Friday, February 27, 2015

It Is Well

When I think of you, I remember a younger me. 

I remember many times when we sat with Marie and our friends, Bibles open and talking about it.  In the early days, Molly and I perfected the art of avoiding eye contact with Marie so we didn't have to share first.  The awkwardness between new people faded over the years to where it would be hard to believe that we didn't always share secrets and struggles and the things that good friends do. We all enjoyed each other so well.  You always spoke straight from the heart and got straight to the point with your wondering and sharing and confronting.  Wise woman.  I learned about praying out loud, during those years, with you and with our friends. 

I remember squeezing into Marie's Toyota Paseo, so many different times.  Mostly, I remember there was enough room for everyone as we drove home; but occasionally, we packed in like sardines—like the time we kidnapped Molly for her birthday.  I think you were on crutches and got to sit up front because of your injured leg.  We went back to Marie’s place, the one with the breakfast nook, for dinner.  Afterwards, I remember us cheering with Deborah during Return from Snowy River,  "Go Jim go!"  We cheered for the dashing hero on his black stallion.
There were other movies too, like The Shawshank Redemption and The Great Escape, during sleepovers.  There were also many musicals and plays at Walnut and Finneytown.  On our way to watch Ellen in Godspell, I remember talking about whether the note I received from Will during study hall meant anything; in it he had drawn my profile and written about "the North girl."
What fun times those were!

I went looking for a particular photo of our small group last week.  I never found it.  But Molly did!

I found a photo from Resident Camp, instead.  I remember eating with your campers while I served on Girls Crew.  You were such a wonderful counselor.

I remember having gym class together too.  I was so relieved to know someone else that first day.  I think it must have been with Mr. Christoph, because I remember being on mats tumbling and talking with you, Lindsay, and Tiphanie.  If I am remembering correctly, I think we spent the beginning of the semester lamenting our lack of volleyball skills.  Very few of us did well on the bumping and setting tests. 

You always seemed so comfortable with who you were.  I think that is pretty rare in a middle school or high school student.  You made me feel like I could be me around you, the me that was still trying to figure out who I really was—even if that meant you were witness to ridiculous dance choreography in the bathroom just down the hall from the lunchroom.  We laughed about it, but I never felt foolish for sharing that piece of me with you. (Though, now, I would like to groan that I ever thought that was remotely cool. Oh well!)

That was a precious gift you gave me then.

I did not know I could really live authentically until years later.  But years later, I do know that is the best way to really live, even if it sometimes feels very risky.  If we are never fully known, we can never be fully loved.  You were known and loved, friend.

It seems such a long time since those days. 

Life seldom brought us together since then. (Those few moments when it did were sweet).  From afar, I loved watching your adventures.  You seemed to have such a “seize the day” way of living.  It took you all over the world.  You found so many kindred spirits, touched so many lives.  I know we are all richer for knowing you.  I am.

Now, you are gone. 

(You, who were always so full of life and laughter and making things beautiful—can it really be?)

It reminds me that this world is broken and of my longing for home.  It makes me long for the day when all will be made right.  In that place, in the presence of Jesus, you are whole again.  Sickness does not have the last word, neither does death.  For that, I am so very thankful.

I remember Marie sharing this passage from 1 Peter about character with me. 

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.   – 1 Peter 3:3-6 

I think it is especially the last line that makes me think of it now. 

“You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 

What a courageous woman you were, my friend.  You faced months of treatment, friends and family beside you, near and far, praying.  You did not give way to fear. 

I want to live like that too! 

These were God’s words to Joshua and the people of Israel as they entered the Promised Land: 

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

The road ahead of Israel was full of promise in the midst of difficulty.  In the midst of all of this, God told them not to fear, he would be right there.  He would not leave of forsake them.  What words of hope!  What words of comfort!  

God goes with us wherever we go. 

You must have taken hold of God’s promises in the midst of such difficulty. 

His promises are the springs of life that keep us going.

I believe that our names tell us something about who we are. 

Your namesake was loyal, determined, strong and brave—like you.  She, too, was no stranger to difficulty. 

You know what?  Her story doesn’t end in death, it ends in life.  It ends with a redeemer. 

So does your story, Ruth.  Because Jesus lives, so will you. 

Because of all this, it is well


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we trust in the promises of God.  May we cling to Jesus as our sure hope in the face of sin and guilt and death.  May we trust that His resurrection life will right all the wrongs and make all things new.  Because of this we can say it is well.


Friday, February 20, 2015


I pull her out of her seat at the table and set her on the ground as the next song begins to play off my phone. 

My Little Love runs into the next room as the words begin, “Isaiah 6:1-3.” 

“Isaiak!” she squeals, running back towards me. 

(She may or may not have Isaiah the prophet crossed with baby Isaac who we read about last night.  Or perhaps, it is Isaiah 6 she is trying to say.  I am not totally sure.  I smile at her.) 

“Yes.  Isaiah 6,” I affirm. 

I run downstairs to move some laundry over while she runs around on the wood floors—exploring, dancing, repeating the location of the verses in the song over and over.  “Isaiak.  Isaiak.  Isaiak.”   

The song plays on. 

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, sitting upon a throne high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim, each had six wings: With two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

When she hears the word “Holy” she stops. 

It has been a word that she has been using for weeks or maybe even months now.  Holy and beloved.  Silent night, holy night.  She hears it and usually enters into her own moment of calling out, “Holy.  Holy.  Holy.” 

She sings “holy" at the table.
She sings “holy” while she plays.
She sings “holy” in her car seat.
She sings “holy” in the middle of the grocery store.  (This one surprised me.  But sure enough, the words to the music, as we rolled through the baking aisle in Meijer searching for food coloring, were saying just that.)
She sings “holy” as she lies in my arms before bed. 

I am amazed by this Little Love.  The way she is so observant and attentive causes me to pause.  As she begins to sing “Holy,” once again, with such earnestness and joy, I stop.  I don’t want to miss it! 

The God she sings about is holy.   

This moment we are living right now, holy.  It is a chance to live worship. 

And this holy God?  He calls me his chosen one, holy and beloved. 

Something in my heart changes in these moments.  I can’t help but think of Moses standing before the burning bush as God says, “Take off your sandals, for where you are standing is holy ground”(Exodus 3:5).

I can’t help but smile.  I can’t help but join her in this chorus:   

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Because He is holy.  This is a moment to worship.  This moment is one in which I am invited to put on love. 

And so I do. 

Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we stop to embrace each moment as one to be lived worshipping the Holy One,  humbled to be called God’s holy and beloved children, and standing on holy ground. 

Jessica :)  

P.S.  Family Seeds Worship is wonderful.  It is Scripture set to music.  We usually listen at breakfast to begin the day off with God's Word.  We do more if my Little Love asks throughout the day, which she often does.  By listening she is memorizing Scripture and she doesn't even realize she is doing it.  I love that she is hiding God's word in her heart with such joy.

Friday, February 13, 2015

For the Tired and Weary

After I lay my Little Love down, I find my way to the love seat where my Bible and journal sit tucked in a bin nearby.  I pull them out and set them beside me while I pile on the blankets.  I grab my Bible and pause, holding it in my left hand.  I could open to my bookmark in John and read, my heart, my body weary.  Instead, I pause to breathe deeply and to talk to God: 

God, I have come.  I have come after a challenging day yesterday.   I had hoped for a fresh start in the morning.  I had hoped to leave the tantrums of yesterday behind with sleep, but that didn’t happen.  I realize that my girl is tired.  I noticed that she has a gum bulging with a new tooth waiting to come through.  It must hurt.  I know there is an explanation for much of her behavior, though I don’t understand it all.  I am having a really hard time being all here and all in control.  I don’t want to be the problem in my day.  That was me yesterday.  I don’t want that to be me today.  I don’t want to raise my voice.  I don’t want to speak in clipped, sharp tones.  I want to see her cues and respond like You would, Jesus. 

As I talk of this, I think to myself how much I am like my child before God.  I hurt, I grow cranky and tired.  I am uncooperative and I lash out, most often with my tongue.  I am disobedient.  Since I am tired and weary when my Little Love behaves this way, I imagine that when I am like my girl God must feel like me—tired and weary. 

At this thought, your answer comes swiftly. 

No! No! No!  

You speak ever so gently. 

You may be like her.  But I do not feel like you.  Don’t you remember?   I do not grow tired or weary.

The words of a song I learned at camp, one Jr. High summer long ago, come to mind. 

“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” - Isaiah 40:28-29 

Oh, how you comfort me with your words.  You meet me where I am—tired and weary.  You promise to give me strength and to increase my power.  My circumstances may not change, but You change me in them. 

I often forget it, but you God, you are holy.  You are set apart.  You are so very different than me.  I am broken.  You are whole.  You are gentle.  You love me perfectly in my brokenness and lead me towards wholeness.  You are able to do so much more than I can imagine. 

I open the Bible in my hand and begin searching to find these words in Isaiah 40. 

The words of promise continue. 

“Even youths grow tired and weary; and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  -Isaiah 40:30-31 

I grab hold of your promises.  I take that which you have promised and claim it for myself today circling all the behaviors and tantrums and exhaustion and pain and whatever may arise in prayer.  I am placing my hope in the Lord.  I know that whatever comes, you will give me the strength to bear it with your heart for my sweet girl.  Knowing this, I find that inwardly I am soaring. 


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we trust in the promises of God and claim them for ourselves today.   May He bear us up and lead us to live abundantly in all things. 

Jessica :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Come To Me

He began pursuing me quietly last spring.

Some family members sat across from me in the living room while my Little Love happily played on the floor between us.  They asked me what I was doing to find rest.  I responded about how I had begun reading for fun on Sundays during naptime.*  That was something, right?  I moved on.

A week or two later, during the first week of the spring session of the mother’s group at Crossroads the question we were to discuss was “How do you seek rest?”  The women around me spoke up and I sat quietly fumbling for anything to say.  I muttered something about the new planner I had purchased and trying to have a plan each day.  It is true that this was helping me to accomplish more, but truly I was treading water and I didn’t even know it.  I moved on.

As summer arrived, life changed as Jason began traveling regularly for the first time in over a year.  Life seemed to be moving along, but as it did exhaustion was beginning to surface alongside two companions, anger and impatience.  These were directed inwardly and toward my poor husband who deserved none of it.  At one point I found myself reading a bunch of Kevin Leman books, one about stress.  It was like he knew what was going on, but I was still in a place of thinking I could handle everything on my plate.  Of course I could.  I moved on.

The schedule on my calendar in August was relentless.   Jason traveling.  Commitments in the evenings.  Home projects.  Food to make for more than just our family.  No breaks.  But something had to break.  It turned out it was me.

I found myself crying in the arms of my husband’s arms, him asking what was wrong.  After weathering the first two weeks, I looked at the rest of the month unable to figure out how I would survive the rest.  He asked what he could do.  I wasn’t sure.

I was reading my Bible trying to hold on.  I was spending time with our family on the weekends, with my girlie at other times.  I wasn’t spending much time with just my husband.  I really didn’t have any time for me, except in the shower at the end of the day.   It was all too much.  Jason listened telling me that he had been trying to tell me this for months.  I know he had.  Finally, I knew.  I couldn’t keep going like this. 

The crazy thing is that some place in me I felt like I should be able to do this without a break.  The truth is the only one who is supposed to be able to do everything is God.  I am not God…though sometimes I try to be in my desire to control the circumstances around me (mostly without realizing it).  The crazy thing is that while I was trying to read God’s Word and connect with Him I seemed to be unaware of the way He was speaking to me in the midst of my circumstances all along.  While I felt like time spent in His word was dry; He was trying to breathe life into my life if I just had eyes to see and would be courageous enough to trust him and give him control.

He was calling out:

"Come to me, [you] are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." -Matthew 11:28-30

I needed space to rest.   I needed to find a way to be me again.

So it began.  Jason stayed with our Little Love while I ran some errands.  Although I had no pressing commitments, I was rushing the whole time.  I discovered how inwardly rushed I had become.  It turns out it is a lot easier to get into a rut than to find the way out.  I have embarked on the journey though.  I am working on asking for help from family.  I am also working on finding people to trust my Little Love with when family is not free.  I am doing all this very imperfectly, but as I have been taking small steps forward I have found that I have a bit more energy to do what I knew that I could. 

That seems so very backwards, yet it is true.  When we rest we have the energy to work, to create, to respond.

I am learning to rest again.  I am learning to follow those little nudges of the Holy Spirit again that lead to peace and life and love and rest so that I can rise to whatever the calendar brings and then some.   As I do better, I hope you will find me typing away and sharing the beautiful journey of becoming with you.**


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we pursue Jesus’ promise that when we come to Him we will find rest.  May His rest reach into the deepest parts of who we are and breathe His life into us spilling forth His radiant love.

Jessica :)

*I read often, nursing has been great for that, but it had been months since I had read any fiction for fun.   I tend to devour it and nonfiction is much easier to put down for chores.

**While I hope this means I will be able to post more regularly, I plan to rest as needed.  So if you find yourself enjoying this space on A Becoming Life and not knowing when to expect a post, perhaps you might consider joining the email list to get the next post in your email whether it is one week or a month or a few months!