Friday, August 6

For They Shall Be Comforted

I was not looking forward the summer...not at all. And now, I stand on the other side of it...stand mind you...and I see how blessed I have been throughout the past few months.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
~Matthew 5:4

I have been comforted by friends and family and I can't tell you how much this means to me. You all have encouraged me to trust God deeper and to let go in ways I never imagined before. Thank you.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for unconditionally welcoming me home, praying for me, and cheering me on.

Thank you, Lys, for late nights, honest words, and playing with my hair until all the tears ran out.

Thank you, Jim, for telling me that my safety was more important than anything...I felt so cared for that day.

Thank you, Josh and Amber, for walking through it with me and unselfishly sharing your love during your own time of celebrations.

Thank you, Kim. You have been a gift straight from the Lord. I'm so thankful our last names start with a T...and so thankful for such a loyal friend.

Thank you, school don't even know that you have encouraged me beyond words.

Thank you, Gina, for not letting me stay down...we're making it to the other side. :)

Thank you, Andrea, for being my friend and making sure that all was well.

Thank you, to my new Nashville friends for welcoming me into your midst...I really needed you!

Thank you, Ang, for being my friend through the years. I love coming home to our friendship.

Thank you, Holly, for your boldness, your laughter, and your joy. I have missed you!

Thank you, Jenna, for kayaking and walks on the canal, campfires and late nights on the phone.

Thank you, Pete and Aaron, for building the campfire and building homes that bring God's love to so many people.

Thank you, Beth, for taking me in and being my home away from home. Thank you for schooling me in bananagrams and in the best way to write thank you notes. :) I love you, heart sister.

Thank you, Matthew, for sushi, gelato, paninis, and every single text that has brightened my day.

Thank you, Mrs. B, for every word of encouragement you have sent me.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. V., for Apt. B and your prayers and for being available to take care of so many of us Sweet Aroma kids.

Thank you, PJ,...for being right on time and reminding me that I am loved.

Thank you, Jen and Wen,...for being sensitive to the Lord and for humoring my love for list making. :) Just wait...until we look back and see how good God has been.

Thank you, Mick and Beth, Angela and Will, for inviting me in to see the beautiful families you are creating. It gives me hope. I'm so thankful for your friendships.

Thank you, Jilli, for everything. Your friendship has blessed my life.

Thank you, Mike, for loving Jilli so well and for taking us camping!

Thank you, Zoe, for radically chasing the Lord and showing us all how to fight for the good stuff. Please also thank Zech for his Free.99 advice. :)

Thank you, Angela, for making sure we keep coming together. I love our sleepovers. Thank you for listening and advising. Thank you for sticking up for me. Thank you for your note of recommendation. ;) Your friendship means the world to me.

Thank you, Hezkhel, for being my friend unconditionally. You bless my heart.

Thank you, Karin, for being so strong. Everything goes to the feet of Jesus. ;)

Thank you, Nanette and Eric. You are so consistent and loving and encouraging.

Thank you, America and Billy. You both are so full of love and encouragement.

Thank you Mindy, Julie, and Danae. I can't tell you how much your words and notes of encouragement have meant to me.

Thank you, Trina, for meeting with me for coffee. It meant so much to me.

Thank you to my grandparents who keep me going back to my roots. I'm reminded of where I came from...and it's a good place.

Thank you facebook can be very encouraging even when you least expect it.

Thank you Andrew Peterson, Kelanie Gloeckler, and Kristene Mueller for singing songs of redemption in a very new season of life.

I would also like to thank the persons who asked me to dance, who took me to dinner, who listened to my songs, who called and texted just to make my day...I think God sent you just so I didn't forget what LIFE felt like again.

Proverbs 14:10 says: Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. There has been much bitterness...but as days pass and refreshing waters and winds pass through them...I am beginning to believe that it will all soon end in joy. I don't know how...or when...but I see how God has carried me...continues to carry me...and I know now that He is good.

I thought He was angry with me. I thought I had done too many things wrong. But He was always working. He gathered me up...took me home to so many places...surrounded me with love...and comforted me when I had come to the very end of everything. Laughter is beginning to color my days...I am seeing humor in everything. There is more joy now than there has ever been. Amazing.

I could go on and on in thankfulness.

Thank you, Lord Jesus...for not leaving me in despair...for strengthening me when I have been weak...for giving me hope for the future.

Thursday, August 5

Going For The Heart

This song just gets to me...right to the very heart of me. Sometimes, I am blatantly reminded of how painful it is to be loved through obligation...because someone felt like they had to say or do something in order to make me happy. That's the worst kind of affection I can think of...based on fear rather than freedom. There is no truth in it. How can anyone assume what someone else is thinking or how they will respond...without giving them a chance?

And then I realize that I do that to God sometimes too. I say and do things because I feel like I have to to make Him have good feelings towards me and treat me well. I don't want Him to hate I do things "right".

I forget that He is unconditional. I forget that He is patient and kind. I forget that He doesn't keep a record of my wrongs. He always believes the best about me. I forget that He trusts me...that He never gives up on me. I forget...that He loves me for me...and He wants me to love Him and to tell Him the truth about where I am.

He doesn't want my performance...He wants my heart.


Kristene Mueller

What shall I do with you, my love?

What shall I do with you?

For your loyalty to Me is like the morning clouds,

Like the dew that goes away so early.

What shall I do with you, my love?

You keep bringing Me sacrifices

To ease your mind,

But it's your heart that I want.

Hasn't it been a long road

With disappointments,

Chasing after lovers

That just throw you away?

And are you done fighting now?

All the love it takes to lighten you,

Shame was never meant to be your portion.

You keep bringing Me sacrifices

To ease your mind,

But it's your heart that I want.

Though these sins are red as scarlet,

I will wash them white in My mercy.

Though these sins are red as scarlet,

I will wash them white in My mercy.

Though these sins are red as scarlet,

I will wash them white in My mercy.

What shall I do with you, my love?

What shall I do with you?

You keep bringing Me sacrifices

To ease your mind,

But it's your heart that I want.

Sunday, August 1

Lessons in Letting Go

Have you ever heard the saying about freeing the thing that you love and if it returns to you then it is yours forever? Yeah, me too. It sounds really beautiful doesn't it? Kind of makes me think about the makings of a Hallmark card, or the faithfulness of Mr. Darcy, or even the Folgers coffee commercial when the son comes home and surprises everyone before they wake up in the morning.

I think there are different kinds of letting go. I'm not certain that any of them are easy.

Families are in the constant process of letting each other go. There's the letting go of a child's hand as they learn to walk on their own. The letting go that comes with a new driver's license at 16. Then there's graduation and college. Finally, the day comes where the son or the daughter finds a husband or a wife. There's an ebb and a flow. A needing of each other...and a need for growth and independence. If the parents hold on too tightly...a son or a daughter will not learn to be a confident and healthy adult. There has to be a letting go. And what a joy it is...when confident child returns home with stories, and gifts, and experiences, and love....when the weddings bring new family in and the grandchildren come along. What a joy when there is open communication and unconditional love....when the children know they can return over and over...and leave again without being put in question or worrying about what they are leaving behind. What a joy...when families take care of each other out of love...not out of fear, obligation, guilt and control.

Sometimes we have to let go of our dreams. Don't get me wrong, dreams are important! But sometimes our dreams become the most important things...and we forget about what really matters. We forget about the family and friends who have helped us along the way. We forget that fame, success, and money are very empty words. We forget our peace of mind, or what it feels like to rest. The most awful thing we forget is that we ever needed God...the one who created us...the one who gave us the dream in the first place. Sometimes, when we get what we thought we wanted most, our joy disappears completely.

There are going to be people that we have to let go of. They are going to walk right out of our lives as if we never mattered anyway. It's going to hurt. You might lay on the floor for hours and days wondering what you ever did so wrong. You may lose your appetite. You may think dying is better than living another day. You might ask them to come back. You might ask them to forgive you. They might never hear what you were really trying to say. Maybe you depended on them. Maybe you had their promises to you written out on paper with their name signed at the bottom. Maybe they said things about you that you knew weren't true, but you still wonder about those words anyways. Maybe you're trying to cover it all up and move on. Maybe you ran away. Maybe you look back and wonder what was ever really true. That's when it's let go. You can't hold on to someone who will not hold on to you.

When you let go of someone, forgive them for everything. In the long run, they could never make up for it anyway. They may not even want to. Either way, there's no point in reliving your pain. Imagine what you would say to them if you ran into them on the street...if you had the chance to say everything you've been wanting to say. If you still want to accuse them and plead with haven't forgiven them yet. It's better to imagine treating them as if they had never done anything wrong in the first place. That's really hard to do for some of us I am sure. But when you can come to this peaceful place of letting have learned part of God's love. 1 Corinthians 13 says that "love keeps no record of wrongs".

And forgive yourself. It's really easy to hold on to your regrets. How many things do you wish you could have done differently? How many times do you wish you could go back and say something different? It's a heavy burden to carry, thinking about all of these thoughts. It probably keeps you up at night. You might have the chance to fix things. If you should go for it. But if you cannot and if your circumstances leave you without a way to retrace your steps, there has to come a time when you forgive yourself. Let go of all the things you could have done, should have done, wished you had done better. Let go of the shame and the guilt that keeps you weighed down throughout your days and up late into the nights. Let go of the fact that someone may not have forgiven you for the things that you have matter how much you tried to make it right. What has passed has passed. You can only move forward. You can do things differently starting today. You can be the person you always thought you should be starting now.

So what happens then...after letting go of people and dreams and the regrets of the past? We must let go of our future too I think. You may be reading this and not know God. And then again, maybe you do. Either way...I believe there is a God who loves us very much...and who has a very good plan for our lives. That doesn't mean that everything is easy or pain just means that He is on our side, working on our behalf, putting all the broken pieces together and making a beautiful masterpiece. That means we have to forgive Him too, because sometimes we blame Him for things He never really wanted to happen in the first place. And this God says that if we let go of our own lives and trust Him...He is able to make all things new. We are never His puppets...we are His children...and we are invited to enter into a beautiful story of life and love and freedom...if we would only let go of controlling and protecting the little world we think is most important.
I watched a dad and his two year old son on the beach today. I haven't see very many dads bring their little boys out to play very much, but that is exactly what these two came to do. I think he wanted to teach his son about loving the ocean. From what I could see his little guy loved every minute of being at the beach. They played in the sand together, threw sand at each other, and ran and splashed through the waves. At one point the little boy let go and was totally knocked over by a small wave. He got up crying and just wailing away. I was surprised because he had been so happy all along. And what did his dad do? Reached out to bring him back to safety as any good dad would do, of course, and then took him by the hand and helped him stand back up...laughing the whole time as if it was nothing, not in jest but in the pure enjoyment of watching his son learn to love the ocean. I decided right then and there that I wanted to find a way to know my Heavenly Father that way...and when I get knocked down by the seemingly big waves for my size...I want to look up and see him laughing...because then I will know...that everything is going to be okay.

And in all reality...I want to be like that dad. There was no controlling how his son acted and reacted to their day at the beach. They had come to be with each other and to play. There was only pure enjoyment and relationship as he taught him how to love what he loved. That's what love is all about I think. That's how God intended all of our relationships to be.

There is freedom in the letting go and entrusting of things and people to God...freedom to leave and return...freedom to be and to be forgiven...there is safety...and trust...and in the end, the pure joy of being able to run wild chasing each other without a care in the world.