brought near

When disappointment tangles
along shallow reasoning
& my heart feels adrift with "but..."
I am gently reminded
to seek Gratitude
Then shame rings loud
causing my heart to shrivel
& twist at such selfish hopes
So I curve my fingers
round warmth, cinnamony & sweet
Seeking rest
& redemption
from my own questionable motives
The enemy presses hard
persistence his game
But what he forgot?
The tenacity of Jesus!
Who reaches down
into my momentary sad
& makes glad my heart that's His
Yes, He is mine
But even greater...
I am His!
& His are never forsaken
(especially in moments of shame)
What can't I give up?
What can't I surrender?
When the Ever Faithful has Given
relentlessly in pursuit
of ME
of my heart
of my selfish motives
that can but turn to sacrifice
in comparison to HIS sacrifice
Heart pursued
Heart won
Gratitude melts my emotions
spilling over cheekbones
& nose
& ultimately
that knows no bounds
& hears my smallest whisper
of thank you



do it afraid

"Sometimes fear does not subside and one must choose to do it afraid."
~ Elisabeth Elliot

I think I'm finally accepting of this fact. Because that? That right up there is a true statement. A scary statement to be sure! But a true one.

Back when I was barely twenty-one and decided to move all the way across the country to California (again), I was fearless! I was ready for the grand, new adventure! I was certain it would be exciting and amazing and everything awesome....and I was right. I'm sure I had some fears, but they were of the normal, garden variety. You know, the wondering if I'd find a more permanent place to live than where I was starting out, the wondering if I would find a more permanent job than where I was starting out, the wondering if it would be as exciting as I anticipated or even more so? Nowhere in my thought processes do I remember wondering if God knew what He was doing. At no point do I recall ever really feeling scared. Ah, the fearlessness of youth!

But now I'm an adult. Now I'm a lot closer to 40 than I am to 30. (How wild is that?!) Now when I anticipate making a HUGE CHANGE to my life, there's a lot more fear involved!

Why is that?

At what point did I lose my fearless sense of adventure when contemplating change?

At what point did I begin listening to the enemy instead of my Father? Why do I tend to believe him over Him? (I know better than that.)

I don't know those answers. All I know is that somewhere along through my twenties, something changed inside of me. I felt it four years ago when I moved from California back to Virginia again. And I am definitely feeling it now when I'm anticipating a move to Thailand!

{Yes. You read that right. I am planning to move to Thailand in a few months. That is my Big Thing. (And trust me, it's huge!) But it'll only be for eight months or so! So it's a limited time adventure. But still a big adventure nonetheless!}

But back to fear. Or should I say un-courage. (Yes, I know that's not really a word. But I like it, so let's just go with it, shall we?) Or botheration! Whatever the word, I feel it. I have felt it all! (Well....maybe not all, but a whole lot of it!) That has been one of my biggest struggles in working through all the decision-making for Thailand. My own inability to just stop thinking so hard about it. I conjure up all manner of fear about this huge, new, adventure that I've never experienced before! And just when I conquer it in this corner of my heart, it springs up anew over there! I tell you, the enemy is seriously working overtime with this. He needs to STOP IT.

And yet, funnily enough I can find comfort even in that? Because if the enemy is working so hard, it must mean that God's got a really great plan in place for this new journey. A plan the enemy is out to stop at all costs. Only I'm not going to let him win this one! I'm determined to battle it out to the end! Because in grabbing my Brave and moving out, in spite of the fear, it's there God can work. It's there that amazing things can happen! It's there that I learn to let go of my self and let Him do it.

As one of my favorite author friends says, "Fear is just a flashlight to help you find your courage."

So I'm going to choose to do it afraid!

I'm probably going to quiver in my knees every single step. I guarantee there'll be some sweating anxiety in nuisance-y places. I'm certain my heart will be in my throat and it's gonna take an awfully long time for it to settle down again.

And yet...

I also know my Father will be with me every single step. (Last September, He gave me the most vivid and clear picture of His hand reaching down and holding mine. Proof that I won't be doing it alone! I won't be doing anything alone.) I know that where He's guiding (and He so clearly has been guiding this journey and not me! I'd've never imagined such a scenario actually happening in my wildest dreams.) will only lead me to places that will give growth and closer intimacy with Him. I know that it will be hard, but it will be worth it.

Because when God is involved? When Jesus steps out first and says all I have to do is simply follow Him? When the Holy Spirit continually gives scriptures to remind me that God's got this?

Why would I ever choose anything less?


Recently, my chiropractor and I were talking about the concept of just "knowing" when a person was the right one for you. He had only known his wife for two weeks when he was certain she was "the one". It's such an interesting concept to me, as someone who's single and had never felt that way about anyone. But I told him that I think, to a small degree anyway, that I finally understand that feeling.

You know my Big Thing? That Big Thing I've talked about before on here, many moons ago, but wasn't certain if I could overcome the fears to say yes to it? I finally said yes. Actually, I said YES! Because I get it now. I'd prayed for weeks that God would give me clarity regarding this decision. It was not something I wanted to flippantly decide and then regret later if it wasn't truly His Will for my life. And He answered! (Of course He did, He always does. :) Yet I had been struggling for weeks to reach that moment. And that single, undeniable moment happened when I suddenly realized that when I thought about this Big Thing, it was no longer "if" but "when". That moment I had a close friend sit down with me and begin asking all these questions she'd asked before and I'd been flip-floppy with my answers back then. Suddenly every single one of my answers came with no doubt inside at all. I was ready! I wanted to move forward and I finally wanted other people to know about it. So move forward I did! (And am still doing, currently.)

But it was that moment of knowing that I loved. That single, solid, no doubt, no fear, no questions, I just knew it was right. Finally. And I looked into my friend's eyes, where they were shining with pleasure for me that I'd reached this spot I'd been desiring for months, and my heart flipped upside down with fierce happy in that moment. For the record, I would have been fine (I think :) if His answer had been a solid NO! It was simply that I really, really wanted as much certainty as He would give me. I didn't want to feel wishy-washy about it, or flip-floppy about it. I wanted Certain! And Certain He gave.

So I get it now, friends. I'm sure my Know to go is probably a different sort from your Know to marry, but it's still a Know! A Know that I wanted so, so badly and about drove myself insane analyzing everything trying to get it. Yet, and isn't this so like our beloved Father, He simply waited for me to stop trying to think so hard and just rest. It wasn't until I rested and repeatedly told Him I'd trust Him to answer every time I began to swirl about in the head, that He gave me what I asked.

That was a powerful lesson that I hope I don't forget. Or if I do forget it that He'll patiently teach me again! How REST is so important. And trust.  I needed to stop trying so hard myself and just let Him work in His timetable. It wasn't easy, let me just say. But oh so worth it to finally reach that Know!

So if you're ever there, friends? If you're ever in a moment when a big decision is before you and you're trying to find certainty that God is leading you that direction and nothing else....can I just suggest perhaps some rest is needed? A conscious decision to stop all the thoughts and the wondering and the analyzing (because I can't be the only one who does that, right?), just simply stop and let Him prove it to you.

He will!

Oh my friend, how He will.

And when you're tempted to pick those thoughts right back up again, remind yourself that you're trusting God to make it clear and then let it go for the moment. If you're like me, then you might have to do this exercise 50 billion times a day, just so you know! But do it 50 billion and one if you have to. And set a time limit for this! Tell God that you'll stop for a certain period and when that time is up, you're going to ask Him again. Isn't that really a form of trust? He might tell you to keep resting for a week or three more, or perhaps a month, or even a year! But just keep revisiting it, and trusting that He. Will. Make. It. Clear.

And then you wait. And you pray. And time may sometimes seem to crawl during this period. Believe me, I know! But I am slooooooowly learning that in the waiting is where He does some of His best work. :)

So hold on, friend. You'll get there just like I did.

I know it.


:: old friends ::

There we were, a whole group of us. Sitting around a table of hot tea, delicious food, and delightful conversation. Though seemingly only one thread connected us, yet it may surprise you to know there's so much more. There's a knowing that comes from years. And experiences. A knowing of the heart that settles in.

No matter the time.
No matter the circumstances.
No matter the age differences.

Once connected in heart, always connected in heart.

The infinite beauty of an old friend.

We've chosen different jobs, different churches, different life experiences...

And yet...

The same God, the same Jesus, the same love, and the same friendship. Even the same laughter whenever we're together! So much more commonalities than would seem apparent.

It's the heart lessons here. It's joy we've experienced together, and it's the heartaches too. These ladies have simply always been there. I've moved far away, yet they never left me. I came back and there they were, arms wide open.

My constants.
My heart.
My dearest of friends.

We have hiked and road-tripped and toured...
We have sat hours talking and playing games...
We have journeyed life together...
And at the end of the day, we have LOVED.

It's a heart-full, loved-on, happy-inducing, smile-bright, imperfectly-perfect friendship, these ladies.

And through dating, marriages, inter-state moves, and all manner of changes... Every single step we've taken together has grown my heart three sizes.

There's just something about old friends!

For my heart that pulls elsewhere always knows,
no matter where it may be,
there's hearts waiting,
always at the ready,
to welcome and love
no matter what.

It's a glorious feeling like none other! And when life hits hard, and the pain gets crazy, my wild heart knows the place it can count on...

That's what these ladies are to me.
A comfortable place of rest that is sure.




fighting fear

"Being brave and courageous isn’t the absence of fear, but as many have said, it’s the willingness to fight that fear head on. It wouldn’t be courageous if there wasn’t something a bit scary about it."
My friend Jamie wrote that in a post from last year. I was randomly skimming through some of her old blog posts for whatever reason and I read that and y'all....

Fear is so very real, isn't it? It's a BATTLE. Every single day! Maybe not everyone has the hard battle I do with it, but I feel fairly safe in saying we all battle it in some form or other. And man what a battle it is!

And now that I'm at a better place with my health, I have no excuse for just sitting idly and refusing to think about this Thing again. So naturally, that's when this incredible FEAR rises! Everything within me may be saying YES, but that fear says what about...what if...what are you doing?! And honestly? I have no idea what I'm doing. I have absolutely no idea where this will take me or what hard I may endure or what exciting stuff may happen. The only thing I do know? Is God has absolutely gotten me this far. I would NOT be here but for Him. I would definitely not be on this cliff edge, wondering if I should jump off into the unknown, but for Him.

Yes, it's scary. But as so many have said through the years, if it's scary that probably means you should do it! If it's scary, that probably means that the enemy is striving hard to keep you from it, because it likely means you could do him some serious damage if you do it! And how amazing would that be? To be a part of the bigger battle! To do some MAJOR damage to the enemy! To become broken and scared and wondering, yet step out anyway! Because God said DO IT and I did.

If He tells me to do it and I don't? Isn't that a MUCH scarier place to be? I think so!

I think maybe He's just waiting for me to LEAP and then He'll take care of the rest. He's waiting for me to prove I believe Him, that I trust Him, and so what if I fall? So what if I leap out and then it turns out maybe I don't actually do this Thing after all? Turning around after leaping out doesn't mean I was wrong. It doesn't mean I misheard Him. It simply means I had things to learn from the experience. It means those steps were necessary in order for the next steps after to be able to happen. For that next person that I might need to help, for that next experience to grow in my knowledge of Him, for the next example I can use to reach someone who is withering in the battle themselves!

For the simple fact that I chose to be obedient.

I've been waiting for the clear sign I've asked for. Didn't I receive it this past week? I'm pretty sure I did! So if that sign is there, how can I deny it?

There are unsettled days
When sense & logic are a tangle of knots
The heart is seeking elsewhere
& every thought is churning
In the question marks & unknowables
& all the unexplainable feelings
(which tumble & crash & loop-de-loop)
God's quiet relentlessness can break our walls
fill our hearts
& make possible embracing our uncertainty
It's there we surrender
& in our yielding, He is Grace
& Hope is brave again


Going back to my own words to remind myself....

Hope is brave again


it's a faith thing...

"And then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick." ~ JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
So I leaped a couple weeks ago. A mini leap, if you will. Nothing great, or huge, or amazing. Except actually it was? Not to anyone else but me (and God!), of course, but that's okay. Because it was fairly incredible for me! And I seem to get reminded of how incredible it is whenever I begin to speak of the New to someone else who hasn't heard it yet. (Which turns out to happen a great deal, as I haven't shared this New with hardly anybody prior to now! Not the details anyway.)

I've had small little convos here and there with just a few in my life that I decided it high time they knew where my heart was reaching. It's during these serious convos that I forget how exciting it is! I get focused on the Hard and the Unknown, because believe me, those things are there and quite big. Yet as I sit here contemplating (only in my own heart) all the details and the what ifs and the unknowns and all the scary, I am filled yet again with a heart-beating-loud excitement! (Or maybe it's because I'm currently sitting in my newest fave spot, a quaint little coffee shop that just gets my creative heart pumping hard. :) It's true, there is much to contemplate before I jump off the ledge into God's arms. I know He'll be there, but I want to be sure that He wants me there, off this particular ledge I mean.

I was talking with a friend last week and he stated exactly what I was feeling but couldn't put in words. Approximately a month ago, when this door suddenly made itself known to me, I stood in front of it for days and days, staring and praying and contemplating. Wanting to be absolutely certain that God wanted me to go through it. Finally that moment came when I knew it was time to step over the threshold. But now, I no longer have as much time to just stand and contemplate the roads before me! I'm still praying and seeking, don't get me wrong, but I'm learning that the praying and seeking have to come mid-stride, not while standing still in one place. I have to keep going, keep walking, and each time I raise my foot and lower it down, I want to be certain that I'm moving in the direction that God is leading me.

That's tough, friends! It's the obedience in action. Which, I know, is so much of our constant daily lives, but it simply feels way different when I'm moving towards a scary and BIG change and direction! And all the potentials for moving out in the wrong direction seem bigger too. Because I want certainty. And obedience in action doesn't always bring immediate certainty. Or maybe it does? I'm not clear on this quite yet. God and I obviously still have much to chat about!

Really, I think it's more of a faith thing. Faith that brings obedience that brings action. How much of what I'm thinking and praying about am I willing to step out in faith for? Am I going to continue to doubt and wonder whether this certain path is where God is leading? (I mean, He's clearly put it in my heart, otherwise I wouldn't be so focused and unable to think about anything else. He never places things and options in our path if He didn't want us to pray about them, right?) Or am I going to stop the doubt RIGHT HERE and move forward without it? How much am I trusting my Father? How much am I willing to surrender? Everything? Because until I can surrender it all, I'm probably not going to get very far...

Yet I was just reminded of those verses in Mark chapter 5, where it's talking about the lady with the issue of blood and how she gets healed. We read through that chapter several months ago during church one Sunday and this particular verse has been stuck in my heart ever since:

vs 34 "And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole..."

And also this one:

vs 36 "As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe."

"Something Tookish" has been gripping my heart for months, for years even, and I think it's high time I paid attention. My heart has been stymied by all manner of doubt and fear, even while everything else within me is screaming to go for it. So why am I listening to the doubt? Why am concentrating so heavily on the what ifs? What if God is simply waiting for me to let go and move?  I want to be determined to stop the fears and doubts right now, right here, right this very second. When everything in me says YES, YES, YES. It looks big, yes. It looks hard, yes. It looks uncomfortable and crazy and all manner of things, yes. But where in God's Word does it say I need to be concerned with uncomfortable and crazy? So this is me, reminding myself again.

God's got this! He's got me. Cradled right there in His arms and He'll never let me go.



:: LEAP ::

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." —Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG)
This passage is very dear to me. It's convicting. In fact it WAS so convicting to me more than five years ago, that it set our family on a course of life-change we never could have imagined.
I was struggling with the first part of that verse -- the self-exploration I did resulted in a mirror image of a woman I didn't want to be. There was this small flicker of a flame -- a dream of creativity on my heart -- that for the life of me, I just could not shake. And each day, I went to work. Happy to have a job. Responsible to contribute to the care of our family. But feelings of discontent began to override any of the comforts in the life we'd built for ourselves. And out of the exploration (and several years of focused prayer), my husband and I had a sense that God was calling us to more. Not to have more or achieve or collect or succeed by the world's standards. This was spiritually more. To be closer. Walk farther. Dig deeper into the heart of God through His Word. To live a life that was sold-out. Sold-out to Jesus. And that was new, scary...exhilarating to imagine.
What if we weren't afraid to take a leap?
What if we could risk in order to live the life God had put on our hearts?
It IS possible. Maybe someone needs to hear that today? That the dream-of-your-heart moments are not disposable to God! They're not wasted. They're not meant to be tucked away for some brave moment in the future when we might give it a try. Why? He put the dreams there on your inner-most heart. He engraved the creativity. This is the ONE LIFE we get. And it's not meant to be spent living it safe. We can trust Him with our loftiest dreams. We can risk with Him -- because the truth is, He will never let us fall.
So EXPLORE today. Look where He's sending you. Just wait and see what He will do... Here's to the dream-chasers!"
~ Kristy Cambron via Instagram

Kristy wrote that last fall, almost a year ago in fact. And it spoke to my heart. Oh, friends how it shouted! But I could in no way tell you why or what on earth it actually was that my heart was feeling in that moment when I read those words. All I knew is that it felt something. Something clear as a bell rang through the fog and I knew. Only I didn't know what I knew!!

How crazy is that? It makes no sense, right? I completely agree. Only I think I may finally be starting to understand it? Because the heart-dream that I had tucked way, WAY down deep inside? So deep that I barely even remembered it was there? It's speaking to me this days, friends. My heart jumps and leaps and beats crazy hard these days. And I still don't know precisely what it looks like, but I know it's there. I know I'm feeling it and I'm excited! So excited that even just writing about it right now, at the mere thought of it, my heart is nonsensically happy. It's leaping and bounding, sort of like Tigger does in Winnie the Pooh! ;D

Excited to the point that I can't hardly contain it! I've haven't felt this way since I don't even know when. It's hard for me to even pinpoint the last time my heart beat so crazily at the mere thought of a Thing, it's really been that long. And the Thing! Oh friends, I don't know what this Thing is going to be. I'm still working through what the Thing is going to look like, what it's going to entail, where it's going take my heart....and it's a fear-filled huge jump out of my nice little comfort zone. Here where I'm content, most days I'm happy and joy-filled and getting through. Yet this Thing? While there is great potential to be quite happy and joyful and filled to the brim with MORE, it also looks really, really........scary. And impossible. There are SO many things that would have to fall into place perfectly for this to happen. Scary things. Hard things. Things that I'd have to accept for the miracle they are, yet I know the guilt and wondering that could come along with them.

Yet here's the kicker. Today I was pondering a convo I had recently with this awesome teen that I know. He is in his senior year of high school and imagining where his future is going to take him. Which is an exciting place to be! (I should know. ;) But where my thoughts were going was how badly I wanted to tell him to LEAP!

My mind immediately went to Serena Chase's dedication in her latest book Intermission. Wherein, as you can see, she tells us to hold on and then when the time is right, we need to leap. Leap out in full faith that Jesus will guide our steps! This particular teen has some ideas of where he'd like his future to go and, as is wise, he was cautiously excited about a couple new ideas thrown out at him. He absolutely does need to be sure God is guiding him this way. However, I really want to shout at him to step out anyway! Because that excitement he's feeling? God placed it there. I'm absolutely certain about that. And God never, ever, ever places excitement for something in our hearts but what it doesn't lead somewhere awesome. Granted, it may not look exactly like we're first picturing, but that doesn't mean it won't be AMAZING. God just works like that.

Someone told me that very thing recently and I was struggling to believe it. I knew it in my head, but getting my heart to cling to it? A whole other thing entirely. Yet when I pictured myself trying to say this same thing to my teenage friend? I had no hesitation whatsoever! As that occurred to me, I realized I needed to be taking my own advice, I needed to believe it about myself just as much as I believed it about him.

So I'm taking it. Today, I am claiming that for me. Whatever this Thing is in my life, whatever God has planned for it, whatever it looks like, however crazy and impossible it seems, I'm claiming it. I'm tired of dithering. I'm tired of circling my brain over and around and all topsy-turvy. It's mine. He planned it and He gave it and He'll water and care over it and make it glorious to Him.

All I have to do? Is just say yes. Simple as that!

Here I am, Lord, leaping.