Wednesday, May 30, 2012

To Love Another

   Love never gives up {is patient}.
   Love cares more for others than for self {is kind}.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have {is not jealous or envious of others}.
   Love doesn't strut {is not proud or boastful},
   Doesn't have a swelled head {is not arrogant},
   Doesn't force itself on others {is not rude},
   Isn't always "me first" {does not think of itself or demand its own way},
   Doesn't fly off the handle {is not irritable or easily angered},
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others {keeps no record of wrongs},
   Doesn't revel when others grovel {does not delight in evil},
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth {but rejoices in truth},
   Puts up with anything {never gives up and never stops being patient},
   Trusts God always {always trusts, never loses faith and never stops believing},
   Always looks for the best {is always hopeful},
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end
{never gives up and endures through every circumstance}
Love never dies {never fails}.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a 

Love is a high calling. Love is hard. Love requires constant thought and intentionality toward another. Love is selfless and pure...which I am not, and yet God calls me {selflessly and in purity of heart} to love, what's up with that? 

Love is like a mirror. How you love shows you your heart, and often times my heart is not pretty or pure or selfless. Often I "love" so that I can get something out of it. I "love" the way I want to be loved not how the other person needs to be loved. I am selfish in my loving, so is that really love at all?

Love hurts because when we put someone else's needs before our own sometimes our own needs can go unmet because true love is not focused on ourselves but on another.

Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. As you love deeply the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear.
Henri Nouwen 

But through the hurt and brokenness of love, we will bear fruit. Not that love isn't beautiful and wonderful and very fulfilling at times, but love is not what we see in the movies or in books. Love is not picture perfect and it is not easy. Love takes work, and rather than focusing on what we are not receiving from the one we are trying to love and what they need to do in order to love us better, we must look into our own hearts and see what the Lord is trying to teach us about ourselves and how we can better love the other.

Love is a calling to selflessness, which is often not "fun" and can plant seeds of bitterness if we are not careful. How do we love when we do not feel loved in that moment? We have to stop focusing on ourselves, what we "need", what we want, what we "deserve".

I am to be fulfilled in my relationship with Christ. My husband will never be able to fill the "Christ hole" in my heart just like I will never be able to fill the "Christ hole" in his heart. We are both sinful and fallen people, desperately trying to love one another in the midst of our about a recipe for confusion and misunderstanding. How are two fallen people to love each other perfectly? Well, we never will. We try, but we will always fail in one way or another. So we must learn to struggle together through our sinful and selfish desires, to share our desire to love one another in the way that they need but also to share how we each would feel loved by the other. 

I have heard it said that marriage is not a 50%/50% relationship where the husband gives 50% and in return the wife gives 50%, but rather it is a 100%/100% relationship. We each are called to give and love and cherish the other 100% of the time, no matter how much we feel loved by the other at the time. If love is selfless it means that it cannot be dictated by how we feel, but it is a conscious choice to love in spite of our circumstances, whether good or bad. 

Marriage has been such a beautiful gift. I believe I have grown more in these last 16 months than I ever have, because I have seen the depths of my heart through the eyes of another and I have seen the depths of my heart in how I choose to treat my husband. Marriage is deep. There is a depth in a relationship between husband and wife that I never new existed until I experienced it. It is beautifully unique and delicate, and at the same time it is full of Godly strength. Marriage is a gift unlike any other. It is not something you receive and can only take from, you must give all of yourself to it, freely and without limitations. 

But for right now...we have three things to do...Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Choose Joy

...what does it mean to choose joy? can I daily choose joy? can I be joyful in the midst of the pain and sorrow of this life? being joyful and being happy the same thing? I designed for joy? 

I am currently reading Kay Warren's book Choose Joy and it is one of the best books I have read recently. Over the last few months this idea of choosing joy has really resonated with me, it touches heart strings that I didn't even know I had.

I want to choose joy but I don't want to be fake and always "be happy" even when things are not going so well. I struggle with how to have joy and how to be open and vulnerable at the same time. What does it look like to be honest in my struggles while still choosing joy? I don't know, but I'm beginning to learn.

Choosing joy isn't about being happy all the time. Joy does not equal fake, it equals faith. Kay Warren defines it this way:

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.

This definition immediately made me think of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which were the verses the Lord laid on my heart during my years at Capernwray Harbour Bible School, "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Joy can be found in the midst of whatever circumstances we find ourselves if we are willing to let go and let God. If we can come to realize that no matter where we are in life, that God is there and that He is in control and that He hasn't forgotten us. If we can trust God to be our Provider, our Healer, our Hope, our Rock, our Refuge, our Savior, our LIFE, to be everything that He promises He is, than we can choose joy in any circumstance.

Joy is not always easy, but it is always a choice. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

There Will Never Be Another You

There will never be another you. God does not create us with different sets of cookie cutters thinking, "Oh I liked this one last time so lets give it another go!" Rather, "[God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb." Psalm 139:13. There will never be another you.

I have been thinking about this a lot and how this should affect how I live my life. Instead of trying to be a cookie cutter, I want to strive to be the 'me' that God had in mind when He purposefully and intricately created me. There is a reason that I am 5'8" and not 5'5", pale skinned and not olive skinned; that I tend to be cold and not hot, and there is a reason that I have Lyme disease and am not a healthy energetic woman. There is purpose behind everything that the Lord does, and I truly want to believe this so deeply that it changes how I live.

Recently I've been reading a lot of marriage blogs, articles and books looking for the guidelines and step-by-step process for 'the perfect marriage'. Not perfect as in flawless, but perfect as in, 'How many dates should we go on per week/month?' 'How long do we wait until we have kids?' 'What is the right amount of money that we should have in the bank account?' etc. etc. etc. I think what my heart is really asking is, 'What is the right formula?!?'

Guess what, there is no formula. I am unique, there has never been and never will be another me; my husband is unique, there has never been and never will be another him. So how in the world can I expect there to be a formula for us? Another couple may have figured out what works for them, but that same process will not work for us because we are uniquely us. It's really beautiful if I stop and think about it rather than focusing on the fact I have nothing to check off on my to-do list.

My 'formula' is found in Ephesians 5:21-33 where it is said, 'So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.'

Just because so-and-so got married and had kids right away doesn't mean that we should do the same. And if our friends bought a house right after their wedding, it doesn't mean that we've failed at marriage because we've been married over a year and still don't own a home. We are not here to copy other people, rather we are here to be uniquely us and figure out what that means in the Lord's timing. 

I am learning this same lesson when it comes to being a woman. When I see someone with a cute hair cut, outfit, kid, car, pair of shoes, house, great book collection, a fantastic singing voice, toned body, or great writing skills, I crave it. I want it. I covet it. Bad, bad, bad. Seriously?!? Have I forgotten those words spoken from Mt. Sinai, 'You shall not covet'? That is a commandment, am I into ignoring commandments now? Is that the kind of woman I want to be, no!
But it's just so hard isn't it, when you see something that is just out of your reach, and in comes Satan weaving his lies into your head and your heart, watering the seed of want. 

I want to be a woman who wants God above all else. To seek Him in the midst of my coveting heart crying out, 'Lord, cleanse me, wash me of these selfish desires that keep me far from them, rescue me!'

Rather than trying to find a checklist for a great marriage, a great exercise plan, or the right amount of chores to do each day, I want to seek Him with all my heart and let Him fill me. I want to stop searching for other people and things to fill the Jesus whole in my heart. Whether that be my husband, my friends, our bank account, when to have kids, when to buy a house, when to get a second car...I want to want Jesus above it all.

So God here I am, crying out 'Abba Father!' and asking you to renew my mind and focus my heart attitude on you. Thank you so much for your patience with me as I seek you and then once again, give in to my selfish desires and turn away from you. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness that you freely offer to your children. 

Today, I choose you, whatever comes Jesus, I choose you.

Friday, May 18, 2012


5-Minute Friday with The Gypsy Mama

Perspective. That word brings so many thoughts popping into my mind I don't even know where to start. But here it goes...


The beauty of the dancer up on stage, gracefully moving and gliding through her routine. Though she will critique her pointed toes and her pirouettes, most in the audience will see beauty and grace and look no farther.

The brightness of the sunshine with clear blue skies is a wonderful thing, until you have visited the eye doctor and your pupils are dilated. The sunshine turns from a place of smiles and laughter into something you want to be as far away from as possible.

The cross. Death, sin, dirt and grime are all found here. Beauty, grace, love and forgiveness are all found here. The beauty is found in the breakdown of the two sides coming together as one. In the midst of my sins, my dirt, and the death I deserve I find Jesus offering forgiveness, offering to cover my dirt with His purity, my imperfections with His perfections. He is a great God. A God who sees it all and still chooses to wipe my life white as snow.  What a wonderful God.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Just Want to Be With You

When you think of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, what comes to your mind? Does a smile stretch across your face and do you give a little sigh of peace and contentment? Do you cringe a little and try to think of something else because you're either very discontent or you feel hurt and betrayed with where you are in life at this moment?

In our Monday evening small group we are going through the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan and it has been incredible. The book focuses on how the Holy Spirit is our forgotten God and that we don't really pay much attention to Him or give Him much credit. The world tends to see the Spirit as mystical rather than real and tangible. But when you sit down and look through the gospels, and Acts, and really the whole New Testament, the Spirit is everywhere! He is active and alive and very real.

This last chapter was called A Real Relationship. It talks about how we see God and how that affects our relationship with Him.

I've a attached a video, and at minute 7 (follow along til minute 12) it really hit home for me and it sums up the struggle and desire of my heart in a beautiful picture of how his daughter sees him, check out Francis speaking here.

When Francis says that his daughter doesn't think about the fact that her daddy is in the middle of speaking to thousands of people up on a stage, all she thinks about is that he is her daddy and she just wants to be with him. She does what seems natural and normal to her, she gets up out of her seat in the audience, walks up onto the stage where her dad picks her up and whispers, "What do you want Mercy?" and she answers, "I just want to be with you." What a beautiful picture of what our relationship with Christ should be.

I have always struggled with knowing that God is my Daddy while at the same time knowing that He is holy and pure and how can He be both at once? How can I cry out, "Daddy!" to my only and all-powerful God? Isn't that disrespectful? Isn't that me ignoring the fact that He is this magnificent being who is perfect in every way? No.

I want to cry out to Him, not out of disrespect but out of love and desire to just be near Him and with Him! I want to have such a deep and intimate relationship that while I know that God is holy, He is pure and perfect, He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and at the same time He is also my Daddy who longs for me to cry out to Him and just want to spend time with Him.

There is a time for me to come to my Father and confess my sins, ask for His forgiveness, and repent from my fleshly desires. There is a time for me to shed tears at His feet while I struggle through the trials of this life. There is a time to stand in awe of who He is, to let my words be few and to let the wonder of Jesus fill my heart. There is a time for me to call out, "Daddy!" run into His arms and rest in His presence and love.

There is a time for everything ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

I want to rest in Him. I want to yearn for Him. I want to pursue Him. I want to wait on Him. I want to trust Him. I want to love Him. I want to laugh with Him. I want to cry with Him. I want to struggle with Him. I want to follow Him wherever He may lead me. I want to live life in a way that expresses my desire that "I just wan to be with You".

This is a beautiful picture and it is one that I hope I will not easily forget. I will never forget the holiness of my God, but I never want to miss out on the intimacy that He calls me too just because all I can think about is His holiness. 

I have heard it said that if we could figure God out He really wouldn't be God. He is so many aspects in one. He is holy and yet He loves sinners. He is Lord and Master and yet He longs to take my burdens upon Himself. I am coming to realize that I am not meant to understand God but to trust Him. I will never fully comprehend all the He is, yet I can choose to acknowledge that He is God and I am not. That He is in control and that His plan is perfect. 

My desire is to not try and figure Him out but rather to love Him. I don't want to waste my time researching, worrying and stressing over the things that I do not understand. I would rather learn to enjoy Him. To open my heart to Him and let Him reveal what He desires and not try and force understanding. 

I truly desire my faith to be a child like faith. Which requires me to let go of my "need" to know everything and instead be content in things unseen.

Friday, May 11, 2012


5 Minute Friday from The Gypsy Mama

This is about writing for five minutes without checking for grammatical errors or spelling errors, just writing for five minutes here it goes.


I'm not a mom, but I've been a nanny for as long as I can remember, and all the kids I have looked after, loved and given my heart too, feel like my own. I have always, always, always wanted to be a mom.

Recently, as I have gotten all the immigration paperwork figured out and can now begin to apply for a job, a "real job" as some might call it. You know, those office jobs where you dress in something other than sweats and dark colored t-shirts that won't show spit up and pee stains. I've been wanting to be a mom. A mom to my own children and not someone elses.

I've discovered that children are my comfort zone, and though it might be hard, I feel like I have a purpose when I am holding a child in my arms, putting a band-aid over a scraped knee, or reading a bedtime story (the same book for like the 50th time!).

But I am not to find my identity in being a mom, but rather in Christ. I am a Christ follower. Whether I am a mom or not, I can love the children that God has placed in my life that are not my own. I can choose joy in this journey that He has given me. I can trust Him and trust in His timing. I can love my husband and not wish away our time that we will never get back once we have kids. I can the woman that God created me to be for today, not trying to be someone He hasn't created me to be yet.

I will rest in His beautiful timing. I will love this time with the man He has given me. I will love sleep, staying up late because we want too not because we have too, and being spontaneous without having to worry about nap-time. I will be me, right here and right now, me.


Sunday, May 6, 2012


Are you a list person? Someone who likes to make lists, lots of lists, to be able to check everything off and therefore feel like you are being productive? I am.

I make lists for chores that need to be done around the house. I make lists for groceries and errands that need running. I make lists of what we need to do before we can buy a house, have a baby, etc. etc. etc. I seem to thrive on making lists (just ask my husband!).

And then this morning before heading off to church, I read this from the little book, Jesus Calling:

Do not search for security in the world you inhabit. You tend to make mental checklists of things you need to do in order to gain control of your life. If only you could check everything off your list, you could relax and be at peace. But the more you work to accomplish that goal, the more things crop up on your list. The harder you try, the more frustrated you become.

There is a better way to find security in this life. Instead of scrutinizing your checklist, focus your attention on my Presence with you. This continual contact with Me will keep you in My Peace. Moreover, I will help  you sort out what is important and what is not, what needs to be done now and what does not. Fix your eyes not on what is seen (your circumstances), but on what is unseen (My Presence).
Isaiah 26:3 & 2 Corinthians 4:18

Wow, these statements shot straight to my heart. How am I going to live without lists? Am I willing to trust God and to let Him make the lists? Honestly, I don't know.

I say that I trust God. I say that no matter what happens I know that His plan is perfect, and I truly believe that. But when it comes down to the choice of putting aside the lists that organize and secure my life, am I willing to give those up?

Yes I am. Lord my heart is willing but my flesh is weak, help me with my unbelief (Mark 9:24). I know that it's not going to be easy. I know that I will fall back into my "making lists for everything" addiction. But putting aside my lists is a real and active way for me to say "I trust You". To give up the control that I so desperately want but will never have and let my Leader lead. 

I like to lead and I like to be in control. Not only in my relationship with God but also in my relationship with my husband. I want to let him lead, to be the man and husband the Lord has created him to be, but it's scary, because what if it's not the way I want? What if I think I could do better? Than I still must let go and let him lead. I will be with him every step of the way, but I will let him be my leader and my husband.

In my relationship with my husband I am ever so slowly learning that my ways are not always right or best and that for me to be in control goes outside of the Lord's design for our marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33). 

God's ways are perfect and they are right, all the time, no exceptions (Romans 12:2). Those are hard words and encouraging words. In the midst of the muck and grime of life it can be hard to understand why this is perfect and right, but He didn't call us to understand, He called us to trust. To trust, in spite of our circumstances, that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).

I will choose to trust. To give up that unattainable control, let go of my lists, and let God be God.

The beginning of my 1000 gifts...

#97 ~ the spring breeze blowing through our opened windows

#98 ~ lazy afternoon spent with my husband

#99 ~ the taking off of the old self and putting on the new (2 Corinthians 5:17)

#100 ~ homemade cookies waiting to be put in the oven

#101 ~ choices...the opportunity to daily choose who I am and who I am going to be

Friday, May 4, 2012

{Real} Life is Messy

No, no its not! It can't be! It must be clean, organized, and perfectly perfect. Yeah right!

"This house is clean"...she says to herself as she hides dirty clothes behind closed doors, or maybe we should say closed door as we live in a rather small apartment (the upstairs of a duplex) that has literally been transformed from a three bedroom upstairs to contain a bedroom, living room, bathroom and kitchen in each of the original three bedrooms.

"This house is clean" she scrambles around like mad, stuffing papers and dirty dishes anywhere she can find, as friends are arriving in 10 minutes and the house is definitely not clean.

Not much room for hiding, but she manages it. Why? To impress rather than be real. Not that she wants to invite guests in to the muck at the bottom of the tub from the husbands showers after a hard day on the farm or the pile of dishes that never seems do diminish. But why can't she be real? Why can't she just say "This is me, with the house full of dirty dishes and dirty sheets. This is me, with the dust bunny parties and the entryway covered in worn shoes. This is me in all my imperfections."

Why can't she let her guard down and be vulnerable in her imperfections? Because it's scary!!!!! Who wants to open up and say "I fail! I screw up! My house is dirty and my to do list is a mile long!!!"

Well, you see, she does...and she doesn't. There is war going on inside her heart. She wants to be a real person. But to share reality she must share failures and fears. Why can't she be real without sharing the hard stuff? Why can't she just be real in the nice, pretty, put togetherness of life.

Because life is messy, her life is messy! In order to be real she must own up to the messy and imperfect-ness of life, her life. And honestly, that is exactly what she does not want to do.

Why can't she paint a pretty picture for others to believe? Why can't she appear to have it all together, to know how to live her life, how to keep a house clean, how to stay on top of her to do lists, how to be perfect?

Because perfection IS NOT REAL!!! But she wants it to be real, isn't that good enough, can't she make it be real? No.

If she is going to share her life with others than she must own up to the imperfections in her life. She must be willing to be open and vulnerable and not having it all together, because that is real.

So here she is, being real, with you. Owning up to the fact that she does not have it all together. She has no idea how the pile of dishes seems to never get smaller, or why the dust bunnies seem to get bigger every time she puts away that Swiffer vac.

But in the midst of the imperfections, in the midst of being real. She will NOT give up and have a pity party. She will say "Jesus, thank you for this messy life that you have given me." She will smile, she will work, she will not worry, she will be quiet, she will spend time in the Word, and she will choose joy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why Perfection? Why Not Choose Joy?

Why do I feel that in order to do anything, wash the dishes, vacuum the floors, clean the tub, cook dinner, bake a cake, write words, speak into a life, that it all must be perfect?

What's so great about perfection? Why do we strive for it so? Why do we need the perfect dress, the perfect house, the perfect bank account, the perfect life?

Why can't we cling to love and embrace this imperfect life rather than wishing it away for something that is unattainable, aka perfection?

God created me for this life, not some other life that I have dreamed up in my head, that "perfect life" that I find myself day dreaming and pinning about. This life, right here and now, is what I am here for.

I am here to see Jesus and experience Him in daily life. I am here to have Lyme disease. I am here to love, to show mercy and forgiveness through the grace of God. I am here to be thankful for every thing that I have been given, for it is from above. I am here to share my life with you.

I am here to love this husband of mine, to enjoy every minute that we have together because we will never get to re-live this moment again. Not to spend time wishing away our "just us" days for days full of babies, not waiting until we have our own house, two cars, or a bigger bank account. No more waiting for "our life to start", it has started! It is right now and I don't want to miss a single minute of it! 

This life is about choosing faith in the midst of uncertainty, saying "thank you" even when we've had a bad day, and it's about choosing joy.

I want to choose joy. I want to know that in the midst of feeling hurt, I can choose joy, in the midst of feeling useless and burdensome, I can choose joy. It doesn't matter where I am, what I am going through, who has hurt me, who I have hurt, how much I've screwed up, or how I can't even seem to get out of bed without assistance. I will choose joy.

It is a hard choice, it takes effort and thought, it takes persistence and God given strength. But it is worth it. Joy is worth it all. Joy grants perspective. Joy produces a thankful heart (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Joy touches lives.

Joy is beautiful.

Will you choose joy with me? In the midst of imperfection, will you give Jesus your imperfect life, your imperfect faith and choose joy? 

I will struggle and I will fail in my striving for joy, but I truly believe that the more that I long for it, work for it, move towards it, that it will become more a part of my life. More a part of who I am. Oh to be a person that emanates joy. That I might let Christ rule in a way that produces a joy filled life.

Jesus thank you for...
...granting us the choice of joy.
...Your desire to rule and reign in my life.
...Your care of every moment and aspect of this life.
...Your words written.
...grace poured out.
...Your perfect plan in the midst of this imperfect life.