Open your Hands

Like a knife slicing through butter, I stepped out of my house and into the crisp yet somehow damp with humidity morning. It’s not abnormal for Texas to provide such paradoxical weather. I clomped over to my car door and noticed a butterfly perched on the handle with outstretched wings. Instinctively I froze and gently eased my hand in front of the butterfly. It slowly placed one spindly leg after onto my hand. Time seemed to pause as I held the butterfly in the palm of my hand. Every now and then the little guy (maybe girl?) would flutter its wings as it explored the newfound territory. I tried to put him on a nearby shrub. but he was quite content to sit on my hand. The moment was so beautiful. Still I was itching to grab my phone out of the purse slung on my arm to catch a picture. At the same time I didn’t want to scare off the butterfly with my movements. I forced myself to wait and be in the moment. Yet the ridiculous internal battle raged on. After several agonizing minutes, I slowly maneuvered my other arm and pulled out my phone for the picture. As I looked through my phone’s screen and readied myself to take the photo, the butterfly fluttered away.

Of course there was a lesson to be learned in this for me. As I watched the butterfly float away on the thick air, I immediately heard the tender whisper from Abba, Father, “Don’t be distracted with holding onto things- I will provide more tomorrow.” My desire to take a picture of the beauty in my hands was birthed out of my want to hold on to the moment for longer than the fleeting minutes I thought it would be. I knew the butterfly would not stay there forever, and I wanted to keep the moment. I wanted to show my kids, show my friends, maybe even put a pretty quote on it and feature it in a blog. Whatever my good intentions were, the thoughts of physically hanging on to this beautiful encounter were distracting me from the moment itself. And not only that,  but my obsession put a damper on the beauty of the fleeting gift that the visit from the butterfly was. You see the gifts, the moments, the people, the material possessions, part of what makes them so special is that they are momentary. From a macro level of viewing this in my own life, I will not be on this earth forever. One day this body will die and become new with Jesus. In the grand scheme of eternity, my time here is short. Therefore I want to run as fast as I can in pursuit of my forerunner Jesus. Even if it means falling and scraping my knees. By grace, I rise and press on. Following every God-given dream, saying, “Yes”, to every calling, and passionately utilizing ever gift planted by the Lord within my soul. I want to love deeply out of the wellspring of love crashing into me from the Lord. To bring Him glory from my surrender, to make Him known through my life. His voice guides me on, “Come, child.”

If you are new to my blog, then you don’t know that my family is planning to become full-time missionaries and are moving to Norway in March, God-willing. There are so many baby steps to even getting the change to take this giant leap of faith. There is a daily surrendering to the Lord’s ability to accomplish the task of provision and endurance for us to get there. And despite the challenge, it has been amazing for our family. Our faith is swelling, our flame burning bright, and our family is becoming closer to God and one another than I thought possible. Yesterday started out so well, and then something in me shifted. Granted, being on the phone with an internet company for an hour and a half to troubleshoot a work issue probably played a role in my mood. But regardless, a heaviness began to fall on me. I knew why the entire time but I fought it. I had just had a crazy intensely miraculous week. Every day was full of stretching and miraculous provision. So much good. And still, I was tired. “Rest, child“, the Lord whispered to me over and over again. I fought it. I was frustrated with my relationships for a list of conjured up reasons, angry that my voice was hoarse and I couldn’t even sing to worship my way out. I was tired. I was desperately hanging on to every thing but the Lord. I cleaned my house and posted pictures of my couch on the internet to be sold for our missions fund. Not long afterwards my kids asked to build a tent, and I obliged. I began to rearrange the very furniture that we planned to sell in my living room and I built the coolest blanket fort around. In that action, I even thought to myself that I would miss having the furniture that our family had made so many memories with. As any parent probably knows, the next request from my children came as no surprise, “Come hang out in our tent with us, Mommy!” Isn’t is so like our children to cry out to us the very things our souls cry out to the Lord? I crawled inside the plush fortress like a swaddled giant and at last the Lord beautifully wrecked me. Wrecked my walls, anyways. “Open your hands“, Abba whispered.

Surrender the plans, the future, the giftings, the possessions, the people. Surrender the moments. Surrender my life. Every day the Lord wants me to have open palms. This is the same posture that allowed a beautiful butterfly to rest on my hand. Open palms to release what I have already obtained and to receive new, fresh manna. Not to grip on to things so hard that I have no room for newness. God wants you and I to live with open palms to constantly receive His fullness, His beauty, His goodness. We cannot create eternity, it has already been written on our hearts. We need only to lean into Him, giving up ourselves, trusting that He is enough, and receiving all that He has for us. So open up your hands today. Give up your life. Give the Lord your good and your bad. Trust that He will provide you more. He is a good Dad.


Chair of Hope

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)

During the service at our church this morning, this scripture came to mind as Brenner and I sat beside my dear friend who had two of her children clinging to her. Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10). Powerful stuff. . The word ‘virtuous’ in the original Hebrew text is  חָ֫יִל (chayil) which means army, band of soldiers, able, mighty, riches, strength. Knowing that full definition, brings this scripture to life even more. The way our world has portrayed the image of women is one of lesser being, weak, and inferior. But here we see the call for a virtuous woman, a mighty woman, a woman who is a force to be reckoned with both in strength and riches. Women of God, this is us. This kind of virtue can not be mustered up from one’s own strength; how could one person also be an entire army? It almost sounds like a paradox. But with the Lord of hosts, we can be both. Take a look at Psalm 18. By God I can run against a troop of soldiers. By God I can leap over a wall. Now, I typically wear skinny jeans. It’s just my preferred choice and who knows? At age 24, maybe I’m still stuck in my Myspace and Paramore punk fashion days. But no matter what I’m wearing, there is no way I could just stare up at a wall and leap over it. However, with the help of our Merciful Lord, gracious and compassionate to the skinny jean wearers like me, you bet your bottom dollar, I could jump over that wall. Whether you take those verses as literal or spiritual strength given to us from the Lord, the promises are still true. The Psalm goes on to say that God is a shield to all who trust in Him, that our Lord is Sovereign God and a rock.

 “It is God who arms me with strengthAnd makes my way perfectHe makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high placesHe teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvationYour right hand has held me upYour gentleness has made me greatYou enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip I have pursued my enemies and overtaken themNeither did I turn back again till they were destroyed” (Psalm 18:32-37 NKJV)

That’s incredible. That is virtuous, a promise from the Lord of hosts to those of us who would place our trust in Him. As the Lord makes us virtuous and set up for battle as we see here in Psalm 18, what man or devil could stand against us? The answer is none. My dear friend sitting next to my family at church this morning is a virtuous wife. Her value truly is exceedingly greater than rubies. For many years now, she has attended church with her children and without her husband. Her husband has yet to place his faith and trust in the Lord, though there are a troop of us saints that are praying him in. Still regardless of who stands with her, she stands tall on the foundation of Christ and teaches her children all about the one true God who gives her strength. Already a great deal of people in her family have witnessed her steadfast, virtuous faith and have turned their lives over to Jesus Yeshua the Messiah. She carries the light of Christ with her everywhere she goes; that light is pursuing and eliminating all darkness that would dare step foot near the holy ground beneath her feet as she walks hand-in-hand with the Holy One. The next verse in Proverbs 31 is an amazing turning point as well:

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11)

There is no gain, no inheritance greater than that which comes from salvation through Jesus the Messiah.

My dear friend’s kids refused to go to Sunday school class this morning, and so did my little Laz. Still we all sat on the front row as one big family and worshipped God with our kids. As I sat beside her and saw her littles laying across her lap or sitting at her feet, I noticed an empty chair popped up between us. In the juggle of having three young children wiggle and giggle through a church message, a seat was made available between my friend and I. In that moment I thought it coincidental, but as I type out her testimony I see the hope. That chair is a promise for her family that her husband will have no lack of gain.

Today the Lord wants you to see the chair of hope sitting next to you as well. What is the mountain in front of you? The thing that makes you feel so small, and so impossible? Friends, I tell you that as you put your trust in the Sovereign Lord, you are equipped with everything you need for the challenge. Abide in Him, let Him fill you with steadfastness and strength.

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Check out my new worship cover and pray for my family as we have recently been accepted to a missions school with YWAM in Norway!

 

 

My now

A face smudged with charcoal, and paint streaking the tips of my long blonde hair, that’s how you will find me these days. Who knew I’d become an artist in my twenties? Not me. As I uncovered painful and suppressed moments from my past, beauty was risen out of my ashes. Not a beauty that I could ever conjure up, but one only brought from the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Dying to myself, dying to the old me in ancient heart places I didn’t realize were still set on loop. Bitter roots repeating childhood and adolescent scenes in my soul over and over again, but my conscious mind had no idea. Here in the present I could only the see the surface reactions of these roots, like an anxiety attack from a too tight seat belt or a panicked hopelessness from a minor conflict. Jesus came in those bitter, cold places and did what He does best…He loved me there. So much came from that season of soul restoration, a passion for worshipping God through art was a big one. I spent my summer experimenting with different forms of art and so far have narrowed down to charcoal sketching and oil painting being my preferred avenues. They are both messy and beautiful, just like humans..just like me.

I loved the secret place I dwelled with the Lord this summer so much, that I honestly didn’t really want to leave. However, I felt Him calling me back out into the world to love His people and tell my story of what happened with Jesus and I during the summer. Now I am learning to stay in the secret place with God in my soul even while I walk through all kinds of life places- true rest for your soul. I saw this new season approaching filled with so much busyness, and I felt a bit intimidated. Still, the Lord was telling me to put one foot in front of the other, to keep going slowly. Two words, He said, “Say, ‘yes’.” So here we are. Instead of just being busy, I am being intentional with my time and keeping my head laying upon the Lord’s chest to hear every heart beat guiding me on.

This is the first week of my once daunting but now intentional new year, according to the Biblical calendar. Thus far it has exceeded all of my hopes and prayers and has been jam packed with amazing God encounters. Last month I started a create group with the help of my artist sister, Cate. A group for creators to simply come together in the presence of God and create all types of things from music in worship sessions, writing, journaling, painting, sketching, etc. Tuesday night was our second Elohim Create group and in preparation the Lord led to me to Matthew 14, specifically the section of Jesus walking on water. The Word of the night being ‘trust‘. From there I was led to a few writing prompts for us to journal during our worship session. One of the prompts was, “Some areas I need to put more trust in God…” The day before that group, I kind of thought I would write something like “with my family’s safety” or “providing finances for our future missional endeavors”, but no. In the moment as I was totally immersed in the presence of God with both friends and new group visitors, I wrote something that kind of shocked me. I use the word shock, because it seems like basic knowledge and yet for me it is so profound.

An area I need to put more trust in God in is my now. I finally trust God with my future, but I am realizing that I struggle submitting my present time to Him. Whether it’s checking my e-mail a thousand times a day looking for a response from several different opportunities my family is waiting on, or spending many minutes a day wondering what is to come and how we will get there. I’ve been feeling like we are in an in between place. In that moment, God showed me that I still need to surrender to Him in the process before completion. Surrender to the process. And suddenly, as I type that out, it is all made so clear. I’m not in an in between place. I’m in THE only place. The now. The secret place with God. Can I stay here? Can’t I just take Jesus’s hand and let the dead bury the dead (Luke 9:60)? The answer will always be ‘yes’, I need only choose it.

This revelation from the Lord was also confirmed through a new art project I have been working on. For my recent birthday, my husband gifted me a ton of art supplies. A large travel easel being one of them. I wanted to use it, and so, began my first large piece. Over the few months of my new art journey, each time I have excitedly attempted to create something for others that they would like, it has turned out badly. Not only have I quickly lost interest, but I just haven’t felt it. That sounds bad, but it’s real. What I have done instead is pray about what I’m going to do, and then let the idea fill me. Then it becomes me. Not a job or task for someone else, but a piece of me that I put onto canvas or paper. And of course from there, I can then gift the piece to others or keep it for my own pleasure. That being said, as I sat staring at my large blank canvas wondering what to paint, I saw an image of my son, Lazarus. Then scrolling through my many phone pictures, I found the one I was envisioning. I thought for such a large piece I should try sketching it out first. Once my kids went to bed I spent a good portion of the night sketching the portrait and after all that work I decided I hated the sketch. I prayed and chose to jump into painting it. Examining all of the new paintbrush sets on my desk (courtesy of my sweet husband), my eyes locked in on a small metal palette knife. Let the mess begin. For two days I worked on something that looked like a melted image of Laz, totally despising every little imprint of paint I pressed into the blob I was creating.

I love my son so much and know how handsome he is. The blob I was attempting simply did not look like him. So I prayed. A lot. And God kept saying just put one more tiny streak here, mix a darker color and add a small dot of it over there. He was putting knowledge in my unexperienced brain and literally guiding me step by step. Slowly, Lazarus began to come into view on the canvas.

I have spent this entire week working on the project. If you’re like me, having little knowledge about painting, then it may not sound that challenging..but take my word for it, creating detailed portrait with oil paint AND using only a small palette knife to paint it is seriously challenging! I have no clue what I’m doing, but God is taking me slowly through the process. This is exactly what He is showing me! I can only take little steps, He will help me along the way. All that I have is my today, and I must not lose it due to being lost in my far away promises. The promises stand, I must merely submit to the process of the now.


I am still not finished with my Lazarus project, but I wanted to share the unfinished journey with you!

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sixth night- still working on completion

Here’s where I am with this portrait now. It’s not where I’ll be forever and it isn’t the complete picture, but it’s my today. Just as my life, today, is my only now. Surrender to the process friends, the promise is worth the journey.

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing. ” (James 1:4 NKJV)