned enough credit to be given permission to do it: slow, walk, read.

For these forty or so days of Lent I want to lean back into the arms of my Father and rest there. I want to stay there. And I want to read stories that captivate my imagination and give me glimpses into the heart of God. I want to take walks in sunshine and listen for His voice and not worry as much about whether or not I’ve earned the permission to do these things. While I will continue to write and do the things He has created me to do, I am going to lay down the idol of proving my worth through productivity. And I’m going to pick up His invitation to rest and enjoy Him in the way He’s made me to.

He’s right here. He’s not a God I need to attain. But I miss Him when I think the act of pursuing Him, in my own strength, is how I find Him. He is right here.

So I slow.

He is right here.

How are you clinging to God this Lenten season? What idol might you need to lay down? How are you hoping to fix yourself? How can I pray?

Come on over and check out Jennifer Dukes Lee’s cool page about Love Idol, which releases April 1. You can preorder  it now. All this goodness just makes me smile. Love Idol

Sharing with #TellHisStory.

 

when you think you can’t hear God

As a teenager I used to write poems. Full of melodrama and hyperbole, spaghetti-looped words aimed to communicate a heart that couldn’t name its own feelings. I would scrawl them out all the same. It felt better to try to communicate my crazy, mixed up heart than to stay silent. It felt better to reach out and tell someone I was struggling or I was sad or I was angry, even if they didn’t have the solution, even if I didn’t know the reason for the feelings in the first place.

hearing God light

Sometimes we don’t know why we feel the way we do–why the walls feel like they’re crowding in, why we just can’t feel joy-filled, or grateful or peace-filled, despite all those how-to books we grasp from the stack towering at our bedside.

We ache to be fixed. We ache to be different. We ache to know why we feel the way we do and how the heck to get ourselves all figured out.

I’ve been putting down the how-to books lately and picking up worlds of story that bring me hope and raise my eyes to Jesus. I read stories in His word, yes, but I’ve also been reading fiction. I hear the Father pulling me away from striving and nudging me toward His rest. So I’ve been getting myself outside and taking walks and noticing what makes my heart come alive, what helps me see Jesus, what helps me stay present with Him.

There is a rhythm of life He sets for us, a gentle, steady pace so much better than the hurried one we might design for ourselves.

Walk slowly and steadily, daughter. I’ll let you know when the pace needs to be fast. Sometimes it does. Sometimes I move quickly with you. But it’s a pace that’s never hurried. It’s okay to slow, for in the quiet you can hear Me more clearly. And then when you’ve spent time with Me there, and you know my voice there, you’ll hear my voice in the rhythm of work, in the rhythm of serving. You can’t do these things with Me without believing you hear Me.

Hearing the Father’s whisper in my heart–grasping the hand of my Savior and walking, running, skipping, dancing, swimming, climbing, resting, laughing–comes when I choose my own open-hearted freedom, doing the things I love to do.

In everything you do, you can listen for Me. It’s not that I speak to you constantly, in words; but I am with you constantly. And my presence is the language of your heart you’re created to hear.

hearing God clouds

What you are made to love to do, my friend–whether it is cooking or painting or encouraging or teaching or organizing–is the gift of the Father to you so that you might bring Him glory, in the particular way you are designed to do it. And when you do the thing you are uniquely designed to do, in the unique way only you–only you–can do it–you are in the presence of your Father. For you can’t do the things you are made to do–and also love and bless another person–unless you are doing that thing you love while in the presence of God.

‘Cause that’s when you’re hearing Him. And that’s when you’re feeling Him. And that’s when you’re walking with Him.

You hear God best when you live out the identity He’s given you to live.

Training yourself to notice how I’m with you is not for the purpose of following a rule. You are able to get through a day without Me—but not well. Just not very well. We are made to be together, the two of us. I’m never alone, and you’re not made to be alone. Let’s go together, shall we? Do you see how I hold out my hand?

Practicing seeing where I am is responding to my life in you. It’s not turning Me away. It’s realizing, a bit more, the fullness of who you are.

hearing God sky

When you feel unsettled, when you feel restless and lost and alone . . . consider a thing you do that, when you do it, you feel a little lighter, a little more awake, a little more filled with contentment and joy.  That thing that brings you joy is one of the ways God uses to talk to you, connect with you, be with you. He designed you the way He did on purpose.

So do it.

He wants you to do what He has made you to love. Do that thing. Then you can love Him in the way only you know how.

You see, I see you. I see the real you, the daughter in all her fullness, in all her completeness. I know where you’re going. I know where you’ve been. I am with you now, seeing you here and seeing the full beauty of my glory in you. You are made for so much more than you will ever know—unless you trust Me more than yourself, unless you live knowing I am for you, with you, in all things.

Don’t worry about what it looks like exactly, to spend time with Me. Don’t try to figure out the right way to listen, the right way to heed my voice. Start with knowing I am with you. Let yourself relax and lean back into my arms. See my face. Hear the beat of my heart.

I am with you.

I am with you.

Enter each moment anticipating how you can be with Me.  

And then, my voice? You’ll be living out each word to you I say.

*Excerpt in italics from Loop, “You Can Hear Me”.

Do you know how you best hear God’s voice speaking to your heart? Have you explored what it might be?

 

 

 

so, I’ve got issues

We meet over coffee, and I tell her how I can struggle to slow and listen for God. And then I tell her how yesterday wasn’t productive; I hadn’t made a dent in what I hoped I would be able to get done. So I didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to slow.

I tell her that, as evening turned to night, I kept working, kept trying to achieve and fix and complete. I yearned for that not-so-familiar feeling of accomplishment, that mini-euphoric-mood-lift that comes in the rare moments I believe I have worked enough, that day. And then, and then, I could slow. And then, and then, I would have the peace of mind to listen.

I couldn’t possibly stop and rest and do something I loved . . . I hadn’t earned it yet.

Do you struggle with slowing, at all?

rainy day

I have other issues, too.

I tell my friend another thing–that when my doctor, two weeks ago, told me I should make exercise a priority and work out at least five times a week, if not more, I became less motivated to continue the almost daily exercise I was already doing.  I enjoy exercising, but now it was so much less appealing because the doctor told me I should to do it.

I don’t like being told what to do.

My poor friend. . . . I continued talking . . .

I tell her that my husband (sweet man), suggested–after seeing my angst and frustration and striving–it might be a good thing if I slowed and spent some time with God before we went to bed. Yes, he thought, it would be so good for me to slow and rest and listen.

I told him I didn’t feel like it.

And I told him I wasn’t going to listen to God and I wasn’t going to write Loop and I wish I were better at getting lots of things done in a short amount of time and I wish I were better at juggling lots more things than I am right now. I wish I were more productive with the time I have. Maybe if I were extroverted and more organized and more efficient I would get everything done in a day? Maybe I would have a good day, then? Maybe I would be able to listen to God, then?

What?

What a mess I am sometimes–a mess of pride and willfulness and rebellion.

Something in me was rising up, pushing back,  wanting to ignore the things I love to do, the things I know make me feel wrapped up in God’s love for me. I was my old self throwing a fit, wanting to do things I decide to do, on my own terms.

What’s going on?

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It’s difficult to discern the whispers of our heart when we’re running–running to prove, running to get done, running to attain.  Our heart is numbed when we keep ourselves so busy. It’s silenced, pushed down. There is little way, when we are scrambling and striving, to figure out what it needs most.

There is an idol I need to confess.

What we need is not often what we chase down. Rather, we often chase replacements, counterfeits for the real thing we truly crave. At our core, we crave God. We are desperate for Him. But we forget. We forget because we haven’t practiced stopping to look for Him. Rather, we wish we were better versions of ourselves or a different person altogether. When we refuse to slow and believe our worth comes from what we do rather than who we are, we have made an idol of ourselves. We believe we are whom should be worshiped, attended to. We know better than God. . . . We can’t fathom being perfectly made, and we believe that if the day doesn’t go as perfectly as we would have liked it is a reflection of our weaknesses, our failures.

We can easily wish we were different. We can easily believe life would be better if we were someone else.

My friend listens and encourages me on. And I share with her the loving voice mail another friend left on my phone just that day. She felt she needed to call and tell me something:

Lasting change comes when our hearts are focused more on the Healer who does the good work in us and less on the problems in ourselves we pray that God will heal. Freedom exists only in our greater trust, deeper intimacy with God. He does the good work in us; we cannot work and attain any joy and satisfaction in this world, on our own. No matter how hard we try.

Wow.

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Focusing on God and His goodness is always better than focusing on our inadequacies. We will keep running in circles, on an endless treadmill of trying to attain something we can never attain–rest, peace, joy–if we don’t slow and listen to the truth of our Father.

His voice in us, to us, with us, is always, always, the one we need to heed. Our own noise can only be tuned out through the quieting reality of His presence.

And so, right there, in the coffee shop, I read aloud to my friend the fruit of slowing and listening and believing His truth rather than the made-up one where we are striving and trying to prove our own worth. This, from Loop, is the last bit of what He said:

Throw down this lie you chase that makes you strive towards imaginary perfection. You will not receive my joy, my peace, my life in you that sustains if you continue to chase what is not meant for you to attain. Who are you to decide what it means to be desired, perfected, worthy? Who are you to shun what I’ve made and desire something different?

Let me show you this daughter of mine. Let Me show you the beauty of her, the joy she brings Me, the strength in her to love just the way I’ve made her to love, to work with the passions I’ve given her to use. She is mighty when she knows who and whose she is and abandons all idols that bring distraction to this life I’ve given her, distractions that bring death to her heart.

 For I bring life, my daughter. I bring you life. And this life I bring you is in you. I am in you. You are my delight and the one I sing over and never, ever want to leave.

He is right here. He is not hiding from you and me. He is not waiting for us to be someone different than who He has created us to be so we can be loved and accepted. As Jennifer Lee so beautifully puts it in her book Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes, coming out in April 1, we are Preapproved. There is not a thing we can ever–or need to ever–earn. We are loved because God is love. We are loved because we are what the author of love created. There’s nothing else He can do.

I encourage you to head on over to Jennifer’s as she has a pretty cool invitation for you. . . Because, yes, we are Preapproved. 51SjOKEf-zL._SL160_

And if you want to listen to God’s whispers to us, together, subscribe to Loop. Click right here.

 

 

 

Want to join me, thinking about what idol He might be asking us to lay down?

So grateful you’re here,

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even if you have a plan

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Confession: I like doing things myself, my own way. I like being the one in charge. I like having a say in how things are going, having a bit of control, knowing what is coming because my choices have helped make those things actually come to be.

At least I think I do.

When God tells you He is is moving in you, when He whispers to you that He is close and He promises to pursue you forever and never tire, how do you feel? Are you excited? Are you energized and hope-filled? Or are you a bit nervous and scared?

If we want to keep control of all the details of our day, His reminder that He moves with us, in us, can feel a bit uncomfortable. We may feel claustrophobic. We wonder if His being the one in charge is the best idea. After all, we had a plan.

I am moving. I am moving in you and I won’t ever stop. You can’t stop Me, and that’s a promise for you, my girl. I pursue you and I never tire and I fight on behalf of your heart—your complete self—the full you I created and have always designed you to be. I’m not done with you yet, my darling.

imnotdonedarlingpinHow you feel about this day–what you believe is yours to accomplish and who you feel is on your heart to love–says a lot about who you believe is in charge. And if you get a bit nervous about God whispering to your heart that He is here, promising, “I’m not done with you yet, my darling,” perhaps you are wondering whether God knows what He is doing, whether it is such a good idea for you to give up control.

I get it.

When I woke up this morning to see I sent Loop to the wrong email list (sorry about that confusion, by the way!), I leaped at His words, “Move with Me now.” I am so often afraid, at the start of each new week, that I am not going to make the most of my time: I’m not going to get what needs to get done accomplished; I’m not going to love well; I’m going to waste time thinking about me and my to-do’s rather than listen to the Father who adores me and knows what’s best.

All this worry. I am so good at turning the most beautiful thing–His plan for me, full of potential goodness and life–into decided smallness and fear.

Fear and regret and second-guessing are not what God has for me. They are not what God has for you.

So, together, let’s begin this week lifting our heads and being honest with God. Speak aloud the things He already knows, all the worries you have about this day, this week.

Don’t lose hope. Hang tightly to my promises, the Word-come-down who breathes peace to you and guides you along the rocky paths.

There is a plan, this day. There is plan, His girl. It is the best plan of all, the one He has for you, the one where He gets to help you believe, a little more, how much you are cherished. His love is the fuel we need this day. His love is what equips us for everything.

This is no small thing.

Oh, girl, this is no small thing.

So watch how He moves. Heed the Spirit I leave with you. Know you are never alone. . .  For I want you to live like you know who I am. And I want you to live like you know who you are. And I want you to live like you know this life I’ve given you is for the purpose of you being blessed by my love.

My love is for you. I am for you. Move with Me now. See Me moving and move with Me now. This is what you were meant, always, to do.

And I pray we begin this week moving deeper into freedom–taking a deep breath before we plunge into what’s ahead.

I want to watch Him move and feel His movements in me. Today, I give up the struggle for control. I forget that I never really want all that control anyway.

His plan–the way He loves–is so much better.

What about you? How will you seek His plan for you this week?

Linking with sisters over at Jen’s.

you’re not meant to be brokenhearted forever

I remember the girls circled ’round me, hands lifted high. Then the feeling of another hand coming from behind me, arms enclosing me, palms pressed to my heart. Voices lifted and daughters together sang sweet the prayers of their hearts, the language their Father has taught them, the song of love and belonging and being called home.

You are being called Home.

Crazy beautiful things happened that weekend. Women, desperate for more of God, were healed. We were reminded how Jesus comes to heal the brokenhearted, yes. He comes,with tender fierceness, to heal the broken hearts of His daughters. Whether trauma or abuse or lies or generational sins split the fabric of our hearts, Jesus comes for us.

You are meant to be healed.

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Seeking healing can be a choice to enter into pain–to let God call up memories of the past pushed down, or memories you never knew you had, too difficult for a little girl to deal with, when she is so young. When we are hurt so deeply, so profoundly, a part of our heart, our spirit, may break off, preserving us, as we deal with the pain that is too great for our young heart to bear.

But you’re not meant to be brokenhearted forever. To say yes to healing means letting Jesus show you, with His eyes, His heart, the hurt He knows you have experienced. And He will raise you from it. His love for you will help you to stand and not cower and live anew, despite the pain of the past.

He will heal you. No matter what has happened to you.

The process of healing may hurt, but He will never leave your side.

He is bigger than the sexual abuse you endured as a child. He is bigger than the neglect of your parents. He is bigger than the insecurity you’ve always felt about not being enough. He is bigger than the urge to hide, the desire to silence the pain by withdrawing, self-medicating, pretending everything is okay. You are okay, despite what has happened to you. You are okay, despite your past, your family history, your sin.

He loves you. You will be okay.

Let Him come in. Let Him hold you. Let Him come for the girl, the daughter He adores. Let Him show you His delight in you, His good plans, His true healing that brings light to darkness, health to the sick, clear sight for the blind.

Until you are healed, you are blind–blind to beauty that is you, that is yours, that is your destiny, your plans He has created just for you. Until you are healed and you let Him come in and you are willing to do the hard work of facing the dark shadows that feel too horrible to bear (and not alone; you are not meant to walk this road alone!) you will keep carrying the burden you are not meant to bear, that you were not designed to live with.  Because remember, when He created you, you were designed to be healthy, joy-filled, free.

I’m back home now, not in the midst of snow-white beauty, tucked in with sisters who love Jesus and crave more of Him, who reach desperately, full-on, for God. But I was held, held close by a Father who delights in hugging close his beautiful girls.

And those four days, where I slowed, where all electronics were laid down and I was completely out of contact with everyone except the sixty of us, I heard Him. I heard His voice. And I let Him come in more. I wanted more, more of Him, more of whatever He has for me. And a deeper pain of my past He unlocked. And my heart He mended. And my voice He unstopped.

It is worth it. Let Him come. Let Him heal you. It will be a long road, yes, but it will be a road He is on with you, giving you strength for each step, never, for one second, letting you go.

What do you hold on to other than Me? What is more solid than I am? What is more strong? What is more loving? What is more dependable? Do you know how I adore you? Do you know how much I love being near you? Do you know I love it when you pause, when you look up, looking for Me, and realize I am here? 

For it is then that you allow Me to hold you. You see my face and you behold glimpses of my glory and you want to stay with Me . . . And I hold you. I love when you pause and trust Me and want to be with Me and I get to hold you. It is just beautiful here, together, my daughter.

Praying for you, dear one. You are so not alone.

In His love,

Jennifersignaturescript

*The excerpt quoted above is from Loop, “Us Two, and No Other”. Learn more about Loop here.

 

let’s ride, wind in our hair

“You have to confess it. You have to say the lie aloud. You have to throw it to the throne of Jesus. You have to reject it even if you still believe the lie.” My friend looks me straight in the eye, and I hold her gaze for a half second before staring at my mug, wishing I were small enough to hide under the table. Now what? I think she’s right.

I know I had better not stall.

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When you recognize a lie as a lie, even if you can’t imagine no longer believing the lie, throw it up to heaven.

Renounce it. Reject it.

I heard this message again the other day, on my metal folded chair in church, grasping paper coffee cup fast in my hand: Jesus knows the way out of hell. God’s plan, His desire, is to save us from hell, save us from separation from the Father. And God sent his Son to die and take on every single one of our sins so He could lead the way out. He is the way out for us, sisters. Jesus knows the way out. He knows the way out of whatever you are facing.

He can reveal to our hearts the lies we believe that separate us from the Father. He can reveal to our hearts the twisted truths we believe about ourselves. And here was mine: I don’t want you to like me for who I am. I want you to like me for what I do. And my fingers pause now, as I write this, the tears spilling out. For it is hard, isn’t it, to say the lie out loud? It is hard, isn’t it, to be vulnerable? It is hard, isn’t it, not to wonder, what will she think of me, now?

So I cling tight to Him, His love letter to His girls, reminding us about truth, the truth of us:

The truth of you cannot be articulated in just words. The truth of you is a name and not a name. The truth of you is more than a description of personality, a page of characteristics, a list of mannerisms and popular expressions.

There’s something you must remember: you must live your truth. You must live, with determination and might, your truth. You must know who you are designed to be . . . if you want freedom, if you want liberation from lies, if you want joy.

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lie girl story 10

So in the coffee shop chair, where I spend my Fridays, I push my ear buds into my ears so the guy in the armchair across from me doesn’t think it’s weird I don’t have a laptop in front of me and my hands are open and my eyes are closed and my head is down, my hair shielding half of my face. ‘Cause once my Father has pressed in and showed me glimpses of pain, glimpses of sorrow, glimpses of damage I cause when I believe lies about myself and about Him, I can’t wait one more second to renounce the lie causing the whole darn mess. Jesus knows the way out of hell, not me. And I cause a lot of mess when I have let myself be separated from God because I think I know better. . . I think I know the way out instead of Jesus.

So I say it right there in that coffee shop on that Friday afternoon, less than a hour before I need to jump in the car to pick up the kids from school. “Jesus, I confess I want to be liked for what I do. I confess I care more about what people think about what I do rather than who You think I am. I want You, Father, to love me for what I do! I confess I don’t want you to love me for who I am! I repent, and I reject this lie. I reject the lie that my value comes from doing rather than being. I reject the lie and I break the agreement I’ve made with the enemy that my value does not come from being a daughter of God. I give this lie to you, and cast it on the throne of Jesus.”

And I stayed there. It was too good to not stay, this daughter He made, at Jesus’ feet. And Jesus offered me his hand, and He took me where He always takes me, in the garden, by the river, through the path where the green grass tickles my legs and flowers perfume the air. I can feel the perfume now on my skin.

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We walk up, up the hill, the grass blades leaning over the path so I can’t see the ground, can’t see where my bare feet fall. I see Jesus ahead of me, His looking back at me, smiling. He knows I love this, this walking through beauty, with water rushing fast, to my left, and sunlight shining bright through arches of trees. He knows I will love where we are going.

He leads me to the top of the hill where the waterfall is thundering, and He knows I want to jump. I want to jump right in. The water isn’t cold and the sun is warm on my cheek. And I turn my face up, and I am in God’s house and I am with my King and I am safe and I doing what I am made to do and where I am made to be.

And then I am alone. I am in a meadow, my back pressed into the soft earth. I lay in the flowers, eyes closed, the sun a blanket on my skin. Then the earth trembles beneath me. The soft ground shakes. I must rise. In front of me runs a giant white steed. It is huge and powerful and beautiful. Its eyes flash, and it whinnies as it stops right before me, its hooves stomping into soft earth. I want to ride it. I want to jump on and go, even though I’ve only galloped on a horse once, in my whole life.

But I can’t.

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Suddenly I am not in the meadow but in a dark, shadowy place where there are walls and I am standing, cold, alone. My hair is tangled and my clothes are dirty and tattered. Shredded pieces of linen, a grungy robe, filthy and brown, hangs from my shoulders. I lower my head, hands open at my sides.

Then, there are hands lifting each piece of clothing off of me. They were so heavy. I had no idea how heavy each piece was, as it hung on my tired frame. I then feel hands around my ankles, and strong fingers unfastening shackles around my bare feet, shackles I had never seen, attached to chains I never knew I wore.

And I am in the meadow once more. I am wearing a long gown and my hair is loose and clean, the sun shining bright and the air perfumed with light as it falls like love upon blooming flowers. I am on the steed. And I am wearing armor now, and I have a sword in my hand. This. This is the daughter He sees. This is the daughter I am. This is the daughter He calls me to be, the one who is free because she is willing to fight. The one who is dirty and broken and vulnerable and alone when she strives to be what she wants to create herself to be. The one who is actually beautiful and true when she lets herself know freedom, when she lives out the truth of the identity her Father sees.

Come on, sisters. Let’s break these lies. Let’s ride, wind in our hair.

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You, my daughter, are made to be strong, with Me. You, my daughter, are made to do things I’ve prepared, just for you. You, my daughter, are made to go forward, not back. And to go forward, you must fight and break the agreements you’ve made with the enemy. You must know I have come to claim you, the daughter I made. You must know your life has been paid for. You must know you are free. 

And sometimes, with my truth in your heart, you must reject lies about who I am. You must do this. Don’t wait. Do it right now. This it what it means to fight—for freedom from lies. It is rejecting lies and surrendering to Me. It is fighting for your identity, the one the prince of this world wants to take from you.

So, when you are weary, when the world presses in, remember I am here with you. Know I am the warrior who never sleeps. Know I rescue and ask you to trust Me more than anything else. That is how you fight. That is how you know who you are. That is how you are set free.

Sister, how is He pulling you close now? Can you dare to let your heart imagine the wonder of you He has created?
How can I pray for you?

what to say, face to face, for freedom

Because sometimes we need to hear a real, live voice telling us we are loved.

Because sometimes we need to be encouraged: we are chosen, adored, the Beloved, just as we are, right now.

Because sometimes we need to be reminded we need freedom, freedom from striving, freedom from our past, freedom from the lies we believe about God and about ourselves.

And we can’t just let this go.

So, I thought I take a few minutes and tell you . . .  and also tell you how I am so grateful we get to pursue God together, we sisters, His girls.

Much love to you,

Jennifersignaturescript

it is going to be good

I manage to pull myself out of bed earlier than usual today. The darkness in the cool house a dark blanket around me. He tells me to begin my day thinking about who I am, my family ties, my heritage, the beginning of heartbeat and hope. I step into the quiet kitchen and light a candle, turn on the heater, grab the favorite white furry throw from the couch and sit in the red chair in front of the fireplace.

There is something to do, now. I turn my heart to God. I will myself, practice listening, practice quieting. Is this surrender? How do we awake before stepping into the events of the day?

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I remember what He whispered,

My daughter. Those two words are not small. My . . . mine . . . what belongs to Me, what I call my own. Daughter, family, a closer tie than any flesh, any blood. I begin here, reminding you who you are.

When you hear Me, from the true place that responds to my voice and knows who you are, you begin to think about yourself less. You strive less. You have nothing to prove. I start here, my whisper, my daughter, to ask you to let go of insecurity, let go of stories that are false, let go of memories that can’t be changed. Begin your day thinking about who you are, as that is how you remember your connection to Me.

That last line grabs hold of my heart. It feels so contrary to what I want to believe, what is the right and good thing to do. Begin your day thinking about who you are, as that is how you remember your connection to Me. Shouldn’t I think only about God and endeavor to forget myself? But He urges me to think of myself in regard to my heritage, my connection to him. He wants me to begin my day with his words in my heart. He wants me to claim what He’s given, who He sees me to be.

So, I begin.

I am a daughter, a beloved, a chosen, a descendant of the living God. I am crafted with his breath, his voice giving air, more than oxygen, sweeter than any water on parched lips. His lips, his heart, speak my name, speak joy, speak hope.

And I receive it.

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There is goodness ahead. Can you say this aloud with me, sister? I am God’s daughter, so I am loved. I don’t have to scramble for it or try to prove it. I am God’s daughter, so I am fully wanted, fully his.

You have nothing to prove. I start here, my whisper, my daughter, to ask you to let go of insecurity, let go of stories that are false, let go of memories that can’t be changed.

Turning my heart–practicing the discipline of thinking of who I am in Christ, before the whirlwind of daily events try to distract me, grounds me in God, grounds me in truth. I think of the truth of the heart of the Father, the God who loves me full-on, with His whole heart.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth (Psalm 73:25).

We choose to think of His love for us, and lies about us not being good enough just don’t make any sense. We choose to cling to the truth that we are his–even if our heart, this day, doesn’t feel it–and we are secure in him, in his love for us, in his creation of us, despite what the world encourages us to believe.

This day, this day is the day He has made. This day is the day He calls you daughter and urges you into his arms. This day is the day He calls you to awake to him. This day is the beginning, again. You two. A Father and his daughter, walking together into whatever is ahead.

And He has a lot more for you, you know.

Trust Me. Look to Me.

Now listen.

I place within you longing. Pursue this longing. Don’t ignore this. But pay attention for what it is you long. Ask yourself if you long for more, from a conviction of knowing who you are. Notice if you long to be more whom I’ve created you to be, and not someone different. Notice if you long to go further, with Me, using the talents and passions I’ve placed within you—or if you are trying to prove yourself, if you wish you were more loved, more liked, more noticed, more cared for, more desired, more perfect.

We choose to surrender to the God who loves us . . . and He trains our mind . . . and our heart follows. God does the job of prompting us toward deeper intimacy with him, stirring us to awaken to the unique desires He has placed within our hearts to see him and respond to him, this day.

As daughters of God, we each receive His whispers. Sometimes the whispers are longings, desires, passions to go places or do things and live out life in the identity He has given you.

You are a daughter of God. Listen. Notice how He is speaking to you. Remember who you are and see what happens. Let Him show you glimpses of hope. . . . and watch more and more unfold.

Trust Me.

Look to Me.

Now listen.

Oh, girl, He has you now. This day is going to be good.

Have you yet subscribed to Loop? This post is a reflection on His whispers,”Fully You.” Click here to learn more about Loop and subscribe.

when you’re invited to dance

She feels it rising again, that part of her that believes she needs to prove her worth. Funny how the word of God, His whispers in her heart, as she prays, can get so easily twisted and confused, when she lets them.

She hears:

My eyes are on you, and your eyes are made to be on what you love. And I can show you how to love Me more. What you are made to love, with Me, will be blessed by the fullness of my love. All this will be done through the unique way you see, with the unique way your eyes are on Me.”

And she can easily ignore the blessing–the reminder of His love for her, that she is enough and has been gifted with unique talents and strengths. It is easier, more comfortable, to look at what she needs to do: “love Me more” . . . “I can show you how.” Rather than listening to the words pouring out, again and again, reminding her of who she already is.

She doesn’t need to be more to love well.

She is already made to love well.

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She, already, is a blessing walking around. She is made, and she can’t help but bless, when she lives knowing she is loved, when she lives with the freedom of knowing this truth: she doesn’t have to earn it.

She reads the words again:

“Daughter, I love your gifts. I love what you are equipped to do. I love how you are made and the way you see. You are needed for the way you see.

The way you love is unique to everyone else. You are needed to reach out, for I give you eyes to see things no one else will notice. Your heart beats fast, its own rhythm. And I love how it is made to beat in alignment with Me.”

Her Father speaks of sight, of seeing. And it is beyond vision, she thinks. It is a knowing, a response to knowing. It is recognizing the heartbeat of her Father within her. It is looking inward, into the truth of her, as a creation of Christ, and living and loving outwardly, only by knowing, inwardly, that she is loved.

Love is what equips her to love, to move with grace, to know the steps she will take this day.

And this is what her Father describes as dance:

“The way you move, with Me, is a pace that feels like dance. You move with beauty and with grace and with light that cannot be contained. It is made to be seen. You are made to be seen by Me, and I see you, and I delight in you, and I love how you do it.”

She is her Father’s daughter, woman all grown up, still His little girl, dancing with beauty and grace and light. She moves with confidence when she knows she is not alone, when she remembers each movement is taken in by her Father’s loving gaze.

She is not alone. She is seen.

This day, this moment, each step she takes, even when it feels like she has no idea what she is doing, what steps to take next, when stumbling feels more familiar than grace and beauty and light . . .  She can choose to claim the vision He casts for her, His vision of her that is truer than the one she has of herself.

He will show her how to see, how to see what He sees. He will show her how to trust His eyes, His heart, so that she can trust her own.

And then she dances.

She dances, a unique way to move and see and love unlike anyone else’s dance. And the Father loves how she dances. And He doesn’t want her to dance any other way. For the steps she takes when she hears the music He places within her, her response to His whispers of love to her, are what fuel her love. Her response is to the rhythm of two hearts beating, as she takes one step, and then another, this day. She is not alone when she dances, for she is with Him.

“You love what you are made to love when you keep your eyes on Me. For then you see what you are made to see, your dance steps in sync with Me. You turn and dip and bend and twirl, and we keep step together. There is music, now, when we dance, to bless the ones you see.”

She is loved, so she can learn how to love. She knows what to love, as her dance steps are locked with His. She is gifted with a way to love people unlike anyone else. So her dance is unlike anyone else’s. Her music, her heartbeat with His, unlike anyone else’s.

And her dance is needed. Her beauty and grace and light, His heart in hers, do more than fill a room.

They bring rescue. They bring invitation to hope. They bring a new rhythm of living and moving–and all who notice can’t help but want to join in.

Do you believe you are invited to dance? Do you believe your dance, with God, is beautiful? What does your dance, with Him, look like right now?

This post was inspired by Loop: “The Way You Dance”. Subscribe to Loop to get encouragement, just for you, delivered to your inbox twice a week.

Want to hear a little bit about what I shared, on Restoration, at the Soli Deo Gloria Retreat, last weekend? Click here.

just one step now

She wonders a lot about the next steps. She waits with uncertainty, heart beating fast, searching. She thinks she wants what’s in front of her . . but she isn’t sure. How can she know if she desires what is around the corner, around the bend, if she can’t see it? How can she trust and say ‘yes’ to steps ahead–walking forward, without trepidation, without hesitation, into a place she’s never been?

If only she could see further, beyond the place where her feet land.

“Take steps where you can no longer see.”

Where is this road going anyway?

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Her feet stretch out timidly, shoulders hunched over, eyes focused at the ground. Each step forward, she must focus: what’s ahead? What rocks line the path? What ruts might cause her ankle to turn, her toes to stumble? She will keep going forward, for a bit, at least. But she is nervous, weary. She is not sure how much longer she can keep walking.

It might be best to pause.

If she knew what was ahead, surely she would not wait. If she knew what was required of her, what the next steps would be, when she arrived at the destination, then no doubt she would walk stronger, with confidence, with head held high.

“I made you to be humble, but not meek. I created you to walk with lifted head, proclaiming my name, showing this world you are loved.”

But what is next? What does the day ahead look like? What if she doesn’t want to move ahead? What if she doesn’t want to trust? For after all, what if she moves forward and things are worse then they are now? What if she doesn’t have what it takes to do the thing God has for her, up ahead?

“You can stay in the same place, if you want to. You don’t have to trust Me. You don’t have to let Me in. You can hear my voice here and still hesitate, unsure what loving Me, what trusting Me, will require. You can let fear and uncertainty be your guide, and not my voice, my greatest desire for your good, my richest love for you.”

And the weight feels too heavy, her feet stumbling. She can no longer walk, finding a place to sit, to lay down, to rest off this uncertain path.

“I usher you into My presence. I come, to overwhelm you, all your senses, all your memories. I am bigger than your greatest fear. I am bigger than your greatest hope.”

She hears His voice, His whispers–the words of a Father to a daughter. He is on this road with her. She is not alone. He is on this road. And she thinks this helps a bit. He is with her.

“Reach your hand out now, for I long to grab yours and hold tight. Lift those shoulders now; let me take that burden you carry.

Can you see me taking it? Can you see my hands upon your shoulders, the weight being lifted off? Can you feel shackles being cut? Can you feel the things you can’t, with your eyes, see?”

She can see. She can see the path. She can see. Just enough. She can see her Savior’s hand.

She can see.

She can see His hand, His feet, His steps next to hers. She can see Him–and she trusts in what He sees.

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On His path, Jesus saw up ahead. He saw the future; He knew what sacrifice and surrender and trust in His Father would look like. And He cried blood. He saw up ahead and the knowing didn’t make it easier.  Not that what is ahead is always hard, but knowing what is coming still requires faith to go forward; it still requires willingness to believe in the love of a Father.

Her Savior knew what was coming, farther down the path than what she can ever see for her own life, and still, He kept His eyes on His Father. He could see farther up ahead and still it was only the eyes of His Father on Him that kept Him going, that let His eyes focus, that gave Him courage to continue to want to see.

Seeing and trusting are not the same thing. We are given the gift of seeing the eyes of our Father, His heart for us, His delight in us, His feet in step next to ours. And that, and nothing else, is all we need. It was all Jesus chose. He could see more, far into the future. He knew what was coming. And still, it was His Father’s hand He sought for strength, for comfort, for the path so He could keep on taking the next step, and nothing else.

“Just follow Me, my daughter. I know this road, this one marked out for you. You have choices about where to go, whether to turn right or to turn left. But ask Me where I am. And trust I give you recognition for the One who made you, for the One who designed your heart, for the One who knows His daughter and the details of the road, for her, ahead.”

And oh, we have a choice. We have a choice whether to give in to fear and stay in the same place, crouched in a ball. We can surely stay on the side of the road, ignoring our Father’s invitation for us to walk on, with Him, by our side. Or we can straighten tall, taking one step, just one step now, at a time. We can trust where our feet fall, even if we can’t see far ahead. We can believe it will be okay . . . for He sees ahead. He sees where we can’t see.

And we can see Him.

We keep our eyes on Him, and we know who we are. We keep our eyes on Him, and we no longer respond to fear, but the beauty we know is ours, to claim, up ahead. We keep our eyes on Him, and we can go forward into new ground–even in our waiting, even in our pain, even in the most horrible situation we are going through right now. We keep our eyes on Him, and He strengthens and rescues and we have strength to let ourselves be rescued. And we have courage to go forward and rescue others, who are stuck, by the side of the road, afraid to move, too.

“I created you with strength within you. I created you with beauty tangible. I created you with goodness and love pouring into you to pour out.

You are no small thing, while a wisp of breath. You inhabit my glory. You inhabit Me, and I inhabit you. This–the place we inhabit together–is the place where you can move around, feel freedom, breathe in joy and let my light, for others, shine.

I made you to be humble, but not meek. I created you to walk with lifted head, proclaiming my name, showing this world you are loved. For the reality of being loved and known and made and wanted and perfected in faith is what allows you to go forward, grasping hold of my hand, pulling other daughters out of darkness, too.

Are you coming?”

Friends, I know what is feels like to be that daughter, cowering, head down, shivering, frozen with indecision and fear, on the side of a twisting, uncertain road. I know what it feels like to be wounded and afraid and hopeless. I know what it feels like to feel worthless and unloved and undeserving and stuck. But, you know what else I know? . . . My burdens are not what are most true about me . . . Your burdens are not what are most true about you.

Move from this place, sister. Move from the side of the road. This is not the place for you. You are made to move with freedom and passion and joy. One step. One step at a time.

Keep your eyes clear now. I pray you keep your eyes focused on only one thing. Your Father. His hands in yours, the ones scarred and beautiful and grasping hold tight.

Oh, girl, He’s got you.

He’s not letting go.

So go.

Don’t stay here.

Don’t stay.

Hear Him say it again, His hand reaching out, His eyes of love on you, eyes wet with tears.

“Are you coming?”

Come on back, Friday, for practical steps for moving out of fear, away from the side of the road. But first, tell me, share with us, here–this place where He gathers us, His girls, His daughters–where are you on the road? What next step do you feel Him asking you to take, with Him? Do you believe He is there with you, on the road? What is your prayer, as you walk, sister, step by step?

becoming, full on

I like to write with my eyes closed. The deepest, most true part of me, the part of me that is made, the part of me that is most beautiful, is the part of me you can’t see. I used to think it was ugly, this part of me deep inside. So I tried really hard to make the outside of me look cute. I worked jobs in junior high and high school and college so I could buy outfits so I would be noticed for how cute I looked. I didn’t like my inside, so I worked hard for my outside to be approved by the world.

And I think that part of me, the inside part, the part calling out glory and beauty and desired and chosen was the part slowly dying, bit by bit, year by year. Each year I grew taller, I squashed more of me and worked harder to seem more beautiful and accepted to everyone who didn’t know the inside me. The inside me was the me I didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone see.

And I’m not doing that anymore.

becoming, full on

Community has come around. Prayers of healing spoken deep into my heart. I had to make a decision: keep striving to earn love or ask Him for help in believing I am loved, already. And the battle for my heart, waged before I was born, began again. It began as I surrendered and the whispers of the enemy felt louder and my King rose bigger and mightier so He filled every space of my heart so there was no room for any more lies. No more room for these insides of mine, my true place, my heart that is made, to wither and die.

I didn’t make one step toward healing alone. But no one–not one prayer, not one encouraging friend, not one sweet note sent to me in the mail–could get me to make a step toward Him, either. I had to do that on my own. I had to to be the one to choose–let myself die, the true part of me that He made, or let the true heart He made step out, bold and lovely, and sing. I had to choose where to place my steps, my confidence, my life. I had to choose whether or not to heed my King, leading me home.

We just simply have to choose.

So I listen deep to His voice and trust my words and claim my voice and let the inside me be what I shout out as most beautiful, most claimed, most fought for, most desired and redeemed. Yes, the inside part of me is what is redeemed. So I grow older, and more wrinkles around my eyes and my neck appear. My hands become more beloved, like those of my grandmother’s with their brown and ripples and creases. My voice says truth, my words not hiding and twisting, trying to make themselves fit into a space that seems like the perfect fit.

I am a perfect fit. I am made, and I am beloved and worthy and glorious. And I’m not going to make excuses for it. To be made means to be awake to the coming fullness of you. Come on, let’s look at all we are becoming. Let’s grab hold of it. Let’s  smile, and look at it, right in the face.

How have you struggled, girls, with the acceptance of your true self? Have you received healing? May I pray for you?

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the most normal, natural thing

Knowing you are made means you are awake. You are awake for connection. You are awake to beauty. You are awake to music and whispers, the kind of whispers you recognize, the kind of whispers that feel like lullabies of song.

You take a walk and your feet, crafted for this, stretch long. You are part of the beauty. You are part of the wonder. You are in the sunlight, the sparkle of golden warmth on leaves. So you look up and you look in, and you are one of the bouquets of autumn, one of the hallelujahs of glory that come from dying, the brilliance of orange and gold and red.

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Knowing you are made means saying ‘yes’–yes to see Him, yes to feel Him, yes to listen and respond. You know who your Maker is. You know the way Home, and you go there because there is no other place where you can live.

You are awake and you hear Him and you go with Him because you are aware of your beginning, because you know the beginning of you was not the beginning of God.

Knowing you are made means living in color, not black and white, but the nuances you don’t even understand. It’s stepping in even when you aren’t sure. It’s not knowing the answers but knowing your way and knowing your Maker is still working on you. It’s knowing you are desired because your Maker doesn’t make something He doesn’t love.

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Knowing you are made means knowing you are loved. It means surrender, patience, obedience. It means letting go and letting yourself fall. It means relinquishing control and not having a plan and being held in the dark places, and being willing to stay there, if it means it is where He is.

Knowing you are made means knowing you are rescued and fought for and capable of taking His hand and rescuing, too.

You, my friend, are made. You are full of light and salt and beauty. You are no small thing.

You are made. And you bring glory to His name.

I felt like reading this to you. Click here to listen to the words aloud.

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Linking with sisters at Jen’s place.

how we describe ourselves: words, wounds, and unbelief

Words are no small thing. What we say aloud, what we write down, what we tuck away in our hearts, is language given by God to help us define, for ourselves, the truth of who we are.

Adored. Treasured. Cherished. Wanted. Chosen.

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We use words, one of the languages of the heart, to receive His love and pour out His love. We give what we receive. It works no other way.

We read His truth—and it is only true for us, personally, when the words are more than just words, meaning translated to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to use words that are accurate—words that are precise and true—to claim our true identity, in Christ.

We are daughters. We are princesses. We are glorious. We are beauty. We are delighted in. We are chosen. We are blessed. We are light. We are made.

Let’s notice what comes out of our mouths when we speak, when we choose words to describe ourselves. Let’s write down the words that tumble out. Are they words of strength? Because He equips His daughters with strength. Are they words of beauty? Because God gifts His daughters with beauty. Are they words of hope and delight? Because our Father gifts His daughters with light to be His light and to bless others.

When the words most easily pouring forth are words of self-condemnation, know that these are not words God uses to describe us. Know that how He sees us is the only truth, the only vocabulary we should use to accurately claim our identity.

Even if we don’t believe Him yet.

He, my sister, will help us with that, too.

You, sister are the heir to the King, the daughter He adores, His beloved one He chose to make and to love and to pursue and to die for so she might live.

Choose words for yourself, His gift to you, that are true and that bring life to your heart. You are worth it.

You are worth it.

You are worth it.

Because He says so. And His words are the ones that made you. His words are the ones that count.

I would love to hear what words you use to describe yourself most readily. Let’s surrender to Him, the One who made us, the words that are false. And let’s ask Him to give us new words to define us, the truth of what He sees.

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how to be fiercely vulnerable and beautifully brave

For a school assignment, she has to write about her name. So she sits on the floor of the kitchen, back pressed against smudged yellow wall, knees pressed into her chest. White notebook paper clipped to purple plastic clipboard, her big brother’s special mechanical pencil clutched in determined hand. She writes with confidence, the funny story I thought I might never tell her but had to, the way her daddy and I heard her name on Telegraph Avenue, at nightfall, holding hands at the edge of campus. We weren’t yet married, but we knew she was coming someday. The name a song sung out through dark, the call of a homeless man to his dog.

Abigail.

(You see why we hesitated, just for a bit, in telling her the story?)

A man we never met called out her name on the pock-marked streets of Berkeley, the city where my dad told me I should never go to school. Much too dangerous. Too crazy. Too weird. And then he said something else, the message clear although the words never said out loud: it’s not safe for you. He wanted his eldest daughter to stay safe, protected and shielded from this turbulent world he had come to know. After all, life is unpredictable, hard. You don’t know what’s around the corner, so you need to be prudent, cautious, reserved.

But then he said, “I trust you”. And I went and stayed, just one year, and Justin came to visit and we heard the name, Abigail, called out in the night–the name much more than a name . . . a possibility, a promise, a dream. She was a story begun in our hearts, the girl we wanted and waited eleven years to meet. The girl with bright blue eyes, sparkling the way sun radiates cresting waves as they kiss the edge of sea.

Abigail means “Father’s joy.”

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Pregnant with her, our third child after having two boys, I struggled to believe she was really coming. This girl of mine would be born, growing in my womb. The joy was too great, the dream too close. I wanted her too much.

Abigail. Father’s joy. Delight of my heart. . . We call her Golden Light.

She reads her story aloud to me as I place plates out for dinner. The story of her naming, the story of her daddy and I holding hands, long before she was born, dreaming of her, wanting her to come into our lives, wanting to hold her so much. And I tell her to keep going, keep writing, that there is so much more she has to say.

Write about what your name sounds like when you hear it. Is it music? Is it a song? I ask her about her nicknames, Coconut Bird, B, Goldilicious, Golden Light. I point her to the names He told us about the truth of her, what He sees in her when He thinks of her, the names He gave us when we prayed and had written on canvas over her bed and she has memorized and loves to recite aloud:

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When I leave for the airport this morning, her arms wrap around me with the fierce vulnerablility that makes her beautiful and makes her strong. Oh, I want to be more like her–holding nothing back and letting emotions pour out even though I’d rather hide, even though it hurts.

I bend low and tell her it is okay to be sad, but she also needs to be strong. I tell her she is Eowyn, in Lord of the Rings, a princess who loves with fierceness and with bravery and is willing to stand up for what she believes and go into battle on behalf of the people to whom her king has given her to fight. She can be sad, but she need not cower. She can be mad but she must trust the strength within her, the strength her King gives her, to be brave.

And I fasten around her neck, underneath her braids still wet from her bath, the necklace she wears when she misses me and I can’t be with her. On the silver disc are three simple words, “child of God”. I tell her to remember who she is and who has made her and then. .  . I tell her she doesn’t have to try to pretend to be anything different and be anyone different than who He has made.

She is made. She is made. And she is loved. And there is not one thing I would ever change, and I will miss her and wear my necklace with her name around my neck, too, while I am gone. For two days.

When I get back we will sit side by side at the football game, cheering on her daddy’s and my favorite college team, and we will listen some more about her name. And we will look back at the canvas, and revisit the stories about her, the dream of her, and the beauty that she is that I could never have imagined, on my own.

And here, I will lift up the words He continues to sing into our hearts about these daughters, these sisters, these girls of His who are not small and meek but mighty and beautiful and made. And only because they are His. And only because they are loved. And only because they are made.

And you, His girl . . .continue to write your name. The name He gives you. The name that is His and yours and His again. Because you are His. Because you, girl, are made.

I pray for each of us, as we continue to press in and listen and surrender and believe, even more, that we are loved and delighted in and chosen and wanted. Yes, you are wanted. You are no mistake. So let’s be fiercely vulnerable together, fighting for the truth of our names, the sound of it when He says it aloud: Daughter. You are the one I made. You are her.

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who’s the boss?

Say it aloud now: I am made.

This is no small thing.

You do not create yourself. You do not fix yourself. You do not change the already perfect design of you. Your maker, who made you, is the one who brings about heart change.

There is a Maker who has you all planned out, who sees you right now, in your beautiful fullness. And this is what He invites you to claim.

The woman He has made you to be may not be the woman you recognize, right now. Something feels off, skewed. You feel lonely or insecure. You feel depleted or fearful. You feel ugly or stupid or rejected.

But He sees her.

He knows who He has made.

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These words we tell ourselves about being not good enough or tainted or messed up, were not what He planned. Our Maker does not make anything that isn’t beautiful.

Our Maker does not make us as too much or not enough. Our Maker does not make us as a disappointment or a mistake. Our Maker does not make us as worthless or just so-so.

Let me tell you something. . . and I am telling myself this just as I am telling you:

You are not just average. You are not just adequate. You are not just ordinary. You are not just, anything.

You are created.

You are made.

You are beauty, and you are love.

You are the birth of a Maker who wanted you.

He wanted you.

And when He made you, He called you daughter. And when He made you, He called you friend. And when He made you, He called you Beloved. And when He made you, He called you heir. And when He made you, He called you saint. And when He made you, He called you new. And when He made you, He called you chosen. And when He made you, He called you holy. And when He made you, He called you blameless. And when He made you, He called you redeemed. And when He made you, He called you light. And when He made you . . .

And when He made you. . .

I will never stop listening to Him about this. I will never tire of asking Him what this world looks like through His eyes, what He sees when He looks at His children, what He hears when He walks beside them, what He feels when He sees us live out these lives He gave. These lives He made.

He is the authority on what it is to make. He is the authority on creating something out of nothing. He is the authority on making the ultimate sacrifice for a daughter, a son, a world, He made.

He is the authority. He is the Maker. He is the One from whom all good things flow. He is the One who continues to shape us, by the light of His love, into the design He planned, all along.

You have seen, in previous posts of this series, how His shaping of us is a choice. We can choose to believe the truth of who we are or not. We can choose to let Him in, shape us, as painful as it may be, or not. We can choose to let Him show us how we trust Him and how we don’t. We can choose to love Him or reject Him, His sacrifice, His grace. We can choose to claim His vision of who He made us to be, or we can craft our own vision of what we believe it looks like to be valued, successful, worthy.

Let’s talk about that soon.. .

But for now, let’s just consider that fact that we might not actually know what is best for us. Our Maker, the one who created us, does.

Are you living like you are the one in charge, the creation of you, or are you letting God, your maker, lead? Who is deciding who you really are?

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nothing ordinary to see here

There is nothing ordinary about you. Not one thing. You are made. You are created. You are fully you. Come on, girl, you are created to be fully you.

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I know it is tough to not compare, to not look at the girl across the room with the pretty hair, the gorgeous smile, the beautiful words strung together just so. . .and think that makes you less beautiful. Less valuable. Less important.

She can’t be compared to you. 

You are the only one of you God created. He didn’t make a second one. He looks at you, and He smiles. He looks at you, the perfect shape of your eyes, the perfect sound of your laugh, the perfect design of your brain, and He says, yes, she’s the one I want. She is the daughter of whom I’ve dreamed.

Can you imagine God dreaming? Can you imagine God smiling at the thought of you, the beauty of His girl, the delight you are to Him, His dreamed-up daughter?

He dreamed you up and it just wasn’t enough. He didn’t leave you as just an idea, a draft, a mistake to be improved, to be turned to later. He didn’t have second thoughts. You were the one. You were the vision.

He made a mold, just this one, never to be made again. And He created you. Just like this. With beauty and strength and hope and glory growing. Because in Him, in His love for you, nothing stands apart. See yourself with true eyes now, girl. You grow ever more beautiful in your fullness, with Him.

There is nothing that can separate you from the love of your Creator for you. You are creation. You are glorious, as you. Only as you. So embrace the word “only”. There is only one you. Celebrate the word “just”. He made just one you.

He loves you. Oh, He loves you. He calls you by a name no one else has ever heard. No one else could ever imagine. You are the one He has made, and He doesn’t look around, wishing you were anything, anyone else.

Do you know that when He smiles, when He loves, when He fights and goes ahead, He is thinking of you? Do you know that when He laughs, when He sings, when He dances, when He speaks, He is thinking of you?

He is love, and in Him, there is nothing ordinary. He made you.

Oh, girl, just think of it. Just this:

He made you.

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 Happily linking up with other non-ordinary women, over at Lisa-Jo’s place, for Five-Minute Friday.

don’t be frustrated with your little girl heart {made: day 8}

I’ll cry out now. I knew it was coming. But yet, when your heart is in the middle of a wrestling match with God, you can find yourself a bit out of breath. Sometimes, it takes a considerable amount of energy to listen to Him, to let His truth settle in, to let my Father do His work. . . without me running away.

And I want, so badly, to run away.

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I come in late, the living room already full of women, some I’ve known for years and others I am just getting to know more deeply. We are reading a book together, Becoming Myself, by Stasi Eldredge, and the invitation comes gently, beautifully . . . “How would you describe the soundtrack from your childhood?  . . .What were you like as a young girl? . . .How are your current struggles rooted in your past?”

I had so much trouble sharing. One dear friend next to me encourages me to speak without her uttering a word, her head tilting slightly in my direction. My other precious friend across from me beckons me deeper, coaxing me, letting me know she sees me, even though I am trying, desperately, to hide. “I want to hear from you. . .” with a sweet smile from ear to ear.

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I am loved, here, safe to be me and share and, if I feel like it, even just sit and not say a word. But it is so unlike me, the real me, the bold and beautiful and fearless woman He’s made, to sit passive, withdrawn. And my friends know this. I recognize the little girl who shows up within me, the one afraid to use her voice, the one reticent to be honest and open in community. And it surprises and saddens me that she is still here.

But it doesn’t disappoint God.

I call this influence on my identity my little-girl heart, the fragile, not yet mature part of me that is still being formed, molded and crafted by God. It is the heart my Father pursues, desires to heal and make whole. I know this little-girl heart well. It is the place in me that is yet to feel secure in who I am, but it is also the part of me that is most desperate for God. A little girl knowing how much she needs her Father.

I love this reminder, in Ezekiel, of how God pursues us and makes us whole:

And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God (11: 19-20).

I chose to be here this morning, with these women, because I craved seeing God work, like He does. When a group of women come together, choosing to be real and vulnerable and raw–to share stories and seek healing–God is absolutely going to be right there in the middle of it. He is leading, He is showing the way. Later that day I send my friend a text,

“I am really sorry about not sharing this morning, I had trouble entering in. I am so grateful for you and your hungry heart and how you nurture because you crave it too and we are all blessed by it. You love so beautifully. You exemplify His freedom and abandonment and openness to what is true and filled with His light. It has been a long time for me, showing up to a group with no formal responsibilities. I hide, apparently, a lot. Not sure how to do better. Thank you for reaching out and pursuing me and loving me. I am so grateful.”

And her words back to me are His truth, His encouragement, His reminder for what we are each made:

“You are a blessing. Your presence carries with it light and grace from heaven that flows out into the atmosphere whether you are aware of it or not. He shines even when you shrink. . .there is no dodging his glory in you. And you are doing what you were MADE to do–loving him, opening up your heart, and sharing him with your voice and words.”

I take a deep breath, my weight lifted. What she says is true.

And her next words are the clincher. She shares how she wrestles with her role in the group, too–wondering if she was fully herself, if she pursued and loved well the women who shared their hearts. {And she did. She definitely did.} But I love how she gives it back to God, refusing to carry the burden of having everything figured out. She tells me, ”I am trusting Him in it all, knowing that it’s not all up to me.”

And we agree on the power of showing up, allowing God to carry our little-girl hearts, maturing them fully into wholeness, the realization of our fully made self He promises.

We are made, girls. Each part of us. Being fully formed.

Don’t be frustrated. He’s not done with us yet.

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 Linking, today, with Jennifer and women whom I’m so grateful are willing to share their stories.