Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Feet, Legs, Arms and Hands

We are into the third full week of January, can you believe it? My head tells me January has just begun, but we're flying through the month. I'm thankful for Holley's prompts that keep me writing!

The Body of Christ is a tricky thing...sometimes too fluffy if viewed from far away and too gritty when seen up close. We are both fallen and redeemed and must live in that tension as we stumble, kneel, stand, walk together.

I grew up with glimpses of friendship, little peeks at the Body done right. Then I left home, and in God's goodness, I was immersed in this thing called sisterhood. I've written about a few of these lovelies before, but how to you fully describe the people who have grown so close that you feel that soul connection?

Lindsey keeps my feet on the ground, rooted in Scripture. Samantha gets those feet moving. Andi walks beside me. Emily keeps my hands from being idle, and Kiley keeps my fingers typing. Krystal is my smile, my laughter, and Julia?

Julia prays.

I met Julia as a sophomore in college and quickly identified her as everything I wished I was, but wasn't. She is bubbly, petite, impeccably dressed, adorably cute. She doesn't care what others think. She's an optimist. She runs.

We both signed up for the Trinidad Spring Service Project, and before we left the country, we paired up as travel buddies. She was dating (and is now married to) one of my guy's guys, so we bonded quickly over their antics and cemented our friendship under the Trini sun. Throughout our trip I saw more ways I wanted to be like Julia. She worships. She loves. She encourages.

Since then we've gone through transfers, weddings, moves, heartaches, and triumphs. And the longer I'm friends with Julia, the more I learn from her. She seeks. She invests. She perseveres.

I needed to list a encouragement partner as part of the God-Sized Dreams Team application, and so I asked Julia to be my travel buddy once again. I don't know where 2013 will bring us, but I do know Julia will keep asking, keep praying, and keep Scripture popping up on my phone.

The Body of Christ is a tricky thing. But I know God has blessed me with arms to hug me, legs to keep me going, mouths to speak truth. And that is beautiful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Step One: Open the Door

Not my door...theirs.
Last week a big group of lovely ladies posted about their God-sized dreams for 2013. My dream is to intentionally use our home to connect with others, love on whoever God brings through our door, and invite God to use this year to whatever purpose He deems good.

This week Holley urged our team to take a small step to get started, to create just the smallest forward movement in faith, then trust God to grow the momentum and do His big thing.

This past week was full of projects, catching up, and a quick visit to see the nieces, full of the raw materials good excuses are made of. Yet, I'm resisting that ever-constant urge to do so. Yes, life is busy. But I'm choosing to move forward.

In the Do What You Can Plan, Holley writes this about the Proverbs 31 woman: "She does what's simple and straightforward. But she does it with consistency and excellence. Over time, that adds up to much more than her actions each day might convey to those observing."

Admitted, the Proverbs 31 woman and I have never quite seen eye to eye. She stands there all cute in purple, subtlety revealing her strong, defined arms. She gets up early, and sews, and is good at everything that I am not. And yet...the root of my jealously, my feelings of inadequacy, is rooted in exactly what Holley describes..."she does it with consistency and excellence." She shows up, does what she needs to do, and lets God amplify her actions. Beautiful. Convicting.

So this week, I took a step forward by opening our door ('s quite chilly here), by turning the mental lock that keeps me safe but keeps others out, by saying yes to the opportunities God brings.

Here is this week's list of yeses:
  • Hosting this week's Bible study
  • Reaching out to a friend to spend some time together
  • Beginning to plan an annual get-together that seemed like it might be too much this year
  • Obeying a God-push to text a friend
It's a short list, but it's a start. Are you saying yes to new things this year? Will you share? Praying our lists will continue to grow. Consistently. In excellence.

 Linking up here today. Join us?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God-Sized Dreaming & My One Word

For the last few weeks I've been getting to know my fellow members of Holley Gerth's God-Sized Dreams Team, and I've been inspired by the size, direction, and progress of their goals. While I'm not in the position to write a book or teach or speak at conferences, I am equally excited to see how God works in 2013.

God-sized dreams are not the same as grand-sized dreams, as I am, thankfully, often reminded. God-sized dreams simply are the heart longings for more of what God has for us. And yet that isn't always so simple, is it?

So after searching, praying, fighting the little voice that says my dream is lame, here's my dream for 2013: to grow in hospitality, to use our new home to build community, to say yes to and pursue opportunities God brings into our lives.

Last March we felt God leading us to stay in our city, despite grad school offers in different states. Within a few weeks of making this decision and beginning to look at purchasing a house, a coworker informed me that he and his family were moving, and we had the following conversation:
K: "So I hear you're looking for a house."
Me: "Yes."
K: "Well...I have a house."

He then proceeded to describe his family's house and he quickly covered every item in our "Things We Hope for in a House but Know We Won't Actually Get Them All" list, right down to the number of bedrooms and space designated for our someday-piano. We received further confirmation about our decision when Nate was offered a new job that lightened the financial commitment and happened to start on the same day as our closing. Throw in an international mission the week before we closed, and the month of June drove us to the brink of brokenness and covered us in overwhelming, sustaining gratitude.

These converging blessings made one thing very clear: this home is God's alone. We are simply to use it to glorify Him. And so, my one word for 2013 is:
I seek to invite others into our home, to invite conversation, to invite the messy beauty of connecting with others, to invite God to use this year to whatever purpose He brings. I'm praying this one dream will grow into more, that opening our door will open another. And I'm guessing that if we are faithful in saying yes, we'll look back one 2013 once again in awe of the perfect plan of our Creator, the One still creating, moving, refining.

And of course, I'd be a fool if I didn't invite you to come along...would you share? Are you dreaming this year? Praying for your dreams today. Hoping 2013 will be one of God-inspired awe.

God-sized dreams aren’t really about size at all–they’re about 
embracing  and pursuing the desires God has placed within your heart 
that perfectly fit who you are. God-sized dreams are part of your purpose 
and they lead to more joy, meaning, and hope in your life. 
Holley Gerth 

Want to be inspired? Check out other God-Sized dreams and link up with us!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reflecting on the Whirlwind

We spent about 25 hours in the car over the last week, and road trips inevitably bring about reflection. 2012 can be described as nothing less than a whirlwind. We attended weddings and funerals, celebrated and endured heartache, closed a door and saw God open another, blessing tumbling all about us.

I think back on 2012, and I see it as an altar year, as a year we will revisit to remember God's faithfulness. We wrestled with where God was leading us, seeking direction and peace. We traveled, we settled. We said goodbye and we welcomed new life. The winds blew, picked us up, reshaped us and set us back down again. Grace has way of doing that, with both force and gentleness. It was a hard year. It was a good year. And we are thankful.

And since I'm terrible at keeping up with photos, here is a review of 2012 in pictures! (Starting in May...)

Natalie graduated! Watch out world.
After much deliberation, we said goodbye to our first apartment. So many good memories here!
And in June we moved into our first home!
We celebrated two years of marriage. Bliss!
We saw a lot of this little one in 2012. Can you blame us?
We were so happy Lydia and family came to visit in the new house in July!
We celebrated the marriage of Michael & Jenny! Our family of Six Chords is now complete.
In September we celebrated Kiley & Nate's marriage.
So blessed by these friendships!
In August we finally attended the National Balloon Classic. What a treat!
In September we welcomed our second niece: Grace Elizabeth.
Later in September we traveled to Chicago to see the Ryder Cup.
Seeing the best golfers in the world was stunning.
And so was bringing home a little piece of it.
In October we celebrated my birthday a few months late by seeing Les Miserables.
Seeing it with great friends made it even better!
At the end of October we celebrated our 5-year anniversary of our first date. Lots of reminiscing!
In November we filled our annual Operation Christmas Child boxes. Love this ministry!
And Grace kept growing and growing!
Later in November we saw Lecrae and 116 Clique in concert. 
Again...this was made even better by great friends!
We also did some serious painting throughout the house. So far we're still smiling!
In late December, Nate survived scooping our first snowfall!
We ended the year celebrating in Nashville.
Again...great friends made the memories so much sweeter.
Here's to a happy 2013, y'all!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2 Ways to Start Off 2013

We just rolled into town from our great Christmas/New Year's excursion, but I wanted to let you know about two great resources, as we start off the new year. And for the next few hours, the first one is free!

Do What You Can" Plan: 21 Days to Making Any Area of Your Life Better
By Holley Gerth
Who doesn't need some extra help and encouragement as we make goals for 2013? For the rest of the day, this e-book is free! I don't have a Kindle, but it only took a few minutes to download it to my PC. So easy and so worth it.

Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn't Good Enough
By Justin & Trish Davis
I began following Justin & Trish's blog a few years ago, and it has been full of encouragement, conviction, and blessing for Nate and me as we navigate the first few years of our marriage. Theirs is a beautiful story of redemption, and I am excited to dig deep into the truth of this book. Take a look!

Have a great start to 2013, dear ones!