A Fall Freebie for You

John 15:8 Free Fall Printable

Hey Friends,

I know it’s been awhile since you have heard from me… Fall has come like a bit of a bulldozer in my life.  I am blessed to have the opportunity to be speaking and teaching at several women’s events this season.  There is really nothing I love more than opening the Bible with women and having it transform us together.  I deeply desire to serve those women well and spend every spare hour (and all the moms said, “Hahahahaha”) preparing and studying for my time with them.  Unfortunately, that leaves little time for writing, although I have so many things I want to share with you.

But, what I can offer you is a Fabulous Free Fall Printable with John 15:8 on it.  I have spent the last 6 months studying the Biblical principles of FRUITFULNESS and this verse has become my life’s cry…

“Dear Jesus, make me fruitful here on this earth so that my life will bring glory to your Father.”

So, I share it with you here… Print it, frame it, memorize it, live it, add it to your Fall decor, and let it be your heart’s desire as well.John 15:8 Free Fall Download

I hope to see some of you at an event soon!  Like I said, my Fall is pretty full, but my Spring is gloriously open right now… If you are planning a women’s event or retreat, let me know if I can serve you and your girls!  It would be an honor.  I’ll also be heads down writing a Bible Study as soon as the holidays are behind us so be on the lookout for those details!!!

Thank you for following along on this journey with me!  HAPPY FALL Y’ALL!!!

Lesley

 

Dear Strong Girl, I See You

Dear Strong Girl,

I see you.

They say the “squeaky wheel gets the oil:  Well, that’s not you.  In fact, most of the time you’re the one with the oil can, quieting the squeaky wheel… the needy friend, the fragile child, the hurting husband, the dark culture, the social injustice.

strong girl leaning on a fence

I see you holding it all together while they fall apart.  I see you putting your needs on the back burner so often that they’ve boiled down to a burnt layer of unidentified crust.   You catch the smell briefly and it’s a reminder of another dish to wash.

I see your loud strength… Your bold, boisterous, brave strength.  I see the way you defend the widows and orphans and underdogs.  I see your Mama Bear Strength when someone comes after your kid, your tribe, the schools and churches and missions you love.  I see the way you are misunderstood and pigeon-holed.  I see the labels they put on you, all the while noting that the next time they need bold, boisterous, and brave, you’re their girl.

I see your quiet strength.  I see your steadfast, serving, show-up strength.  I see the way that families and ministries, care-calendars and friend groups are built on your steady shoulders.  I know the way they all just assume you’ll be there, do the work, organize the thing, send the email.  I know you fear they take you for granted.  Sometimes they do.

I see your big dreams.  I know how overwhelming the passion can feel swirling inside of you… like fire in your bones.  And I see how it threatens them.  You see it too.  Girls who really go for it feel a bit “much.”  I know you want permission.  You want support.  You want the blessing to be strong in a new space.  You may not get it.  Go for it anyway.  I see you.

I see the way some people need you and want you and like to take sanctuary beneath your strength, until they don’t.  They feed off of it until what they want is something a little easier to swallow than truth.  The thing about strength is, it’s strong.  The thing about Strong Girls is they don’t sway and crumble with circumstances or emotions.  That’s cool until it isn’t.  And then I see you alone.  I know that, much to the surprise of everyone around you, you actually feel lonely and question yourself, and wonder how this was the end of the story again.  I see you.  I get it.

I see that your strength is real.  I know it is not a blustery, bossy mask held together by tough words and attention-seeking self-interest.  . It’s not built on bullying others or taking them down.  It shines as you pour your life out again and again and again to those around you.  I know they assume your supply will never end, never run out.  That’s probably not true.  I see the tears you cry in your closet when no one checked on you.  No one returned the favor.  No one thought you might need a bit of what you give so freely… your time, your wisdom, your ear, your strength.  I wish I could sit with you there in the dark, but by the time I get there you’ll be up and at ’em.  No one has time for that kind of self-pity.  Well, no one like you.  Pour on, Strong Girl, but get filled too.  Everyone runs out.

I see you up there on that stage leading well.  Like a Boss, in fact.   I see you and I am for you as you blaze your trail Sister.  And I see you behind, hemming us in with the backbone of your very presence.  I am for you as you mix your strength like cement and hold everyone in place.  That work matters and I see it.

I see you standing like a rock in the middle of a river… The Culture River,  The Unconscious River, The River Selfish. Be careful, Low Integrity Crossing is just up the way.  And there you are, a rock in the middle.  Some will crash into you and curse the reminder you are as they  float away comfortably down stream.  And some will grab hold of you as you rescue them from the current to be so much more.  You’re good like that because you are strong, girl.

I see the people you gather and the causes you champion.  I see the kids you raise and the marriage you fought for until you bled.  I see the friends you saved and the ones lost to the very strength they asked of you.  I hear the songs you sing, the mantras you preach, and the secrets you keep.  I see the home you open, mess and all.  I see the gifts you use, and the ones you hold back.  I see the justice you fight for and the backlash you take.  I see the way you bear other’s burdens, and celebrate their victories like your own.  I see the muscle perseverance and patience and pressing in and all the agains have built..  It looks good on you.  You ARE strong.  I know they all think you “got this”, because let’s face it, you “got this.”   That doesn’t mean you want to do it all.  That doesn’t mean you want to do it alone.  That doesn’t mean you don’t need a safe, soft place every now and then.  I see you.

Maybe the only ones who can see Strong Girls for who they truly are, are other Strong Girls. Maybe the only ones who can understand them is someone cut from the same cloth.  Maybe the only ones who don’t feel threatened are those who possess their own strength in spades. It looks different on you than it does on the girl in the mirror, but familiar all the same.

They will misunderstand you… stand on truth anyway.  They will use you… give anyway.  They will hurt you… love anyway.  They will leave you… offer your hand anyway.  They will take you for granted… serve anyway.  They will hold on to you too tightly, let you go too easily, need you too much, ignore your loneliness too long., love your strength, and then resent it… Be you anyway.  I get it.   I see you and you’re beautiful.

That’s Refreshing

That's Refreshing blog image of girl squirting a hose

I love to water my plants.  It’s like therapy.  In the middle of a loud, long, busy day I love to go outside, take a deep breath, turn on the hose and water those plants.  Back and forth, back and forth on the sweet potato vine spilling over in the Sunset Porch… back and forth, back and forth over herb garden by the kitchen …. mist the mint in the window box, water the pots of geraniums in the front, the wheelbarrow of ivy by the door,  and the basket hanging from the shepherd’s hook out by the gate.  If you are stressed, peace may be as close as the nearest water hose.  Seriously, go try it and then come back to read the rest of this post…

Good, right?

One day recently, the constant drone of late summer “Mom,! Mom! Mom!” forced me outside for my daily watering wind-down.  I slipped out the front door undetected, slipped on my gardening clogs waiting there faithfully, and took several deep breaths as I went over to the closest hose and spigot.  As I reached down to turn the handle, I realized it had been left twisted in the on position.   When I squeezed the nozzle at the other end, sure enough the water rushed out with the appropriate force of “shower, jet, or mist” – whatever I chose.

And God blew my mind a little.

If it had been left on all night, where was the water?  Why was the ground dry?  Where was it stored?  The hose?  The wall?  The pipes? . How could it be on, but stopped?  Would the pressure not eventually blow my nozzle?

That's Refreshing blog image of girl squirting a hose

I was so excited and curious I called my husband. About a water hose.  In the middle of a work day.  “Babe, when the water is on at the spigot but the nozzle isn’t being squeezed, you know, where is that water?  Is it in the hose?  Is it in the pipe?  Does it not come out until the nozzle is being used even though it is on?”

“Which hose is it?”

“No, it doesn’t matter which hose.  Any hose in the world.  How does that work?”

“Is the nozzle stuck?  There is probably a wrench in the garage you can use to …”

“No, there is nothing wrong.  I just want to understand how it works.”

“Ummm, like the physics?”

“Yes, I guess.  The physics.”

[Insert slightly exasperated sigh] “So there is a ball valve……”  BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  OK, NEVER MIND.  THANKS AND BUH-BYE.

It turns out that I didn’t need to understand the physics to understand that was me.  The nozzle.  I’m a nozzle.  You are too.

Jesus refers to Himself and the Holy Spirit as water, living water, often in Scripture.  I’m a water person so this metaphor resonates deeply in my spirit.  Sometimes in this desert town,  I can feel a longing for the Atlantic Ocean of my home from skin to soul. And sometimes, in a desert season, I can feel a longing for the living water even more.  I get water.  Let these words wash over you:

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:37-38

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13-14

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants.”  Isaiah 44:3

Isn’t that as refreshing as a Vanilla Coke in the middle of August?

So if Jesus is the living water, and His Holy Spirit is given to us at the moment of our salvation- if it is turned on- where is all the water?  In the hose?  In the pipe?  What are the physics?

The problem is the nozzle.

Though the water my plants need is ready, and on, and life giving, until the nozzle is put to use, it does them no good.  They can wither and die right there next to the hose, next to the spigot, next to the unused nozzle.

Though the living water is available to each of us as believers, though streams of living water are promised to flow out of every area of our lives, we can wither and die too if we don’t do our part.

You see, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He is powerful, and life changing, but He is still and gentle as well (I Kings 19:12).  Just like I can choose how strongly the water will come out of my nozzle, I can choose to allow the Holy Spirit to flow, or be quenched in my life (I Thessalonians 5:19).  Jeremiah 2:13 says, “My people have committed two sins; They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

 Sisters, how are your cisterns?

Are you clawing at rock hard ground, trying to dig a dry cistern, all the while the spigot of the Holy Spirit is perpetually on and available?  Are you trying to refresh yourself with dust, next to a spring of living water?   Our lives, our culture, perhaps even our churches are littered with the broken, shattered pieces of cisterns that can never hold the water we need.  We know it instinctually, when we are pulling the bucket up from the dry cistern… of comparison, of wine, of beauty products, of social standing, of “likes,” of Netflix.  Don’t forsake the deep wells.

Use the nozzle.

Refreshing is what I need at the end of these long, loud, hot summer months.  I feel myself wilting beneath the grind of these days but already withering a bit under the heat of the expectations the next season holds.  Anyone else?  Here is how we get to the water we need::

“The law of the Lord is perfect, REFRESHING the soul.”  Psalms 19:7

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He REFRESHES my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.”   Psalm 23:2-3

“[You] will REFRESH the weary and satisfy the faint.”  Jeremiah 31:25

“Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of REFRESHING may come from the Lord.”  Acts 3:19

AND MY NEW MOST FAVORITE VERSE:

“A generous person will prosper; whoever REFRESHES others will be REFRESHED.”  Proverbs 11:25 (Do you loooooovvvveeee it?) 

There is a big bucket of living water for you. There are the ways we squeeze the nozzle.  Here are the physics: the law of the Lord, quiet soul-refreshing time with Jesus, coming to Him when we are weary and faint, repentance, and generosity. We are refreshed in the act of refreshing of others.  So, who can you refresh today with a kind word, with a extra moment, with a smile or a hug or a listening ear?  With a Vanilla Coke?    If you look around and see some areas of your life drying up and withering like an English rose in West Texas, try one of these settings on the nozzle.  The spigot is on.

Let’s turn this thing to “jet” and claim what is ours!  Living water- deep wells of it, streams and springs and rivers of it… Now that’s refreshing!

 

The Daily Push Back

The Daily Push Back

I still marvel at it… the way that dreams can take twists and turns and dump you right out in a spot you never knew you wanted.  That is how I feel about my little Rancho among the tumbleweeds and sandstorms of west Texas.  Yesterday, as I pulled up to the gate, the old Dixie Chicks’ song “Wide Open Spaces” came on the radio and I began to cry.  I have loved that song since college (now I’m dating myself!!), but back then I didn’t even recognize the longing it was speaking to inside of me.  But yesterday I knew.  I saw it with my own teary eyes.  My very own wide open spaces, with my childhood cowboy, a herd of cow dogs, a flock of silly hens, and a bunch of free-ranging kids (and tumbleweeds and sandstorms).  The Ranchito really is my “unexpected promise land,” the one that little southern co-ed in the Dixie Chicks hat could have never imagined.

But do you want to know a secret?  My very favorite spot on these seven acres is not a wide open space at all.  It’s not the garden sprouting in the Spring, or the sunset porch showing off every evening.  It’s not the swimming pool filled to the brim with friends all summer, or the pasture where we pull the hayride every Fall Festival.  In fact, most visitors will never see this enchanting nook at all.  It’s a little patio enclosed by vine covered brick walls located between our bedroom and our daughters’.  We call it the “Bunny Courtyard” because in it our 3 pet rabbits run (hop?) free.  It also happens to be home to 2 turtles named “Cooper” and “David,” an accidental rooster named “Chickaletta” (long story for another day), quite a large family of not-so-shy mice, some free-loading dove, and unfortunately, the occasional slithering visitor.  (One day I am going to write a children’s book entitled “The Adventures of the Bunny Courtyard” because they are many- but for today, there are your introductions.) And in the warm Summer months, when the rush of school mornings are a memory, and postponed bed-times mean sleeping children, you can find me in the Bunny Courtyard as well… Bible, journal, countless books in hand… a mason jar of pretty pens, a cup of coffee, and. a sunrise.  Yes, and Amen!  So Jesus and I join the menagerie every morning, seated at the old garden table.  And sometimes He sends a hummingbird too, just to let me know He sees me… it’s kind of our thing.

bunny courtyard bible studySounds dreamy, right?

It is.  I feel like Cinderella many mornings out there holding a bunny in my lap while the turtles chomp a fresh leaf and the mice scurry behind the veil of vines, writing in my journal and reading my Bible.  The flowers bloom, the rooster crows, the bees buzz gently.  It is dreamy.

It is also a heck of a lot of work.

You see, those adorable little bunnies and I go round and round..  Literally.  They go around the edge to the dirt perimeter of the courtyard and they dig.  They dig and dig and dig.  And I go around behind them and I fill in the holes.  And I fill and fill and fill.  And that rooster, well, he poops.  He poops and poops and poops- usually on my pretty little table.  And I clean and clean and clean.  And the turtles are messy eaters leaving a trail behind of leftover tomatoes and old lettuce.  They munch and munch and munch.  And I sweep and sweep and sweep.

bunnies in the courtyard

Every day.  Every single morning.

Seriously.  And I have to do it all before I can sit and enjoy Jesus and the coffee and the dreamy and the hummingbirds.  Please get the very real picture in your mind of me at sunup, either in PJ’s, or sweaty workout clothes, slippered feet and a shovel, filling in holes, an old towel cleaning off poop, the push broom sweeping up the mess. Cinderella for sure.   The dreamy Bunny Courtyard mornings are very real.  The bunny petting and praying, the Bible studying and hummingbird watching – it is alive and well.  And so it the daily push back of dirt and poop and mess.

One could never be enjoyed without the the other being endured.  Every day.

I guess I don’t know any part of life that gets all cleaned up, all accomplished, all checked off and then it is finished.  I don’t know any aspect that stays beautiful and dreamy without the shoveling and sweeping.  Marriage?  Try shelving communication for a season – even a dreamy season- and see if you don’t have a mess to clean up.  Friendships?  Try just participating in the pretty and not the dirty and tell me how deep those relationships go.  Jesus?  Just show up in your Sunday best and ignore Him during the mid-week muck and mire and tell me if victory seems far off.   .

Here’s the thing: Rabbits were created with digging in their hearts.  If I am shocked every morning when I join them on their courtyard, that they have once again dug a makeshift den, then shame on me.  Chickens poop.  It’s what they do.  I know this and am prepared- why waste the energy on getting exasperated?  And the enemy of your soul, then enemy of all that is good and peaceful and dreamy in your life?  Well, he steals, kills, and destroys.  It’s what he does, it’s what he has always done.  It says so right there in John 10:10 so please don’t be surprised when he attempts to do just that- steal your joy, kill your relationships, destroy your dreams and peace and testimony.   The question is not if he will try to make a mess of things, the question is if you will push back.  Every day.

The truth is, we can get comfortable with the dirt and poop.  We can get so used to it, we forget there is something better, something beautiful underneath.  If I take a few days off from the Bunny Courtyard push back, do you know what happens?  The area shrinks.  That dirt takes over more and more space and I forget where the pretty patio is supposed to start.  I can’t find the boundaries, the part that belongs to me, belongs to beauty.  A part of my promise land is lost.  The work increases when it’s not done daily.  It’s harder that way.

We can get hopeless with the prospect that we will have to fill the same holes tomorrow… fight the same fights, take back the same territory, invest in the same broken people.   Romans 5:3-5 speaks to this very thing. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.(NLT)”

You see, we are not hopeful that the dirt and poop will not be there tomorrow.  We do not put our hope in a task finished, a situation conquered, a burden released. a win.  We put or hope in the one who gives us the strength daily for the push back.  And this hope “will not disappoint.”  This life takes endurance, the kind of endurance that builds strength of character.  The kind of endurance that picks the shovel up again tomorrow and takes back truth, hope, and the beauty underneath the mess.  Every time I pick that shovel up, PJ’s and all, I get stronger.  Every time you push back the darkness from your promise land, you get stronger too.

Galatians 6:9 encourages, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  We will reap a harvest.  That harvest just may be some spiritual muscle and strength of character rather than a tidy bow on the situation.  The Bunny Courtyard can be beautiful but it will never be tidy.  James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  He will reward our perseverance in this life or the next… that’s the win.

I wish we could see what God sees.  I wish, instead of seeing the young mom hanging on by a thread, we saw the spiritual strength it takes to do it all again tomorrow.  I wish instead of seeing the unhappy wife, we saw the mighty prayer warrior she is, fighting in the heavenliness for her marriage.  I wish, instead of seeing a burnt out man, we saw the solider he is as he stands guard for his home and his family, daily taking back any territory lost. I  wish instead of seeing an aging generation weakened by time, we saw the ferocious band of grandparents handing over the legacy of strength of character and perseverance.  That is real.  And that is only attained in the daily push back.

I don’t know where you have been called to daily push back… fighting for hope as you believe the best for your marriage, pushing back the lies that you are less than in your singleness, filling in the holes the enemy is trying to dig into your identity and security in Christ, cleaning up the mess of other’s expectations as you parent that special needs child, taking back the territory of a dream, that promise you know was from God, finding your purpose under all that dirt.  But I do know the hard work, the daily work, is worth it.  When God looks at you He sees the muscle you are building by doing the work today, and tomorrow, and the next day.  There is no short cut to perseverance, to endurance, to strength of character, to the crown of life.  It takes the daily push back.  It takes getting your hands dirty.  It takes hope placed in the things that will not disappoint.

So, do it again.  Love him again.  Forgive her again.  Get in the Word again.  Pray again.  Speak truth again.  Get up again.  Be vulnerable again.  Believe again.  Wade though the poop again.  Shovel the dirt again.  Take back your territory again.  The daily push back matters.  He sees you too.  He may even send a hummingbird to tell you so.

Now I have a few rabbit holes to fill in…

 

Hospital Blanket

Hillman with his Hospital Blanket

Last month I had one of the worst weekends of my life.

I say that cautiously, knowing that in comparison to what so many have walked through, it was a stroll in the park.  In the end, everything turned out fine and none of us are the worse for wear.  But in the middle of it, perspective seems far off and struggles in the mirror feel larger than they appear.

Part of the heartbreak was how very different the expectations for that long awaited weekend were from the complete mess of reality that unfolded.  You see, the adorable “Save the Date” card had been on the refrigerator for months… and the date was indeed saved!  The wedding was going to be out of town, and beautiful, and the perfect combination of time with friends, and time alone with the hubby.  The in-laws had been informed months ahead that the grandkids would be dropped off for the weekend, and their “Fun Aunt” was even coming to town to ensure, well, lots of fun!  Hubby’s suit to the cleaners, my new dress in the hanging bag, appropriate “alone in a hotel for two nights” sleepwear packed… CHECK!  Everything was taken care of and everyone was happy about it.

And then the blasted West Texas spring wind started to blow.  I mean REALLY BLOW.  In Florida we call those “hurricane force winds.”  In West Texas, evidently, we call that Thursday.  My youngest started having what he calls “rubby eyes,” then the next day it was a stuffy nose, and on the morning we were packing the car, it was a wheezy cough.  I followed all of my “seasonal allergy” protocols and we hit the road.  And he coughed.  And coughed.  And wheezed.  And cried.  And coughed the whole 5 hours to his grandparents’ house.  When we arrived, I sent my husband to the pharmacy to get some vapor rub and I put the little guy in a steamy shower.  Everyone went to dinner and I stayed behind to make sure he was going to be okay before we left for that glorious hotel room alone.  He wasn’t.

When the family got home we threw him in the car and took him to an Urgent Care for a breathing treatment… And then the nightmare spun out of control.  After a couple of breathing treatments, the doctors at the Urgent Care didn’t feel like they could get his O2 levels up enough to send us to the ER in our car SO THEY CALLED AN AMBULANCE.  All of a sudden, I found myself riding the the back of an ambulance with my (rather excited) son, instead of sipping wine in a fluffy hotel robe.  When we got to the ER they said he looked better but they would keep him for a 6 hour observation.

WE WALKED OUT OF THAT HOSPITAL 2 DAYS LATER.

No wedding.  No new dress.  No romantic hotel.  No fancy food.  No friends.

Instead it was a million hours on a hospital cot letting my 6 year old watch The Force Awakens at 2am for the 475th time.  It was the same t-shirt and jeans I had put on to travel in because, remember what I had packed?  It was trying to navigate pharmacies and doctors 5 hours from home.  It was being alone a lot because my husband was with the other kids and my entire support system was far away.  In the end, all that mattered was that my son was ok.  I am so very thankful for the care we received and would have cozied up to Kylo Ren on that cot for another decade if I needed to to make sure that my baby was well.

In the middle of it, though, everything felt out of my control… and my emotions followed.  Out of control.

When we made the quick decision to go to the Urgent Care that night, we didn’t change our little guy out of his PJ’s.  We didn’t even grab his shoes.  The only thing we threw in the car with us was his beloved blankie that his Belle (my mom) had crocheted for him before he was born.  He has never slept a night without it.  Even at 6 years old, I still catch him a few times a day holding it close to his face for a bit of a recharge.  It is tattered and worn.  There is even a hole big enough for him to put over his head so he can wear it like a cape.  When he was about one and I saw this blankie dependency growing, I asked Mom to make another one, in a little more portable size, just in case anything ever happened to the original (you know, like it had to go in the wash)!  Same pattern, same yarn, same colors, same hands making it… and he would have none of it!  He knew a fake, even as a baby.

So, in those first few hours in the hospital when he was scared and struggling, his blankie was there comforting him.  And for the days after that, when he was pretending to be a robot hooked up to the machines, and asking me to send his best friend videos of him making the bed go up and down (and up and down, and up and down), it was there too… like it always is, close at hand, by his side.

He had his blankie, I had my Bible.

Just like my son never leaves home without his blankie, I never leave home without my Bible. I know the app on my phone has the same words and is lighter in the suitcase, but I need to feel the weight of that leather bound book. I need to hear pages turning.  And though this particular Bible is just a year old, because you may remember last summer The Dog Ate My Bible, it is getting worn in all the good ways, marked, highlighted, falling open to the right places.  Just like my son, I feel a little panicked when I can’t get my hands on it, when it is too far out of reach and I need a recharge.  I can wear it like a cape too, like armor.  In the fog of those sleepless hospital nights and days that surely lasted more than 24 hours, I honestly cannot tell you what verses I read, but it was there, lending me comfort.

Over the last several years, I have cultivated the habit of writing the Word daily.  I have always loved to copy beautiful words.  The physical act of applying pen to paper helps solidify the spiritual act of applying truth to my heart.  Recently I have loved using Lara Casey’s Write the Word journals for this practice, but I write Scripture on notecards, on chalkboards, on mirrors, in the margins of books as well.  For me, it is grounding-first thing in the morning most of the time- to look up a Scripture, read it, write it out, re-read it, pray it, and then leave that sacred space with it on my lips.

I know Jesus is more than words on the page.  He Himself said in John       5:39-40, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.  These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”  Jesus is life.  Jesus is alive.  He is dynamic, moving, loving, beckoning.  He is a person to have a relationship with, not just read about. And that relationship can be fostered and grown through spiritual disciplines and practices of all kinds… prayer, worship, fasting, service.  But the Word of God is foundational.  I know Him because I know it.  I spend time investing in this, the principle relationship of my life, when I spend time in those pages.

And that discipline, that resolve to dive deeply into the Scripture, that desire to be completely familiar with and transformed by those words… it comes before.

The commitment comes before the ambulance ride, before the diagnosis, before the pink slip, before the marriage is falling apart.  The life preserver is much easier to find in the sea of chaos and confusion when you have had it hanging on your boat for years…. when you recognize it for what it is- your life saver.  I think of Daniel, when he and the other captives were taken into Babylon.   I think of his resolve and I am inspired and convicted by it.  Daniel 1:8 says, “But Daniel  resolved (purposed in his heart [NKJ]) not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”  I am sure it was much easier to make that commitment before the rich fare was placed in front of him.  His resolve strengthened him in his hunger and temptation.

My resolve to physically open my bible and apply pen to paper daily strengthened me in that hospital room.

It did not change my circumstances.  It did not magically transport me to the wedding I was missing or stabilize my son’s breathing sooner.  But it was my comfort.  It ushered in the familiar presence of Jesus to that cold hospital room.  Not only the words but the act of searching for them, the process of writing them. It was my hospital blanket.  My Bible.

Where do you go for your comfort?  Your phone?  Netflix?  Amazon?  Another person?  Pizza?  Wine?  Everyone of us will need a hospital blanket at some point, when our emotions are frazzled and our brain is foggy…  when life throws us a curve ball and we are crushed by disappointment.  What will ground you on those days?  What will pull you back?  What will be the most natural thing to reach for?

We must purpose in our hearts to be women of the Word before.  Every day.  In the mundane as well as in the crisis.  It is not about checking boxes or legalism, it is about resolve and strength and transformation. It is about getting to know Jesus and recognizing His face and His arm around us in the darkest of days.  You will find Him in His Word.  Touch it, read it, speak it, write it, feast on it, wear it, keep it as close as my son keeps his blankie.  It won’t let you down because He won’t let you down.  Resolve before. Resolve today.

 

My Before Screen Time Checklist

Kids and Screen Time

Kids and Screen Time

After 10:00am in order for my kids to have screen time, they must do the following:

  1. Make your bed
  2. Have your personal prayer, Bible journaling, or worship time
  3. Straighten your room (Mom must check it)
  4. Feed your animals (Skyler-Rabbits, Canyon-Chickens, Brooke-Cats, Hillman-Dogs)
  5. Do one chore (Ask Mom)
  6. Read for 30 minutes (ReadLive and Nessy count too!)
  7. Do one math fact sheet
  8. Play outside for 1 hour

Open Door Callings

Open Door Callings

Calling.  It is a bit of a buzz word in Christian culture today.  And for everyone of us who gets passionate about the subject of our “calling” I believe there are at least as many of us who get annoyed, or discouraged, or feel shame.

I know because that used to be me.

Not very long ago I was standing on the annoyed-discouraged-shamed hill looking over at the perceived “called” ones, all joyful and fulfilled on their hill, and I couldn’t figure out how to cross the space in between.  And honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to.  Something felt flashy and superficial about those pretty “callings” and something felt a little more holy and gritty down here in the martyred trenches of “real life.”  “Oh brother,” I would think.  “Who has the time or energy for a calling?  My calling is to keep these kids alive.  My calling is to not kill my husband.  Maybe I can muster the ambition to read the Bible after I catch up on sleep/housework/laundry/ (fill in all the blanks to infinity). Is that a calling?  Whatever.”  And I was prideful.  And I was jealous.  And I was anemic and desperate for an adventure with Jesus that would rescue me from my hill.

And then I realized that I didn’t have to cross the chasm between the hills.  I did not have to tumble down one side and scale the other.  There was no magical bridge spanning the distance.

There was a door.  And it was open.

Open Door Callings

You see, when I did get that Bible out, I couldn’t get away from the idea of calling, of fruitfulness, of this whole thing having to turn outward at some point to really be the point.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  John 15:8

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit- fruit that will last -and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”  John 15:16

“For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have command you.”  Matthew 28:19-20

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field. Go!”  Luke 10:2-3

So, the open door… I began praying earnestly, humbly about my “calling,” my “what else,” my “fruitfulness,” my “good works.”  I had to lay down the mantle of harried stay-at-home mom just trying to get a shower.  I had to put down the shovel that was digging me further into the trenches of martyrdom, and genuinely ask.  And He answered.  He does that you know.  When we shut up for a moment with all of our complaining and justifying and whining (or is that just me?), He likes to speak to His children.  He likes to let us in on His plans for our lives, even if it’s just a little sliver at a time.  He has a lot to say to a humble, quiet, seeking, patient, surrendered heart.  He told me some things He wanted to do in my life.  He spoke clearly into my calling and He told me the things I would do (and with that so many things I would not do. For every yes there is a no).

The first open door I had to walk through was to choose believe it.

My first open door off of the fruitless hill of shame and discouragement was simply belief.  And I didn’t just secretly believe it in my heart.  Y’all, I wrote it down on the last page of my journal.  I boldly proclaimed in black and white, “I will be: _______,  _______,  and _______.”   Next He invited me through the open door of telling another human being what I thought my calling was.  Guts much?  I mean that feels risky, and presumptuous.  It feels like you are officially turning in your uniform, your allegiance for one team and bravely putting on a new one.  And what if it doesn’t happen?  And what if I look stupid?  And what if they judge me (you know, like I had been judging so many others before)?  It was a risky door down the corridor of calling but I timidly stepped through.

And before I knew it, there was another door opening to me, and another.  Not flashy doors.  Not doors that led to huge stages or followings or fame.  But new doors that led to fresh air and another “yes” from the Lord.  And it struck me that it just may be this simple.  Our calling just may be to walk through the open door in front of us.  I don’t think we need to manufacture the door, or crow-bar it open, just step through.  Maybe it gets super complicated when we spend more time looking at someone else’s calling rather than at the door standing in front of us.

Lately I have been reading through the Old Testament, following Abraham’s decedents, the Israelites, from promise, to slavery, to rescue, to wandering, to Promised Land.  God tells his people over and over that He will give them this land, that He will go before them and fight their battles, that they are to be strong and courageous and take their Promised Land.  But then I came across a few interesting verses in Deuteronomy 2.  Moses is recounting the 40 years in the wilderness and he says that God finally told him they were ready to head to Canaan, their Promised Land.  Along the way God says, “Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir.  They will be afraid of you, but be very careful.  Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on.” (Deut. 2:4-5). He says a similar thing about the Moabites in verse 9 declaring, “I will not give you any parts of their land,”  and about the Ammonites in verse 19 saying, “I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites.”  

I find these verses so interesting in the middle of all the “TAKE THE PROMISED LAND! DO NOT BE AFRAID! GO FOR IT!” pep rallies.  God is saying, “This is the door I have opened for you.  This is what I have called you to.  This is your Promise.  Right here.  Come this way.  But be careful… That is their land, that is their’s to possess, not yours.  That is what I have called them to.. You can’t have that.”

Do you remember the scene from “Monster’s Inc.” with all the doors?  There were certain doors for certain monsters to walk through, leading them to their own jobs.  I think heaven may have a room like that.  Each of us have doors with our names on them, with our calling behind them, with fruitfulness waiting on the other side.  And just like in the movie, chaos may  ensue when we are swinging around in the maze of everyone else’s doors… all the while ours is ready and open for us.  It may be a small door and you may not even recognize its threshold as you sit at that lunch, answer that call to serve, intercede for that injustice, do that thing that just comes naturally.  But until you walk through the first one, you won’t see the next.

So if you are still on the seemingly “un-called” hill, know that really you are not.  If you can’t find an open door right now, then use this waiting time to train.  Read books about what you want to do/gets you fired up/feel passionate about/are good at. Pray.  Follow along as someone walks that path ahead of you.  That way, when the door does open, you aren’t starting at a 0.  You will be strong and ready.  God does His best training in the waiting.

And if you have timidly wrote a big dream in the back of your journal then under it write Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Believe it.  And  I challenge you to tell someone.  Scary?  Yep.  But Hebrews 10:38 says, “But my righteous one will live by faith.  And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”  He takes no pleasure in our bitterness, in our envy, in our judgement, in our discouragement… It is to His glory that we bear much fruit.  So take a step through your door, timidly, boldly, just step.  And cheer someone else on as they walk through theirs.  Like so many things in the Christian faith , it is not easy, it take guts, but I think it is much simpler than we’ve made it.   And remember:

“The one who calls you is faithful, and HE WILL DO IT.”  I Thessalonians 2:14

Immeasurably More

Immeasureably more

I was honored to share a very personal story over on the TBarM Camp blog last week… a place we dearly love. Whether you are a “camp mom” or not, know that God hears your prayers…

Has God ever just knocked your socks off?  Has He ever come through in a way so personal and unexpected, you just had to laugh? We know we have a faithful Father, but sometimes He is just immeasurably more. 

I am a praying momma. I boldly approach the throne of God daily on behalf of the 4 children we have been entrusted with (Hebrews 4:16), not because I am spiritually strong, but because I am full of weakness. Prayer is my biggest parenting tool, without a doubt, because I find myself lacking wisdom (James 1:5) with each new stage and season. Anyone else? 

So, a couple of years ago I found myself pleading with God for specific requests for my 2 “big kids” over and over during their school year. My 10 year old daughter was going through a “less than kind” stage here at home. Everyday, with every interaction, every time she left the house I would ask the Lord, “Please, please make her kind.” Her 9 year old brother seemed to be having a few issues with self-control, as 9 year old boys tend to have. Every night we would pray together for the Lord to help him have self-control with his siblings, with his reactions, and in his classroom. By the time summer rolled around, and the schedules and demands of life melted in the Texas heat, I relented a bit in pounding on the throne room room. The stakes don’t seem as high in the lazy days of June for some reason. And then we dropped those big kids off at Sports Camp Session 7…Hope on over to the TBarM’s blog to read the rest.Ryden Kids at TBARM

Fish, Trees, and Courage

Fish, Trees & Courage

It’s that time of year where summer is coming faster than you thought was possible and this has been on my heart a lot again lately.  It may be a different team this year and a different Ballet, but my heart finds itself in the same place…

The end of the school year push is upon us and the crush of it is almost unbearable.  Though I can see the summer light at the end of the tunnel, the path to get there is so fraught with projects, performances, tournaments, and tests that I may never reach that lounge chair by the pool.  Currently my four children are involved in T-ball, baseball, soccer, art, track, and a huge ballet production.  I am morally opposed to my own family’s schedule.  Every morning before the Hubs leaves for work we have to form such a precise game plan for the afternoon and evening that I want to get back in bed before the day has even started!

cleats and ballet shoes

Last Saturday morning I had to laugh at the absurdity of it all.  When we broke it to the 7-year-old that it was time for the sleepover with her bestie to come to a close and to don her shin-gaurds she pitched a huge fit because, obviously, she “hates soccer” and “never wants to do it again!”  No amount of reminding her that she was the one who had asked to play this season mattered.  About the time my hubs had reached his cheerleading limit and began yelling, the 11-year-old came in, leotard and tights on, hair in a bun with the exact 8 bobby pins required.  She proceeded to follow us around and remind us of the time as each minute clicked by.  No amount of reminding her that she has never been late for a rehearsal mattered.  So, my hubby began yelling at her for being too obsessed.  See?  We were frustrated with one because she didn’t want to go and frustrated with the other because she couldn’t wait to go….  After dropping the ballerina at the studio (30 minutes early, obviously) we drove to the soccer park with #8 and her two (thrilled) brothers in tow.  We waited in line to pull into the parking lot for 10 minutes and then drove around searching for a parking place for another 5.  Finally we get everyone unloaded and headed to field #17 to find the rest of the Heroes.

As I looked around at all of this I had this thought: “What if our grandparent’s generation could see this?  What if a family from a third world country fell in the middle of Butler Park right now?”  All around there were families carting wagons full of chairs and coolers and  fancy organic snacks.  They were toting crying children dressed in expensive soccer gear, hair fixed with huge color-coordinated.  Grown men were dressed in hot pink team shirts “coaching” 4 year olds in “drills.”  I just thought, “really?” This is how ALL OF THESE PEOPLE (myself included) are spending their day off?  I wonder how much $ is tied up in all of these tiny girls who are laying on the ground finding lady bugs and have no interest in soccer.  Really?  They could find bugs and pick flowers for free while I was sitting in the shade on my porch.  All of a sudden I felt duped, like we were mindless robots that had been brainwashed into thinking this was normal, or desirable, or beneficial at all.  Like, what else would all of these hard-working adult people do with a Saturday BUT sit in the freezing cold/ burning heat/ crazy wind and scream/yell/cheer/coach small children kicking a ball?

What are we doing?  Seriously ‘y’all, what in the very world?  Let me say this… I come from a family of athletes.  Both of my parents were college athletes.  2 of my grandparents were.  My father-in-law and brother-in-law were.  My brothers were athletes.  I played team sports. We all did.  I was a collegiate cheerleader.  It’s what we did, what we watched, what we talked about.  It still is.  But, like everything else in this culture, it has been turned up a notch to crazytown.   It seems the age of organized sports is stealing our kid’s childhood, and our sanity as adults.  No, I do not want to get my 10-year-old a batting coach.  No, I do not want to do a travel team for my 7 year old.  Yes, actually it IS my 5 YEAR OLDS first time to EVER play.  Seriously?  Crazytown.

Take a detour with me for a moment off the road to Crazytown….. Mamas, do you have a strategy for praying for your children?  Like do you hear these parents say things like, “I have prayed for my child’s spouse every day since conception?”  Really?  Have you really?  Or, “I pray for each of my children’s friends by name daily.”  All of this had me feeling a little behind the eight ball with my 4 kiddos growing up and going out into the world in front of my very eyes.  In the midst of my discouragement, I felt like the Lord dropped a plan into my heart that works for me.  Ready?  I’ll share…. I got a journal for my hubby and each of my 4 children.  On Monday I spend time in prayer for the Hubs…. write scripture I am believing for him, things I am thankful for in his life, petitions I am praying for him, etc.  Tuesday I do the same for kiddo #1, Wednesday is kiddo #2, Thursday #3, Friday #4.  There are seasons that I have filled pages and hours over certain behaviors, teachers, friends, heartaches, etc.  There have been seasons that I have had the luxury of praying for that future spouse because there are no pressing issues.   And, to be completely transparent, there may be certain children that fill up more pages in that prayer journal than others.  I may have a certain child that things don’t come as easy for…. I may have a certain child that I have cried more tears for, stressed over parent/teacher conferences about, held my breath at sporting events for more, prayed so so so many prayers about.  Maybe.

Let me tell you a little about this certain child.  This child has the kindest soul.  This child still yells, “I love you Mom!”  no matter who is around.  This child is a gifted artist.  This child will not go to sleep without me praying over them at night.  This child loves their friends fiercely.   This child can identify a plane in the air by the sound it makes.  This child knows every creature, bug, hole, stick, tree, and mound of dirt on the Ranchito.  This child LOVES nature and being outside.  This child can make me absolutely crazy but has the most beautiful eyes and head of hair you have ever seen.  This kid…. Let me tell you what they don’t give trophies for…. being a 10-year-old who still plays with your little brother kindly.  Let me tell you what will not be on a college transcript… how many birds, bunnies, cats, horny toads, and bugs you have saved in your life.  Let me tell you what doesn’t factor into a little league draft…. loyalty to friends.  Let me tell you what makes no difference on a report card…. hard work and honesty.  Nope.  In this day and age the only measurable successes kids have are how they do in sports and how they do in school. Culture fail.   What we are telling these kids is that how they perform on the field/court/track and in the classroom is all that matters at the end of the day… That is what we award.  That is what we measure.  That is what breaks my heart for certain kids.

I read this Einstein quote not long ago and it reminded me of a certain child:

Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Man, I’d like to give my fish an ocean instead of a tree.  Why are there only trees around?

So, back to Wednesday and my prayer journal for a certain kid.  Here is the best thing God ever told me, “I made him just how he is supposed to be for my purposes.  Everything he is good at and loves is for a reason… bugs, airplanes, art.  Everything He is weak in I will use.”  It was as clear as anything I had ever heard before.  So, do I have the guts to believe it?  Can I get off of the road to Crazytown and jump in the water with my fish?  How can I find the balance?  How can I protect them all from the thief of comparison?  How can I fight it myself?  Because, here is the truth…. I like it when my kid is the best.  I like a win.  I like the A’s, the hits, the starring roles.  Am I the driving force behind this?  Are we peddling trees to fish?

I Corinthians 15:41 says, “The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another, and the star differs from star in splendor.”  It sounds like there is plenty of splendor to go around, according to our Creator, certain kid’s creator.  It’s just different.

What is the answer, Moms?  Really, I want to know… I don’t have a cute summary for you here.  I am kinda drowning under all of these activities and expectations on our kids at younger and younger ages.  I know I could take them out of everything.  I know I could take them out of their (part-time) school and full-time home-school them. I know I could buck the whole educational system and “Little House on the Prairie” it. I know I could pretend we lived 100 years ago and shut the whole thing down. That sounds kinda great for sure.  But that’s not my life, my town, my husband, my kids.  Here we are.  All I know to do is to pray hard, no matter what day of the week it is, to believe the best thing God ever told me.. To embrace those qualities and gifts that may not win awards but will win souls one day… To honor kindness and creativity and love above honor rolls and select teams.  To have the guts, here in Crazytown to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18).  What if we all took it down a notch and let our kids fail, let them be mediocre, let them quit sometimes.  What if we had a big ‘ole tree burning session for our fish?  Would it make us bad moms?  Mediocre moms?  Are we brave enough?

So, total confesh…. I have another kid.  It looks like we will be traveling to a different state to get her professionally fitted for pointe shoes (again) by one of 4 “Master Fitters” this summer.  We spend the big bucks on shoes and training.  She will be dancing 7 hours a day, 5 days a week for the whole month of June.  She lives at the studio.  But she loves it.  She eats, sleeps, breathes it.  She watches documentaries and practices and speaks a language I don’t know. She is gifted and has been given great opportunity. I get it Mamas of tree climbers…. I’ve got one too. I’m not judging!  Right or wrong, I’ll make sure she has the tallest, strongest, prettiest tree she can as long as she wants it. I’ll water that tree.  Heck, I’ll hang lights in it if she wants me to. But… sometimes we have fish and they need to know they were created for a purpose too.  I hope you are encouraged today to listen as God whispers some pretty great stuff to you as well as you pray over your certain kid.  Sometimes trophies are overrated.  Sometimes A’s don’t matter so much.  Sometimes being an okay fish in the middle of a forest in Crazytown is the bravest thing they can be.  Maybe the only thing braver is being their Mama.

 

My Too Much

too much + not enough

I think I have spent much of my life feeling like too much and not enough all at the same.  Only a woman could find herself there!  My grandmother, my precious Nannie, was famous for saying, “Everything in moderation.”  Maybe there were a generation of grandmothers who were famous for saying that very thing.  It imprinted on my heart at an early age and I have spent the last 4 decades trying to find the elusive moderation she held in such high regard… That perfect balance of high and low, work and rest, too much and not enough.

So, let me go ahead and let you in on my “too much and not enough-ness.”  I tend to be too disciplined, which makes me not spontaneous enough.  I have a tendency be too structured which makes me not flexible enough.  I have been known to be too black and white on most subjects which makes me not compassionate enough.  I am inclined to be too driven which makes me not fun enough.  I am too task-oriented which makes me not sleep enough.  There are times and subjects about which I am too emotional which leaves me not objective enough.  I know my too much and not enough-ness.  No one has to point them out to me. I feel them down in my marrow.  They play like an annoying song on repeat in my head.

I have gone through seasons of feeling a lot of shame over my “too much and not enough-ness.”  I have listened to the lies that told me I had to hide it, overcome it, pretend it away.  And if none of that worked, well I should just isolate myself, not let myself be known, shut my mouth because “everything in moderation” you know.

And then God blessed me with a circle of fierce friends to walk this road of womanhood, faith, motherhood, and marriage with.  And do you know what I realized when I got in there deep with them?  They are all too much and not enough too!  Just in different ways… I have friends who are really into eating well and health, very involved in social justice, extremely focused on education for their children, exceptionally tuned in to intimacy with their husbands, particularly concerned with finances.  And I know that their “too much-ness” leaves gaps of  “not enough-ness” in their lives too.

too much + not enough

In my hiding and pretending years I might have judged their too much and not enough.  I may have defended my too much by focusing on their not enough all the while wishing desperately I had a sliver of it.  And then a beautiful thing happened… On my 40th birthday, my darling friends went around and told me the thing that they loved and respected the most about me.  And every single one mentioned some part of my “too much.”  They respect how disciplined I am in my time in the Word, how hard I work to make my home a place where others feel welcomed, how driven I am to find and fulfill God’s calling on my life.  My too much inspired and encouraged their not enough-ness just as their’s does mine.

It’s not rocket science.  It is the body of Christ. 

I Corinthians.12: 12 says, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”  Verses 15-20 go on to read, “Now if the foot should say, ”Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?  If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

Here is a bit of a paraphrase: “Now if the behind-the-scenes servant should say to the hostess, because I am not a hostess I am not enough.”  And if the hostess should say to the behind-the-scenes servant, “because I am not a behind-the-scenes servant I’m too much in the wrong ways and I have no place, it would not be true for either.  If the disciplined student of the Word who was raised in church and has been walking with Jesus since she could walk should say to the radically saved, passionate convert, because my witness is not dramatic, I am not relative enough,  And if the powerfully converted sinner and novice Bible student should say to the long-time saint because I do not know enough I will keep quiet, it would not render either ineffective.”

The foot needs the hand.  The eye needs the ear.  My structured, disciplined, driven self needs my friend’s spontaneity and light heartedness, and (sometimes a romance guru.). And I trust they need my too much too.

Obviously we know that there are some places of too much that are simply sin… too much wine is alcoholism, too much work is workaholism, too many rules is legalism, too much rest is laziness.

But we also know that our God is a God of abundance, not moderation.

He is abundant in grace, and love, and in giving good gifts to His children.  And maybe, it is there in our too much that we find our gifts and His unique calling on our life.  Maybe when we press in and refine our too much, rather than try to hide it, we find that it is, in fact, just right.  When we let Him be enough in our not enough-ness we are then exactly enough.

Oh how I pray you have a circle who love you enough to tell you that they need your too much for their not enough.  How I pray that you find the courage to come out of hiding to tell a friend on this journey that her too much inspires and encourages you in your not enough-ness.  And when it is our turn, let’s tell our daughters and granddaughters of God’s abundance.  To be “too much” is in His character and He is all for their, for our, for your abundance.  Only in Him are any of us enough.