Monthly Archives: June 2014

Making Me New

I first heard the song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor several years ago and immediately fell in love with it.

(In case you want to give it a listen, here you go!)

I was drawn to the song because of its unique sound and, well, “beautiful” lyrics. It’s what I would consider a pretty song.

When we sang it in church this week, I felt God speak to me about one particular line

“You make me new, You are making me new.”

Who I used to be embarrasses me sometimes. The past several days, I’ve been going through old pictures and videos on our computer. Wowzers! Nothing will bring flames to my cheeks quicker than hearing a younger version of myself talking.

There are dozens of pictures of me as a new mama – insecure, over-protective, and an overall hot mess quite often. I laughed and shook my head as I thought about who I was before I grew up more in my faith.

Those recollections made me smile and breathe a little easier each time I sang,

“You make me new! You are making me new!”

Instead of auto-piloting through the rest of the times the song repeated itself like I usually tend to do, I began reflecting on what being made new has meant in my life.

It’s meant being broken.

It’s meant losing things and people I loved.

It’s meant embracing grace when I mess up.

Being made new has required me to live through difficult seasons of letting go, being humbled, stripping away perceptions, and learning what Truth is through incredible pain. I have certainly gotten dirty climbing out of some of those pits of despair I found myself hurled into.

But God makes “beautiful things out of the dust!”

These words washed over me like the refreshing rain after a hot, filthy season of drought.

I can’t be made new into something beautiful without first getting rid of the natural human tendencies to hold onto the ugly things that have made up parts of life.

Being made new is rarely a pretty process, but it’s the end result that makes it worth it.

However, even though it’s not especially easy to be made new, this doesn’t mean that there are beautiful things God brings into our lives along the way. I am also starting to realize that there can be glimmers of beauty that radiate from us as we grow into who He intends us to be.

I reflect on my life often. Many parts about it are beautiful, but I don’t usually think of myself as beautiful, too. That’s a shame, really, since God is my creator, and He created me in His image.

Undoubtedly, I haven’t always acted beautifully, nor have I looked it when I’ve chosen my own path.

Yet God is making something incredibly beautiful out of me: dusty, tired, confused, and human me.

I’m not going to be made over into the completed version of who God wants me to be here on earth. I’m a work in progress that won’t completely arrive this side of heaven. In the meantime, I’m doing my best to gratefully look at how graciously my loving Creator has skillfully chiseled me so far.

Growing Up

My son turns five years old today. This has been the age that I’ve been dreading the most since his birth. Each birthday up until then didn’t bother me because I still had plenty of time for him to be little. Now that half of a decade has passed, I can’t deny that he is growing up.

Ry2B

I see evidence of his growing into big boy shoes every day. He takes leaps off of tall objects now with confidence, and I can watch him knowing that he can safely land the jump because he’s big enough now. We’ve spent years with me hovering around him and catching him because he wouldn’t otherwise be safe, but he’s ready to take more risks now.

Our conversations have changed. We actually cover some deep topics together and he can stay with me for five minutes before moving on to some question about bugs or robots. Selfishly, I wish I could shield him from some of the realities we’ve had to discuss like sickness, death, and bullies. I want to hold onto that innocent little boy who could curl up on my lap without limbs spilling over the sides of it. That’s not who he is anymore, however, and it would be a shame if I missed out on the time we have right now by lamenting what’s already come to pass.

Discipline has a new level of challenge to it that hurts my heart more than it ever has before. When he was small, I could guarantee that if I was consistent, loving, and firm in what I expected for long enough, he would change his poor choices. Sure the days of training were brutal, but one day, he got it, and he was happy with his new, improved way of doing things. Now that he’s maturing, he puts thought into the real “why” of what he’s doing. He understands consequences and good choices versus bad choices. He rationalizes with his limited perception of truth. Life and what I expect of him no longer seem fair to him as a result of what he thinks he understands, and there are times that he willfully chooses misery over compliance. I know from experience that this will be a life-long struggle because he’s human.

Ry3B

I’m having to learn to let go of how wrapped up I tend to get in his feelings. Five is a milestone in independence, after all. While giving birth and caring for a baby then a toddler has required me to finally fully realize that life’s not all about me, having a little boy on the verge of becoming a big boy is making me accept that life’s not about letting my identity be completely wrapped up in someone else either. Being on either extreme of the spectrum is dangerous.

Sure, I have learned a lot about giving up selfishness over the last five years, but it’s because of those realizations that I can accept that not allowing Dash to be his own person because I’m not ready for him to grow up is simply another form of selfishness. I’ve been preparing him to be independent from the first few months of his life, so now it’s time to let go just a little bit more and let him take some risks as he learns how to make it through the roads ahead.

I’m grateful for the way God gracefully allows this process to move along in baby steps. This birthday is a big deal to me, but it’s only one more step towards him being grown up. Thankfully, we have many more years to grow together before he’s a grown-up. He’s not a full-fledged man yet, and he does still enjoy cuddling with me even if it’s a tighter fit than it used to be.

Ry1B

As I choose to let him be bigger in my heart, I’m reminded that he is, in fact, God’s child. As much as I want him to belong solely to me sometimes, He’s always been God’s, and His purpose for my growing-up boy is to mature and flourish into a man of God.

For When You Think You Shouldn’t Try That One Thing You’ve Been Meaning to Try

I started this blog three years ago this summer. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, as silly as it sounds.

But I am not the natural-born risk taker. I loathe bandwagons and noisy, pompous words online and in person. No one I knew personally had taken blogging to the level of setting up a website and writing articles for people to read. What did it matter what I had to say, anyway? I had a rational, compelling argument against taking the steps necessary to having my own space in the rapidly-growing blogsophere.

God would not leave me alone about the idea, however. There were times I felt physically pulled to my computer to make this thing happen. I whined a lot while I was figuring it out. A LOT!

I played the role of Gideon laying out one fleece after the next before God to make sure this was actually what He wanted, and He boldly confirmed that this is the exact direction He was leading.

I finally believed Him when I got a $12.51 check in the mail from our mortgage company one week after I prayed He’d provide the $12 for the domain name purchase. That is the only time in the history of ever that we received a CHECK from our mortgage company.

Yep. It was about that time I decided I should believe God, so I labored through, fully expecting that He had plans to grow this blog into something glamorous because He wanted me to do it so badly.

Nearly three years later, this place in Internet Land hasn’t grown very much at all. It’s risen and fallen and fallen some more, in fact. Even so, I have grown a ton. I’ve learned about obedience, faith, identity, serving, vulnerability, and ignoring the desire to chase after trends. God hasn’t made a great name for myself and neither have I, but I’ve grown a lot more comfortable with accepting that I’m not the one who’s supposed to have a great name because God’s name is the only one that is great and worthy of recognition.

I’ve debated many times in the months since starting this writing journey whether or not I should continue or let it go. There have been times I’ve begged God to let me let it go, and other than occasional seasons of stepping away to rest or deal with life, He reminds me that He is the one who completes the good work He’s placed within me. (Don’t believe me? He said it here in Philippians 1:6.)

It’s funny that I don’t identify myself as a blogger as much as I used to a couple of years ago. Rather, I’ve realized I’m just an ordinary, work-in-progress woman who happens to sometimes write on a blog as well. The internal struggles I’ve faced about this particular aspect of my life have helped prepare me for the bigger challenges that real life has handed me, and I’m grateful for the gift God has given me by saying, “Do this blog thing! It will help unlock a lot of personal issues you need to work through to be more like Me.”

That $12.51 check was the first time that God spoke to me in such a clear way, and in the trials that have challenged me since then, I can go back to that moment when He said, “I’ll always provide a way for you to follow my leading. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.”

Success Definition

Instead of growing into an impressive blog with dozens of emails from publishers begging for a book deal, I’ve learned to believe that fact that no one actually wants to believe about life. Success is not measured by numbers. It’s really not. Success is about obeying God no matter what it might cost. It’s about standing behind His promises when they look different than you thought they would. It’s about understanding grace, accepting it, and abiding in God’s love.

So that thing you’ve been putting off doing even though you know God’s telling you to do it? It probably won’t turn out anything like you think it will, but there will come a day you will be so glad it didn’t. You will also be better for it if you choose to be brave and follow Him.