Sunday, March 30, 2014

{ joy school }

Epiphany: " manifestation, striking appearance") is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective. Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally follow a process of significant thought about a problem. Often they are triggered by a new and key piece of information, but importantly, a depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding


   The last couple weeks have brought some big come-to-Jesus moments for me. This came as a suprise to me but these come-to-Jesus-moments were born out of some moments of pure ugliness in me. I am embarrassed to even admit that I am humanly speaking capable of this, but operating in my flesh apart from the love that constrains me ( 2 Cor. 5:15 ), I found myself in an angry shouting match with my eight year old daughter on our stairs. Where I was fully engaging my emotions in sin instead of pointing her to Jesus, which I am still as grieved over as I am thankful now for the ways God uses repentance to soften us and how quick the Lord and my children are to forgive me. Looking back on how such a bad day on my part could end up being such a good day, I only see grace and mercy and I am reminded once again that it is not my performance or perfection that He sees when He looks at me, it's Jesus.

    After David and the kids fell asleep that night, I was laying in bed but still feeling wide awake so I snuck out to the couch and curled up with a book and a cup of tea. It was truly the last place I expected to have an epiphany.  But it was then I began to feel this soft and quiet whisper in my spirit, that I now call my " joy thing."
  Joy thoughts in simple short sentences, mixed with scripture references mostly, were coming to me randomly, as if someone was listing them off to me. I promise I can count on one hand the amount if times I've and an out of body kind of experience but after these thoughts on joy, of joy started rising in my soul and didn’t stop until after 2 am that morning. I can not think of any other way to describe it. I had goose bumps and kept giggling and waking David up all night long and asking Him what He thought was happening.
So I wrote all these joy things down. And even when I woke up in the morning there were new ones. It still feels so surreal and I am not even in the least bit sure what it all means apart from these two things:  

1) That I am supposed to pursue deep joy in my life and study joy by reading the Bible from cover to cover, documenting and digging deep down whenever I run across that word in scriptures and peoples lives.

2) That I need to read everything I can get my hands on on the topic of joy! So please friends, fire away with your favorite recommendations or places of joy.

This is how I described the experience to my daughter last night, God is sending me to " joy school."  I feel so humbled and grateful for this gift from Him. For this heightened awareness, a joy radar of sorts. For the way joy is jumping off the page at me, and for how I am seeing it all day long, around every corner!

  In the wake of all of this " joy thing" a dear friend of mine lost her beautiful 7 month old grandson from a heartbreaking battle with SCID's.  We’ve been praying for over a month now, for healing and a miracle and for Jesus to break through. He did all those things,  just not in the way we wanted Him to. And I wonder, how often joy comes on our terms. And I wonder,  how do you reconcile joy when you can hardly breathe because life hurts so much and you are too broken to pick yourself up off the floor? And then, in the middle if my questioning, I was comforted by this quote from D.Bonhofer:

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”  

Did you catch that part about the torment of memory turned into silent joy? The answer to one tiny piece of that particle puzzle clicks into place.

But what about messy joy, broken joy, raw joy, joy in depression, joy in catastrophic tragedy, joy in abandonment? Is it even possible for those words to be paired with the word joy and make sense? And I hold all these questions cupped in my open hands as I call Him good and faithful and love. That over time and eternity He will work out these questions I have, we have,
 
 
 
by His perfect, unfailing love.

And if you were to ask me today to summarize to you what joy means to me in one simple equation it would be this:

Joy=Jesus.
Jesus=joy.

This truth about joy is my foundation and and my jumping off place and I am thrilled beyond words that I get to be a lifelong student of the art of joy.

Joy______________.

Fill in the blank for me dear ones, and join hands with me as we treasure hunt for joy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

{ Only Grace }

{ Image borrowed from Naptime Diaries  }

 ( This last week we were asked by our pastor if we would write down the story of what God has been doing in our hearts since  RLM has become our home sweet home church and as humbling as it was for us we didn't hesitate to say yes, because God deserves all the glory for our anything good that ever has, is or will happen in our lives... )

  We are truly humbled and blessed by the opportunity to share with you how God is working in our lives.

   David and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary and we have four young children. They keep us on our toes. Usually they keep us on our toes, laughing. 
We see parenting as a great privilege and gift from God. That being said, our life these days is a whole lot of sticky, noisy and messy. Thankfully, Jesus is all about taking our mess, especially the mess in our hearts and turning it by the miracle of His grace into something beautiful. We both grew up in Christian families. And we both accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior at a young age. We grew up in the church, but over years of being in unhealthy churches we felt reluctant to get "too close" in a church, for fear of being hurt, so we tended to stay hidden on the “fringes.”  

  This past winter, after the birth of our fourth baby, we found ourselves in a dark place, feeling overwhelmed and isolated.  Stuck in survival mode, far from a place that felt like growth or freedom. Looking back now on that especially hard season, we see it as a storm of grace. It was exactly what we needed. God used that time of desperation to break us so we could begin to know and experience Him in a deeper, more intimate way. We are so thankful for the way He has interrupted our sleepy comfortable, lukewarm lives, as “ good American Christians “.

 We have asked Jesus to make us hungry for Him and to forgive us for living mostly selfish, self-absorbed lives. He is opening our eyes to how“ good things” can often be the enemy of what’s most important, that being:  making much of Jesus and His glory revealed in His Kingdom here. And He has used getting connected here at Real Life, in real relationships to do that. Since coming to Real Life, God has done a miracle in our hearts and has given us a fresh desire and love for His Word, His people and a new burden for those that don't know Him. We've encountered Jesus in a deeper way , and we've experienced what it means to truly be a disciple. God has used the people of this church body, who have taken the time and invested in loving and pointing us to Jesus, and who have encouraged us to take the next intentional step of obedience to become the man and woman the Lord is calling us to be.  And in that we are experiencing that there truly is no greater joy, than the joy of drawing close to him and loving and serving Jesus as a couple and a family.
 God has called me ( David ) to lead my family. I am here to serve, in whatever way I can, to step up and see where God will lead me, my family and this church as we learn to work diligently and love well. I want to see people delivered from whatever it is that keeps them from Jesus.
  We are so grateful that God uses ordinary people. Because we are just that. And we feel so humbled to join with the vision of RLM, to see this city experience the miracle of deliverance and freedom and life abundant that Jesus has poured into our hearts. 
 
One precious person at a time. 





Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy { pink } Party

And just like that our Lucy Wren girl turned two. My " ha-bee-bee " she calls it! And she was positively delighted with her very pink party.








  This is signature Lucy Wren, just turned two... with her very few words, her blonde bangs and hair pulled back into pig tails that stick straight out, pretty dresses and " bee-bops" (flip flops) every day... she spends the day playing with her dollies and being their momma. She would eat a giant steak but turn down a ice cream cone. She is known for her love of cheese. Especially cheese sticks. Once at our friends house she ate eight cheese sticks. Yes you read that right,  I said eight. She throws some pretty big tantrums but also has the best leg hugs and neck squeezes and loves to kiss us and tell us she loves us. She's affectionate and nurturing, most darling and loved by all. xo


Annabelle's Lucy List:

She always gets dirty
She always says " I'm the momma, I'm the momma"
She always takes good care of her baby dolls
She is really funny
Her favorite song is Jesus Loves Me
And she's good at finding things
She likes flowers, just like me
And she's scared of bugs
And she loves to do dress up
She really like her little sister Ruby and calls her baby Grace
And she always likes to play with me and Jack
Her favorite is color is pink
She always calls me Belle

Jack's  Lucy List -

She likes to jump
She likes to touch the computer
She likes to try on Mommy's shoes
She likes hitting you  ( but that's not very nice )
She's very funny 
She loves to throw balls
She says " pee-pee bad " when she has to go potty
She likes Tinkerbelle
She likes to drive her little tricycle
And she likes to be chased by me
And she likes to watch Leap Frog with me



Friday, May 24, 2013

{ pink ballet slippers and sparkly mouse tales }

spark·ly  (spärkl)
adj. spark·li·er, spark·li·est

1. a. Giving off tiny flashes of light; glittery: a dress with sparkly sequins.
b. Lively; vivacious: a sparkly personality.
2. Effervescent.
 
  At 7 how well that describes our Anniebelle girl! We just wrapped up year # two of ballet for her with a recital this past weekend. She delights in all of it and that is our delight. But what girl wouldn't with gilttery mouse tails tied in pink satin bows and frilly tutus! She is so lovely and the pictures at the end with her Daddy make me cry. 





Monday, May 20, 2013

{ 10 things }

  1. He is my one in six billion. I'd rather have a bad day with him than a good day with anyone else.
  2. Nothing says home, like his arms. 
  3. He loves sacrificially.
  4. He works tirelessly and without complaining.
  5. He has made me his standard of beauty + and I feel " safe in my skin" with him.
  6. We are his hobby.
  7. He is the truest and greatest earthly example of unconditional love to me.
  8. As Anne Shirley told Gilbert Blithe, "I don't want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.”
  9. He is my favorite and my best.
  10. I love him far more than I have ever found the words to say to him. 

And now here's our "to-do" for the next 10+ years:  More flirting, more dancing, more laughing, more, much more time spent and memories made with our littles, and ever more loving, knowing and serving Jesus together! What a way to spend our one wild and beautiful life. I still pinch myself that I get to be his wife. It's such a honor and my absolute delight.  
For over a decade now I am happier than I ever imagined I could ever be, a deep down, more noisy than quiet, more messy than perfect,  more chaotic than calm and more often than not sort of happy. Truly. Thank you Jesus, and thank you Mr of mine. This is love. xo

{ the first one }

Nov.  15, 2002

Boy that I Love -

  I understand the love of God better than I ever have now that I am thanks to you, a recipient of the human counterpart. And grace, I feel so fully embraced by grace. That's what you make me feel, unconditional love + deep grace, my strong, quiet man.

  I am getting reports from reliable sources that you are turning into quite the conversationalist. :) I think you have been seeing too much of me. My talkiness is rubbing off on you. Scary thought. They say you have a perpetual smile. And oh that makes me happy because I love your smile more than any other smile in the whole entire world. I can see it 450 miles away. It brightens up any cloudy day, dark night or fearful thought. Because perfect love casts out fear. I have always wanted to experience a perfect love. Jesus love is perfect. And do you think David that just maybe sometimes He might us the love of a man and a woman to reveal that perfect love? I am full of wonder and joy over the possibility of that. 

You just keep holding onto Jesus honey...He's really all we need.

This is the first real love letter I have ever written. I always hoped that it would be to you.

Jesus, you are faithful and true in every way. Your love overwhelms me, Your mercy brings me to my knees, Your kindness humbles me.  Help us love you back like as you first loved us.

I love you so much that it makes this hyper girl calm. Figure that one out. 

Gladly Yours,
Chelle


  And the rest, ten plus years later is history as we proclaim how good and faithful the Lord has been to bless us with each other and a beautiful marriage, plus four small and crazy beautiful people that call us Daddy and Mama and share our last name.That is nothing short of a gift and the work of His gracious heart! I type this with tears streaming down my face, humbled by His perfect faithfulness and grace as we seek to build our lives and home around Him, " rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. " Colossions 2:7 
For He is love. Perfect. Amazing. Love.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

{ Excerpt }

 I have been reading this book called Grace for the Good Girl, Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily Freeman, who writes at Chatting At the Sky and it is hitting me hard, every page and I mean that in the best possible sense, as a compliment to the author. It's spooky how sometimes I'll read a page and wonder how she got into my head, because she just described me so to a T. It has impacted me like no other book since 1000 Gifts has.I have underlined and circled and written notes on nearly every page. And could not recommend it more highly. Especially for those of us who are second generation Christians.
So here is a snippet from one of my favorite paragraphs so far:

" When you're used to wearing a mask, you are comfortable with compartmentalizing life. Mask-wearing good girls put worship in a slivered-up pie chart, dividing our lives into segments of importance. We assign percentages for work, service, prayer, school, exercise, PTA, meal planning, bill paying, dog walking, toilet cleaning, church and rest (if we're lucky). But the woman who has freely received the abundance of truth from Jesus abides in that truth as her very life. In other words, the lines of the pie chart disappear, and worship covers the full circle. Free women respond with worship in everything. We receive love, and extend worship. We embrace children, offering worship.  We comfort, we laugh, we mourn, we dance, we read, we dream, we exist- all worship. We pay the bills, we go for a run, we enjoy a good movie, we make dinner, we welcome friends with open arms- worship, all worship. We send money and offer prayer and sit with a lonely neighbor, in Jesus name. We wait for love, we long for home, we pour out our hearts and hopes and fears and longing; we create with words and photos and colors and food, all beautiful beautiful acts of worship! "

Or as Romans 12:1 say " So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. This is truly the way to worship him.   - The Message/NLT

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

{ Game...errr Name Changer }

 The name of my blog, it gives me away. To most of you it will come as no surprise that I have a reputation for and a tendency to more often than not, see life through rose colored glasses. I have always been known as a little goody-two-shoes, since I was a little girl I have carried around this weight of feeling like I need to make and keep everyone around me happy. I thank Jesus for kicking that all out from under me. For showing me how useless my attempts at joy are apart from Him. Like never before I have come to realize that my identity is not in how cheerful I can be. ( even as a proponent of true cheerfulness as opposed to being fake ) I feel as if joy has been an idol of sorts in my life. And by that I mean self manufactured, counterfeit joy, not true joy that is the overflow of Jesus in me. And so I am changing the name of my blog. As a marker or altar of sorts of the way God is working in my life. As He takes the broken mess of who I am,  the good the bad and the ugly and transforms me by this glorious exchange of my mess for His love, my emptiness for His joy, my striving for His peace, my impatience for His patience, my hardness for His kindness, my ugliness for His goodness my selfishness for His self-control.


I am so humbled by the way He takes the ashes of our sin and by the beauty of grace and the gospel turns them into beauty and joy. I am so humbled that He is opening my eyes to the truth of knowing Him in my head versus the experience knowing Him intimately and I never want to go back to that place of being stagnant by just going through the motions of being " a Christian." Once having tasted that freedom and abundance of life in Jesus, there can be no turning back. Only a going deeper.