Monday, 20 June 2011

Celebrating my B-day with Family!

 To celebrate my 25th, we took all 4 kiddos on a bike ride down the heartland trail. We stopped for a picnic lunch on a lake, under a bridge, and then made it back to Dorset just in time for ice cream cones :) It was precious!

Then the next day, on my actual birthday, my Mom, sister Hannah, sister-in-law Paula, and I went to Walker for a girly lunch at Chase on the Lake, and then boutique-ing! It was such a fun afternoon. We finished up the day back at home for a night of pizza and games with the whole family. This is the first time I've spent my birthday in the states since I turned 21 :)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

25 and Thankful

Today is my 25th birthday. Unreal! A part of me feels like by now I really should be settled somewhere and have “everything figured out”; the other part of me is just in awe of all that journeys the Lord has had me on in these years, all the facets of His heart He has shared with me, all the faces of His people He’s led me to look into, all of the stories I have heard on their lips and seen in their eyes. I believe that our every day, every hour, every moment is engineered for us to know and love the God who knows and love us, and every experience we encounter in those moments, to draw us deeper into that. How incredible to have had 25 years of such moments…

“…With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself…”
-- Jeremiah 31:3

In the style of Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts”, I want to set down now 25 gifts He’s given my life. A mere, random 25 out of the hundreds and thousands. 25 for each year I’ve been alive. 25 random things I am thankful for in this moment after a beautiful day spent at home in MN with my family, celebrating my birthday (the first time since I was 21)…

1.)    Him. How He never gives up on me. More than that, how He chooses to love me with an everlasting love, forever drawing me with loving-kindness (Jer. 31:3-4).
2.)    For my family. I love them. I appreciate us all more and more the older I get.
3.)    For 2 little nieces and 2 little nephews who delight my heart to no end!!!
4.)    For my handsome British boyfriend and the way he’s forever winning my heart. I don’t know anyone with quite his character and heart, and I am blessed and continually amazed that he wants me to be his!
5.)    For summer days.
6.)    For this majestic pastureland around my home and for long walks through it, seeking His face.
7.)    For the way He lets me find Him…
8.)    For Doris Day films, so light-hearted and glamorous :)
9.)    For Hot Cocoa, or as Charles calls them, “Internal Hugs”—especially in a gorgeous new and unique mug from a certain brother, sis, and Tucker-man!
10.) Chocolate and peanut butter. Yum!
11.) For my aunties. I have been given so many admirable aunties so willing to invest in me as I’ve grown and still today come along side me in friendship and wisdom. I have been so blessed to grow up with such mentors in my life!
12.) For my sister who is, against all odds and after many childish fueds, my friend :)
13.) For lilacs in summer air!! Mmmmm…
14.) For the dearest of dear friends He’s placed in my life, whom “just get it” and with whom I can and do walk through everything. I don’t know why He blesses me so!!
15.) For nostalgic, romantic music…
16.) For babies, and all the dust of heaven they still carry in their tiny grasps…
17.) For His Word and how it replenishes the hungry spirit…
18.) For the way He’s given me true family and friends spread across the world— especially England, Sweden, and now Uganda.
19.) For my little brother Jonah, who has always been very precious to this big sis, but whom has become more and more of a friend over the years. I love this kid so much. My buddy.
20.) For literature and the way it can communicate to the very soul. So so thankful for books and novels and poetry and every bit of the power of the written word!
21.) For kindness in people that continually points me to Him, to the bigger picture He’s written us into, and to the reason why we are here at all. For that sense of purpose.
22.) For the amazing foundation I was given as a child in a beautiful home, in a family which stayed together, in a charmed Northern MN existence. For the conviction that we are not so blessed if not to use it as a platform to bless others.
23.) For laughter-- lots of it!
24.) For His hope.
25.) For His grace. 
25 years of blessings... Thank You, Lord.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A Restless Soul and the Peace of the Pastures

I came home feeling rather used up and exhausted. And I have struggled with discouragement at the thought that after weeks home, I have still felt daunted by the thought of moving on. I have felt God has been somewhat distant. I have taken long walks crying out to Him to just show me what's going on, and felt as if my cries echoed back to me empty. And I have wondered how long this season would last, and would I ever feel more myself again (because I am nothing but lost without Him), and would everything always feel so ambiguous and confusing, and would it always look as if everything takes so much more emotional energy than I have? A weariness had settled over my soul in such a way that I started to fear it would never leave.

... But even in the frustrating weeks of privately thrashing about trying to put things back together, when I didn't even know what had broken, He began to minister quietly to my soul. Through lyrics playing over the Christian radio in the car (Christian radio stations?! They are rare in Europe...); through the Francine Rivers novels I have been revisiting (The Mark of The Lion Trilogy is speaking to me more profoundly now than ever before... a MUST-read); through the priceless abject lessons found in cuddling my precious nieces and nephews (How can what God feels for me be GREATER than what I feel for these children??)-- quiet whispers in the day-to-day, nothing obvious to be found in my current bible study workbook or a revelation while listening to a sermon. He slowly started tuning my ears to His quiet whispers sent to my soul.

And, again I find it is in wandering the pastures of my father's ranch that it all comes into focus, and I can feel His presence thickly, wrapped up in all of His beauty. And it's there, in His presence, where I am healed and made whole again.

It has felt as if I just couldn't put my finger on what I needed to do to make things right-- so the vice-like grip of anxiety has been draining me of life-breath and leaving me battling for hope; forgetting that it has never been about what I can or can't do to begin with! 

Sitting under the majestic beauty of these blue skies, this prayer falls from the tip of my pen and even as it comes from my heart, He is breathing into that heart some perspective again:
"Thank You for being mine, no matter the circumstances or the quagmire-y days, weeks, years I trod through. Lord, I am counting on You now, as ever, to renew my passion. Be my joy and my strength. Give me wisdom by Your Holy Spirit that I do not hold on my own. Give me grace in my speech and my deeds that can only come from Your overflowing wells. I need You, Father God. You know that. So please, break through whatever barrier I knowingly or unknowingly put up and be all to me. Every breath, every word, every thought, every hope, every deed. Be all. May my life, my attitude, my words, my every action, speak one long story of You, that draws anyone who hears it, reads it, or sees it, to Your heart, Lord God. Give me boldness in the fear, trust in the anxiety, love in the hurt. Lead me to always forgive as You have forgiven, a radical choice of love in a world of hate... Give me the humility of one who knows who she is as Yours. Yes, Lord. That's what I need. A clear knowledge of who I am in light of You.

I sit here in the emerald sea of the pasture-lands of home and I know You are here because I can physically see all the beauty around me. Thank You. Thank You for coming to redeem me. And then for not leaving me all alone in my own mess in this world, but leaving Your imprint of beauty on everything to lift my eyes and my heart to You. And for leaving Your Holy Spirit. Lord, teach me how to walk anew with Your Holy Spirit guiding every step, every breath.

I am Your vessel; nothing more, nothing less. I do not have to worry about tomorrow or about how I should or shouldn't plan my days. You will lift me up and carry me in Your purpose. Oh Lord, renew my faith. Show me how to rest in Your will and Your grace, knowing it is more than enough for even me! Give me work to busy my hands and inspiration to guide my life. And teach me to rest. Then draw everyone around me to You with the fragrance of Your presence, Abba God. You love us all so. May my life endlessly proclaim Your praise because of it..."

If any of you know what it feels like to be aching for peace, may you find somewhere to curl up next to Him and just pour your heart out, waiting for Him to come in and fill it. He meets us wherever we are. Again and again, I stand amazed at His majesty reaching down to wrap little old me up in His embrace...

May you know this Love; may you love this Lover.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock."
-- Isaiah 26:3-4

"I am no longer anxious about anything as I realize this, for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient...So if ...God should place me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance, in positions of great difficulty much grace, in circumstances of great pressure and trial much strength? No fear that His resources will prove unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me!"
--Hudson Taylor
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