Friday, June 17, 2016
Friday, May 20, 2016
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
I just finished up a ten week Sunday school class on the book of James. I enjoy going back and studying a book that I have spent a lot of time studying in the past but not recently. Such a powerful little book packed full of beautiful truth about how life works best, about loving the underdog, about having the same heart for the world as the one who made it.
As I prepared for our last couple of lessons on patience and prayer, the Lord made something very clear to me. There are some things for which I have become afraid to pray.
One great lesson I've learned over the past four or so years of my life is that God's goodness is not based on circumstances. It is not based on how He answers prayers. That He can say "no" and still be good, that the best things can actually be the things that are the hardest things. This has been an invaluable lesson for me. Prayer is not magic. Magic is trying to manipulate something stronger than you into doing your will. Prayer is aligning our hearts with His to see and accept HIS will in our lives and the world. Prayer is about surrendering power, not taking it.
But surrender doesn't mean you become complacent. That you expect life to be hard and so you just quit asking, which is where I found myself as I studied James.
If there is one place where my heart hurts more than anything else, it is in the fact that I can't understand what my daughter is trying to say to me. After years of speech therapy and doing
what everyone else was doing, she is still far behind even most of the kids we know her age with Down syndrome. And I would say in the past year after some discouraging conversations with parents of older non verable children, I began to believe that this was just the way it was going to be.
I want to be clear here and say that I was also encouraged by these conversations. I was encouraged by how much love and joy there can be without the power of words. That people's value and fullness in life is not based on verbal communication, which is part of the reason I found some peace in the prospect of this being our story. And mostly it felt safe. If I mourned the loss and accepted what was possibly our future, I could avoid being hurt any more than I already was. I could be content in my circumstances. Or at least I could appear to be.
So I quit asking. I continued to pray that Blythe would find effective ways to communicate, but I quit asking for words to come out of her mouth. I quit pleading that her speech would increase and I could hear her through her own words. We didn't stop therapy, and I didn't give up working with her at home, but I walked away from discussing this thing that hurt my heart the most with my Savior. Because I was afraid to ask. Because I believed that asking was admitting that what He's given me isn't enough.
However, continually bringing a need before the Lord does not mean you aren't willing to submit to His will. It is an act of obedience. We have been commanded to pray. It is right to bring the things that hurt your heart to Jesus. He already knows, but that is not an excuse for disobedience. The Lord knows that we need to share these things. We need to be honest about the things we are scared to hope for. Because while fighting for contentment and at the same time acknowledging what breaks our hearts is hard work. It's much easier when we aren't alone.
Jesus did not hang on that cross so I could swallow my pain over the broken world. He did it so I can confidently approach the throne of grace and find grace to help me in my time of need.
Why are you afraid to ask?
Maybe you worry that your prayers won't be effective because who are you to ask the God of the universe to reach His hand down and make things new?
In the end of James when he's talking about the importance of bringing our needs to the Body of Christ and sharing them with each other, he references Elijah.
"Elijah was a man just like us, he prayed earnestly that it would not rain on the land and it did not rain for three years and six months. Again he prayed and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced it's crops." James 5;18-19
I don't believe this is a coincidence. James is saying, dear sweet sister, you have been blessed with the same spirit as the prophet Elijah. Your prayers are powerful and effective.
Are you afraid to ask? Ask for courage to ask, and believe that He will meet you there.
I have begun to boldly approach the throne of grace and plead for words to come from my daughters mouth. It doesn't mean that I don't love her as she is, or that I think if they never come that my God is not good and powerful enough to do it. It means that I am learning the value and freedom in obedience.
What are you afraid to ask for? What burden have you buried deep inside because you don't believe it can change? Because it is too scary that the answer might be no. It's time to go get a shovel, to dig it out, bring it into the light and see what a difference it makes when it's sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Friday, January 29, 2016
While I believe that being a mom is something that God has called me to, obviously he gave me children, I don't often feel good at it. Most of the time I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. This of course, is not a terrible thing. It is always good to stay on our knees and remember that without him we cannot succeed. But it is exhausting. Both mentally and physically. So when I discovered my love for creating again it was like coming up for fresh air. It was good to remember the gifts I have been given. The years of art lessons that had not actually fallen into the deep abyss of forgotten memories reminded me that I am still me.
Over the past year and a half I have done the odd commission here and there and sold a few original pieces. During that time I watched as my younger sister also found joy in creating beautiful things. Her talent for calligraphy encouraged me to continue working on my own craft. But then over the holidays we got an idea. What if we put the two things together? What if we took my drawings and her beautiful letter work and saw what we might come up with as a team.
It is always a little frightening to create something and then put it out there for the world to see. It is a very real raw form of vulnerability, but there comes a time when our need to lean into who we are created to be, is greater than our fear of rejection. So Christy and I began to dream about a little space online where we might show up and be seen.
I remember back in August when I read, "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker her chapter on Running your race really spoke to me. She says..
"How many trot out that tired cliché-" I'm waiting for God to open a door" - and He is all, "I love you but get going pumpkin, because usually chasing a dream in your heart looks surprisingly like work. Don't just stand there, bust a move." You are good at something for reason. God designed you this way on purpose. It isn't fake or a fluke or small. These are the mind and heart and hands and voice you've been given, so use them."
And so, after many hours of work and research and late night FaceTime meetings we are almost ready to "open our doors" at TheBlissfulWillow.com. My desire is to devlope pieces that we would help others create places of peace in their homes. To paint pictures of families that will be cherished for years to come. To bring joy to others through notes of encouragement passed and received. But in all this we just want to lean in to who we were made to be. I want to run our race and I hope someone is encouraged to run there's along the way.
''The timing is never right. Forget that. It rarely just falls into your lap. You are probably not guaranteed success. This might be a risk. It will require sacrifices from you and maybe your people, and you might step out on shaky, shaky legs. But off you go because we were not created to standstill, even though that is safe and familar and you are guaranteed never to fall or stumble or grow weary. We were made to run. So run."- Jen Hatmaker