DIY Dear Future Self Letter (free printable)

A Letter to My Future Self is by far my most popular post so far this year, and I so appreciate the sweet responses I’ve gotten, as well as the wonderful conversations this sparked in real life.

A few folks asked me for a printable version. Maybe they were joking, or just being sweet, but it was easy enough, so I made one :).  Continue reading

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When You Don’t Really Slay at Life

I just finished listening to a podcast series celebrating women and it really bothered me. AT the end of every episode, every week: Unrest.

I love the podcast, I love women, I love celebrating women, and I personally celebrate a few of the women being interviewed, so what is my problem?

I’ve been working on the spiritual practice of noticing. Noticing my feelings, noticing my reactions, noticing my thought patterns. Not judging or evaluating, but noticing and asking God and myself: What is that about?

At least in part my problem is that as I listen to all  that these “Girl Bosses” have done with their lives, I can’t celebrate them because I’m busy comparing myself and not measuring up.

These business owners and world changers and over comers were also each introduced as “totally slaying.” Slaying at their jobs, slaying at ministry, slaying at life.

Am I slaying at life??

First: What does “slaying at life” mean anyway? Second: Is this, slaying at life, something I’m even called to?

I’m a hard worker and a grown up woman, and I’m doing the best I can with this life I’ve been given. If I feel like that’s not enough, like I need to be “slaying” at something, is that the voice of my Father?

Ultimately I wonder if my desire to “slay at life”, if my competitive reaction to the interviews I’ve been listening to, comes from my desire for greatness?

Make no mistake: I want to be great.

I’ve always been driven by success. I don’t always want to be the greatest, but I do want to be great. I think this is why fear of failure has bound me so tightly – I need to succeed. I listen to what other women have done, I hear them described as “slaying” and I want to slay at life.

So I turn (again) to what Jesus said about greatness.

 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 

(Matthew 18:1-3)

Today I think I’ll lay down my desire to slay at life.

I’ll try to surrender my desire to succeed, to win, to be great. And I’ll look to the children in my life and learn Jesus’ definition of greatness.

When I look to children, I see:

Curiosity…

So I’ll foster a sense of wonder, and ask for eyes to see all that I don’t know. I’ll choose to be curious about others, about myself, about this wide, beautiful world we’re living in.

Trust…

So I’ll trust in the goodness of God and look for goodness in the world around me. I’ll try not to demand answers and explanations and understanding before I move forward, before I try, before I live.

Joy in simple things…

So I’ll rejoice in the simple sacraments of : Hands held around a table. Bedtime kisses on sleepy cheeks. Changing seasons. A favorite song.

Today I’ll lay down my desire to slay at life. I’ll  still be a grown up, I’ll expect to work and I’ll be responsible, and I’ll love excellence (because it’s the right thing to do, and also because that’s how I’m made.)

But I’ll also cultivate a childlike spirit, playful and curious and thankful.

I don’t always feel like I am slaying at life. But maybe that’s not the point, anyway.

When You Don't Really Slay at Life

 

Photo in my images is by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

How to Thrive When We Feel Shriveled Up and Dry

Feeling a little DRY-

SUMMER! The season for fun in the sun, rest and relaxation, joy and refreshment. The season when kids are home. All day long. Family vacations. Extra time with extended family. Lots of togetherness. Not a lot of routine.

I want summer to last forever.

On the other hand, I’m kind of worn out from all this togetherness, partied out by all the fun. By this time in the summer I am feeling less like a summer sun goddess and more like a shriveled little tree. Especially in this post-July 4th Nebraska week, after so many fireworks-full (sleep-deprived) nights.

So I look to one of my favorite passages in the Bible for help and hope.

Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the Lord.

 For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord.

For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

I don’t’ know where summer finds you today. Maybe it has been one bright adventure after another, with plenty of rest.

But I imagine at least a few of you feel like I do on this mid-summer day: Tired. Worn out. Maybe feeling a bit like this bush, deserty, like you live in a stony and salty wasteland, alone.

In this tired, dry place I am inviting myself to remember where I’m planted. And I want to invite you to remember as well. To remember where we’re planted, and to remember where our trust lies.

This passage tells the truth about me: When I am feeling stony and desert-y, it’s almost always because my trust has seeped away from my only trustworthy source of strength and sustenance.

I find it so easy to trust in mankind, to depend on my own ability to fix or help people, to think I need to manage outcomes. This wears me out quickly. And it makes parenting in particular and life in general so exhausting.

Even in the summer, when things are supposed to be light and easy: If I’m carrying every burden on my own shoulders, trusting in my own strength, I end up dry and dusty.

It is so easy to forget to put my roots down deep into God.

I forget to TRUST.

We are believing trees, planted right by the streams of living water.  And daily we can choose to trust the Lord and put our roots down deep.

So today, if you are energized and ready for the second half of summer… Or if you are tired and feeling salty and stony: I hope you remember we have no reason to fear heat, no reason for anxiety in a year of drought. We all get to put our roots down deep.

For me, that looks like reminding myself of truth:

God is with me, and God is with you. He has already provided all that we need for life and godliness, we have ALL we need in Jesus.

My hope and trust is in GOD, not in a certain outcome, and not in my own or anyone else’s abilities or strengths.

And it looks like taking (or making) time for silence and solitude, pouring out my heart to God, listening for His encouraging reminder that He is WITH me.

Blessed is the man who trusts God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season. (Jeremiah 17:7-8, The Message)

Never a worry, through the hottest of summers. I think I’ll stick with God. How about you?

 

This post first appeared on the EquipHer blog (that’s the women’s ministry I serve with!), as part of their summer guest post series, “Thrive!”. My fellow guest posters have been hitting it out of the park, check out the whole series!

 

God does what He wants {Psalm 115}

I’ve been thinking about idols lately.

Last week I prayed Psalm 115. It starts off so lovely,

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth….”

But verse 3 takes a turn, announcing

“Our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases.”

Not exactly a characteristic of God we tend to paint on rustic wood hangings or put on artisanal coffee mugs.

When we want God to do what we want, is it a form of idolatry?

But that gets at the root of idolatry, doesn’t it? We want a god who does what we want. Continue reading

Faith, Public Opinion, and the Cool Kids Table {Thoughts on James 2}

 

When I was in the 6th grade I got made fun of for my clothes. I was smart and shy and I had Wal-Mart brand shoes. Stacy Edwards came back from the bathroom one day and told everyone I was a loud pee-er. To this day, when I use public restrooms, I try to “pee quietly.” Whatever that means.

My 9th grade best friend was a bass violinist named Lori whose family took me to church, and who was a good and faithful friend. Sophomore year, I had 4th period with kids from the popular crowd, who invited me to eat lunch with them. I stopped spending time with Lori and our studious, steady friends, now seeing them as a social liability. I had a shot at acceptance with a group I’d always felt outside of, and I took it.

What if I’d never been made fun of for having the wrong clothes and peeing wrong? What if I’d chosen to stick with friends who were loyal and kind rather than chasing acceptance and popularity (which always stayed just out of reach anyway.) Continue reading