freedom, i am enough, made in God’s image, quit comparing, love

Enough.

    I have a tendency to look at life through how can this be improved lenses. Some people might call that having goals or always trying to improve. And my husband is the same driven type. So contentment isn’t our strong suit. I found myself being especially hard on my body.

Even at my skinniest I was always trying to loose weight. I had a scale in college with a goal weight written on it. I had a bodpod scan done a few years ago which tells your muscle mass, bone mass and fat percentage. With no fat or muscles, my bones and skin would weigh that exact “goal weight”. I’ve been skinny, weighed as much as my husband and somewhere in the middle. I’ve been my fittest self and my weakest self. And through all of that one thing never changed, I was never enough. Always trying to improve.

Genesis tell us that God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27

I am made in God’s image. Yet in my eyes I am

Not enough?

We know the Bible says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

I am wonderfully made but I’m not enough in my eyes?

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. -Psalm 139:13-16

God made me and only me to be me. In the body I am in. With the scars, stretch marks and cellulite. But I am not enough in my eyes?

1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I am chosen. By God. A part of His holy nation. But I am not enough in my eyes?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. “- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

My body is a temple. But yet, somehow, still I am not enough in my eyes.

1 John 3:1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. ”

We are loved, children of God. And yet…

I decided this year the and yet had to change. I had enough. A little therapy, a lot of prayer and really trying hard to stop the self criticism. Looking in the mirror and saying hey good looking! Nice butt. To say you are enough. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve kept me alive. Safe. You’ve given me two beautiful kids. It’s been cut open three times. And recovered. My body lets me jump on the trampoline with my kids, run with them and swim with them. It’s extra squishy so they can snuggle right in.

For me, this is a work in progress. I still easily fall back into old habits. Little things will set me back. But I’m trying to give myself grace. Work to slowly replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. Being gentle.

So I’m here today to tell you that you are enough. Today. Right where you are. Go find a mirror and tell yourself how beautiful you are. You are chosen. Loved. Made in the image of the Highest God. Who also created you and had a plan for you. And for your body. So get outside, soak up some sunshine and breath in that you are enough you beautiful person. -Lauren

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Easter, Family Life, love, Miracles, The Cross, God’s Faithfulness, wedding

A Miracle


It’s a few days before Easter.
  And as I reflect on the cross and the miracle of Jesus rising from death, I am awed once again.  That the Son of God would die for me and you, is miraculous in itself.  But it didn’t end there, he conquered death and our sin, so we can live victoriously now and forever!! This causes me to reflect on the miracles God has performed in my life .  And really, there are many. Some are big and some are seemingly insignificant to anyone but me.  I have a story that I want to tell that reminds me that to the God who overcame death, NOTHING is too small for him.  I call this story The Miracle Mixer. It’s all because of God’s faithfulness that this story is possible.  I love this scripture, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19.

 

This story begins in 2009, when I became reacquainted with a friend whom I had not seen in 17 years. Cathy had two little boys back then.  I remember her boys being cute and well mannered and Cathy as a smart mama who sewed and made beautiful things.   The last time I saw her, her oldest son, Witt was 10 and my second daughter, Claire was 5.  I have a picture of our homeschool co-op group sitting on a wall dressed in Medieval costumes and Witt brandishing a sword and looking brave and Claire sitting with her sisters and friends, just past the toddler age herself.  Fast forward 17 years, now Cathy and I each had two more daughters.  My daughter, Nan, and Cathy’s daughter, Rose, became  fast friends in the Bible Study we attended that year.  This was Cathy’s first and only year attending this particular Bible study. I had been going for years, but had decided not to attend this year because I had young teenagers that I was homeschooling and I felt I needed more time at home to accomplish that.  But God impressed upon my heart that I should attend, so I signed up at the last minute.  I’m so glad I did because we spent each Thursday after Bible study, together, eating lunch, becoming fast friends again.  And as you might have guessed we re-introduced Witt and Claire and they fell in love and married a year later.  We could not be more in love with this godly, caring and handsome man and we are so blessed to call him our son.  Nan loves to take credit for bringing Witt into Claire’s life.  

 

And now here is the mixer story. The  circumstances and timing of these previous and next events, that I’m about to tell you, can only have come from our good Father, who sees all and knows all.  I think of the story of Esther in the Bible.  She saw God work on her and her people’s behalf through what seemed like random circumstances. God used her for big things, to save her people.  We might never be called to do anything big like she did, but we are called to be faithful and to bring all our requests and needs before God.  Have you ever seen God work on your behalf?  What seems so random to us, is all a part of Gods plan for our lives. 

 

I told you Claire and Witt fell in love and wanted to get married. Before this, Claire had been a nanny for a missionary family in Paris, France .  While there she took French lessons and applied to culinary school, as her time as a nanny was drawing to a close for she loved Paris.  And she already loved to cook.  She was accepted to the school, but due to many reasons, some financial and some logistical , she disappointedly decided to come home, not sure what God was doing in her life. She finished up her college education at a local University, with a degree in creative writing. It was during this time she met Witt, fell in love and became engaged. 

 

Weddings are exciting and this was our second one with three more weddings to plan one day. We had college educations to pay for, braces, contacts and just the general expense of a large family living on one income.  Someone was giving Claire a kitchen shower and she had on her registry many wonderful things, but one thing she wanted more than anything was a Kitchen Aid Standup Mixer.  The one she had chosen was cream colored, Almond they called it.  It was out of my price range at that time in my life.  I remember praying that God would show me what I should get Claire.  I wanted to get a very special gift for her, one that would be useful but something she really wanted.  

 

I remember going to lunch with my husband on a Tuesday , we usually went on Fridays .  Hart worked from home then, so we had made this our special treat. But I grabbed him from his office on Tuesday and said let’s go get some thing to eat so we can talk. We went to our favorite, but inexpensive, hibachi restaurant in our small town.  I remember telling Hart about the kitchen shower for Claire.  He said he wished we could afford the mixer but it was not in our budget.  After our Friday lunches we usually browse Goodwill where Hart likes to look at the books and I wander the store.  So on this Tuesday he asks me if I still  want to go to Goodwill. Sure, I said and headed over to the appliance section. And what did I see on the very bottom shelf, covered in dirt , but a Kitchen Aid Mixer!!  Excidely I pulled it out and called to Hart, we plugged it in.  It worked!   I looked in the mixing bowl and there were all three accessories! We couldn’t believe it!  We took it to checkout and paid 25.00 for it. I remember getting it home and washing it with just hot water and soap.  How surprised and taken aback I was as I looked at it.  This mixer was in perfect condition , not a scratch on it and it was the prized Almond color!!  The only thing missing was the original box!  How did I get Claire’s dream mixer for 25.00 when on the registry it was listed for 399.00! All I could do was to exclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness . When I took my gift to the shower and told the story of God’s blessing  and provision there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

 

I love the many stories of George Mueller, a man of God who prays about everything .  He once said if you receive a parcel and it is tied up in string and you can’t open it because you don’t have a knife or scissors, pray about it and ask God to help you untie the knot.  How I love that illustration about how nothing is too small or insignificant to God .  God knew Claire would need to be in the US so she could meet the man we had been praying for since her birth, that both Cathy and I should attend the Bible study that year and that God would arrange it so I would be at that Goodwill  store, on that particular day, that someone had decided to get rid of a perfectally good mixer.  It’s times like this, that I can always go back to when my days seem hard and I feel like can’t see what God is doing in my life right now. These memories strengthen my faith and I know that God cares about the seemingly insignificant things in my life.  I can be sure he is working on my behalf, my family’s and yours as well. 

 

What are some ways you’ve seen God working on your behalf or your family’s?  I’d love to hear about them, for it gives God the glory and strengthens the faith of those reading it.

 

Have a very blessed and wonderful Easter!  For Christ is Risen, Risen indeed! 

Love, Nancy

dance, freedom, Life, life and the pursuit of happiness, vulnerability

A little piece of me

Feeling a little vulnerable about posting this. But according to Brene Brown vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. So here I am. I hope you connect with this in some way.

I remember feeling this pull inside of me. I needed to meet with him. I was sitting on the pew in Chapel, at Aylen Lake, Canada. I was probably thirteen. This chapel is a wooden shelter sitting on top of a hill in the woods overlooking the beautiful lake. As I sat there not truly listening to the sermon, I felt a need to leave and meet with God. So I told my mom I had a stomach ache and I walked the pine needle covered path back to our cottage and down to the dock. It was a sunny day. The sun made the lake look like it was dancing with crystals on its surface. The world was silent. I remember talking to God and crying and understanding him so perfectly clear in that moment. He wanted freedom for me.

I remember when my family got back from the chapel and I told them I wasn’t really sick they were kind of upset with me for leaving the service. I immediately felt silly and too emotional and dramatic. And so I don’t think I ever left again. I think I’ve been sitting in the pews listening to the same sermon again and again everyday.

You see, I’ve always been too much. Too loud. Too crazy. Too emotional. Too eccentric. Too odd. Too intense.

This world conditions us to hide these traits. Because god forbid we sacrifice normality for freedom.

I have so many examples of this…

In middle school I carried my school books on my head during lunch making funny faces and laughing with my dorky friends only to find the cool kids that were in their usual circle staring and laughing. So I stifled my humor.

In elementary school I was listening to a song outside and I felt the urge to jump in the lake with my clothes on just to feel the cold cool water. I just wanted to feel freedom and happiness and being wild. But I got talked out of it by a friend and felt silly again. So I stifled my joy.

I got told skinny was beautiful so I stifled my hunger.

I got told guys like girls with tighter clothes and bleached hair so I stifled my dignity.

I got the vibe from others discomfort that going that deep into ones own soul was too much, so I stifled my heart.

But then one day I met God down at the dock of our old lake cottage. I was listening to a song in the cottage, crying over a breakup where I had spent the entirety of it stuffing my personality and wishes deeper inside of myself until I didn’t recognize what they were anymore. And he told me to dance. It was pouring rain. I had done my makeup nicely. Straightened my wavy hair perfectly. Was wearing nice, put together clothes. But all I could hear was “dance, Nan.” So this time I shut the door behind me and I danced in the pouring rain. I felt my mascara run down my face, I felt my straight hair curling again, I felt my chest rising and falling with every breath of life I sucked in like I hadn’t had air for the longest time and I saw her for the first time since meeting with God on that dock. It was Nan. And he was begging her into freedom again.

Since that day I have been trying more and more to walk out of the chapel. To find my place next to God and to find the place where I allow myself to be seen, to be vulnerable, to be known. And I have come to the realization…I am too much! And I am ok with that. Because God is ok with that. And when I’m with him…I’m just enough. So take off your shoes. Take your hair out of it’s perfect spiral curl that you perfected. Wipe that makeup off. Look God in the eyes and say, “I am here.” And let yourself fully be who you are. And don’t you dare let anyone stifle the spirit you have inside of you. Because we’re all too good at being perfect, so let’s be good at being free.

Family Life, gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, love, military, Thanksgiving

Blisters and Bliss

BListers and Breezes

My husband Gabe just left for a five week training in the beautiful state of Texas. Most training missions require a full packing list of items required for the training. Gabe is super good at ensuring he’s got all he needs. He’s pretty particular and organized when it comes to work. He also likes to be on time or early for certain things pertaining to work so he usually gives himself an extra forty minutes. Gabe asked a friend if he would pick him up early in the morning to take him to the airport. He was going to be at the airport 1.5 hours early. His friend persuaded him to arrive only 30 minutes early since this was such a tiny airport and most likely there would only be about 30 people going through security. He didn’t want Gabe to be miserable sitting there for an extra hour. So Gabe agreed and told himself he probably needed to just relax a little. 

So Gabe gets picked up and starts telling this brother in Christ how he needs to put anxiety away. Just then they hear a strange noise and feel something strange beneath the car. A tire blew out. That’s okay! His friend had a spare and the stuff to fix it. They get out the spare and his friend is having some trouble with the pliers. They’re stuck. Gabe gives it a shot and breaks them in half. At this point, Gabe’s time to make his flight is running out. His friend leaves to grab another tool and soon a cop appears. That’s when I got a call from Gabe. “Hey babe! Can you wake up the kids and get over here as fast as you can?” He was only 5 minutes down the road. The cop stayed with his friend’s car and I took Gabe to the airport. On our way, we watched as we saw his plane in the sky, just having taken off. “Gabe, God doesn’t want you on that flight.” Gabe looked at me and he agreed but he didn’t look very comforted by this. He sure wanted to be on that flight. It took about an hour to get the right people on the phone but finally Gabe had another flight scheduled. He called his friend to find out how things turned out for him. His friend was laughing. “So, I finally got the right tool and the spare tire on and then quickly realized this one was almost out of air. So then I went to start my car and it was dead.” Gabe said, “Okay, yeah. God did not want me on that flight this morning.” We had a good laugh about this. I was serious but smiling and laughing still as I told Gabe “Babe, all I can say is you better share the gospel with whoever sits next to you on that plane!” 

When Gabe called me later that night after having arrived and gotten settled in his hotel I found out he definitely did share the gospel with his seat mate who was Nigerian. I thought about all of the persecution the christian nigerians are facing right now. Being killed for their faith. I prayed this seed would take root in this man and grow.

Life gives you punches, right? Jabs, pinches and blisters. Things just happen. Annoying things. We may get a little beat up by life and sadly often we get deep and painful wounds.

If anyone has lived longer than an hour they already know that life is just not a gentle breeze. 

Yet we just know in the midst of this that God is there. If you find yourself in a plane, experiencing turbulence at first and then find yourself spiraling to the ground, your thought isn’t “everything is going wrong so therefore nobody made this plane.” No, that would be illogical. You would probably be thinking “Something went terribly wrong.” In the same way, we know in our heart of hearts that even though we live in a fallen world, God exists and He made us. 

What if I told you that all of the turbulence is part of His plan? His amazing redemption plan?

God wants us to be one with Him. He loves us. It’s a mercy that an infinite, perfect, spotless and holy God loves us and makes Himself a father to us. Yet we cannot be one with Him or know Him as our father unless we are washed clean. Every one of us is dirty because of sin. Sin is something all of us inherit at birth because our first parents (Adam and Eve) were the first to commit a sin. Nobody teaches a child to lie. It is our instinct. So God’s amazing redemption plan is to bring us home with Him. To make us one with Him once and for all. He sent His son Jesus to live in this sinful world, overcome sin (and death) once and for all in our place. We could never do it. We could never be able to pay the fine that it cost for even one stain, one little white lie, one lustful thought before a holy God who is just. Do you see that? God is holy. One lie is a blemish that prevents us from being one with Him. He cannot partner with sin. He is also a good judge. A good judge does not let the guilty go free, no matter how regretful they are. Yet He is also a compassionate God so He sent His only Son to pay the fine in our place. Jesus took on our flesh and He lived the perfect life (the only one to be able to do this) and He was the last and final sacrificial lamb and He conquered death by rising from the grave. Can you believe that! Jesus stepped away from His glory in Heaven with the Father and took on the humble form of a man who would be tempted, accused and finally beaten and tortured to death. What love!! Jesus said referring to the prostitute who washed his feet with her hair, “whoever is forgiven much loves much.” When we realize there is nothing good in us, when we realize our wretched state, our sin that makes us God’s enemy and repent of this and trust in Jesus, trust that He has taken away our guilt once and for all then we will be one with God and saved from eternal damnation. God made a way! He loves us so mercifully!

And so in Christ life is still not a gentle breeze. Life is actually…WAY harder. And yet…it’s way sweeter. I’ll explain in just a minute.

When we are living as one with Christ and coming under submission to Him, we will be wrongly accused just as He was. We will be attacked by dark spiritual forces just as He was. We will be called to do uncomfortable things for the sake of loving others. 

Evangelism is NOT comfortable. 

Dying to the willing flesh is NOT comfortable.

Giving not only out of abundance but also deprivation is NOT comfortable.

Loving our enemy is NOT comfortable.

Living by the inspired Word of God instead of the world is NOT comfortable.

But these things are just the natural outcome of living as One with Christ. We grow up into these things as we mature in Christ. The more we do, in the most slight of ways in comparison we identify with Christ’ suffering. The more we identify with Christ, the sweeter the fellowship with Him. He becomes our everything. The only thing that really…matters. We’re able to let all of OUR purposes sift through our fingers as sand, like the foundation they are built upon. God’s purposes outlined in His word are our only sure foundation for anything. We long for gentle breezes in our life and yet our time here is so short. We will have gentle breezes for eternity. So what is the purpose for these short years on earth? We must realize that it’s not about us gaining a smooth life here on earth (though we most certainly experience blessings here on earth that are sweet gifts from God). The Bible shows our life hidden in Christ may actually look like what an athlete goes through.

 “Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrew 12:1. 

“You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22. (Emphasis, mine).

“Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore I do not run aimlessly. I do not fight like I am beating the air. No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26.

I ran cross country in highschool for a short time. Cross Country races are 3.1 miles. It’s not a fast sprint. Some races flew by and others felt 10 miles long and I wondered if the race would ever end. I had to really play mind games during these races to keep myself going. In a race, you are always pushing yourself to go faster. It’s not a gentle jog. To keep up a certain pace, I would find comfort in the uncomfortable. I would focus on my breathing, or focus on my feet hitting the ground seconds apart. A gentle breeze would occasionally come and dry some of the sweat off my forehead. But you know what really made me happy and run with endurance? When my sister Nan would run with me. I love my sister! It was a joy to run along side her. She would not only would encourage me but she literally was acquainted with my current pain and guess what..I knew she would win. She always won. She always always always won! If she was running with me I knew I could make it.

In the same way, as we endure this broken world and live as missionaries here, we have the blissful and amazing comfort of Jesus’ presence! He personally knows our pain and He has won! He gave us victory! So we keep running to the end of our lives, cheering our brothers and sisters on, warning anybody and everybody of the danger at the end of life if they do not have Christ and giving Jesus the glory that we are able to run and run with endurance and inherit the kingdom! Jesus is bliss. Jesus is sweet. Jesus is with us. Far too often than I want, I just mess up. I want to give in to desires that are not Godly. I want my OWN way. Yet the giver of gentle breezes is worth far more than the breeze itself.

Family Life, love, new year goal

Small Beginnings

I met an old farmer today who told me my eyes looked like his wife’s who had passed away. His had a grey sort of lostness in them. He was a hay farmer and when he spoke he weaved his big, worn hands in and out of each other, as if he had more to say, but couldn’t quite put it into words. “Those were the happiest years of my life,”
he told me.
He told me it was because they had loved each other so deeply. He told me that they had had nothing. No education, no fancy house or cabin…they just had the little bit of land his father had owned. And that’s how they made ends meet. He told me that he felt redeemed by not having everything the world has, but that it felt freeing being able to love each other in such quiet and simple places, as two flawed human beings. He said that his wife would often say, “I don’t want anything else. Just you.” And he told me that’s all he needed to hear everyday, to be a happy man. 

I left the conversation shaken. I am someone that had chased adventure my entire life. I have rock climbed craggy mountains and I have cliff jumped into lakes and oceans. I’ve ridden on motorcycles with hands in the air through the middle of the night on a lighted city street and I partied too hard. I lived for the moments of feeling alive, like when I laid in a hammock in Colorado and stared at the night sky littered with billions of stars, the hammock swaying, the wind whispering through the trees and the world quiet with the wild. I travelled when I felt ripped apart and lost; I would run to the next high I could get and from the next adrenaline pumping event. I am someone that put emphasis on a career path, on a graduation cap and I am definitely someone that cared deeply about how I appeared to others. 
But he was right. If you have the ultimate love, if you have a quiet place, that one person that loves the dusty corners of your soul, that one person you know would go to the ends of the earth for you…you need nothing else…and frankly…you want nothing else. 

Isn’t that beautiful? How many people have travelled the world, climbed the mountain, written the book, looked the best, had the most?  And how many people had a love that made you forget about every single one of those things? 
I’m not saying to not do those things, to not love adventure…I am only saying that love is something more. Love is something of far more worth. Love is something you can take with you when you leave this earth. Love is something you can count on. Love is something you should hold onto. Maybe love will go with you on adventures….or maybe love will be your adventure.
But I think he was right, the farmer with worn hands, I think he had something there. As I thought about it, I felt a peace sink in and a smile crack through my lips. 
And maybe that’s what the new year is all about. Coming into deep rooted love. Perhaps with your significant other, perhaps with yourself, perhaps with God himself.
This new year I want to take the steps to become deeper in love with my husband. And to me, that means welcoming the days of small beginnings. Being ok with just living with little, experiencing small things and knowing each other deeply. 

This new year many need to know themselves deeply. Many need to not run from their hurts, but simply live with them and realize that the things that hurt us, are the things that also healed us. They are what made us who we are. They need to let themselves truly reside alone and look inward and learn themselves in ways they never could before. Learning to love themselves and live in peace with themselves. 
Many need to learn God, without legalities, without barriers and without their brain getting in the way of their heart. Many need to open themselves up fully to his grace and drown in the impact of his love. 
New Years to me, never meant what diet I was going to try or what event I was going to pursue…it was always inward. 
So this new year I want to look inward. And I want to live in love, with my husband, with myself, and with God. And bask in the days of small beginnings. 

…Nan

You can check out Nan’s blog at

https://nanbystillwaters.wordpress.com/