Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love Spoke So Much Louder

She shimmied her jeans up twisting and turning to get them over hips expanded by two babies born, two babies in heaven and years of yo-yo dieting. Her sides streaked by cream colored marks against her tan skin. I sat on the bed knees pulled to my chest and I thought her beautiful. It never crossed my mind that my mom might not think the same thing about herself.

She died when I was twelve and the memories I have of her are faded and worn around the edges. I'm a mama myself now and I look at my own wider-than-they-once-were hips and I sigh deep about what once was. I know that she must have done the same as she wrestled those jeans up over her backside.

I remember the day she had lost enough weight to shop at the non-plus-size stores. We went to the mall for a mini-shopping spree. It was the mid-nineties and the Gap was everything. She bought a jean jumper and a sleeveless turtleneck sweater and it was as if she could have been Friends with Rachel and Monica. I had never seen her look like such a cool mom.

But there again I never heard my mom's struggle with her outer appearance. She never said, "Oh, I'm so fat!" or "I wish I was as pretty as {insert whoever}" or "I hate this about me." Her struggle was silent though I realize now there must have been an internal battle raging.

We all knew that girl in high school (or confession time...maybe we were that girl?) who always said things like, "Ugh, I am just.so.fat." when she couldn't have weighed more than a buck ten. My mom struggled with her weight her whole life and I am reasonably certain she would have wanted to slap that girl silly, but I digress.

Our words matter. How we speak about the way we see ourselves reflects our understanding of how God sees us. Some of us have deep scars that have to do with our physical bodies. Some of our wounds have been inflicted by other people. Some of our deepest cuts have been made by words spoken to our reflection in the mirror. Some of us are still fighting a battle with beauty that rages in our everyday.

I'm sharing the rest of this story over at Velvet Ashes today and I'm offering this up as part of my 31 Days of Chasing Light series. God created us unique in all our imperfections and yes, there are things that we would like to change and some that we actually can change, but sometimes we just need to rest in the beauty that God has given us. The kind of light and beauty that radiates from our hands and soul. 

If you haven't gotten a chance click back over to Sunday's post and enter to win a copy of Emily P. Freeman's book A Million Little Ways

Photo Credit: davedehetre via Compfight cc

When You Think Your Work Doesn't Matter to God {Day 21}

I once went to a week long basketball camp at a university several hours away from home. I didn't even make it onto my jr. high team the following year. It broke my heart. Now I realize that some of you are snickering at this point because you know me in real life and realize I don't quite hit the 5' mark. All I will say is; Muggsy Bogues. Google him.

I went on to be a decent athlete in high school as a volleyball player- yes, another sport known for players with height- and cheerleading. Petite, spunky and loud, cheerleading was my sweet spot.

Truthfully my lackluster athletic career isn't the point of this post. No, my point is a lot of us spend a lot of time and energy on things that drain us of life. We chase after things that we just weren't made to do and suffer disappointment after disappointment trying to fit into someone else's mold.

One of the things that my husband is so amazing at is encouraging people to see their vocations as a means of Gospel work. Do you have a mind for business? Do you have practical mechanical skills? What is it that you do that God can use for your good and His glory?

There is a bit of a misnomer in the Christian world that to be affective in ministry you need to have letters like MDiv and Phd following your name. I have many friends who do and I am astounded at their knowledge and ability to share with others. But I also have some pretty amazing friends who are artists, nurses, counselors, dancers, mechanics, farmers, stay at home moms, writers, dentists, cosmetologists, engineers, pilots {and on and on} and I can't imagine God doesn't have vast and amazing uses for each of them to bring about His purposes.

When God created you He did so with purpose. He didn't just take the remnants of His palette and throw some paint on a canvas. No, He specially chose the shades and medium to make you into who you are; His unique creation in His image.

What you do with your two hands matters to God. Find a way to use it for His glory and you will come alive as you experience His presence in your work.

My husband will squeeze trips overseas into his work schedule this year so that He can work on water and sanitation projects, encourage the international church and plant seeds of the Gospel. He gets that His work matters. He believes that your work matters too.

Part of chasing light is seeing how God has made you and embracing the intricacy and following His call to use your skills wherever they lead, even to the ends of the earth.

Do you believe that your work matters? How have you seen God use what you do in daily life for His purposes? 

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Emily Freeman's A Million Little Ways! I'll announce the winner on Friday.

Monday, October 20, 2014

For Those of You Who Don't Think You're Creative

She layers paint and squirts glitter glue and I look at her sideways to see her grin. She is creating. She probably won't be the next Matisse, but in this moment with her face streaked every shade of paint on her palette one thing is evident; she is an artist. 

I found the term "chasing light" one day when I was googling how to take better photos. I'm a notoriously terrible photographer with aspirations of greatness- even if it is only taking photos of my kids or random shots of stuff around my house for blog post.

All the great photographers know how to catch light in their frames. Their shots are pure reflection of the light surrounding their subjects. Ansel Adams black and whites stun us because even in their monochromatic scheme we see light changing and shifting. It is beauty undeniable.

My gift is not fine art. I can draw a solid stick figure but that is about it. My mom wouldn't let me take dance so my both my feet are still lefties. I love to craft, but I am far from a perfectionist and that comes out in my failed attempts at most pinteresty projects.

Some of you are reading this and you're thinking you aren't creative. You are thinking you see the world in black and whites without a whole lot of variation. I would argue your art is your passion not your ability in any given thing.

We have this amazing creator God who fashioned us from dust, seeing the potential in the most base things. I am certain that there is something in your life that makes you come alive and our gifts vary from teaching children to engineering jet planes to stirring a pot of soup. We are creators begot by the Creator and we see life in a million different places unique to each one of us. 

We invite the Light of God into our lives when we explore things that awaken us to His creative hand in our lives. We're creative beings not because we made a crazy hard wreath we pinned or built our house using entirely recycled barn wood.

We're creative beings because our Maker possesses unlimited creativity. 

My sweet little girl is an artist not because she has potential to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, but because the image of God, in all His wondrous creativity, is imprinted on her very soul.

{In case you missed the GIVEAWAY of  a signed copy of Emily P. Freeman's A Million Little Ways from yesterday click back over and leave a comment about what makes you come alive. I'll choose a winner on Friday!}


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Resources for the Light Chasers {Vol. 6 + a Giveaway!}

I eluded to it on Friday, but this week we're going to talk about what it is to reflect the Light of the one in whose image we're created. Last year, after reading Emily P. Freeman's book A Million Little Ways, I was deeply inspired by the notion that life is meant to be lived open handed to the unique way God has created me and gifted me to create in my own way.

I want you to be inspired in the same way so I'm happy to give a reader a signed copy of Emily's book. It will encourage, inspire and challenge you to embrace the art you were uniquely made to live. Just make sure to keep your copy away from your toddler...ask me how I know {see above photo}.

To enter leave a comment about the unique art that is you! What makes you come alive?

Is it serving others? Is it your ability to solve problems? Is it attention to detail? Is it wielding a paintbrush? Whatever it is, share it. I'll choose a winner on Friday!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Resources for the Light Chasers {Vol. 5: My Five Best Chasing Light Albums}

It's no secret around here that I love music something fierce. Certain albums find me coming back again and again for the way they sing straight into my heart with their words and melodies. They sometimes feel like a barricade against the darkness. I thought I would share a few of them with you. I hope they find you where you are and encourage your heart onward in the chase.

Friday, October 17, 2014

What We've Learned So Far...{Day 17}

We've talked about the dark depths of a broken world. We've agreed that our day to day is full of choices with one real choice guiding our lives being the choice to live in the Light. We're clinging to the promise that in the dark God doesn't change as the shadows shift. In the midst of the everyday plain as day work we've found places to worship, but we've acknowledged that in the middle of the hard dark that worship is hard fought.

Chasing light is no joke.

Next week we're going to turn the idea of chasing light, the Light of the world, on it's head. Maybe the light we are chasing is the Light that reflects pure out of us when we are living our calling, serving our neighbor and creating as we were created to do?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

{Day 16} When Worship Is Hard But His Promises Hold True

Yesterday I wrote about worship and sacrifice and the metamorphosis of heart and spirit those two things have been in my own life.

I brought up worship because I have found on any given day, good or bad, the posture of my heart toward God is directly correlated to my experience of His Light. 

Worship is the choice to live in the Light.

The pit can be dark and bottomless, but if worship, praise and thanks to the Father is on my lips then the Light can slip right in. As I declare with my heart He is faithful I am reminded truly He is even if in the moment I feel faithless.
 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. {Hebrews 13:15}
On the days I stand up to my elbows in the muck of life and up to my eyeballs with this broken world worship becomes a sacrifice of my selfish soul. My flesh inclines to level accusations and stack my idols tall. Chasing light means cracking the blinds of my dark heart to see God's goodness shines steady. It doesn't make it easy, but it does make Him worthy. 

Two days ago the wind whipped and howled and the very next day autumn blazed in blues, golds and greens. Each day God was present, never changing in the shifting shadows both of a storm and gloriously golden fall. 

Our worship is idolatry if we worship only when the flame blazes in our souls. 

The reality is that the God who is all Light lives by the Spirit in us and we worship in beauty or bleakness all the same. We wake up and regardless of the day before or the day behind us we can plant ourselves on the firm ground of thanksgiving for what we hold in our hand right now. 

We hold the substance of ancient faith, hope and love, the very promises of God. 

Promises to be near to the brokenhearted. 
Promises to bind up our wounds. 
Promises to heal. 
Promises to love with a steadfast never ending sort of love.
Promises to be with us in the pit. 
Promises enough to fill more blog posts and books then this world can hold.

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