Sunday, July 23, 2017


I set out to write a new blog yesterday.
Hammock strung up, laptop out, birds chirping, dogs digging... it was an ideal set-up for a Saturday afternoon.

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote... but something seemed off about it. Maybe even a little artificial. Maybe even a little hypocritical. While it's content was all about how I want to be better at all of the things, there was something lacking. Maybe because in the desire for better, there's sometimes still an apathy about wanting to try to be better at all. Can't it all just be good enough how it is? Can't I be good enough...? Isn't this life I'm leading sufficient enough?

Because I'm tired.
And lazy.
And being better takes work.
And while yes, I want to be better... I don't know if I have the energy right now to work at what "better" requires.

It means sacrifice.
It means less sleep.
It means spending time with people when I really just want to curl up in a ball on the couch and stream Netflix.
It means admitting that I'm wrong.
It means letting my husband off the hook when he hasn't done everything my way.
It means thinking of others over myself.
It means patience and kindness and humility.

But lately, I've had this overriding desire to be better, to want better. To not settle for this complacent version of myself that just exists, whiling away the hours.

I want to be a better mentor. A better boss. A better developer and manager of people. I want to be better at investing in those around me. I want to be better at motivating and inspiring and reminding people what actually matters and seeing how that might transform attitudes and shape character.

I want to be a better friend. A friend who communicates more frequently with those who are far away. A friend who takes the time to ask people how they're doing instead of just talking about work. A friend who reaches out, a friend who can sit in the silence without always trying to fix things. A friend who knows what's really going on in people's lives. A friend who prays steadfastly.

I want to be a better wife. A better helpmate. A wife who isn't nagging or critical or demanding. A wife who supports, encourages and selflessly cares about the needs of my husband over my own. I want my husband to know, undoubtedly, how much I love, respect and believe in him.

I want to be a better follower of Jesus. A better servant. A better lover of God and His people. I want to be better about spending time in Scripture, I want to be better about having His name be quick on my lips. I want my life to be more centered on Him and living out of the fullness of who He is calling me to be.

I want to be better about handling frustration. Better about responding with kindness and gentleness instead of assumption and pride. I want to be better about seeking solutions instead of just identifying problems. I want to be patient and open-minded and eager to point out the good instead of my words being consumed with the constant need for improvement.

I want to be a better adventurer. Better about saying YES and doing things that get me out of my comfort zone. Things that are physically challenging and demanding, things that cause my knees to ache and my back to groan. Because, as exhausting as they are, these things also breathe life into my soul as I work my way into settings and sights that are unbelievable and impossible to truly capture on film. These are the types of things that remind me that God is big and amazing and that He has created me to do more than what I often think is possible.

I want to be better about change. Better about receiving criticism and recognizing that in my imperfection there is room for growth. Better about admitting my flaws and acknowledging that I can't do everything and be everything. I want to be willing to step into newness and hardness and leave behind who I was so that I might move more toward something better. So, essentially.. being better at being better...

And that all requires work.
More than just reading a few self-help books, it requires sweat and probably even some tears. It requires determination, steadfastness, and willingness. And, I imagine, on some days it will require grace. Grace to fail. Grace when I'm selfish. Grace when I've spoken too harshly or rashly. And humility when I know that I must actually allow the Lord to do a number on me instead of thinking I can accomplish any of this on my own.

If I were to continue in the stream of thought I was in yesterday, I would assure you, dear reader, that I will indeed begin the path toward better. I would assure you that I'm the type of person who would automatically leap into a new life of sheer determination and willpower that would put others to shame, emerging into a world of blissful obedience and life changing companionship with Jesus.

But, if I'm any type of real person at all, I have to admit the truth.
I want better. I do.
And there may be glimpses and moments where I'm doing all the things to get better. But it won't be all the time. There will still be days when I curl up on my couch and watch Heartland for hours or mornings when I choose to sleep in instead of spending time with the Lord or moments when I'm annoyed with my husband for not picking up the white hairballs that are all over the house on his day off. Days when I'm tired. Apathetic. Lazy. Days when I'm fighting with myself internally- fighting to do what I know is right vs. giving into my own selfishness, pride, and laziness.

Because of all of that, I will tell you that I'm pursuing "better" with much wariness.
Don't expect me to be different overnight.
But maybe, with God's grace, we're all slowly getting better over time as we fight the internal battles, as we get over ourselves, as life happens and we learn a bit more what really matters.

I think most of us want better. We want better for ourselves and for the world around us. We just don't always have what it takes to get there.

And so while I can't tell you that I'm going to change everything in my life (even if I can tell you that I probably should)... I can commit to this: I'm going to try moving in this direction with a little more focus and determination. I'm going to invest a little more. Go on a few more adventures. Memorize some more of Philippians. Continue to beg that I might be a lady who is quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. I'm going to pursue learning more about how to develop others, both spiritually and professionally. I'm going to work on loving my husband in the ways that he needs, not just the ways I want to.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll be imperfectly working our way toward better: two steps forward, one step back.

And maybe, just maybe, it's a truer glimpse of life changing companionship with Jesus. Raw, but authentic. Hard, but refining. Ugly, but beautiful.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

My Song

In Christ alone, my hope is found...

The lyrics echoed off my shower tiles this morning and quieted my aching heart.

In Christ alone.
He is my light, my strength, my song...

There have been a lot of feelings of defeat lately.
A lot of... "do more, be more, do this, do that, can you...". A lot of feelings of inadequacies, of never being enough, of rarely doing things "right". There's always something new to figure out, something to fix, something I didn't communicate well enough, something I need to apologize for. The list drags on.

In Christ alone, my hope is found...

To top it off, there have been these moments where my heart continues to wonder, "Do I want them? And, even if I do, can I have them?" My desire doesn't just make it magically happen.

Part of my job is to meet people. Meet all the people. See how they're doing, how their week is, how we can improve, what they love, etc. Inevitably, part of meeting people also means a bit of introduction and small talk. Names, occupations, family.

The other day, a woman... a mom... asked the question I've grown to dread: "Do you guys have kids?"

I don't hate saying no.
That's not what I hate.
What I hate is the reaction that immediately follows, because I think the expectation is that my answer will be an easy "yes" and that we'll go on chatting and laughing about our silly, wonderful kids. There's often an awkwardness that's there in the wake of my "no" and the gap between our similarities immediately widens. I generally try to recover in one of two ways. A quick deflection to the next talking point OR, I proceed to share where my husband and I are at in this journey. Because... why not? If I write a blog about it, and if I work at a Christian camp, and if I honestly believe that the Lord is good in this- can't I just proclaim that, even with total strangers?

Usually I choose to do the latter.
Usually, I explain it all to the poor soul standing opposite of me. No, not only do we not have kids, but we've actually been trying for two and a half years... and while, no, we haven't really done anything about it beyond just... you know... we are content. We see the Lord's goodness and faithfulness in this and continue to feel really blessed in our marriage and in our ministry.

And usually, there's this fear that by this point I've offended the mom because I've probably also said something along the lines of how I love that I get to do full-time ministry and how I'm not even actually sure I want kids and...

**deep sigh**
In Christ alone, my hope is found...

Lately, this too has brought about a deep inadequacy in me.
We hold this future possibility of ours loosely, not really knowing if children will ever be on the table. And it's still okay. 

I wish I could explain it to people in such a way that didn't cause them to look at me differently or to pity me or to remind me of Hannah. I wish I could do it in such a way that doesn't elicit a need for them to try to fix it- offering solutions or empty platitudes. I wish I could do it in five minutes and somehow bridge the gap that has suddenly come between us.... a woman with three kids standing next to a woman with none. We are different. And maybe I feel it more than she does...but we're both searching for another avenue in which to connect. In an instant, it's easy for me to feel less than...

In Christ alone, my hope is found...

And then I'm reminded of this resounding, necessary truth that is screaming its way through my veins and trying to get into my heart and into my head. Listen!

In Christ alone

Not in my job.
Not in my marriage.
Not in my ability or inability to have children.
Not in my relationships and friendships.
Not in my family.
Not in my perfection (or lack thereof).

Because sometimes you just need a slap in the face. 
The reminder that this world isn't it. 
The reminder that my only hope must be rested in the One who is unchanging, the One who has saved me, the One who has conquered death, the One who repeatedly takes this unfaithful child back time and time again. The One who sees all of me, in all time, and still loves me just the same. 

The aching subsides. 
This too shall pass. 
My life, my story, my song, is His. Not mine. 

In Christ alone, my hope is found... 

In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love
What depths of peace
When fears are stilled
When strivings cease

My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life
No fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me

From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

I found my strength, I found my hope
I found my help in Christ alone
When fear has set, when dark has fall
I found my peace in Christ alone

I give my life, I give my all
I sing my song to Christ alone
The King of kings, the Lord I love
All heaven signs to Christ alone

To Christ alone
To Christ alone

Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Here in the power of Christ we stand