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Monthly Archives: February 2012

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The Gift of and for Friendship


Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.   -John 16:24

I was sixteen months post-partum with about thirty pounds left to lose. I’d expected it to come right off after she was born, but having only weighed just over 6 lbs at birth, my baby girl left the rest of it on me. So I joined Weight Watchers and started walking everyday, pushing the stroller for miles at a time. I would walk around our little northern Indiana neighborhood pushing my brand new baby girl and carrying the weight of my world with all of its insecurities.

It had been a difficult year. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I’d been dealing with a new anxiety disorder that reared its ugly head right after my baby was born. The new found anxiety revealed some hard truths about some of my friendships, and I was just coming up for air after the end of one of them. So the fresh air of my daughter’s and my daily walks hit the spot.

It quickly became the most important part of our morning routine, the morning walk. There was something about pushing a baby in the quiet of the morning that let me breathe more deeply throughout the rest of the day. Sure, I was getting in shape (I ended up losing all thirty pounds and then some) so my breathing no doubt improved. But there was more to it than that. See, I decided to invite God along on those walks. I asked Him to be my walking partner. He’d help me push through the pain of lost friendship as I’d push the stroller over the uneven cracks and the sometimes muddy concrete.

Everyday we’d walk. Everyday I would pray. I’d ask Him for new friends, real friends. I’d ask Him why I’d struggled for much of my life with feeling so inadequate and insecure with my girlfriends. I’d tell Him how hard it was to see other women enjoying their friends so completely while I muddled through the longing for true friends with whom I could genuinely live life.

Every day, I would talk and He would listen. And as we walked, He offered me His friendship. He gave me His own genuine care. He let me be myself. He listened to every one of my insecurities and fears about loneliness. He heard every single longing I told Him about real friendship and women I could share life with.

Then one day I was invited to a new Bible study with five other women for the summer. Just to try it out. We would meet every other week, and our children would have babysitters. I was nervous at first and expected little in terms of the friendships that group might offer. But God was bigger than my expectations and used that group of women to show me that real and genuine and healthy friendship can happen for even me. He used that Friday group to teach me that He had heard every heart tear I’d spilled on our morning walks.

When I moved away three years later, I never expected to find that kind of friendship again. I knew that those kinds of friendships were rare indeed. So I don’t even think it occurred to me to ask Him again. But God knew what I needed. He knows what I need. Always has. Even before the morning walks of nine years ago. Always will. Even after I leave here for some time in a different place.

So you know what He did? He gave me even more friends! The kind of friends I can let in the door when my kids have barfing all day and no evidence of any flat surface in my house exists. The kind of friends who’ve seen my ugly cry and still think I’m beautiful. The kind of friends who pray for me, and with me, and point me to Jesus by the way they love me and the way they live.

Yeah. I know. I am blessed. beyond. measure. My heart is beating fast just writing about it here. I can’t believe I am so blessed.

So when I got this package in the mail from Dayspring with the adorable Everyday Joy Assortment Set, I was so excited to think about just how to give it away!

It’s on sale right now for $19.99. And it includes:

  • The most adorable little notepad that actually is a set of three notepads all tied up in a cute little bow.

  • That polka-dot Everyday Joys journal that has an encouraging verse on every page (which goes great with Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts. Just sayin’). But the bunny ears are extra. They are supplied by my 7-year-old who felt like the journal needed a little extra love, apparently.
  • A matching gift bag with free tissue paper inside (I know!).
  • And my personal favorite, a red and white polka dot mug that says “You have filled my heart with greater joy.” (Psalm 4:7) It’s my favorite because it is both left- and right-handed. (You can read the verse from either side. Coming from a left-handed person who has, all her life, had to stare at the blank side of an otherwise adorable mug for most of her life, this is seriously awesome. Trust me.)

It’s a whole collection of fun gifts to give to friends and those who truly have filled my heart with greater joy because of God’s amazing love and care for me. There are all kinds of deals over here at (in)courage, too. Seriously, all kind of great gifts to give to the gifts I call friends.

But now I have to decide who to give them to. Hmmm. Maybe I should start walking again so I can ask God about that one…

Confessions of a Wannabe Princess

I think I’ve been acting like a spoiled princess. You know, that girl who expects to be treated like royalty always. You probably haven’t noticed it because I only do it with my husband. And when he doesn’t come through, I get secretly angry and act all weird and I resolve to not say anything until I know how to say it lovingly but then he asks if I’m okay and I can’t lie so I end up telling him something like “I just need you to love me better” which probably sounds like “wah wah wah wah wah wah!” to him. Then I start crying and looking all ugly and I’m sure that is ever-so-becoming. But we sort of work it out and make up until next time my ever-present unrealistic expectations rear their ugly heads again (yes, heads, as in it is a multi-headed monster). Something bugs me about the way we interact, so I blame him for missing the mark. Then I try to talk to God about it but can’t get over my disappointment which starts to turn to anger before I get all turny-offy and grouchy. And so the cycle seems to go.

Well, today, I’ve decided to come out of the princess closet with it. I’ve decided to actually surrender my how-I-want-my-husband-to-love-me expectations to God Himself. I’ve decided to give up the frustration of not having all of those stupid little expectations that seem to have grown roots in my soul met. I am giving up on it for a couple of reasons.

Reason #1: God is the One Who gave me my husband in the first place. And He knows what I need. He always has. So when God gave me my man, He must have known he’d be the perfect fit for exactly what I needed in a husband. God knew that this particular man would meet every single real need I had in a husband. Therefore, when I surrender these expectations and decide to trust God with them, I can know for certain that either God will work in my man’s heart to meet them or He will refine me and my expectations to realize that they are only that — expectations — rather than needs. If what I am missing is a God-given desire then, without a doubt, God will make sure it is met. So He can be completely trusted with my every expectation.

Reason #2: My husband does treat me like a princess. I’ve just somehow come to expect more than he already does, and now I can feel myself slipping into this spoiled brat mode of throwing internal fits like the two year old at Gamestop whose brother put the game on the counter to pay for it. Huge fit, screaming and all. Sure, I can be more dignified, but my fits are just as dramatic in my mind, make no mistake.

Reason #3: I am called to serve.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others (i.e. your husband) above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another (your husband), have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:3-8

Humbly. Expect what Jesus expected. Serve my husband with the love and grace that God Himself has given me. That means I serve him like I want him to serve me. Even if I don’t feel like he’s serving me the way I want him to. It’s unconditional. I vowed to love him and serve him the day I married him. So I’m committed to do it. No matter what.

I’m curious to know about you. Are you a closet princess expecter too? I’ve decided to trust God to take care of my marriage and letting my husband know each time I he doesn’t meet my expectations. Perhaps you would care to join me?

I’m not saying I won’t let him know when I feel like something in our marriage needs worked on. But I am trusting God to open the door to show me how and when to do it. Before I confront him or tell him again how I feel he’s missing the mark, I will literally hand it over to God in prayer and ask Him if and how to broach the subject. Then I will wait for His leading. Quite literally, I will wait. Because I know that if I am truly trusting God to do this, He will show me how. I believe He does not want me to be a nag. I believe God’s methods are much more effective.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Beautiful Foggy

Sunday morning wake up comes gentle and slow. I open my eyes to February in my bedroom and remember the surprise snow of yesterday, when winter laughed at all the weathermen and reminded us that real winter is just a snowflake away. I’ve been enjoying the pretend-spring we’ve been having these last few days, so the snowflakes shocked me, too. I peak outside and see evidence of yesterday’s surprise before I open the door to whatever lay beyond, whatever God has waiting for me on the other side of that bedroom door.

The windows in the kitchen reveal a fog in the trees at the back of our property that stops me in my bright pink slippers. It looks thick beyond the trees. Unknown and mysterious. And really, really pretty.

Mysterious, unknown, beautiful. All right there beyond my kitchen window.

I step outside in hopes of capturing the beauty of the fog. How pretty to only see what’s just ahead. No more. No less.

And I realize the truth of the fog of the morning. I can see just enough to know where to step. I have exactly all that I need for the next step. No more. No less.

That’s how God leads me lately. He lifts the fog just enough for me to take the next step. No more. No less.

And I realize that His way, this method He uses to lead me, is beautiful too.


Rearranging My Grip

I finally found the end of myself. Turns out it wasn’t too far from where I was living. Right past exhausted and just to the left of no-fight-left. It sits on the corner of surrender and trust.

The start of 2012 has been rough for me. My family lurks inside of a wait, the hope of whose end cannot yet be defined. Last August we got news of a temporary move that we thought would happen in late November. Today is February 2nd, and we still don’t know when we’ll leave for that part of the journey. I kind of feel as if I am chasing some anonymous adventure even before it officially starts. The lurking, the unknowing, is taking us down a path I never even knew existed. An adventure in waiting, I suppose.

Dangling in the fringe of life as we know it, aware of its impending change, we avoid long term commitments because we just don’t know if we will be around next month. And I hate that. I feel like I’m avoiding the living because of what might happen. It is hardest on my mothering heart. The part of me that wants my children to thrive and live in security and certainty. But there is really no part of “dangling in the fringe” that even remotely suggests such things.

Turns out, the end of myself is right smack in the middle of that fringe in which I flail. But I have somehow found God lurking there too. In fact, He has shown me new things about Himself even as I dangle in the wait.

I am learning that life as God intends, the kind of real life He designed, actually begins right at the end of Myself Avenue. It’s a process of giving up the fight and actually trusting that Almighty God, the One Who holds the globe inside the palm of His hand, will not drop that globe. And even as I languish between where I am and where I will one day be, I am learning to hold onto the hand that holds the globe rather than the world that He is holding.

Inside my little world, it feels like God has been shaking up that globe, so that things I thought were guaranteed will drop off and out of my reach. I think He’s a really good globe-shaker, so He’s been shaking it in such a way that I’ll stop grasping at the expectations I’ve come to rely on and re-arrange my grip. So I’ll grab His hand instead.

I finally got to the place this week where I stopped trying to grab the things that fell out of place — things like being able to ease my children’s hurts and worries, sleeping all night, even coffee in the morning (yeah, I KNOW, right?!). And I have found that the grabbing was actually harder than just giving up the fight and letting God do whatever the heck He wants with them. Even if that means never sleeping all night again. If He lets them drop, then I will trust that He knows I’m better off without them.

My dear friends asked me yesterday what I wanted them to pray for me. You know what? I want to stay here at the end of me. Because I don’t want to have to find it again. Because for the first time in a very long time, I believe that God’s hand holds everything I need it to hold.

And that is enough.