The story only gets better from here.

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I think this is one of my favourite pages in the whole Bible. Knowing what’s just around the corner, the excitement that the story only gets better from here.

What was spoken by the Old Testament prophets becomes living, breathing humanity as Immanuel comes: God is with us.

The power of the Gospel hidden in a helpless babe, the Messiah born to the humblest of beginnings.

And the story just gets better from here.

Because the best is yet to come, and yet the Best came as the least among us, but with the greatest gift.

Because this King, who came to rule and reign, instead chose to bear my shame and went to the cross. Saving his glory for a later day, when he rose from the grave in triumph over sin and death and the power of hell.

And the story just gets better from here.

Because in all the things the prophets said, some yet remain a promise.

Because he now sits at the right hand of the Father, waiting to be sent again in completion of a story whose first breath was breathed before light ever cracked the sky in the dawning of time.

But this page. This agonizing and exhilarating moment as a broken and dying earth catches her breath in expectation of redemption in the form of a humble babe.

And the story just gets better from here.

Searching.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24

I’m wrestling.

I have been struggling with a situation, and it seems as though I continue to butt up against the same brick wall, over and over.

This morning, as I sat with my coffee and my Bible, I was confronted with the truth in these words. The verses have been framed on my wall for months, if not years, and I look past them daily; my eyes bouncing over them, not stopping to let the weight of their meaning seep into my soul.

But today.

Search me, God.

Bring Your holy conviction to the areas where it is needed.

You know my heart.

Better than I know myself.

Test me, and my anxious thoughts.

Help me to silence my futile worrying so that Your voice can be heard.

Reveal the areas in my heart that are offensive to You.

Like my lack of trust.

My efforts to run my own life.

My desire to be in control.

My dissatisfaction with Your timing.

Lead me in the ways of everlasting life.

Your plans for me are perfect.

And only Your will is going to bring me satisfaction and peace.

Search me.

And the walls come down.

It shouldn’t be mind-blowing.

So it’s been a while. I know.

Sometimes that happens…

Life (or lack there of, possibly) gets in the way.

Or you just feel that there’s nothing to be shared. I sit down to write, and nothing comes out.

Or I’ll write, and then there it sits in my drafts folder, never to see the light of day.

God has been doing things, for sure. He’s at work, always.

But sometimes it can be hard to see. It can be hard to quantify. Hard to identify as “progress.”

But He IS there.

Always.

And He is so good.

He’s showing me how to be fulfilled in Him. How amazing it is to be in that place of surrender.

He’s bringing me into honest, real, and uplifting community.

He’s opening my eyes to the big picture.

Reminding me how one day, I will stand before Him, and the only things that will matter to me are:

Did I love Him well?

Did I serve Him the way He asked me to?

Those other things that I get so concerned about in this life won’t even be a passing thought.

My only regrets will be centered around not having known Him better.

This shouldn’t be a mind-blowing revelation, but it has rocked my world, a little bit.

It’s made me uncomfortable in the best possible way.

Sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

And I don’t know why I’m surprised, because obviously… He knows.

He’s so good.

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”

Romans 5:1-2 (The Message)

Risky business.

Love is a risk.

This week, God presented my sister and I with an opportunity- something that we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves. In fact- it was something we had discussed doing, but had closed the door. It wasn’t for us. It wouldn’t fit our lifestyle. We were comfortable with things the way they were.

But Jesus had another plan. He presented us with this need, an opportunity to love like He does. A big, messy, just-say-yes kind of love.

And so like humans do, we weighed our options. We thought through the potential outcomes. We calculated risk. And then we jumped off the cliff.

Love is a risky thing.

It can be uncomfortable.

It can seem too big.

It’s not always convenient.

But it is a privilege. To love like Jesus is to become more like Him… To be His hands, and His feet, and His heart… That’s when we learn to die to ourselves.

In the middle of making this decision, in the struggle between obeying the Voice telling us to just say yes and the desire to stay within our comfort zone, while we were still weighing the risks, I came across a quote that kind of rocked my safe and secure little world.

“God risked Himself on me.
I will risk myself on you.
And together, we will learn to love,
and perhaps then, and only then,
understand this gravity that drew Him,
unto us.”

-Donald Miller

It’s part of a larger (very beautiful) passage in a book he wrote, and I am taking it out of context somewhat. But I think it fits not only here, but in a lot of life’s situations.

I want those words to define my life.

Love is a risk.

But if it means I can be more like Jesus, that I can better understand His heart, then I am saying yes.

And I’m jumping off the cliff.

So blessed.

Lately I have been struggling with life seeming too “normal.” I’m comfortable. Complacent. Drifting.

Annoyed.

In frustration, I complained about my feelings to a friend, and she admitted to feeling the same way. We commiserated, half-heartedly encouraged, and went on our ways.

And this morning I was so convicted.

I woke up to sunshine (a first in a while- so. much. rain.), drove to the job I love, in my fantastic blessing of a car, and as I was driving… There was a nudge. A reminder to be thankful.

And so me and Jesus had a chat. Just me and Him, in my car, quiet. Me being thankful. Him reminding me of how blessed I am.

The best part?

I’m always here, you know. We can do this any time.

And I felt so silly. So inadequate to deserve the things He’s given me. Those boring times? They’re good for me too. And in the big picture, I’m just so blessed.

So here is my line in the sand: I’m blessed. That’s all there is to it.

In these quiet, hidden times when it’s easy to get frustrated with the status quo- I’m blessed.

It won’t always be like this, and something tells me that I might just look back and think that these were the days 🙂

Big dreams.

I think we’re all created to dream. To reach for the big things that are just beyond our grasp.

I don’t know about you… but I tend to keep those dreams quiet. I keep them to myself. There’s just something about speaking them out loud that is slightly terrifying, and so I don’t. Why run the risk of failure? Or of having your dream rejected by the person you share it with?

Silence is safer. But it can also be the place where dreams go to die. And I don’t want to be ok with letting that happen.

 

Yesterday, I took a leap and broke the silence on a really big dream. It was scary, and risky, and the potential for disappointment was huge.

Instead, I watched someone else’s eyes light up at the possibilities I had contemplated quietly for so long. I watched them embrace the vision of this too-huge-for-me thing, and say- this can happen. We can do this.

My God delights in big dreams. He loves to inspire them in us, and He’s blessed even more than we are when they come to be reality.

 

And I think that this really big dream is coming to life.

Seasons don’t last forever.

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I’m not a huge fan of snow, and I’ll be the first to say that winter is not  my favourite season. But somehow it always surprises me how short these winter months are. So much time spent dreading it, and then almost before you realize… temperatures are inching closer to bearable, gigantic mountains of snow are dwindling away, and you begin to notice the warmth of the sun again.

I think that’s something I tend to stumble over in other areas of my life, too. I’m a chronic over-thinker (no, really?!), and I’m realizing lately just how much energy I expend by worrying over temporary things. Or how I stress out over inevitable or not-worth-it things.

Just like God promises springtime, He promises His grace and victory. And we can trust Him to come through for us.

I’m so thankful for that, and I want to see life from that vantage point more readily.

Spring is coming, folks  : )

Each new page.

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This happened. It was beautiful. And I totally cried.

Lyss, I’m so excited for you as you begin this amazing new chapter in your life. I know that this man you’ve chosen was created by God specifically for you, and I’m thankful for how He brought you two together.

You are my once-in-a-lifetime friend; the one who knows the Whole Story. And I’m not going to let something as silly as a few thousand miles (seriously, who’s counting?!) keep us from sharing the rest of life’s adventures. We will learn to enjoy phone conversations, whether we like it or not : )

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I love you, I miss you already, and I’m so proud of you.

Change, trust, and going higher.

It has been a season of big changes, and my poor little heart is still trying to catch up.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night about contentment, and whether or not we felt like our lives were moving forward. On one hand, I’m fulfilled and content where I am, but on the other… I know that there is so much more to come. And part of me is ready for that.

Thing is, if I’m being completely honest, I’m a comf0rt-zone person. (Hey, c’mon. Stop with the nodding and the eye-rolling – I’m fully aware that I’m stating the obvious.)

I’d be the last one to instigate big change. The last one to allow my neat little world to get messy with new things. The last one who would volunteer to hold things and relationships dear to me with an open hand, in order to reach for better.

But maybe I’m stuck in neutral.

What if it’s fear that’s keeping me where I am? Is what I stand to lose really more important to me than what could be waiting on the other side? Maybe it’s time to pull back the curtain and make brave decisions, by the grace of God. And that sounds a lot larger than it likely is. I guess the bottom line is that I want to start operating with a little more faith, and a little less fear. To continue to learn how to view things and situations through the lens of eternity, rather than allowing them to be colored by my “right now.”

We’re offered so much hope, and so many promises, and yet so often I remain in what is comfortable; risking great things by maintaining my death grip on security.

Am I willing to be insecure in this life in order to be made fully secure in the life that matters?

We’re never promised that this life will be easy.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 (NIV)

In fact, I think it could be said that the most promising seasons of growth come through adversity.

It’s a bold statement to say that I’m ready to risk it all to obtain Jesus. Painful changes? Those words fling the doors open wide and invite them in for tea and cake. But then again, as someone once said to me, “reality actually is no respecter of persons or personal space. It just kinda crashes through the door.” We’re not in control anyways, but somehow we convince ourselves that we can shut ourselves in, creating and controlling our own little ecosystem that will be protected from outside interference. (And yes, I know… two three door analogies in one paragraph. I have no excuse.)

I’m challenged again today to put my confidence in the Lord, because confidence in ourselves (or in other human beings) will always fail us. I’m willing to learn how to hold this life with an open hand and to trust in the Lord for my security, in order to gain through Him what I cannot on my own. I’ve been reading and studying the Songs of Ascent lately, and you guys… It’s pretty much exactly this. You have to let go of where you are, in order to go higher.

Sign this  cautious, comfort-zone-loving, change-avoiding girl up.

 

Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion;
they will not be defeated but will endure forever.
Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.
The wicked will not rule the land of the godly,
for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.
O Lord, do good to those who are good,
whose hearts are in tune with you.
But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord.
Take them away with those who do evil.

Psalm 125 (NLT)

Thankful for hope.

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We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

Romans 5:3-4