Wednesday, December 25, 2013

if we were to send christmas cards....

my husband is not a card person.  he just doesn't see the point, and slowly his views on cards have been wearing off on me over the years.  a couple of years ago we decided to forego cards in order to save some money.  when it comes right down to it, i'd rather spend that money on a gift for someone rather than 100 cards that will get thrown in the trash.

and this year since i have this tiny little corner of the internet to hold our friends' and family's attention, i will share with you what would be in our christmas card, if we were to send one.




May the joy of Immanuel bless you this Christmas!
Hope has come!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

prepping for christmas.

ahh, the most wonderful time of the year.  it's here, and i couldn't be more excited.  but the fight to remain "un-busy" (that could be a word, right?) seems so much harder around this time, you know?  it's like a rule or something.  from thanksgiving until the first week of january, you must be busy.

period. not up for discussion. 

we are fighting the good fight, though, and trying to make the most of this holiday season and treasure the spirit of what this season means.  so, like a lot of families, we tried to start doing an advent calendar and activities each day to prepare for christmas.  however, two days into it, we discovered that with our schedule, it just doesn't really work.  we have a window of time between 11:30 am until 1:30 pm that is "free", where for the most part, we are all together under the same roof, but it just feels like too much to try to schedule some type of activity in there.  i tried really hard to organize it, creating a calendar of full of family activities for everyday, and on that second day when i was sitting on the couch all by myself, i realized i was going to have to let go of my advent ideals and just have to accept that it might have to be more spontaneous this year.  so when the opportunity presents itself, we jump on it.  it's a lot less stressful and way more fun!  the other night was one of those times.  we grabbed dinner out and as we drove home in the snow, mike drove right past the driveway and headed over to a house that puts on a musical light display complete with their own radio frequency.  it was such a simple activity, but to us it was so special to have a night where we could choose to live in the freedom of a night without responsibilities.




my heart's desire for christmas in our home is to protect the spirit of christmas and create fond memories for our kids.  i want eli and any future children to look back and remember the fun we had during this time of year, as well as to learn from a young age why we celebrate christmas.  but i'm thinking, this is really hard with a 2 year old.  we tried reading through the "jesus storybook bible" and you would have thought we were reading from encyclopedia britannica.  he sat through maybe a paragraph and proceeded to climb off my lap and locate the nearest toy to escape.  so, either our child hates the bible or he's just not quite ready for that level of reading material.  so, then i found a children's book, a golden book no less, about the christmas story.  perfect. this will be perfect.....until we come across sentences like "The streets were full of cheerful, jostling kinsmen." really? jostling kinsmen?  so that book will go on the shelf until next year or 5 years from now.  i guess for now we will stick to talking about the nativity set and try to focus less on the wise men bringing Jesus presents and more on baby Jesus.


and of course, what's christmas without some crafting? this time of year always sparks my desire to make all the things.  and naturally i want to impart my love for arts and crafts onto my son.

here's a recent conversation between mike and i after an arts and crafts session:

me: "so i feel like eli isn't going to love crafts like i want him to."
mike: "what do you mean?"
me: "well, i try to do crafts with him, and he he's done after like 2 minutes. he just doesn't seem to love it."
mike: "well, he is 2."

yes, there is that.  me and my high expectations.  i will keep trying though, don't you worry!


on a completely unrelated note, can i tell you what i can't get enough of this christmas season? candles!  i love christmas scents. my hands down favorite christmas candle is one i found at kohl's years ago called "white christmas".  i stock up every year.  but then there are so many other yummy smells.  i seriously have to restrain myself from buying a candle every time i go to the store.   there's just something about cozying up the couch with a hot drink and candles burning when there's snow on the ground and a chill in the air.



now if only those little elves would be so nice as to come keep my house clean everyday in preparation for christmas.......

how do you prepare for christmas at your house?







Monday, November 18, 2013

35.


in just a few days i will celebrate my 35th birthday.  if perhaps you just thought, "no way!" or "i thought she was like 28", i love you, you are my favorite and would welcome you to continue to believe me to be younger than i really am.  if you didn't, then just keep your comments to yourself and just pretend you did.  my gray hairs and rickety feeling body tell me that i am definitely not as young as i used to be.  rickety body you ask? yes, rickety body. a couple of weeks ago i dislocated a rib GETTING OUT OF BED.

what's the saying? "you're only as old as you feel"?  i've got some serious problems if that's the case!

anyway, i've been thinking a lot about my upcoming birthday.  even though my dad would call 35 a "non-essential" birthday, it feels pretty significant to me.  now, when i feel out a survey i'll be in the 35-44 category.  i'm now classified as mid-30's.  only 5 years until the big 4-0.  i remember very clearly my awesome 80's themed roller skating 30th birthday party like it was yesterday.  this feels like a big deal to me.

a couple of months ago i was talking to our pastor who i've been friends with since we were 16 and who happens to turn 35 just a few days after me.  as we were questioning how it was even possible that we could be turning 35, he commented that it was "all downhill from there."  i'm pretty sure he was joking, but it has really made me think about the life i have left to live.  i pray that i get to live a long life, to see my kids grow up and meet my grandkids, but i know that our days are numbered according to God's plan for each of us.  that being said, i want to make sure i am living each day on purpose and living out His plan for me, whatever that looks like.

each year as my birthday approaches, i sometimes think about who i was 10 years prior or even 20 years prior, so recently i've been thinking a lot about 15 year old and 25 year old shannon.



oh to be young again!  i definitely would not want to revisit high school, maybe only to let 15 year old me that the time would go fast and college would make up for any unenjoyable moments! but 25 was a good time.  single, unemployed, living at home, every 25 year old's dream, right?  i kid! i had no qualms about my life at the time.  every day was a new adventure. 

but here i am staring 35 in the face wondering what the next 10 years will be like.  hopefully we'll have a few more kids. (when my husband reads this, he will say, "you mean one more.") hopefully my husband will become full time at church and will only have to work one job. hopefully our food pantry will grow and be able to feed more people in our community.  hopefully i will be able to homeschool those few children and be somewhat organized again.  hopefully i will continue to make new friends and cherish living in community. hopefully dink dink will astound veterinarians across the globe and live another 10 years.

there are so many things i can wish for in the next 10 years, but most importantly, i pray that my life honors Jesus in all that i do. i pray that He will continue to teach me how to live freely so i can experience His best.  that i will love others more, give thanks more, celebrate Him in all circumstances and cling to Him, allowing Him to be my everything.

is it all downhill from here?
no, i'd say the best is yet to come!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

day 31: one step at a time (the end of the beginning)

phew! i made it to the end.  i wasn't sure what i was getting myself into when i started, but i am so glad i jumped feet first into it because it has stretched me and challenged me, and i believe that was exactly what the Lord had in mind.

a couple of weeks ago, right after the miscarriage, one of my best friends gave me a card.  it was on a sunday morning at church, and because those are usually crazy for us, i had shoved it into my purse.  naturally, i forgot about it until a few days ago as i was going through my purse looking for something.  in her note, she commented on how this was the perfect card, and i couldn't agree more.



She believed with all her heart 
that her journey
would take her
to the place she belonged,
and God's best
would be there
to meet her.  


absolutely perfect!  i knew from the beginning that God had a plan for my 31 days of blogging, and i believe that He started something really good in my heart.  i know that my journey to walking in freedom has only just begun and that there is a lot more work yet to be done, but i also know that He is faithful to complete all the work that He starts.  





this verse is written inside the card and is the TLB version (though i have no idea what that is).  the NIV says, "The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands."  i love the descriptive language of the version in the card, but i thought it was important to point out the importance of our obedience to his commands.  when we are not walking in freedom, it is hard to act in obedience because of the lies and the fear and our selfish desires but the more time we spend with Jesus and fall in love with Him, the more we desire to please Him and obey Him.  it is here that we taste the freedom He offers and delight in that freedom.  and i believe it is here when the fragrance of his loving-kindness and His truth beckons us to walk the path He leads us upon with reckless abandon. 

the journey begins with one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. 
no turning back. 




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

day 30: free to embrace who i really am




 
(image found on pinterest)

 
(image found on pinterest)


learning to walk in freedom means remembering and embracing who i really am.
 
 a daughter of the King
 an image-bearer of Christ
 chosen
 adopted
 His special possession
 His masterpiece
loved beyond measure
free
 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

day 29: free from fear (part 2)


{joining in with the nester in the 31 days blogging challenge. you can check out other topics here!}

((if you did not read yesterday's post, i recommend starting there and then coming back in order to get caught up. this post will make a lot more sense!!))


 
 
i believe that day by day the Lord has been showing me the beauty of living without fear.  that if i would just believe the truth He has spoken about me, i would not need the comfort of my fears because i can walk in the freedom of knowing that He is all i need. 
 
 
 

this verse has been jumping up and down trying to get my attention for awhile now, and at the start of this process, it finally did.  when i used to read this verse, i would see i am God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, which is truly remarkable, but lately when i read it, i see that God has prepared certain tasks for me to complete. good things that He has purposed me for, and as long as my Fears hold me captive, am i fulfilling His purpose? am i completing these tasks He has created me for? what am i missing out on?

the other day i was listening to music while i prepared dinner, and while i was chopping some veggies, the words to this one song caused me to pause what i was doing. 

 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
 
 
 
later on i sat down to really listen to the song and immediately was overcome with emotion knowing that this was exactly the freedom that the Lord is calling me into.  as i think about the kind of faith it takes to allow Him to take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, there is no room for fear.  fear says stay in the boat or don't wander too close to water's edge, hug your life jacket and put on an extra one while you're at it.  


but when i look upon my Savior's face and see His hand beckoning me to come, the language fear is speaking suddenly doesn't make much sense to me.  the boundaries that fear has built around me are stifling, and i'm ready to breathe the fresh air of freedom. 


{oceans (where feet may fail) hillsong}

can you imagine what life would look like if we believed that His grace abounds in deepest waters and that He is not in the business of failing.  it's just impossible!

and when fear comes creeping up on us and whispering in our ears, we shout back, i am His and He is mine!

and as we stare at the expanse of life before us, we simply rest in His embrace, hold tightly to His hand as He guides us, knowing that it is by His strength we prevail. 

imagining this life is freeing to me and step by step, by His grace and His strength, i'm shaking off the skackles......and leaving room for a couple swift kicks!!



Monday, October 28, 2013

day 28: free from fear (part 1)

today is the day i tackle the topic that i have been afraid to tackle.  ironic, huh? it's the one that has been staring me in the face this whole time that i just keep pushing out of the way, saying, another day, another day.  but i don't think i can put if off any longer. (considering i only have 3 days left!)





such a small word with such a huge impact.

i believe that fear is the number one reason i have not been walking in freedom for a very long time.  the fact that i am sitting here struggling to compose this post and that i have tried on three different occasions tells me i am right.  i believe the Lord wants me to confront these fears that have held me captive, but because i have become so settled in living with these fears, i am nervous about what life will look like if i shed these fears.  who will i become? what mask will i hide behind? what security will i have?

now just to clarify, i am not talking about a fear of the dark or like being home alone, though neither of which i am very fond of.  i am talking about the type of fear that prevents us from living out our true identity, that holds us prisoner from living the life that God has intended us to live.  

i can't say for sure when my fears first took me captive, but i know within the last year i have been able to identify them and have begun planning my escape.  i have discovered that my two main captors are Fear of Failure and Fear of What Others Think.  maybe you've heard of them, or maybe you know them very well.  these two often work together and set very clever traps.  they are vicious and do their job very well.  

and once you've been held captive for awhile, your judgment gets a little clouded and your vision a little blurry.  it seems that perhaps this is the way life is supposed to be.  maybe i'm supposed to do everything extremely well and if that's not the case, then it's not worth doing.  maybe i'm supposed to care what other people think. please everyone, offend no one, make a good impression, approval is everything. that's the way the world works, right?  yep, it's what they want you to believe.    

then all of a sudden it's like you forget what life is like without your Fears, your captors.  you become so comfortable living under their rules that it becomes scary to think about changing. but inside you know this is not the way that life is intended to be lived.  you know deep down inside you were meant for so much more.  

i can tell you that the more and more i fall in love with Jesus, the clearer my vision becomes and my heart longs for the freedom that it has been promised.  i am being lifted from the fog, and i am ready to kick these captors in the face. 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

day 27: free to worship






today our church celebrated its 6th birthday and all month long we've been celebrating the awesome things that God is doing among our church family.   so today we go to bring in the majority of the kids to hear some of those celebration stories as well as to worship with the rest of the church.  i love when we get to include the kids in the main service and that our church leadership believes in the importance of doing so.

worship has been pretty powerful recently & today did not disappoint.  here is the song they ended with that is definitely a new favorite!




There is no one higher
No one greater
No one like our God
There is none more able
Christ our Savior
Great and glorious


hope you all have a great week! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

day 26: free to fly


{joining in with the nester in the 31 days blogging challenge. you can check out other topics here!}


i sat down twice today to write two different posts and neither one is happening tonight!  so i'm sharing this print that i found on pinterest.  i love birds so it caught my attention immediately but then it spoke to me in so many ways.




what has you caged up and 
is preventing you from flying? 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

day 24: there will always be grace.


{joining in with the nester in the 31 days blogging challenge. you can check out other topics here!}






when i first set out on this journey of writing every day for 31 days, i knew in my heart that i would miss a few days.  (i feel like my husband would say, way to go, defeatist attitude).  i'm really not a "glass half empty kind of girl", i just know how life can be, how i can be, so i figured there were going to be a few times that the blog got pushed to the back burner.

i did not anticipate that i would miss out on a whole week.

the first few days i missed were over the weekend, and they were pretty busy days:
2 connect groups in one day.
last minute cleaning effort for one of those groups.
crossfit event.
dinner & homecoming soccer game at Messiah in the pouring rain (we stayed for exactly 60 seconds because we promised eli a soccer game)
a disappointing shopping trip to old navy.
catching up with good friends in the food court at the mall over starbucks & dairy queen.
dance parties with 50 elementary kids.
witnessing baptisms.
lunch with friends.
a quick sunday nap.
dinner & time spent with family.

it was fun & life-giving & well worth it, but finding time to write just didn't happen.  and you know how once you get out of the routine of doing something, it's really hard to get back into it?  yeah, that's where i was.  i felt like i had a lot to say but nothing to say at all, so i didn't even attempt to sit at the computer to try.

and here's the thing about me, when i encounter something that feels "too big", i get overwhelmed and i shut down.  for instance when the house is a disaster zone, and i walk into every room with a laundry list of things that need to be taken care of in those rooms, i find myself sitting in my bed watching "parenthood" or scrolling through pinterest feeling depressed because i feel like a failure.   (that was my tuesday and why no writing occurred on that day.) because when i don't finish a task or struggle with keeping up, i immediately beat myself up and slap that "failure" label right on.

so as the days continued to go by and the gap grew larger and larger between the time i had last written, i was feeling a little overwhelmed and lost.  it felt a lot like that whole "one step forward, two steps backward" kind of thing, and to be honest, i just didn't know what to do with it.

but as i sit here this morning and write, i keep hearing the word "grace".  i tend not to have a whole lot of grace for myself, or others if i'm going to be honest.  i tend to forget the abundance of grace the Lord has for me and that no matter how many times i fail, it's ok because "to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." {Ephesians 4:7} so if we measure the grace given to us according to Christ's gift, that's a whole lot of grace!  Christ's gift, dying on a cross & taking on the sin of the world, giving up his life so that we could have eternal life?  is there a greater gift?

i'm learning that the journey to freedom is going to be a whole lot more like a marathon than a quick 31 day sprint.  there are going to be some bumps and obstacles along the way, and there will definitely be days that i just want to sit in the middle of the road and check out my instagram feed rather than doing the hard work.  but there will always be grace.




Thursday, October 17, 2013

day 17: free from our perceptions





i came across this quote tonight and couldn't believe how perfectly it fit with what was on my heart to write about today.  i've been thinking about this one a lot.  it's something that the Lord brought to my attention a couple of months ago and once again at Influence last month.  in fact, i felt like he kind of hit me over the head with the following statement:


"perception is not reality"


i know, it's a really simple statement and most of you probably thought, um, yeah, nothing new in that statement.  if you've been following along on this 31 day series, you might remember, i have been a believer of the lies for a very, very long time. (if you are just joining in, check out the link and hurry back!)  and those lies, they are very, very deceiving!  they cloud vision and distort reality like no other.  and hence, perception becomes reality.

recently i got a message from someone and within the message was this sentence:

...it's refreshing to know that those we see and think have it all together, are just like us who don't sometimes.


and i thought, you know, isn't it so true? don't we all think that there are certain people that just "have it all together"?  i know i do!  it made me realize how the enemy can use our perceptions to divide us. he uses how we perceive others to drive a wedge between people of different races, people of different socio-economic status, people of different religious backgrounds, believers and non-believers, and even believers and fellow believers.

i'm learning that sometimes the freedom of others starts with our willingness to take off our masks, step out in boldness and trust the Lord to do His thing.  as i shared before, i am really good at wearing a mask.  i'm really good at portraying that i might be one of those someone's who "has it all together", but i am so not one of those people.  and truthfully, i am not one of those people because they just do not exist.  perception may tell us that they do, but it is absolutely false.

so, that statement up there, learn it, know it, believe it!

i pray that the Lord will remove the scales from our eyes so that we may see reality and start believing His truth in order to walk in His freedom.



{joining in with the nester in the 31 days blogging challenge. you can check out other topics here!}






((oh yeah, and trying out a new look...what do you think??))

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

day 15: free to let go.

one day last week my husband declared that saturday would be the day that we finally clean our room.  it was long, LONG, L     O      N      G  overdue.  and i'm not talking about by a few weeks.  it had gotten to the point of complacency....pretend i don't see the mounds of clothes as i try to find my way to the bed; pretend i don't see my suitcase from Influence still harboring a few articles of clothing that didn't get worn; pretend i don't see the dust bunnies that have taken up residence on my nightstand.  i'll stop there because that is embarrassing enough!

so saturday morning after a hearty pancake breakfast, we set to the task.  we gathered our supplies: dust rags & dust spray, vacuum cleaner, trash bags, and good music and prepared to clean to the finish.  as much as i hate cleaning, i do find it somewhat freeing.  i'm not talking daily tasks like cleaning up after dinner or picking up toys (daily - ha! who am i kidding!)  i'm talking deep cleaning. like vacuum the curtains, purge the closets, pull the bed away from the wall type cleaning.  it's tiring and time costuming, but in the end you marvel at the work that has been done.  {marvel, yes, that's exactly what i do now each and every time i walk into our room}





can i tell you we filled 3 black trash bags for goodwill and 2 trash bags of just trash!?!

i remembered a few things about myself as i was cleaning:
1. i have a hard time parting with things.
2. i try to stay connected to the past with things.
3. i have a thing for pens and lip gloss.

((i cleaned out 4 purses and had no less than 3 pens and 2 lip glosses in each one. ridiculous.))

as i was going through all this stuff, i found i needed to just make the decision to let it go.  i had to throw it in the bag, and once it was there, there was no looking back.  some of the stuff that i got rid of has been a source of contemplation with me before.  i always think that if i hold on to it for just a little longer, i might change my mind and wear it again.  or if i hold on to my messiah college men's lacrosse sweatpants, i'll be able to relive the glory days.  but i know the truth, i will never wear that shirt again, and those sweatpants will stay packed away in a tote in the closet.  it's time to let go.






i think there are many times that the Lord wants us to clean house and have a no turning back attitude.  it's so easy to live in a place of complacency though because we get comfortable.  we are familiar with the routine and it gets harder to do the difficult work of change.  but once we start, it can be so incredibly freeing!  it takes our willingness to take ahold of His hand and allow Him to lead us and rely on His strength to loosen our grip and let go.





Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 13: free to worship



worship at church this morning was awesome!!  i couldn't keep my arms down. i seriously could not hold them any higher.  it was just one of those moments where you breathe it all in, and know the Spirit of the Lord is definitely in the house.

i kept thinking, this.  this times a thousand.
what a beautiful, tiny taste of heaven.

and from our experience today, i thought i would share my favorite song we sang. it's a song from a local band, and i highly recommend you check it out.  you can listen to it here.


today we sang the bridge as our battle cry.


Sons and daughters, lift your voices
Praise the Son of God
Death is beaten, Love has conquered
We have the victory



and i was going to leave it at that, but then on the way home from church i heard another song that was awesome, so it's a 2 song kind of sunday!  


the second song is This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham.  






This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You would lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Jesus, I sing for
All that You've done for me


be blessed!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 11: free to dance in the rain



we have had a ton of rain here in the last 36 hours with little hope of it letting up until sometime tomorrow.  creeks flooding, streets closing, schools letting out early.  it gets messy in these parts.

with all this rain, i was reminded today of a post i wanted to write a couple of months ago and never got around to actually sitting down to write it.  i had been taking a walk early one morning, listening to my music, praising Jesus, when i came upon this little statue in someone's yard.




 it caught my attention because the song that was playing through my ear buds at the time was Let it Rain by Jesus Culture.   as i stood staring at this statue (and hoping the owner's weren't staring at me), i thought, isn't this so like me?  at the slightest hint of rain, how quick am i to put up my umbrella?  how terribly frightened am i that i might get wet? how often do i run for shelter from the storm?  as i listened to the lyrics,

"let it rain, let it rain.
open the floodgates of heaven."

i thought, what if the Lord wants me to experience the feeling of raindrops caressing my cheeks and dripping from the tip of my nose? what if he wants me to be drenched to the bones in his goodness and mercy?

then another song lyric came to mind:

"loves like a hurricane, i am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy."



a hurricane.  his love is like a hurricane.  i don't know about you, but my idea of a hurricane does not sound inviting.  it conjures up images of boarded up windows and evacuations.  but i sense the Lord wants to maybe change our thinking here.  i sense he wants us to know that he wants to love us fierce.  he wants to saturate us with his love.  he wants us to surrender to the life he wants to pour into us and find freedom in the floods of heaven that will wash over us.  

i've been following a fellow blogger and influence member's 31 day series on "dance parties in the rain", and i've loved every post because she paints such a beautiful picture of what it means to let go and dance with joy and embrace the rain.  i think of times as a kid when i've run out into the rain and thrown my arms up and opened my face to the clouds.  i've tasted raindrops on my tongue and splashed with reckless abandon in the puddles. 

and i think melody is certainly on to something here because i believe i hear the Father beckoning us to put away our umbrellas and come and dance and sing and jump and open ourselves to the rains of his love.  

what could be more freeing than that??


(i couldn't find who to give credit to for this photo, i'm sorry!) 


{i'm joining in with the nester in the 31 days blogging challenge. you can check out other topics here!}

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 10: a free printable

i don't know what the weather has been like for you today, but around here it's been cold and rainy all day.  i really had the urge to do something crafty today and so i tried to get eli to have craft time with me.  it did not go as i had planned.  he was really into using "gue" and markers, but was not into completing the project i had for him.  i informed him that coloring the glue with the markers really was not the craft i had in mind.  so, i finished the craft for him, and we quickly put our craft supplies away.




the whole candy corn craft wasn't really fulfilling my personal craft bug, but i ended up wasting the afternoon away watching "parks and rec" and window shopping through etsy, so i never got around to being crafty.  

in light of my crafty mood, i decided that for tonight's post i would offer a little art for you all, if you would like.  i created a printable that you can print for yourself to keep as a reminder of our gift of freedom. 


click here to download 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 9: the words that free us

in my quest to discover what it means to walk in freedom, i've come to realize the absolute truth that there are power in words, and that words could mean the difference between freedom and bondage.

proverbs 18:21 says it so clearly, and i believe it with all of my heart.

"the tongue has the power of life and death....."

at both of the conferences i've attended recently, influence 2 weeks ago and the orange tour yesterday, there were sessions on the topic of words.  "your words matter" with annie downs  and "words over time" with mark batterson both focused on the power of our words, what they can do in the present, how they can shape the future and how they can affect eternity.  

of course when doing the type of soul searching i've been doing lately, i've thought so much about how the power of words has affected me over the course of my life so far.

friends, i remember very clearly words that were spoken to me as a young 12 year old girl that changed the way i viewed myself in a flash.  they were words that told me i was not pretty enough, i was not skinny enough, i was just not good enough.  and those lies that we talked about the other day, this is exactly why i have believed some of them my whole life.  because my grandmother of all people, spoke   certain words to me, and i have never forgotten them. 

(here's me at age 11. i couldn't find me at 12, but i'm sure i looked pretty similar...maybe a different hairstyle!)

because of these words, i have believed that i need to compare myself to others in order to receive love.  i have believed that i need to measure myself against other people's standards to be accepted.  because of these words, there are times that i feel shame when i put food in my mouth.  i feel as though if people knew what i was eating i would immediately be judged and chastised. 
"no wonder she's not thinner"
"maybe if she skipped a few desserts...."

for 20 some years i have carried the baggage of these words. i have believed ugly, ugly things about myself due to someone else's careless use of words. i have been a prisoner of these words and have believed that this is just the way it is.  it would just have to be something i overcome. 

but the reality is, Jesus has overcome with 3 words.  just 3 words. 


"it is finished."

with these 3 words, those words spoken to me over 20 years ago have no power over me! i am free!

here are words that have been spoken over me that are truth and will claim:

((source: http://www.etsy.com/listing/77044034/fearfully-and-wonderfully-made-psalm-139))

((source: http://purseonalitychallenge.blogspot.com/2012/05/day-11-masterpiece.html))


((source: http://allourdays.com/2013/04/free-printable-art-for-your-home.html))



i'm thankful for the hearts of jessi and hayley of the influence network.  it was during their sessions that the Lord began stirring and whispering and opening my eyes to these truths.  i'm also thankful for people like reggie joiner and his team at orange  who have a heart for kids and making them a priority 
because as i think more and more about the power of words, i am especially sensitive towards the words we speak to our children and other people's children.  the truth is that my grandmother did not speak these words with the intention to hurt me, she just did not stop to think about the words she was speaking.  remember that words have the power of life and death.  remember that what you say to a kid today could be used to empower them or imprison them for years to come.  

so what about the apple pie, you ask?
no shame in my game. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 8: free to eat the apple pie

confession: i just ate a piece of apple pie and *gasp* it's almost 9:00 PM.  and i loaded it with whipped cream *second gasp*

i want to share with you why this is such a big deal, but the reality is, i am really tired!  i've been up since before 5 am and spent all day at a super cool conference.  i really wanted to skip today's post and say, "free to fail, it's bound to happen!", but my husband wouldn't let me!  (darn you, supportive husband)  ((totally kidding! i love him dearly and am so happy he looks out for me in my endeavors))  

the conference was awesome and affirming, and i feel like the Lord inspired a few topics for future posts from my experience today.  however, my mind is back in information overload status, and i need a little time to process....again!  

so, i'm using this post as a teaser.  you will have to tune back in to find out why the apple pie and how in the world is she tying this into walking in freedom???



mmmm....doesn't that look so good??
((it was!!))


Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 7: what does pinterest know about freedom?



With a serious case of writer's block, I decided to scour pinterest for " freedom quotes" thinking that it would provide some inspiration, and I could get this post written.  It worked.

Here are some of the images that I found that have conjured up quite a few thoughts:











some people may find these to be incredibly inspiring and may want to hang them on their wall or have them tattooed on their foot.  i am not one of those people.  when i read these, i have to admit they make me laugh and make me a little sad.  forgive me if you found yourself to be in the first group.  i do not wish to offend anyone, but the truth is when i think about freedom and what i know about freedom completely negates these statements.  completely.  

because what i know about true freedom and how i define true freedom begins with the Cross and what Jesus did on that glorious day.  i know that it was nothing i or anyone else did or didn't do, for that matter, to win His affection that made him take that lonely and painful journey.   freedom certainly was given that day with no strings attached.   and to this day and every day after, there is nothing, nothing in this entire world that can take that freedom away.  sure, i have a choice to accept that freedom and to walk in that freedom, but it's definitely not a state of mind.  it is a matter of the heart and whether i make that choice.  it is a matter of choosing to walk in freedom and not allowing the bonds of sin hold me back from doing so.   

true freedom is definitely possible because here is what i believe about true freedom: 





true freedom is the result of a Savior who was nailed to a cross, whose blood was shed for the sin of this world.  
true freedom is in the form of amazing grace.  
true freedom welcomes me with open arms and hides me in the shelter of His wings.  
true freedom gives me strength in the face of the storm and fights my battles with valor.
true freedom makes my heart beat and shows me what it means to truly live.


this freedom is free and beautiful and so worth it all. 










Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 6: Free to Worship



((photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=180155796260&set=pb.33863411260.-2207520000.1381103487.&type=3&theater))


my favorite type of music is worship music. there is nothing more soothing to my soul.  
so, sundays will be a day that i share a song that will be included in my soundtrack for walking in freedom, if i were to make a soundtrack for this season.  which i totally think is a great idea because i think every season of life deserves a soundtrack!


i pray you are blessed by this song as much as i was today!


here's my pick for today:


(in case you are viewing via a mobile device, the song is "cornerstone" by hillsong)


"For in Scripture it says: 
'See, I lay a stone in Zion, 
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
 and the one who trusts in him 
will never be put to shame.'"

{1 Peter 2:6}





Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5: free to be honest







I think that as I am discovering what it truly means to walk in freedom with Jesus, there comes a time where one just needs to be honest.  I think all too often as I mentioned before, it's so easy to cover things up, wear the mask and float through life without allowing yourself to be discovered.

I think that the title, "free to be honest" may be a recurring title throughout this month! I feel as though there may be days where I just need to be honest, and today is one of those days.  This weekend I am beginning to feel the physical signs of what I believe is the miscarriage.  It's a tough physical reminder of the loss, and to be honest, it just seems wrong! Mike and I have gone back and forth trying to decide which scenario would have been better: ours or the sudden onset of a miscarriage without any forewarning.  The in-limbo period was hard, but I feel as though we have been able to mentally prepare for what we knew in our hearts would be the outcome.  

So all in all, I'm doing ok.  We still feel covered by the prayers of our family and friends and resting in the "peace that surpasses all understanding" (Phil. 4:7). It has been such an encouragement to have scripture come to life for us over the last few days.  But the truth is I'm ready to move on, and I really am hoping that this physical reminder is short-lived because it's hard!  


And I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who have been reading along.  Your kind words have been such a blessing to me!  It's confirmation that I'm doing exactly what God has called me to do.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4: Free to shut out the lies.






the events of this week have overshadowed my original train of thought for what this "series" was going to be about or how it was all going to unfold.  understandably so, but i feel like i should take a few steps back and explain why "walking in freedom".

we women are funny creatures.  so very different in so many ways and on so many scales but so very identical in one: we are believers of the lies.  you know the lies i'm talking about.  if you are a woman reading this right now, i believe you know exactly what i am talking about. (and if you are not a woman, i'm sure you know plenty of woman who are believers of the lies.)

perhaps these ring a bell:

"i'm not good enough"
"i'm not pretty enough"
"i'm not skinny enough"
"i don't fit in"
"i don't belong"
"my house isn't nice enough"
"my house isn't clean enough"
"she's a better mom than me"
"she's a better friend than me"

you get the point, right?

LIES.
LIES.
LIES.

i have been a believer of the lies for as long as i can remember.  if i listed all of the lies that i have believed/still believe, i'm sure as an outsider, you'd think, now that's just crazy.  and i'd say, yes, i'm sure you're right, it is crazy, but you probably also know that the lies are so easy to believe in this crazy world we live in.  somedays they are just so darn loud and convincing!  

i'm sure as time goes on, i will share some of those lies that have held me captive for so long because they are such a huge part of my story.  but for now i'm just in a place where i recognize them for what they are: LIES, and i am tired of believing them and allowing them to be the author of my story.  i no longer want to be crippled by falsehood that has no place in my life as a daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  

because the reality is that it is crippling.  it is painful.  it makes me weak in the worst kind of way.  if i believe what God says about me in His Word and i believe that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was meant to make me free, then it is time to put an end to believing the lies.  i believe i am in the refining process and barely on the cusp of a breakthrough, but i am ready.  

Because how am I supposed to walk in freedom while I'm crippled by the lies?



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3: free to be weak

{joining in with the nester in the 31 days blogging challenge. you can check out other topics here!}




this may or may not come as a surprise to you, but i like to be known as a strong person.  it is so very true.  i spent the majority of my 20s as a single woman who prided herself in being "miss independent" ((you know, destiny's child: "all the women who are independent, throw your hands up at me")). oh yes, this was my anthem.

don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with independence, but the issue for me was that it was my anthem in all of life, including my relationship with God.  to me, strong people were in control, and therefore, as far as i was concerned, i was in control.  it wasn't so much an attitude of "i'll do what i want when i want, and no one can tell me what to do." i wasn't a brat about it.  ok, maybe sometimes.  but i'd say it was more of an appearance thing. as long as i appeared to have everything in control, i was golden.

so if it came time to get vulnerable with people, i struggled.  to me, vulnerable = weak = not for me.  i was strong and strong people are certainly not allowed to be weak and therefore, not allowed to be vulnerable. i'm not saying it never happened, but for the most part it was out of my comfort zone.  i did not want to appear needy, i didn't want to burden people. it just seemed easier to wear the mask. this in turn became evident in my relationship with God as well.



the truth is i have always been a very sensitive person.  i remember backing down from many conversations or fearing any type of confrontation because i could not get through these situations without crying and blubbering and looking like a weirdo.  i always got my feelings hurt very easily, and it really didn't take much to set me off.  i had a very difficult time standing up for myself because i felt really stupid crying about just about anything, so my MO became "stuff it and stew".  i would just stuff down all those emotions and stew over it for a time without anyone ever being the wiser.  and after years of operating in this fashion, my need to be a strong woman was born.

i was portraying exactly who the world told me to be, but i knew deep down inside this was not who God called me to be.  i felt trapped by living under false pretenses, but it was the only way i really knew how to live.

this past weekend i heard the following statement:


"stop covering up with false fig leaves - you don't have to fear discovery."


it was one of those moments that stops you in your tracks and you feel as though the statement was made specifically for you.  you know what i'm talking about, right?  the rest of the weekend  i sensed the Lord showing me that being willing to be vulnerable is, first of all, not a sign of weakness as i had personally defined it, and secondly, being willing to be vulnerable is a sign that one is walking in freedom.  

so in my quest to learn to walk in freedom, i am learning to step out of my comfort zone.  i am learning to transform my former way of thinking and claim the following verse to be truth in my life. 

    "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
    2 Corinthians 12:9