Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Post: Naked Truth's of Marriage

So excited to share over at my dear sister Julianna's blog today as a part of the "Naked Truth" About Marriage series! :) That's right.  I said naked.   Head on over and check it out.  Also, stay a while, while you're there.  Julianna is an amazing woman of God who has taught me a lot, and I know you'd be blessed to get to know her better!!!  Click on the link below to head on over!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dancing in the Living Room

I've been into music for a long time.  A long time.  As long as I can remember.  I am grateful to my mom for singing with me before bed when I was little.  I am grateful to my dad for always playing jazz in the car.  Music is so complex and I am talking about a different type of complex than a mind boggling time signature or trying to conquer one of Bach's finest on the ivories.

And I've even tried 3 times now to put my exact thoughts about it's complexity into words here in a paragraph- and I just can't.  So I'll put it this way.  I'm sitting (more like dancing)  in my living room tonight listening to music through the new speakers my man just put in our ceiling.  and I am remembering what happens when the song inside of me is not hindered by any one or anything (including myself and my own thoughts and fears).  What happens is life is new.  The life inside me is new.  Worship (which my favorite worship leader defines as 'giving back to God what He first gave to us') to me, is not just about giving Him honor and praise for how absolutely amazing He is.  But when I worship Him,  I know that I am stepping towards Him in intimacy-- and intimacy with Jesus is my greatest weapon against my enemy.

However, I have not felt like worshiping much lately.   and I have released myself from any feelings or frustrations that have come from trying to figure out of if that is okay or not.  I haven't had the words.  One of my favorite things about music is the relationship between lyric and melody.  A deep, rich melody, can convey something about a lyric that wasn't there before- and vise versa.  I am a words girl.  But I haven't had any words.  Well maybe I should put it this way-  I haven't had words that I feel like really get to what I am feeling and processing inside.  Most of the time I feel confused.  In all that this year has brought about- it has felt like my mind has processed so much that it just shut off- unable to make connection between the words and melodies of my heart.

And now, tonight, I think I know why.  There is a passage in the Word that talks about how our Helper and Comforter prays on our behalf, and I see this in a new way now.  As a human and as a child of God I think I need these times of not having the words so that I move past my mind in worship and in relationship with Him and just remember that regardless of what is happening on my end, He is ALWAYS moving towards me.  He is ALWAYS singing over me- just as He did the moment that He breathed me into life.  There is always a song.  

Before my husband left tonight He put a bunch of CD's in the CD player for me to listen to tonight as I hung around the house.  I didn't know what he chose, but within minutes one of my all time favorite albums came on.  It was The Hymn Sing by Indelible Grace.. a group of artists who have put new melodies to some of the most beautifully written hymns.  The first song began to play and I started bouncing to the beat a little in the kitchen while washing dishes.  The next song came on and I found myself singing REALLY loud while folding laundary in my bedroom.. and before I knew it,  I found myself slow dancing with my Savior in the living room.  With tears falling, I rested my head on his shoulder as I listened to these words:

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel

 But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust

 Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourner's prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there

 Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet 

-Anne Steele

I did not have my own words so God had someone else sing them for me so I could just dance with my Father.  God's love, nor my worship is limited to what words I have or don't have.  My worship to him is saying "yes" when my Father asks me to dance.  and it is saying, "okay" when He says he wants to not only hold me, but heal me.  I look forward to the day when I can look Anne Steele, who wrote this stunning, honesty hymn, in the eye and tell her that Jesus healed a part of me while we danced to this song.  Anne spent the majority of her life hindered by an injury to her hip.  You know what I'm going to say to her next after a hug and a "thank you"?  I'm going to ask her to dance with me!

Here is a link to hear the album I mentioned tonight.  Please get it-  please put it on and please dance with Jesus as you soak in the most beautiful words of hymns new and old.

and please know this....   "Jesus is the true refuge of our weary soul"-- and we can go to Him and say..."my hope is fainting"-  and he will hold you.

and to read more about the beautiful Anne Steele go here.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Becoming Girls

Last year I had the privilege of speaking to a group of beautiful middle school girls in Temecula, California.  I had never been there before, and although rather different from Michigan, it was stunning to me, and refreshing.  In my session with the girls at the Becoming Girls Conference,  I shared candidly through story telling about the realities we face as girls (of all ages) regarding being our real selves--- and not only that, but living that out in a way in which we see God's dreams in us come to life.

What an honor to share that time with them, and not only that but also to continue with them on the journey through the Becoming Girl's blog.  Humbled to be able to share a bit more via writing---  head on over to the website to read the blog post and get educated on the conference.  I'd highly recommend this conference to any middle school or high school aged girl.  Plus- California is sweet.  You can shorten the name of their state by saying Cali..  and it sounds cool.  If you do that to our state name, Michigan,  someone will think you're referencing some guy you know.

Click the link below to head on over to the website:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Peekin' During Prayer

When my brother and I were little we used to  "peek" at each other during dinner prayer and then as soon as Dad said, "Amen" we'd both open our eyes and try to be the first one to say, 

"mom!! Jeremy/Cara had their eyes open!"  

Admittedly, sometimes we still do it.  

Last Sunday my hubs and I went to my brothers church to lead worship with him.  I was having a restless morning.  I wasn't feeling the best, and had been fighting for peace in my spirit for a few days.   I was sitting on a stool up on stage while the pastor was leading the congregation in prayer, and that's right-- I peeked.  I didn't want to fall asleep and then fall off my stool.  Totally what I was thinking about. 

When I opened my eyes I looked out into the congregation and in the second row I saw something that will forever change my conversations with my Father. 

A little girl in a pink dress, was cuddled up at her daddy's side,  staring up at him with the biggest grin I have ever seen.. dimples and all.  He, however, had his eyes closed and head bowed.  No more than two seconds later did he open his eyes, engulf her in his arms and whispered to her...

"I love you."

"I love you too, Daddy" she said back.

and that was it.

Now, ask my husband... I normally am blind as a bat and have to work hard to see small details at any measure of distance.  But, God allowed me to read the words on their lips as if through a magnifying glass.  

I might as well have fallen off of my stool... and then just stayed down there the rest of the service weeping.  A friend has taught me to pray.. "Get to me, God"- and this got to me.  REALLY got to me.  

It was the most beautiful picture of prayer I had ever seen.  I have spent my whole life wrestling with prayer.  I can talk and talk all day long to the people around me and even to myself, but when it comes to heart to hearts with my Father, I close up.  and then because I don't always understand it, I get religious about it and start making rules and formulas to help me "talk with God better".   But what is prayer really?

I think it's when I cuddle up to my Daddy's side and "gaze upon Him". 
and it's when He turns to me and whispers, "I love you."
and it's when I say, " I love too, Daddy."

and this is enough.  this is more than enough.  
for this is the bottom line of every conversation I have ever had or will ever have with my Father.  

I am so stinkin' glad I peeked during prayer on Sunday morning. I think I'll be praying with my eyes open from now on.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

on saying "no"

I have had to say "no" to two opportunities in the last 3 days that I wanted to say "yes" to.  This blog post is a confession.  My confession goes like this: 

Sometimes, even though I've been working on it for years, I still want to say "yes" to things because I think they will make me feel better about myself. 

And then, once I get honest with myself, although I might be kicking and screaming, I remember that God knows what is best for me- WAY better than I do.  He is, after all, a loving Father. 

About 3 years ago I was set free from a few addictions.  (one, of which, you can read about here).  I was constantly trying to stay busy.  Some might call this a need for adrenaline.  Some might call this avoidance.  Call it whatever you will- but 3 years ago I made a commitment that I was not going to run from the realities of life and of love any longer.  So when I realized, a few days ago, that I was flirting with this addiction again- I confessed to my husband, and I made a decision to say "no".   I have yet to meet a person that walks through hard times as a full out natural.  I think we are all tempted to avoid pain or difficulty in one way shape or form.  but, chances are it will find you again. 

Confess it.  Confession sets you free.

Monday, May 14, 2012

my story: guest post

I had the honor of writing a piece of God's story in my life over at The Neesby Lookbook today.  I am so humbled by this.  The Lookbook is written by Nicole Neesby and I promise if you spend time reading her posts, you will be encouraged by her honesty and humility- just as I have.  Telling our stories is important:  What might you write about your story if you only had 500 words?

Click the photo below to head to the Look book...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rhyming and Seasons

Finally!  Time to share about the new blog look and the new blogging journey.  There are two things I love that I chose as inspiration for moving towards a new look and feel for the blog....

1.  Rhyming

2.  Seasons

I've always been a writer/poet.  Fairly recently, though, have I actually moved the words from their humble abode in my head onto a piece of paper.  Ever since I can remember I've been putting together words in my head.  Sometimes to a beat, and sometimes with no rhyme or reason.  (ie.  My dad gave me one of my old school writing assignment that he recently found from when I was tiny.  It went something like this.... "I like you and I like me, Bum Bum Bum Bum Bum. Friends are fun and so are you. Bum Bum Bum Bum Bum.)    Sharing a story with someone was more energizing to me than candy as a kid (or at least that's my perspective.  Maybe my parents think differently.)  And there was always room for at least five different stories in my mind at one time.  There was nonfiction where stories were real about things that happened on a day to day basis.  And then nonfiction- about things that were not real that happened on a day to day basis.  (Sorry mom and dad).  There was fiction- about Disney characters and rewriting things I had seen on TV- or wished I had seen on TV.  There was adventure- about all the things I dreamed of experiencing.  and "you name it" was there too.  Words, words, words.

One of the ways that I rediscovered my love for words, was sharing hilarious little poems back and forth in cards between my dear sister Jennifer and I.  The rules for our poems are as follows:  1.  No erasing  2.  All language about the creative personality of the digestive tract is always welcome.  I've asked her to share her thoughts on this.  

C:  How has rhyming played a significant role in our friendship?  
J:  Rhyming is like dancing words. When I read a rhyme / poem I instantly feel a lift in my soul. I get this image of my body as a Marionette and as I read the rhyme/poem out loud, my body beings to dance and move with the words I am reading. The history of rhyming was often used to express a hard core truth in a subtle, more gentle way. I think our history of rhyming has created an outlet for us to express anything we are thinking at any given moment without retracting. Our unspoken guidelines have been, use pen, no starting over. What you write stays. Whether we have been fully aware of it or not, it feels to me as though God set us up early on in our friendship. You are the only friend that I have ever done something so consistently like this with and it has grown to be a powerful tool as we learn to fully express our real selves to one another with no walls.  

C:   Can you give an example? 
 J:  Yes. In every card to one another there is a poem or a rhyme, it is always written in ink and we have yet to cross out or start over. Birthday cards, Thank you cards, I love you cards, Thinking of you cards, Praying for you cards, Encouragement cards, you name it, we have covered it. 

Im sitting on the floor in six inches of the sun.
I thought it might be warm but alas I was wrong.
I’ve had so much to tell you in the last three days
But our paths they keep crossing and im walking in a maze.
The dossier is done I couldn’t help myself
I grabbed the old stuff from on top my shelf.
Ran it through the copier made it all fun and neat
And now im glad to say to you, yes it is complete.

I ate bean soup just the other night
as you can imagine my belly’s been a fright.
I woke this morning quite distressed the reason I could not tell
Then suddenly IT hit me, I wasn’t feeling well.
I graced the cold white god and did what I had to do
Now I am oh so good, good and sparkling new.

Im off to run a race today, a race against the clock
Certain things they cannot wait, hope I don’t go into shock.
The bank, the clerk, the agency, the store
Then off for chili with beans galore.
I hope I do not find myself back in the same old spot
Tomorrow when I rise again, the good old fashioned trots.  - J. Adams

Second to rhyming and writing poems about farts, I am passionate about seasons.  And by seasons I mean a lot of things.  Anyone who has journeyed closely with me the last few years has probably heard me say, "If there are two things that I've learned about God lately is that He is all about balance and all about seasons."  In fact, I think God created seasons to bring balance. 

When I finally understood that more commonly than not, I would experience life like I experience seasons, a load lifted from me.  It made sense-- there will be Summer, where things are full of life and energy, and I'll probably feel like being with people all the time.  There will be Fall, where I begin to slow down, and seeds once planted are ready for harvesting.  There will be Winter- when I hide, hibernate.  When things might feel lonely, quiet, distant, maybe even painful.  But, there will also always be Spring- where things are born, renewed and brought to life.  I absolutely love God for this.  I remember when I began to mediate on this, I had moments of looking back at my past and instead of being disgusted, regretful or even fearful, I found myself in gratitude for it all because I finally saw those things as part of a bigger picture. That those winter times were just that-- winter.  But Spring came, as God designed it to.

I believe that we can see this beautiful progression of  seasons in all things- in creation, in daily life, in the Gospel and in every relationship we have.  Sadly, relationships (a gift from heaven and the one place I think we can learn the most about who God is) often don't last long enough to weather more than one season.  What would happen to a butterfly if it didn't weather all it's designed seasons?  We'd have no butterfly---It is scary to let someone see you in all seasons, and it's scary to love someone through all seasons.  Those relationships are rare- and a gift to hold onto and learn from whenever you find them.  My friend Jen and I like to refer to this kind of friend as a "Jonathan" friend.  (A series coming on that later).  But I am grateful to have grown and weathered seasons with Jen, and interestingly, a butterfly has been a significant symbol for us.  I've asked her to share about this....

C:  A butterfly has been a powerful symbol in our friendship.  Will you describe your perspective on this?  
J:  Well, one of the very first times our paths crossed, you were singing at Central and I caught a glimpse of your ankle “butterfly” tattoo. For the entire span of our friendship and even before I have wanted a tattoo but lets just face it, I hate needles and pain by choice? Um no thank you. So I have yet to get a tattoo however I do have a nose ring of which we shared in that experience too. HA!
A butterfly is very symbolic of our friendship in many ways. A butterfly as we all know doesn’t start out very beautiful. It starts out as an Egg, kind of like us. Only the butterfly egg is laid on a leaf and we are plopped out into a strangers arms i.e. the doctor wearing big rubber gloves.
Then the Larva (caterpillar) hatches from the egg and eats leaves and flowers. We learn to crawl and eat easily digestible foods for quite some time as we are growing, too much hard substance too soon will ruin our digestive track. Trying to run before we learn to crawl will make for a lot of missed necessary growing phases. In many beginning stages of our friendship we were very careful in how we approached one another. We took time to learn about the other person and although one could argue we weren’t living out of our true selves in the early stages, another could also argue, we were. We were living out of the place of our hearts that were true to us at the time. I know I am super grateful for the beginning stages of our friendship for without them, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.
The caterpillar loses its old skin many times as it grows. That is us in our friendship, we have had numerous seasons of losing our old skin over and over again. A caterpillar also increases several thousand times in size before going into a resting stage, i.e.pupating. We have done this too, we have increased in knowledge of one another and we have grown from knowing one another.
The caterpillar then goes into what is called a Pupa stage. Also known as the RESTING stage. Our friendship has experienced this stage. Many friendships get to this place and either ignore it and move past it or they break away and do not continue the journey of friendship. This is the scary stage. This is the stage where you wonder what is the other person thinking? Are they mad at me? Did I do something to upset them? How can I fix this stage? But what many friendships could learn from this blog entry is that this stage is vital for a healthy, God intended relationship. This isn’t a stage that says, I don’t need you in my life, I don’t want you in my life. This is the stage that allows two people to inhale deeply and exhale long enough to discover their positioning in the relationship and to truly discover that if you can make it through the resting phase, you can make it through anything together!
The caterpillar then becomes an ADULT. A beautiful flying adult emerges. Our friendship is in this sweet stage right now and only God knows how long this particular stage will last because as we all know even the adult butterfly will continue the cycle above. We can’t stop growing individually or together. It is vital that we keep learning more and more about ourselves and about one another. If we stay open, willing and humble we can learn from each other daily.

C:  Talk about seasons, in light of friendship.   
J:   Friendships definitely have seasons.
There are the “Hi, nice to meet you” seasons. The “you want to have tea” seasons. The “I’ll send you a card” seasons. The “I am upset with you but I don’t know why” seasons. The “we laugh all the time” seasons. The “we cry all the time” seasons. The “I’ll pray for you” seasons. The “lets eat and watch a movie” seasons. The “I want to be quiet” seasons. The “I know what’s wrong with you” seasons. The “what’s wrong with you is really what’s wrong with me” seasons. The “I love you just the way you are” seasons.

All this to say, that seasons are something that I look to understand on a daily basis.  Through a seasonal lens I can see God differently.  I see life differently.  I see creation differently.  And I see relationships differently.  I am grateful for His promise that regardless of the seasons, "He makes all things work together for my good."  
 This blog is a fun little medium to share some of my reflections on the seasons we find in life, in hopes to encourage and bless others.  To me, poems make everything better so don't be surprised if I also share my thoughts with words that sound alike.

Did you notice that "dot" and "maat" rhyme?  :) 

Love ya's.  and thank you to my dear sister Jennifer for sharing with me today.  This woman has an INCREDIBLE heart and an INCREDIBLE story and an INCREDIBLE family.  PLEASE click this link and read more about her.  She and her family are greatly gifted and are also currently trying to adopt 3 more little princess from Haiti.  You can help!