31 days {away}

I’ve made a lot of acquaintances in the virtual world that live literally all over the world. I open up my instagram feed only to see pictures of places in England, Australia, Alaska and who knows where else. Between these glimpses of life elsewhere and us praying about moving overseas I have an amazing wanderlust. A desire to see the world and live in the world. It was one of the things that broke my heart the most when we decided we needed to pause our missions application.

But I read a great quote the other day by Emily Freeman: There are no greener grasses, only different lawns.

While I know that we really were following the Lord’s leading with our missions application, I have to admit there was a part of me that thought life would be better, less complicated somewhere else. My husband and I moved a million different times before we settled in a house for longer than 2 years. It’s like around year 2 or 3 we start to get this itch that we need to move on. There’s a piece of this that I think goes along with the call God has placed on our hearts to follow Him…maybe even overseas, but there’s also a piece of this that is called discontent.

When we bought the house we live in now, we were amazed at where God had planted us. He truly did give us so many of the desires of our hearts…proximity to schools, living in a park, an old house to restore and we are still 4 years later amazed. The kids and I walked around the neighborhood last night and I was swept over with the idea of them really, truly growing up here. Knowing the same people in our little community from first grade on and what a gift that is in this day and age. But that whole “no greener grasses” thing is so true. While the Lord did give us so much of what we had longed for, it’s still tainted. It’s still crazy hard. The school situation isn’t working great for our daughter and remodeling a house with only one major income is crazy difficult.

The fact remains we are where we are for the day that we are there. While we should long for the future and what God is going to do there, we have to stay focused on today. We can become so overwhelmed by letting our minds slip away into the what if, or where or whens. And no matter what grass your standing on, be it in East TN or be it in Germany…it’s still just another lawn.

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31 days {day 2: view}

There is a great quote in Emily Freeman’s book A Million Little Ways (actually it’s filled with amazing words…go read it)  by Henri Nouwen and it goes like this:

Be faithful to your vocation to do well the few things you are called to do and hold onto the joy and peace they bring you.

I live in the foothills of some pretty beautiful mountain country. In less than an hour I can be standing at the cusp of an amazing view. But I have to go through some windy roads, under lots of tree cover where I can’t really see at all what’s coming. It’s curvy and with each curve you think you are going to come around it and see this great view and no matter how many times in my life I’ve driven those roads I never remember which curve it is that finally opens up to the first amazing view. It’s always a shock. The expanse of it after being inside this crazy, curvy tree cover and them bam! all I see is this huge open sky.

I think for most of us, this is life. We are walking this path that is windy, maybe flat, in and out of tree cover and at some point we might be blessed with this crazy amazing view, but sometimes we aren’t. We keep thinking that this next curve, surely this next curve is going to open up some space or some relief or some openess. That surely this next curve is going to give us that view that shows us and reminds us why we are walking this path to begin with.

Which brings me back to the Nouwen quote. We have to stay the course. We have to be faithful to the tasks that we’ve been given and we have to stop ignoring the view that is right in front of us. I can so easily get caught up in my life that when I do look up all I’m longing for is that big view, that big picture, that big relief and openness and I miss what’s right in front of me.

Mountain roads around my neck of the woods are super scary to me because they aren’t wide like the roads in the Rockies. They are narrow and winding and oftentimes you are right at the edge of some crazy “cliff”. Honestly I hate it. I hate the narrowness of it all, but I have to traverse these narrow roads if I ever want to see the view. Emily Freeman calls this “befriending the narrow limits.” When we accept these narrow places in our lives, we are reminded that we can’t do this on our own. This view isn’t ours to achieve.
It’s in those narrow places that we realize the Divine.

God is gracious to us in our lives to offer us amazing views of how He is working. Sometimes those views come by means of memory and times past and sometimes they do come around the next curve. But in the waiting, in the times when we are longing for that expanse to open up we also have to focus on the now and be present with the view that is right in front of us.

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I’m reading a couple of different “thinking books” right now: A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman and Women of the Word by Jen Wilken. I would have never really thought these two books would cross over, but they really do.

I love both of these books more than I thought I would and I am trying my best to read them slowly. To go back over what I’ve read and journal it and to really work through savoring every piece that I can out of both.

Probably my one biggest struggle in life has been identity. Who am I? What am I here for? For a while I was a student, then a teacher, then a wife and then a mother. At one time I was almost all of those at the same time. Then I stopped working and I was “just” a mother and a wife. As we have struggled with finances, my struggle with identity has greatly increased. It was in reading the first chapter of Wilken’s book that I realized that all this time I have been asking the wrong question. It’s not “who am I?” but “who is God?”

So often in my life I have identified with the Israelites. Wandering, complaining and just longing for something better than what they had. Longing for peace and security that they thought would come after they finally made it to the promised land. They wanted to be slaves again because it provided a security that they didn’t have while wandering in the desert.

But now, I’m almost realizing that I’m more like Moses. God tells Moses to “go” and Moses doesn’t say “ok!”, but rather he asks “who am I?” God then tells him “I will be with you.” But that isn’t enough. Moses asks “what should I do and what should I say to them?” And then God doesn’t answer his questions, but rather starts rattling off
who He is
what He has done
what He is doing
what He will do.
Moses begs to know who He is, but God answers with “I AM”.
and that should be enough.

Emily Freeman expands on this in her book by relaying what happened in the Garden. Our identity was challenged. We were no longer content to just be made in God’s image and reflections of His glory…we wanted to BE Him and HAVE His glory.

So all along my life, I have been striving to find my place and my role, when I should have been looking harder at who God is. For in finding and knowing who God is, I know who I am.

In searching the Scriptures to know more of who God is, I don’t lose myself I find out who I am. My identity isn’t lost in Christ – but found in Him.

And who I am is a creation, a poiema, a poem of God. We weren’t just “boom” created by God, we were crafted by Him. We exist out of His inner desire to bring glory to the Father. Every ounce of our being should move out of the place that reflects His glory. That is the core of who we really are.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. ~ Romans 1:20

I pray that as I walk through this day that people have no excuse for not knowing God because they see Him instead of me.

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