on fear and anxiety and unbelief

i've been struggling lately. i know. what a great way to start out my first blog post of like this entire past year. but really, does anyone even read here anymore? it's been awhile...

if you follow me on instagram, i've alluded to my struggle with fear and anxiety in small bits. but last week opened the floodgates when i shared a photo of that day's "Jesus Calling" entry which read:

Anxiety is a result of envisioning the future without me. So the best defense against worry is staying in communication with Me. When you turn your thoughts toward Me, you can think much more positively. Remember to listen, as well as to speak, making your thoughts a dialogue with Me.

If you must consider upcoming events, follow these rules: 1) Do not linger in the future, because anxieties sprout up like mushrooms when you wander there. 2) Remember the promise of My continual Presence; include Me in any imagery that comes to mind. This mental discipline does not come easily, because you are accustomed to being god of your fantasies. However, the reality of My Presence with you, now and forevermore, outshines any fantasy you could ever imagine.

and then this was my caption below that:

this is it right here, friends. all our anxieties, everywhere that our mind wanders, all those dark corners, the very pit of our deepest fears? the promise of His Presence shines into it all, exposing the fear as a lie. there is nowhere we can go to escape His Presence, Psalm 139 tells us. when we stop engaging our fears and we start communing with God, He brings everything into perspective.

a perspective where He will never leave us, where He ultimately triumphs over evil, where death has already been swallowed up in victory and where He is sovereign Lord over every detail of our lives and every minute of history as it ticks by.

the future is only unknown to us; He is not surprised by anything, ever. time will unfold as He has already ordained, so He asks us to trust Him and to keep our eyes fixed on Him and our minds firmly rooted in the things of eternity. when we do this, fear scatters and the roots of our faith grow deeper and stronger...

turn your eyes upon Jesus. look full in His wonderful face. and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.

i haven't gone into specifics about my anxiety and fear stories, and i won't. mostly because my fears are just regular things that anyone would be fearful of, so i want to be careful not to trigger anything for you who are reading. and also because it really doesn't matter what i'm fearing. the answer is the same every single time. it's always Him. but after a few months of struggling, and suffering, and having actual mental breakdowns, and feeling so much shame over it all... 

i had to waive my white flag. i started to cry out to God, to listen to what He might say, to dive head first into His Word. i had to saturate my mind in Truth and i had to start praying, like really hashing it all out with God.

and here are some things i remembered. 

God is not annoyed or exasperated or fed up or wondering when i will get my act together. He wants relationship with me. He wants to get to my heart. He wants His purposes to be accomplished in and through me. 

so if I'm a mess, bring Him my mess. if I'm fearful, bring those fears to His feet. when i mess up again tomorrow, come to Him for forgiveness and His filling and yet another second chance.

He wants to be the hero, but so often i believe that He's just impatiently waiting for me to dry my own tears and pull myself out of the mess and figure this out already. to be my own hero. it's very clear to me that i am weak, i've always been hyper aware of that. but God is showing me that weakness is okay. that it's normal. that He already knew that, and it's exactly where He wants me. because where i am weak (which is all the time in all the ways) He is strong. where i bend and break under the weight of my fears and doubts, He is a strong tower and a mighty fortress who does not fail, does not blink, is not surprised by anything. ever

i am slowly but surely starting to see how my fears are a result of massive unbelief. 

if He has said He is in control and He loves me? if He has commanded me not to fear, and has promised me that nothing happens outside of His sovereignty? if He has created the earth and everything in it, and can do anything? if He has rescued me from from myself and has promised He would never leave or forsake me? 

then my fear is a result of massive unbelief. 

that song "Oceans" has taken on a new meaning for me. i used to sing it and feel such shame or sometimes just disconnected from it. because i always see that "trust without borders" imagery to be only for those super-Christians who plant churches and move to Uganda and start radical ministries and do the big things. they definitely need God's help to trust Him without borders, right? 

but i realized in my smallness that i had made an idol out of self-sufficiency. that i had set minimum borders. that there were things too small to trust Him with. even if there were 5,000 small things piling up on each other, i still needed to deal with it in my own strength. and that's a lie. every single obstacle or burden that i face is okay to set at God's feet. nothing is too big for Him. and nothing is too small for Him either.

so lately i'm claiming His Word over my life and speaking it out loud over and over and i'm believing it, receiving it by faith, and walking in it. and i'm doing that every hour, literally using His Word as my sword to combat every lie and every fear and every little or big thing that flies into my mind.

as i'm typing this, i'm listening to MOMcon livestream and Lisa Chan, wife of Francis Chan, is speaking. and here's what she just said: 

"we need to spend more time preaching to ourselves than listening to ourselves"

and i think that just became my mantra, along with this verse:

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.

i know better than to think that i'll wake up tomorrow and just feel this way and naturally believe all these things. i know that it's a daily battle i will have to fight. and i know that's the whole idea. relationship with Him, relying on His strength. every. single. day. so tomorrow i will not be surprised when the thoughts come. i will turn to God's Word and i will repeat His promises until my heart feels lighter and my faith is strengthened and my eyes are focused on Him alone.


why i can't stand "love the sinner, hate the sin"

i'm sure you've heard it said : "love the sinner hate the sin".

this phrase actually makes my skin crawl and my heart sink.

why, you ask? after all, it seems like a very logical approach for a Christian who's trying to prove they aren't prejudiced or judgmental. (do you sense my sarcasm?) seriously, i don't like it. because although it may mean well, when it's actually said out loud and "practiced" as a way of life, it breeds an "us vs them" attitude. it gives us the excuse to tolerate, but at an arm's length. to co-exist on the same planet, but certainly not share our lives and our stories or open our homes. it rids us of any responsibility or burden we may have felt otherwise. and besides that, it's a very divisive and offensive thing to say. and let's be honest, when we say this, we don't actually love the person, we aren't actively and intentionally seeking out tangible ways to love the person, we just hope and pray that God loves them.

lately i'm feeling like a lot of our Christian philosophies and ideas are really just fear and ignorance and even hate, disguised as "standing up for what's right" or standing up for God (like He needs it) or defending Biblical morality.

note: i will use the following example of homosexuality throughout the rest of this post, because it's a very prevalent and relevant one in our culture today. i'm not singling anyone out, i just think it works to illustrate what i mean...

if i met a person who was gay, and i said "hey, let's get this squared away from the beginning- i think you're "living a sinful lifestyle"... and in case you didn't know, a "sinful lifestyle" is different from just plain everyday sins like mine. and i want you to know that i hate your sin... but let's be friends, because I would like to "love" you, the sinner.

i mean, seriously? how offensive is that? it would immediately put any sensible person on the defensive. you might not say that out loud, but the fact is that if you're thinking it, it shows. and since we don't actually want to say that to someone's face, we just keep our distance instead. the fear, the ignorance, the plain old laziness keep us at a comfortable (for us) distance while we go about thinking we've got this "love the sinner" business all figured out. when really all we're saying is- i'm "loving you" by not forcing you to stop engaging in homosexual behavior, but by all means do not come into my church or my home or my children's lives, and by all means do not force me to accept anything that might inconvenience me or my set of morals. by all means, do not ask me to rethink what marriage means or what a family could look like. by all means, do not threaten my status quo, my normal, my privilege.

Jesus tells us that the greatest command is to love God with all our heart and mind and strength.. and second: to love your neighbor as yourself. all of our neighbors, not just the ones we feel are worthy of it. that gives me a lot to think about.

i know all the "arguments" from the Christian circles. i've heard all the key points and buzzwords. and i'm finding myself really grieved that we've managed to reduce an entire group of people down to buzzwords and political agendas and "us vs. them". how is this loving anyone? these are human people we're talking about here.

if i can speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, i am only a resounding gong and clanging cymbal.
gosh how i don't want to be a clanging cymbal.

I guess I'm thinking: if the qualification for salvation, or for being called "a Christian", is living a sinless lifestyle? then i'm disqualified. and so are you. by nature and by definition, we humans, ALL OF US, are sinners. all the time, everyday. if our eternal security is based upon one specific behavior in our life, even if it's a habitual or sinful one? then we are all, each one of us humans, completely screwed.

the thing is, that's NOT the qualification. the only qualification is to believe that Jesus was sinless and that HE bore all of our sin for us, and that there's nothing we could ever do to deserve it. that's the good news. that is the gospel.

Jesus didn't commission us with being the moral police for anyone and everyone we feel like. but he did command us to love one another, and to take the good news and the hope of the gospel to the ends of the earth, to go and make disciples of all nations. God never told anyone to stop sinning or clean up their act and then they could join His family. He tells us "come as you are". and then He heals and gives new life and HE tells us to "go and sin no more". His Spirit sanctifies and cleanses and convicts and redirects us each individually along our journey.

this is far from the message we've been teaching. do you think we can reject a behavior modification "gospel" and start embracing the Truth about a God who lavishly and radically loves? there is a God who wants our hearts, who wants to completely transform us. but it might be hard to preach this if we haven't actually experienced it in our own lives. i think a lot of Christians are preaching behavior modification to themselves, so they don't know any other way to think about and approach everyone else. they don't know God's upside-down and inside-out way.

lately i've wondered how many potential relationships i've missed out on because I was too busy judging or too fearful of our differences or too lazy or intimidated or had the [false] impression that i was defending Christ while keeping people at a distance because i wasn't sure how to answer the hard questions.

and that grieves me.

if i can speak directly to my Christian friends for a minute, even those of use who might believe we have God's best interest at heart in defending the causes we are defending...
i find myself wondering why we get so caught up in certain sins. i mean, the Bible does call homosexuality an abomination. in the same places that it says women should always cover their heads and never speak in religious services, and are unclean while menstruating so touching a menstruating woman is grounds for death... and all the rest of those, we simply and intuitively see as cultural differences, not literal black and white commands that we need to follow in our modern day.

but let's be really practical for a minute. you know what else the Bible calls sin?


so i guess if a gay person can't be a Christian, neither can i. because i most definitely gossip. and i'm just guessing here, that you do too.

i can't say i've ever seen a Christian protesting or picketing or condemning from of their megaphone outside E-News or US Weekly. and we've never attempted to pass laws against gossip magazines or blogs or TVshows either. we're not just tolerating the gossip at an arm's length, we're joining in and celebrating it by purchasing and watching and chatting about it over coffee.

we'll watch TV shows and movies with hetero-sexual promiscuity or back-stabbing or revenge or all out violence or evil. i mean, man vs. food is gluttony in its purest form. lying, cheating, stealing, killing, extra-marital affairs, alcohol and drug abuse, sex, sex, and more sex. those are widely accepted forms of entertainment. but throw a gay couple on a TV show and we make sure that show never comes on in our house.

know what else the bible calls sin? love of food. love of money, love of "stuff". idolatry, putting anything else before God. if we're going to disqualify a gay person from God's eternal kingdom because they live what we define as "a sinful lifestyle", then we better take a long hard look at who else were excluding and condemning to hell--- ourselves. and yes, materialism and celebrity gossip and food obsession are LIFESTYLES. sinful ones. that a lot of us are living, to one degree or another.

here's an sobering metric for self-examination: There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

i think every single one of us, if we were brutally honest, can say we're guilty of one of these.

when i sit here and type out that we should stop worrying so much about homosexuality, some of you will accuse me of excusing or being soft on sin. and i understand that would be your first gut reaction, but here's the reality-- i'm really just EXPOSING sin. all kinds and all brands of sins. 

in our own hearts first and foremost.

i have a few genuine thoughts about this, for the purpose of causing us to think long and hard, not to accuse anyone or judge anyone, just to get us to think. please hear me out with an open mind:

i guess i just see us focusing on all the wrong things, in our Christian lives and our political lives and everywhere else. we have bigger issues to burden us. like the souls that are starving for hope and peace and forgiveness and acceptance and freedom and eternity because we are standing in their way, with our stubbornness and pride and self righteousness and even just plain old ignorance. we're too busy tallying up their sins to share the gospel in its real and raw form. the same gospel that never tallied a sin, simply bore them all, no questions asked.

the sad truth is, it's easier to hide behind "morality" and "family", than to address a much bigger thing that's at stake: people are living in fear and disgust of Christians. therefore they are living in fear and disgust of CHRIST. and we are responsible for this. those of us who have rung the morality bell and spread the behavior-modification-conditional-love "gospel", AND those of us who have stood quietly by.

i wonder if we fear that "if we give an inch, they'll take a mile". if we concede on any point of sin, it might swallow us whole, and we're afraid of what real, raw, swallowed whole Love might require. instead we want to point out, correct, judge, and set requirements.

i just wonder if we set all that aside, what would fill up that space? would it be love? actual and unconditional love? would it be the radical and upside-down, all-encompassing, counter-cultural, Love of Christ? that while we were yet sinners, He died for us? i just wonder...

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


the idol self-sufficiency

"O God of mine, I'll have no idols..." played over Pandora. "O God of Mine", an old song by Rita Springer, is a beautiful hymn-like melody with soothing vocals and peaceful piano music. deep in thought, as i always am, i was struggling with feelings of fear and shame that had been pulling me under the last few months. i'm determined to be free from its grip, so i'm digging in to find the roots and i'm arming myself with Truth and with practical tools. as that phrase sang form the speakers, it just flickered across my mind -- the idol of self sufficiency. i had never named it before, but i finally understood it as a huge aspect of my struggle with fear and a huge aspect of the burden of shame that i carry. (i wrote a little bit about that here)

now you're thinking i must be a planner, a doer, and get-things-done kind of gal. you're thinking i must run a pretty tight ship, i must be type-A.

and you'd be wrong. self-sufficiency is a idol for me not because i am self-sufficient. but because i want to be. because somewhere along the way, i started to believe a lie that i need to be.

my house is rarely clean all at the same time. the laundry is my nemesis, but a quick glance into the kitchen will tell you the dishes are even worse. i never get everything crossed off my to-do list, i'm always late, i'm terrible at returning email in a timely manner and i hate talking on the phone. my life would be marked at "absolute mess" on the self-sufficiency spectrum (if that spectrum indeed existed).

my issue is that i make self-sufficiency the ideal to aspire to, the goal to reach, but every single hour when i fail miserably again, i wallow shame and wonder why i can't get it together.

God made me to be a thinker, dreamer, creator, relater. i don't excel in the planning, executing, get-things-done areas because they are not my strengths and they are not the traits that God gave to me. but i still strive for them as if He did. i still feel like a failure at the end of most days because i have operated out of trying to fix my weaknesses, trying to fumble around them and make them into my strengths. in that striving, i've neglected the strengths i do possess. i've not related with anyone but the four people who need me all day. even further, i've not taken time to chat with my kids and dream with them. the only relating we do is me barking orders at them to get their shoes and eat their food and get in the car. and the only thinking i do is about how worthless i am.

i've focused on my weaknesses and made an idol out of self-sufficiency. i want to be a good at being a house-keeper, but maybe i'm better as a home-maker. i want to be good at dishes and ironing and laundry and to-do lists, but maybe i'm better at encouraging, listening, advice-giving, and heart-tending.

i know this doesn't excuse me from doing chores. but i believe it does excuse me from striving for perfection and from believing the voice of shame that shouts lies at me all day long. my self-sufficiency, or lack there-of, does not define me. He defines me. and He decided, before the foundations of the earth, that i would be a heart person. that i would relate and understand with empathy and deep concern, and that i would be able to work through problems and help people find strength and that i would be a loyal and trusted confidant.

as i let go of the lies, i see the idol of self-sufficiency crumbling to pieces. and i see a woman, fearfully and wonderfully made, standing firmly in the love of Christ, living out her days as the dear one He dreamed she would be before the foundations of the earth.


because He became a man

recently i had one of those days where my to-do list consisted of six different super-quick errands. seems simple enough to most people. before kids you could knock them all out in less than an hour and go about your day. but with kids, forget about it. you dread the outing for two days and put it off until you have no more food or toothpaste and your husband is wondering about the dry-cleaning and the alterations.

when you have to strap and unstrap three kids into their carseats for six different super-quick errands, it's a whole new kind of monster. it takes longer to get them in and out of the car than the amount of time we actually spend inside the post office, or the dry cleaner, or the bank. multiply that by six and we're all going crazy.

truly, there needs to be a drive-through dry cleaner, drive through full-service post office window, drive through banking (not just ATM but actually denominations-other-than-twenty banking), and a drive-up pre-order Target service would be pretty much the best thing ever. because by the time i've gotten the kids dressed and fed and ready to go out the door it's lunchtime. or naptime. or meltdown time. simple errands are just plain harder.

so instead of piling the kids in for that disaster, my mom took them to the children's museums and i embarked on the errands by myself. i knocked them out in record time and came home to package up 12 hoop orders and get them labeled and ready for shipping. i marveled at how much i was able to accomplish without any kids. i marveled at the limitations that they place on me.

this season of life is hard. mostly because i am the only one who can meet everyone's needs. and you know they all occur at once and each one is as pertinent as the other. i do not typically embrace this season. unfortunately, that's just the truth. when there's nothing on the agenda, i enjoy it. but when there are things to get done, i grumble and wish it away.

i've written before about how sometimes, deep down where i don't want to admit it, i feel like having three little kids and making three meals a day, and cleaning up three meals a day, and always reorganizing the toys and nursing and naptimes and meltdowns... like all of that is holding me back from what God really wants me to do. i know it's crazy when i say it loud so i rarely ever do.

the thing is i know that this is what God really wants me to do. the other stuff can fit in where it may and the mundane parts of motherhood do not define me. He does. He has given these beautiful blessings to me and asked me to steward them, with my specific talents and abilities, with my strengths. He purposed these children to grow up in my household, whatever that looks like, because He made me and He knows. even when most days i feel very overwhelmed by the workload, and like i'll never be the mother i dreamed i would be, He knows.

a friend from church posted an article the other day. i clicked over and read, and then watched the video (embedded below) and it all just clicked. "it" has clicked fifteen other times, but it clicked again. i need constant reminding and i need it to be said in a new and fresh way. hopefully all of it will eventually add up to a good and solid foundation where i can start to live like i believe it every single day.

this time it just spoke to my heart letting me know i'm not alone. that other people feel this way too, sometimes. but you know what it also showed me? God knows about all those limitations, restrictions, conflicts, "burdens" and He asks me to live out His will within those. because that's what Emmanuel did. God became a man, and placed Himself inside restraints and limitations on purpose. and He has given us certain restraints and limitations and expects us to live within those as well, whatever they are- be it a certain husband, a certain age or temperament of kids, certain home or income level, our own personality and chaos-tolerance level, our own ability (or inability) to do the various jobs of motherhood well... He has given those to us for a reason, and He still wants us to live out our purpose within those limitations. isn't that so freeing? like we don't have to have it all figured out in order to flourish. we can just take one step and a time and keep on walking, every minute with Him.

it reminded me also of something that really hit me at Hope Spoken when Lauren Chandler was speaking. she encouraged us to remember that our calling is to Jesus. it's not to some specific thing or ministry or place or topic. it's just to Jesus. seasons change and circumstances change and we grow and we evolve. but when our calling is to Jesus Himself, it leaves the door wide open for freedom and growth and changing your mind and even mundane tasks becoming beautifully worthy. it's not boring. you just stick with Him and walk out your days, one minute at a time. that is a breath of fresh air to me. and it's so like Him to keep reminding someone like me, who feels like i'm missing that "big calling" or missing "God's will" or whatever. i think sometimes when you grow up in the church and you hear all the usual talk about God's will and your purpose, you can get so focused on these abstract ideas and concepts and you miss Jesus. right there in the middle of it all, asking you to just walk humbly with Him, trusting that He sees and He knows.

(watch the video here):

Wonder Women (Full Length) from Barna Group on Vimeo.


hope spoken 2014 | a little recap

well. it feels weird to be back here in this space. i haven't regularly blogged for over a year. i'm feeling like it's time for a redesign but that's beside the point. i'm really here to tell you about Hope Spoken conference that i attended in dallas 2 weekends ago. everyone has been saying how they need time to process everything. i'm no exception. what i'm about to share is really an email i wrote to casey and danielle a few days after i got home, but i've edited and expanded a little. there is still so much more in my heart and mind that's not quite ready to come out:

i'm finally sitting down to pour out my heart after such an amazing weekend. the first thing that's hitting me is these three girls went with a dream and a mission and a calling from Jesus, and were brave to walk through the door and keep going, as danielle describes it. i'm sure they imagined how beautiful it would be but i don't think they could have imagined just how incredible it ended up being. you can't dream up stuff like that, not all the intricate details and weaving-together of hearts and timely messages and beauty that only God can do. that's one huge thing i came away with, and it always blows me away, is that God takes what we offer Him, which in their case was A LOT of blood sweat and tears, hard work and dedication and follow through, and He makes it even better. He met with 250 women with 250 individualized messages that will never be forgotten. He changed us in ways we didn't know needed changing.

i know there are a lot of us women who are so thankful that they pursued this dream. that they didn't turn the other way or put it off until it made more sense or decide they  weren't the right girl for the job. they were brave. and i came away believing that i could be brave, too.

the vision for Hope Spoken was to simply share stories. i guess i had forgotten the power of sharing your story. i hadn't shared my story for quite awhile, and while i still didn't share my biggest earth-shattering stories, i remembered the power of relating, sharing the hard and daily stuff. mostly i remembered how God takes our modest offering, stumbling words, regular-old self, still not perfected, still not anyone to aspire to, just a sinner who is broken and so fallen short and so very dependent on Him... He takes it and multiplies it, makes it fit into each woman's story who hears it, brings along the precise women into our path who need to hear exactly what we need to tell. i was reminded that with God, nothing is wasted or cast aside, every tear is redeemed and given purpose. 

something that really stood out to me were the speakers that they chose for the break out sessions. all had wonderful God-stories, but not all would necessarily consider  themselves a "speaker". just someone with a story that would make Him look big and would remind us of the gospel. seeing women who were just like me, not necessarily orators, not necessarily comfortable in front of a group of people, helped me remember that we're all just His. none of us more remarkable than the next. it made me think that even though i am not a speaker, and it in fact is my biggest fear, that maybe i could share my story with a group of women someday (not soon, but just someday. ha!). it leveled that imaginary playing field that i had created to convince myself i wasn't dynamic enough to speak, that i wasn't pretty or skinny or comfortable enough. it just gave me some courage that maybe someday if God asked me to, i could do it. and that was kind of earth-shattering for me.

one of the most important pieces of the weekend was the worship. during worship is where i hear and experience God most beautifully and most personally. music is such a huge important part of my life and i can't tell you how God moved during those worship times. we've missed a lot of church since Trey was born 6 months ago and my soul has been missing corporate worship like nothing i can describe. as we gathered and sat down the very first night, and just before we started our worship time, i leaned over told my friend Leslie that I could hardly wait to worship God with His people again. i was thirsty for it in ways i can't even describe and it took about 4 seconds for sweet tears to flow freely down my face. God spoke to me so clearly through the few songs that seemed to pop up in every one of the worship sets that weekend -- Oh how He loves us, and Bless the Lord O my soul -- that He just wants me to know, soul-deep, and never forget and never question how much He loves me. just as i am, not performing or striving or doing or trying. just me, just who He created, His daughter, if i never did anything more in my entire life. and then He wants me to bless Him. it doesn't have to be grandiose or staged or earth-shattering. just bless His name in every season, in front of people or not, in my home with my kids when it's hard, in everything i do, just bless His name in the big and small ways. there's nothing i can do to earn more of His love, and there's nothing i can do to lose one ounce that He's already shown. He just loves me and delights in me and wants to be with me as daddy and little girl. it's so precious i'm weeping again as i type.

i think one of the biggest messages i heard, though, was from Shauna Niequist. she simply shared her story, what God has been showing her the past year or so. and the basic idea ---> more love, less hustle. i have honestly written a blog post 3 or 4 different times about this very thing, but just never posted it because it felt like that would be an odd post to start blogging again with, right? you see, i'm not what you would call a "hustler". and if you don't even know what that means, it's just someone who works hard, sets goals, and works with intense focus and perseverance toward those goals. i do have dreams, i have ideas of what i would love to do, and things i would love to create. but i don't have that follow-through and execute intense mentality. so when i try to manufacture it, i hate the person i become. i don't juggle a lot of things well, and i can barely keep up with the normal stuff that's already on my plate. but i was buying into the lie that if i didn't get on the wagon now, that it would leave without me and i cold never jump on later. the whole "strike while the iron is hot" mentality. create that product before someone else does, go with that idea before someone else beats you to it. well Shauna wisely put into words what i knew in my heart-- there will be other irons, the iron may still be hot later, and it's also okay if you aren't the one to strike it. i got permission to stop my version of hustle. to slow down and enjoy my kids and turn off the computer and set aside the phone and just be. and i can tell you that after just ten days of that, i'm happier, more content, patient with my kids and just all-around a much better person.

i know there are hundreds of women who would share experiences similar to mine, and i'm so thankful to these girls for being obedient to move forward with this weekend and bring it to life, a special & beautifully feminine place where God could meet us and love us and change us. i feel like a whole new way of living opened up before my eyes. one where I could be free and loved and accepted and small, because it's all about Him in the first place. i don't know what it means going forward, specifically, but i don't really need to know anymore. i know the next step is just to keep my eyes stayed on Him. "to walk through doors until He shuts them" - danielle burkleo. to use the gifts He's given me and not worry about the rest, because HE takes it makes it enough, HE takes it and multiplies it, HE bears the fruit and causes the ripples far beyond what I'll ever see.

and one last thing before i go. you guys, the most unique and special aspect of Hope Spoken as a women's conference were the small groups. i felt honored to be leading a group, and i can't express how beautiful those four small group sessions were for our group. it definitely filled in a gap that is passed over at every other conference out there: small groups where we can share and process and come alongside as God speaks to us. i think the small group aspect MADE the whole weekend.

if you have the means and opportunity to attend next year (march 27-29 2015 in dallas), PLEASE GO. i plan to.