Do you like to use coupons? Some people make it into a sport all its own. I don’t go hunting for them, but when they show up in my mailbox from my favorite store for my most-purchased items, that’s a game-changer. It’s amazing how these little slips of paper can save so much money!
Let’s say I have a coupon for $2.00 off a pound of coffee. How much is that coupon worth?
Well, the paper and ink are nearly worthless. According to the teensy-weensy fine-print, a coupon is worth approximately 1/100 of $0.01 – a hundredth of a penny! Good enough to catch a piece of used gum. Not much more. And yet this worthless piece of paper will somehow save me $2.00. How? An exchange must be made. I must surrender it for the coupon to be redeemed.
A redeemed coupon – worthless when it’s stuck at the bottom of my messy purse – is exponentially bumped in value upon surrender.
Is there anything in your life experience that you look back on and think, “That was worthless”? Loss. Heartache. A bad choice. Illness. Tragedy. Just as worthless as the drops of ink are on that slip of torn paper.
What if there was a value to be discovered only through redemption? What might happen if you took that worthless thing and laid it down once and for all in nail-scarred hands?
My coupon worth 1/100 of a penny is valued at $2.00 only upon surrender. Its value increases 20,000 times through surrender! Imagine the exponential return of value upon something we call worthless when placed in the hands of the only One who is capable of redeeming!
In 2006, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that would shake everything I understood about my own health. It would threaten a shortened lifespan by 10-20 years. It would daily threaten to take my very life. It would interfere with clarity of thought and convenience in living. It would steal finances and sleep and the loveliness of ignorance of such a reality. Worthless…right? What a waste!
Two years later, on my knees in a messy puddle of tears, I handed this worthless mess over to Jesus. I heard simply, “I have healed you.” What could that mean? I still face the physical facts every day that seek to convince me of the inherent worthlessness of this reality. But through that surrender, I have experienced the most surprising redemption.
Death threatens daily. God has redeemed me with fulness of life, recognizing even more the value of the lived moment.
Fear threatens to smother. God has filled me with a peace beyond what makes sense that my body is most secure when surrendered to Him.
Brain fog and fatigue threaten my calling to communicate. God redeems by using the very thing which threatens to be a powerful testimony of His goodness.
People look and wonder at why He hasn’t healed me yet and I look at them and say, “He already has. And He continues to do so.”
A worthless, torn slip of paper surrendered to the hands of One with authority to redeem can reveal a miracle. Within each so-called worthless thing is a hidden, exponential value.
What worthless situation is God asking you to surrender today?
Everyone needs a healing touch, whether in a physical, soulful, or spiritual way. While there can be frustration in facing a chronic issue, hope can be yours in the waiting. For more, get your copy of Chronic Healing today!
Do you ever struggle with feeling simply not enough?
I’m in a season of living outside of my wheelhouse. Few things feel comfortable and ordinary at the moment, even the supposedly ordinary things. Much waiting is taking place. I await phone calls and emails that have life-changing potential. Online connections are much more than news-sharing – they are windows for growth in business, continuation of relationship, and sharing outwardly what feels very private, our adoption journey. How can I meet these head-on with excellence and intentionality?
Many days I awake and feel like I’m already behind. A kink in the schedule throws off my equilibrium. Full disclosure: I’ve been a grouch the past few days. Can anyone relate?
Decisions to make. Tasks to accomplish. People interrupting thought trains. Schedules shifting. Where will I find an enough-ness that is enough to meet today’s demands?
“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
The enemy nags in my ear, “Fraud!” Will the nagging continue to distract attentions and detract worth? Or will I lean on a redirect? God, what do You have to say about this?
About not feeling like I’m enough? God is enough. His grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
About the fear that if I mess up everything will collapse? God “upholds the universe by the word of His power.” (Hebrews. 1:3)
About the apprehension on how everything will turn out? He declares the end from the beginning. Nothing surprises Him. (Isaiah 46:10)
About feeling like I’m out of my element? He is with me and I have no need to fear. (Joshua 1:9)
When there seems to be too much – too many options, too many tasks, too many demands, too many unknown factors – we can return to the simplicity of knowing He is enough. He is enough. I don’t have to be, because He is. And knowing that, I can begin with simply the next thing. Not all the things. Just the next one.
Someone young and precious to me posted recently: “How do you know you’re in love?”
Isn’t that a question we’ve all asked at one point or another? Is it mere attraction? Mutual enjoyment? Shared hopes and dreams?
Falling in love with my (now) husband wasn’t difficult at all. As though he was on display for my scrutiny, I considered me, my feelings. Attraction…check. Shared beliefs…check. Desire to be near him…check.
Then came marriage, living together in this daily grind – suddenly, all our opposite traits rubbing each other in uncomfortable ways. What felt like a natural force became a daily choice.
To fall in love is easy: it’s all emotions and heart-fluttering and giddy attraction. It’s like falling, something we have little control over, something we succumb to. It’s often blind, overlooking red flags of warning. It lives in a dream state, ever-imagining. Often it elevates the other as an object of worship.
To live in love is the hard part: it’s raw and sacrificial. It’s preferring the other person above yourself. It’s believing the impossible is possible. It’s releasing the desire to control them or twist them. It’s believing they are and can become the person God has created them to be—and helping them arrive at that destination while persevering with them on the journey. It never uses ultimatums or threats.
A life in love is that ridiculous encapsulation of 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:
patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful, not rejoicing with wrongdoing, but rejoicing with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, never-ending, rooted in the Spirit, producing confidence before God, fearless
Authentic love, abiding love, is an existence impossible apart from God and His grace to empower. Falling in love relies on gravity to do the work. Living in love defies gravity when it presses down, nearly crushing. Falling in love is feelings-based. Living in love does so despite feelings.
Living in love often seems illogical, nonsensical. It’s not a sweet or simple story people flock to the movies for. It’s a long road filled with mundane moments of choosing the other. Of choosing the Source of Love—God.
So, how do you know you’re in love? When you’re living motivated, fueled by Love. When it’s no longer just about you and how someone meets your needs and wants. When there’s sacrifice and service. When you realize that living in love is not a feeling, but rather, is an ongoing expression, a constant outpouring of yourself.
And you take one more step up that mountain, knowing that a life lived in love is more about the hard climb than the backwards free-fall.
Have you ever had one of those bleh sort of days? When the mundane rules and the body moves slow and the cozy sounds delightful?
It’s a bleh sort of day over here. No downer moods. Simply a sense of a low-key day. My body doesn’t feel energized. I’m a bit lethargic. It’s okay – enter hormones, blood sugars, and chores to do.
But mid-morning on this bleh-sort-of-day, God whispered to me of beauty. On my way to the bathroom counter to grab a hair tie and stick this mess of curls up in a bun, He said to me, “Look up.” There, in the mirror, I caught a glimpse of my reflection, in all my free-flying, messy curl, mascara-free, blonde eyelashes, freckles beyond number glory, wearing jeans and a T with a tear near the hem. A bit sloppy. The comfy feeling of being relaxed in my space. But nothing glamorous, to be sure.
“Embrace the messy curls today,” He whispered to me. “See the blue in the iris. Don’t long for the black in the lash. There’s beauty here. Now.”
There’s beauty here. Now.
Usually I hide my curls with the flat iron. Hair is easier to deal with that way. Easier to control. Usually I apply mascara to point out that, yes, I do in fact have eyelashes. I know they’re virtually invisible. I know I look like every European Renaissance portrait ever painted with the people of the invisible lashes. (Yes, those are my people.)
Sometimes the struggle is simple practicality. Sometimes it’s about fitting in. Sometimes it’s about fulfilling a sense of a perceived standard of beauty. But the struggle is there.
What struggle do you face when you face the mirror? It’s so easy to gloss over our feelings there because it seems so vain, surely not nearly as important as the “spiritual” issues of life. But God created us in bodies, which are our vessels for living out these lives of ours.
Not only did He create these bodies, but He created us in His image, after His likeness (Genesis 1:26-27).
And, even more, He is the Author and Creator of this substance called beauty. Beyond all the flowers and trees and clouds and waves He created a beauty that is eternal – humanity. And there is a special sort of beauty in the broken, the raw, the unveiled, the vulnerable, the tender, the wrinkled.
Am I tossing out my flat iron or my mascara? Nope. I enjoy those. Maybe you enjoy your flair for fashion or your tattoo or your lip color. There are all kinds of creative expressions. And I am not here to demonize those. I, too, have fun getting creative with the clothes I have, glancing at my tattooed wrist, or trying on a new color. Yes, enjoy. Yes, create. But, may we not hide. May we not hide the beauty that has always been there.
May we embrace the beauty He has placed within us as well as on us as we live surrendered to Christ, reflecting God’s image to the world.
Here’s to the messy curls, the invisible lashes, the freckles in great supply. Here’s to the real.
In case you need to hear it today – You are beautiful. And you are beauty. All because He is Beauty.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time? Overwhelmed with tasks. Underwhelmed by God’s presence.
Perhaps this best sums up the past several months for me.
Since October, a mere four months ago, we have been in an accident which totaled our car and led to the need for physical therapy since, faced the passings of two family members, crossed the country by car twice to be near family in this difficult time, my husband and I have agreed on his making a transition to a new company, experienced new growth in our publishing company, keeping us on our toes and busy, and then there has been life to live in the midst (homeschooling, home projects, and the like).
In our nation, a new President took office. Awareness (and opinions) of the refugee crisis erupted again. Women pitted against women in the disagreement of “choice” and life. Protests and riots and loud mouths have prevailed. Not that I’ve personally noticed much of this with my head in the proverbial sand. I’ve watched practically no news. Engaged in practically no social media. Kept my thoughts to myself for some time, relying upon a few close friends to keep me abreast of the happenings.
In the face of such life extremes, have you ever wanted to hide? To go back to a time when simplicity reigned. When right and wrong were easily distinguished. When simply sharing a word could be taken at face value rather than receiving immediate backlash laced with offense? When perspectives were clear, untainted by tragedy and cynicism?
These recent months have left me feeling a sense of distance from my Creator, the Lover of my soul. Not due to any bitterness or blaming on my part. Rather, the race of busy, the tyranny of the urgent has often stolen the selah of silence. And, even more, it’s easy to lose sight of His nearness when you are struggling to survive the day.
Perspective is a powerful thing.
We are now into February, but I’ll let you know that I wrestled through December and January to seek my word for the year. Deeper than a New Year’s resolution, I needed a lens to view the world through – fresh for this season. Ultimately, the Lord clarified His word for me (rather than my word for myself)…
Viewing everything – myself, my family, my marriage, my struggles, the world, other people – through this lens of God’s kingdom. This kingdom which John the Baptist made the way for and Jesus ushered in. This kingdom which seems upside-down in its realities and truths. This kingdom which emphasizes the unseen over the seen.
This lens helps me see anew: Where is God in this?
Where is He when our loved ones die? Where is He when those left behind reel with grief and pain? Where is He when daily decisions press in and pull down? Where is He when our nation turns, brother against brother? Where is He when a people no longer grasp righteousness or purity or brotherhood or patriotism or selflessness? Where is He when I’ve failed, yet again, as a woman, a wife, a mom, a friend?
I am Jacob, wrestling with God through the night, desperate for His blessing, longing for His touch.
In the face of pain and loss, disagreement and uncertainty, chaos and struggle stay desperate. May we not seek answers. May we seek the kingdom – that realm of reality where God is King. King above kings. King above circumstance. King above fear. King above all self-focus.
Do you ever feel like an opportunity is too much work? Too many hurdles to overcome? It would be better to just skip? Maybe it’s just me.
I knew days before that the meteor shower would happen in the wee hours on Friday morning. But the idea of rousing myself, much less my children, at the insane hour of 1 am was simply too much. So I scratched that off my planner.
We needed our rest, after all.
My husband would be away that night for work, so I wouldn’t have any help dealing with the kids and getting them back to bed.
I don’t function well when I’m tired.
I don’t like the dark…or the grass…or bugs in the grass.
So many excuses…ahem…reasons not to.
By the time Thursday evening rolled around, I’d completely forgotten the foreshadowed night display. But sleep would not come. Hours slipped by. Eyes wide open. A friend posted a song on Facebook that captured my heart – one of my all-time favorites – “Adagio for Strings.” I let the strings lull my body to calm. And at the height of the piece, like a burst of light, my memory jogged. Nearly 1 am and there I lie, wide awake. And I thought…why not?
Pajama-clad, I stepped onto the dark patio and looked up. No streaking meteors. But the stars, they captured me. God stoked my soul with the heavens of His majesty. I couldn’t wait to show the kids!
When I tried to wake them, my daughter, surprisingly, got up quickly, excited, wrapped in her cozy blanket. My son, stuck in his sleep, refused to get up. So, a mommy-daughter date it would be.
The ladies of this house don’t care for the dark. Or shadows. Or unidentifiable night noises. But suddenly none of that mattered as I lay our softest blanket like a bed on the grass. We rested, snuggled, and waited.
In the waiting, I felt my tension. As eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized my flexed muscles held stiff, my tendency to want to hurry the moment along.
Then I saw it! A shooting star careening through the heavens. My heart leapt in wonder. My body began to relax. There we cuddled together on our blanket-topped grass, watching fiery meteors streak across the night sky – perhaps about 20 flew by during our 45 minutes outside.
What if I had allowed the hurdles to get in the way of that moment with my daughter? What would we have missed out on and not even realized?
In those wee hours of the morning, God captured my heart – so serious and task-oriented of late – and restored a sense of awe. Gazing at the vastness of even that sliver of sky, I sensed my smallness, yet His profound love for me. Hurdles faded away. Excuses evaporated.
And another meteor shot across in blazing glory.
What opportunity stands before you today, just beyond a hurdle? What beauty? What wonder?
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August is a special time around here:
- Four years ago I began blogging at I AM Now Found.
- Three years ago, Refining Identity released.
- This month, Chronic Healing has been released.
- And…this week I’m celebrating my birthday!
What you need to know…
- Subscribe today to Now Found where you will receive blog updates and our monthly newsletter!
- Entries will be accepted through 10:00pm CST on Saturday, August 20, 2016.
- Shipping is only available to the continental U.S.
- Winners will be notified via email.
If you’ve ever asked the questions “Who am I?” or “How is God working through this situation?” these books are for you!
Subscribe and enter to win HERE!
A chronic condition is persistent, ongoing. And for physical, chronic disease, medically speaking, is usually incurable. Facing my own chronic issue has been a decade-long struggle. I’ve wrestled with scriptures and promises of healing, coming to realize deep-seeded beliefs about God as Healer.
As He’s shown me more of Himself in the midst of my circumstances facing a chronic condition, I’ve come to see how healing can be chronically (persistently, continually) received.
My most vulnerable and nakedly raw book, Chronic Healing: Hope and Healing For Body, Soul, & Spirit, is now available. If you face any kind of ongoing circumstance, be it physical, soulful, or spiritual, this book is for you!
Order your copy today!
This blog is nearly 4 years old! And I am readying to attend the Declare Conference for the 4th time – that place where I’ve gone to find rest and inspiration to continue on in this bloggy space. Where women gather to worship. Where friends find one another for the first time. Where the #digitalevangelist is equipped.
To gear up for this year’s conference, attendees are linking our digital arms and answering a few questions…So here we go!
1. If we were meeting in person, how would you introduce yourself? Wife to Steve, homeschooling mama to two (so far!), writer, speaker, editor, writer’s coach, and native Texan. I’ve always been an old soul, an avid reader, a lover of music. Although I’m an introvert in need of recharging time on my own, I love people – meeting, encouraging, diving deep.
2. What is your favorite thing to write and why? I love writing nearly everything. But books are my favorite, by far! I enjoy the long-range project, the life-message, the time spent with God processing on paper. My first book – Refining Identity – a Bible study, a discipleship journey. My second, an ebook – The inTentional Mama – a super-short and practical read to uplift mamas everywhere. My third releases in ONE WEEK! Chronic Healing follows my journey living with a chronic condition, walking alongside the Lord who is my Healer.
3. What is your favorite thing to read and why? Can I just say ALL the things? Articles and blogs, commentaries and Bible reference, Christian novels, Christian inspiration, classics of the church fathers and mothers that challenge me to go deeper. I wrote recently about the books I couldn’t stand to part with during our recent move. Give me words to read, to ponder, to apply, and I’m generally content to sit for hours [if anyone will let me…ha!].
4. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? Have my pre-dawn writing time followed by listening to waves on a beach, toes in the sand. Dine slowly at delicious, local restaurants with people I love. Hold my hubby’s hand. Kiss my daughter’s freckled face. Tickle my son. Nap. And read.
5. What’s one thing you love about your blog and one thing you’d like to improve? I love this space dedicated to finding God in the midst of everyday life. I love the freedom to express, to share, to challenge myself and others. I’d like to tweak a few things to make the site more aesthetically pleasing and current.
6. [Lightning Round] Would you rather…
Read on Kindle or paperback? Silly question…paperback! Pen and coffee go with my reading time.
Drink coffee or tea? See above =) Coffee, for sure. But I don’t mind a cup of tea in the evenings either.
Go to a musical or a movie? Unless the musical is Les Miserables, I’ll take the movie option.
Vacation at the beach or at the mountains? Engaged on a mountain, married on the beach, I love them both! Beach ultimately wins – crashing waves, bare feet in sand, endlessness of the ocean.
Have an exciting night out or a relaxing night in? Relaxing night in. Games, pjs, cuddles, deep conversation = happiness.
Watch sports, play sports, or no sports? I’ll watch as long as hubby is nearby. Then it classifies as a date. =)
Thanks so much for joining me on this link-up intro!
I’m establishing a new normal today. For over 3 years, I’ve awoken before 5am on Saturday mornings, tossed on clothes, and headed out the door for coffee and writing.
But last week we bought a new house! And with the move comes changes, like writing more at home. So I allowed myself an extra 15 minutes of sleep…all the way until 4:55am…before rising to brew my own coffee and set up my laptop across from our dining room window that presently looks out over the pre-dawn blackness of the open field behind our property.
It has been a whirlwind, an exhausting whirlwind – moving every scrap of our possessions from one place to another which is no small task. Here are a few observations from the other side of the crazy:
- We’ve been so blessed by the friends and family who have come to help us pack, unload, and begin to settle. I’m rocked by their selflessness and generosity. And, yes, my eyes began leaking in moments when I realized a friend packed up those closets and cabinets for me that I’d been avoiding.
- It’s taken quite a lot of mental energy to encourage the kiddos who are big enough to help, but old enough to have complex emotions about uprooting their “normal.”
- The enemy will do everything he can to steal, kill, and destroy the goodness God provides. He has sought to instill fear, steal my joy, overwhelm me with tasks, and create uncertainty throughout this whole house-building process.
- It is completely possible to walk a house from foundation pouring to final touch ups, at least once a week with a critical eye ready to catch any flaw, and be pleasantly surprised upon actually moving in at things we’ve overlooked all of these visits.
- My husband is basically a superhero. His strength, endurance, and tendency to get all the big things assembled, connected, and in place within a few days of moving is jaw-dropping in its wonder.
- After 7 moves in 11 years of marriage, I think we mostly have this thing down. Our first move as a married couple was stressful as we learned all kinds of lessons about how not to communicate with love and effectiveness. We may be exhausted, but I’m so deeply thankful that there’s a whole lot more flirting than fighting in this process.
Our last home was such an unbelievable blessing to our family. Our little place, built in 1980, housed first steps and laughter and lessons learned. Our very own pear tree provided hundreds of pears annually. The canopy of trees in the back gave us shade while we played. But mostly, the sense of God’s peace on that space was the stand-out for us and for the visitors we had over the years.
Here, in a new place we now call “home” I feel that peace as well. But there’s more. There’s light. I long for this to be like a lighthouse, set on a hill, pointing everyone we meet to Christ. I pray that this place will not only be where we retreat to rest, but also it will be a place we invite others into – even despite our imperfections that range from dirty dishes in the sink to moments of frustration – because God’s love is sufficient to cover all our imperfections and His grace is sufficient to give strength in our weakness.
Has your normal changed lately? How is God meeting you where you’re at today?