Beautiful Chaos

Finding adventure in the everyday
Browsing Life with God

PLEASE live from your heart!

February28

I hear sometimes in Christian circles that we shouldn’t live by our emotions. That we should live in obedience instead, striving to follow God despite our selfish desires. This way of thinking says that our sinful hearts can’t be trusted and we need to ignore them and smother them with God’s truths to live differently in this world.

Well, this line of thinking ignites a fire in my heart that needs to get out. So I’m writing.

I have lived in “obedience” mode for most of my life. Trying to be “good enough” for others to earn love before I met Jesus and then “good enough” for God under the guise of “obedience”. I tried to beat my heart into obedience. I tried to push down my fear and selfish longings. I tried to ignore or “speak truth” to feelings that went against what God says. I tried. And where I ended up? Alone. Isolated from people because no one knew the real me. I didn’t even know the real me. I was so good at masking what was going on in my heart that I am still trying to uncover why I’m reacting at times. I have learned to feel my heart shut off, but it still takes time and usually journaling to uncover what I’m skillfully trying to avoid.

I became isolated from people because I was trying so hard to be something I wasn’t that I was living a lie. I had to hide from them to keep them from seeing a glimpse of the “real” me that I was so diligently trying to keep covered up from the world. I was one person on the outside and someone else on the inside. But I was so so good at it that I didn’t even know I was doing it. It seemed like the right way to go: obeying God and doing the right thing. Oh goodness.

WE ARE NOT ROBOTS! Sorry for shouting. That’s how fired up I feel. God did not create us to simply do his bidding like little minions, jumping when he says jump and giving up all heart and preference and choice. *sigh* Ok, back to my story.

Then I saw one man at a church event bare his heart and share the messiest, most real story I’ve ever heard. His story. It made me uncomfortable. I had spent so much time trying to cover up the mess in my life and here he was exposing his to the world. And as he shared his story it was in the exposing that God was able to heal his heart. To take his mess and renew it. To free his heart from all the trying and striving and allow him to live a real, authentic, free life. That was the beginning of my journey to honest living.

And I think I feel so fired up about this topic because I cringe at the thought of others still living that kind of half life that numbed me to everything real going on inside. It has taken 5 years for God to get me to this place of owning my mess, taking it to Him with full confidence of his love. You see, obedience comes out of relationship. It flows out. A natural thing. Not any kind of striving.

When God created us He gave us this heart that beats out feelings of all kinds and I can’t stand by and let anyone say that we should ignore what our heart is saying. That is ignoring a piece of the way God made you. It’s no different than the fact that he made your hands and feet, he made your face and body and he handcrafted, delicately and thoughtfully, just the way he wanted your heart.

Ignoring our heart is ignoring God. It is how he speaks to us. It is how we are aware of what is happening inside of us. Yes, maybe our heart is being selfish, but the only real way to stop being selfish, the only LASTING WAY, is to share that selfishness with God. Own it. To pour it out to him, sometimes with a friend, and allow Him to pour his grace all over it. Transformation is NOT an act of the will. We CANNOT force ourselves to be something we are not. God is the only one who can change our hearts.

And He is not afraid of our sin. He is not afraid to see that it’s ugly in there. He already knows it and wants to comfort us from the guilt and shame and then walk with us into newness. He doesn’t condemn or mock, he understands and grabs our hand and leads us into freedom and love.

We can’t live a life of serving God if we are spending all our efforts running from the very piece of us that makes us us. If God so painstakingly picked out that heart for us then we need to embrace it. We need to set it free. Allow our hearts to really feel because it’s only in that really feeling that we can really love. That we can truly rejoice and weep and cry out in anguish to our Beloved. The only way that we can share someone else’s sorrow and pain and carry it with them. The only way we can set the world on fire with God’s love. We need to let our hearts feel.

So, let us not close off our hearts in the name of obedience. Let us not claim emotional distance as the true way to follow God. Let us not offer cliche Bible verses to others when they are struggling. I can’t imagine how heartbroken He’d be that we shut down such a core piece of who we are, how we function in his name. So laugh. Cry. Get angry. Be selfish. Be prideful. Be ugly inside. Take those to God and find friends who are real as well. Tell Him honestly where you are, and let him speak to those places. Let him speak to them over and over again. As many times as you need. He doesn’t get tired of teaching his children how to let go of fear and bitterness and anger. I believe he delights in us when we come to him and allow him to truly set us free.

 

Beauty

February21

I’ve been wrestling with Beauty lately. I’ve been on this journey for awhile where I’m learning that my beauty is not something that can change or get lost. It isn’t tied up in my weight or muscle. It isn’t in my hair or my clothing or how I make-up my face. I am beautiful because God created me that way. He thinks that I am beautiful.

So, while I’ve been learning all that, make-up got really confusing to me. ‘If I believe that I am beautiful then I don’t need to wear makeup’ is where I went with it. I have been makeup free for over a month now. And to be sure, I don’t need makeup at all to be beautiful, I truly believe that. But this blog post by a lady I adore (and don’t technically know) sent me into a weird place. I was panicking inside but didn’t know why. I had to really dive into this beauty thing and figure it out.

And what I figured out? I am beautiful. Period.

That fact doesn’t change whether I wear a burlap sack and shave my head (something I actually really want to do someday). Or whether I wear makeup and lose the rest of this thyroid weight I want to lose. I am beautiful and I can still find what feels like me. I can still cut my hair in a way that makes me feel sassy, wear makeup that fits my style and wear clothes that flatter me and those things don’t change the truth.

Nothing can change that truth.

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I’m inherently beautiful and nothing can take that away or add to it.

You are inherently, absolutely beautiful and nothing can take that away from you either.

This song is about God making beautiful things. I love it and hope you will too.

Steps on the journey

February19

A few weeks ago we had a series of amazing conversations as we ate breakfast and shared my tea in the mornings. Layla asked me to read the story of Jesus dying on the cross. As I started reading, Seeley was eating and half listening but not really engaging. As I said some of the gruesome truth of this story, his ears heard what his mind couldn’t comprehend.

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Why did they do that to Jesus? And he listened to my answers. And asked more questions. Layla had her first moment of faith when she was 3 as well. Asking questions about what happens when we die. I think this was Seeley’s first understanding of the Savior’s love for us by taking on death and his first encounter with his rising from the dead and ascending to heaven. We read story after story. He didn’t want to stop, but baby woke up and needed my attention. We read again and again that week. We had so many conversations about God and his sacrificial love for us. He never “prayed the prayer”, but I don’t think he needs to say some magic words. He understood and believed that Jesus died because of his love for us and our sins needing paid for.

What a blessing to be a part of these faith journeys.

**If you need a great children’s Bible, look no further than The Jesus Storybook Bible. AH-mazing! It has made me cry multiple times in it’s story telling of the Father’s love for us and Jesus’ struggle. I wish they would make it bigger with so many more stories in it! On that same note, if you have a good “in between” Bible please let me know. Layla would love more, but couldn’t handle all.

the flame

February10

Our brave and foolish hearts cry out for more. There is a deep longing, a bigness in our chests that calls to us; at times in enticing whispers and in others enraged shouts. A purpose that engages the kingdom and sets our hearts on fire.

It’s only an ache right now. A growing chasm within us that won’t let us settle. Won’t let us be satisfied until. Until God himself reveals his purpose and lays out the plan and sets it into motion. Until we jump into this deeply mysterious and profoundly beautiful ocean of calling and start walking on the crashing waves hand in hand with the savior.

And until the timing is right, we wait. Because all we can do is trust his ridiculously lavish love that joins us with His impossible purposes and unimaginable plans. We rest in the humanly unattainable commission he gave, the call to more. We tenderly embrace these beating, bleeding hearts he put in us that won’t, that can’t be persuaded to let mediocre be enough.

Inwardly we groan like a woman in labor. We are growing pregnant with purpose and the time is drawing near for the it to be revealed in us and through us. Right now we are growing and stretching. He is developing something beyond what we can create on our own. And then the intense groaning and slow process of stretching will bring God’s thoughtful creation to fruition in our lives and forever change the world because of it.

So now we hold the ember that he has given us. We hold it close enough to keep us warm but don’t dare close our hands around it lest it burn us. But when the time is right, he will place it ablaze in us complete with ideas and plans and details. He will ignite the flames but they will not burn us up because it will be his hands holding the fire and ours walking into the calling.

my first hater

January13

I’m sure there will be many many more along my journey, but I read my first “you suck” comment recently. I knew it was coming. If you’re around the blog world or really any social media, you notice people have a lot more boldness than I think they would face to face. Anyhow, to this persons credit, they didn’t post it straight to my blog or even on my blog Facebook page, but instead a friend of mine shared my link and they commented there. It still stung. I still had to emotionally regroup, but after some time thinking, I’d like to say something to my hater. Thank you.

 

Their questioning of me and my beliefs on health caused me to ask some hard questions of myself as well. Is it all true? Is it true that I’m simply getting “expensive urine” by using the supplements I use or that those ailments I talked about would’ve cleared up on their own without help? Is it true that I am not really helping our immune systems because if I were we wouldn’t get sick at all? Am I just plain wrong? And am I leading people astray with all my wrong-ness? Am I just sharing with people to make a sale, to use them?

 

And what I came to is no. No to all of it. Over and over and over again, no. I’ve seen things turn around as we’ve started supplements. I saw Monkey’s dry, rough, totally itchy skin disappear over the course of a few days after starting him on supplements. I’ve had allergic reaction itchy hands and scalp to the point of fearing injuring my skin until I took my Shaklee. I’ve seen a rash covering Spunky’s body go away 30 minutes after giving her specific supplements. I’ve had my painful PMS diminish as I’ve provided my body what it needs. I’ve had multiple people tell me how much better their joints feel when they take Shaklee’s glucosamine product versus other brands. I have so many more stories that prove to me, scientific study or not, that they work and are WELL worth it for my family. (PS Shaklee has a Landmark Study done by a 3rd party that proves they are beneficial).

 

And yes, I’m going to share my experiences with people I love so they at least know that other options are out there. And yes, if sharing something that has changed my life could also make me some income to supplement my husband’s hard work, then yes, I’ll be doing that too and feel no shame. So asking those questions only strengthened my belief in all I do and stand for. And I am thankful.

 

I felt better after all of that pondering, but there was still a nagging in my heart. Next, I had to wrestle with how people see me. This person thought pretty hard core negative things about me. And they thought them when I was simply sharing my heart and my experiences. I had to ask more questions. Ok, so what if they do think that about me? What if 1000 people think those things? Then what?

 

And what I so peacefully and gratefully was led to? Then nothing changes. I’m still God’s. He’s still mine. I’m still complete and whole in him. He is still a heartbeat away, whispering to my soul, leading my life, filling in all of my gaps. He still looks at me the way I look at my kids: with delight and pride and hope for all he sees and all he knows I’ll become. No one can convince him to let me go. No one can convince him that I’m not worth it. No one can decide what “worth it” is, except him. And he decided it when he imagined me and proved it when he sent his Son to die for me. I am unshakable because I am standing on the Rock. 

Oh friends, may we all have things in our lives that give us the chance to run back to Him and make us realize how unshakable we are when he is our only foundation.

hope and disappointment

November19

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful woman who had a hope. It wasn’t an unreasonable hope by any means, one that would require the moving of mountains or the calming of seas. Her hope was even something that she was made for. Something that was woven into the very being of who she was. Part of the story of so many women who went before her, and yet the hope was still so great.

She’d been in the same situation with the same hope once before. The hope she held then wasn’t met. This ordinary hope that so many women take for granted, that so many women don’t even see. And now here she was again, still hoping.
She didn’t keep this weighty hope to herself or try to manipulate the hope into being. Instead she offered the hope to the One who fulfills hopes. The One who holds the sun and moon, the One who knows each hair on her head. She shared her hope with Him in countless whispers and silent tears heavy with fear and vulnerability.

And our heroin, she didn’t get her hope.
Yes, there was so much beauty still. So much to be thankful for. You see, there was the hope and there was also the gift. What the hope was to bring, still came. The gift was still there. And to be sure, the gift was what everything was all about.

But there was also disappointment. Sorrow at what was lost.

And we know her story, because it is also our own. We have all had hopes and that led to disappointments. Things in our life that aren’t what we dreamed they could be. Not even what they were meant to be.

Hope is such a courageous place to live. It requires putting our heart into something unknown and uncontrollable. Hope requires allowing our desire to be what we walk towards not knowing what the outcome will be. Hope is so costly.
The One who has power over the wind and rain, the One who speaks life into being chose not to give this hope to her. And regardless of the good gift at the end, the gift that was the whole point, the disappointment is still glaringly painful. It speaks ugly words at the woman about her flawed nature that she didn’t get this common hope.
We are told by the story that the One is good, and by faith we believe it’s true, but the question remains. Why? Why her when she hoped so bravely and pleaded so fervently? Why, when so many others were pleading on her behalf? Why, when this hope is so natural, so swirled into her very nature would she not be given it? 
 
And maybe we’re asking the wrong questions as we watch the story unfold, but out hearts ache and our minds search for understanding, and in those moments the questions are all that come.
 
And we take those questions and our achy hearts and we present them back to the One, because on our own those questions only lead to anger and fear. But what will He do with those questions? If this One can shut the mouth of lions and rain down fire from heaven, if He is mighty enough to part seas and raise the dead, what will His response be to our questions?
 
Love. What He breathes over us is love. Because His heart is achy too. His world is broken. His babies, us, we suffer and He never meant for it to be that way. His heart breaks with ours. He never meant for so many tears and so much pain. 
 
Long ago, He had a hope too. A hope that we would choose him and only him. And He so wanted our choosing, our love and devotion to be real that He allowed us free will. The ability to love back or choose our own way. And when we didn’t choose Him, choose love, the world broke. 

We broke the world.
 
And now here we are. Living in this broken mess we made, hand in hand with the One, acknowledging the disappointments yet walking on. Thankful that the Gift to trump all gifts still came, despite the broken hope.
 
So, instead of the questions that separate us and make us feel alone, let us run towards the One who has always been running towards us. Let us keep hoping because a life without hope is really no life at all. And let us trust the love of the One who has never left us to clean up the mess alone. 
 
And when we see fellow women in the story, heavy from disappointment, let us not downplay their pain or tell them to see only the gift. Let us breath love over them like the One does for us. Let us join with them in the struggle for understanding and letting go. Let us respond in the same way we see the One responding to us in our times of disappointment. Let us love.

A letter to Spunky’s husband

November15

Dear future husband of my daughter,

 
I have been praying for you since Spunky was born. Not the actual day she was born, I had other things on my mind that day like eating, sleeping and figuring out what to do with this tiny new being I was suddenly responsible for. But, nevertheless, I have been and will be praying for you your whole life. 
 
Sure I don’t know who you are yet, although I’ve got my eyes on a few prospects. Nothing serious, although I have mentioned to their parents that their son has my approval, but whatever. I’m not really into arranged marriages, however it is fun to play matchmaker even if only in my head. 

So, while I don’t actually have any clue who you’ll be, I know that when I say, “God, bless the boy who will be my son in law, make sure he knows how loved he is. Give him a passion for You and a heart to love and serve others. Teach him how to be a man who loves passionately, gives generously and has abundant compassion. Get him ready to be the teammate and leader my Spunky needs. Grow him into a man that exudes life in everything he does.” God knows I’m talking about you. 

 

Spunky was sick this past week. She had “wobbly legs” and an upset stomach. She spent the day resting on the couch, watching her new Monsters University movie and excitedly awaiting flowers from the current man in her life. And that got me thinking about you, the future man in her life.
You see, you have some pretty big shoes to fill. Whenever Spunky gets sick, she gets flowers. It started a year or two ago (time is a very fluid thing around here these days) when she was very sick and sad and her Papa wanted to find something to cheer her up. It worked. She has expected those flowers every time since. And he has delivered, with special help from me on the times we both forget and she reminds me with her excitedness.
This is just one of the many examples of things her current man does, that will lead her to you, her future man. Because that means when you come along, she won’t have settled for less than what she knows she is worth. She will pick you because you love her well, like she is accustomed to being loved. She will pick you because you delight in her and cherish her for who she is, not who you hope for her to be. She will pick you because you are intentional in your love and sacrifice. She will pick you because you give her a voice as you gently lead her. And she will pick you because you challenge her as you live life alongside her.

I’m so thankful for her current man, and I’m sure you are too. Because without him and how he loves her, she wouldn’t be looking for the kind of love that you have to offer. A love that flows straight from the Father himself.

Until We Meet In Person,
Holly