On Loving and Longing

it’s Valentine’s Day next week, and the aisles at Target are working overtime to make sure we know that love is in the air, am I right? 

And does it seem like we are all collectively trying to feel light, flirty, and happy…yet know that life is truly often heavy, burdensome, and even our best days are as the Psalmist says: “but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)

I’m not trying to be a downer; I’m just telling the truth from where I’m seeing it: Love is sweet and fragrant and fun, but it also requires labor, sacrifice, and diligence. I can’t look at pink hearts without considering all the purple ones too in the trenches of life. Love and loss, love and longing…seems to always go hand in hand.

After almost 19 years of marriage and loving a husband plus six kiddos…love (the verb) and the celebration of it feels much different than it used to:

Less fluff and more foundation. Less stuff and more substance. Less heartburn, but more heartache.

Life is full of opportunities to love, feel longing or loss, and to love anyway.

I’ve been thinking on these things as Valentine’s Day approaches and GraceLaced Shoppe launched the Be Still Series this week (with a sale!) The series is about fighting chaos and the discouragement of waiting for change, with the steadying truth of God’s Word. It’s His Word that reminds us that:

He is good when He blesses and takes away. He is not through with us yet and will indeed wipe away every tear and make all things new. We can be still because He is still on the throne, even when everything is not perfectly lovely or loving.

Love and longing can sometimes feel like the same thing: Both make the heart ache and both teach us to trust what we can’t always see with our eyes. 

So maybe these verses meet you at the intersection of loving and loss, maybe they find you yearning and waiting, and maybe these verses remind you that you must just keep pressing on in love and praise because Christ is love and your life is in Him.

I hope so.


*And if these (or anything else in the shoppe) speaks to you this week, we are having a shoppe-wide sale, so enjoy the discount and free print promo through Wednesday 2/15. 


Cheering you on, friends.

Because of grace,

 

(Family portrait by my friend, Joy Prouty of Wildflowers Photography)

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Thanks, On The Shores of Grace.

Have you ever considered…

Every blessing we give thanks for seems to have an equally tender lesson in trust, loss, hope, and sanctification as its context? The way of thanks is paved with a million little moments of doubt, fear, or thanklessness, but we often forget that it’s so. Our ability to give thanks and praise is because our faithful God turns our hearts to himself. He causes us to not be satisfied with the kind of answers we alone can give or provide. He makes us to long for Him…and then He gives himself to us. 

And so, when we give thanks…we are really saying, “Thank you, Lord, for allowing my heart to see the way you’ve accomplished your purposes in my life.”

Where would we be without thanks? We’d be looking at life through our own limited and finite perspective. Thanks is the praise we were created for…that He enables us to.

And so, I give thanks, Lord:

  • For my wonderful husband…and for how much harder marriage is than I ever thought it’d be, because it keeps me loving You.
  • For my six boys…and for daily challenge of patience, kindness, and striving to be a wiser parent, because the struggle makes me remember I’m a child of the King.
  • For two amazing years at GraceLaced Shoppe…and for the seasons of doubt and learning, because I’ve continually learned that it all belongs to You.
  • For my dear friends…and for the loss of one of the sweetest in my life, because I’m reminded that life is a breath and to love well is a gift in itself.
  • For the many professional opportunities that lie ahead…and for the years of wandering in the desert of not knowing how the Lord would ever use my giftings, because they now serve Him and not myself.

So many more come to mind…but do you see? Every blessing I could count reminds me that the joys are sweet on account of the heartaches and challenges that have washed me onto the shores of Grace. 

Thanksgiving turns our heads to see how far we’ve come and how faithful He is in leading us. And the beautiful thing is that: wherever you are on the journey, there is always room to look both ways and give thanks to the One who is worthy of praise.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, friends!


To celebrate both the wonderful growth of the shoppe as well as the holiday shopping season, GraceLaced Shoppe is offering THE BEST deals we’ve ever given, this Black Friday weekend! 

Here are the details…

Use Code: BLACKFRIDAY

ON Friday, November 27

  • 5 – 8AM (MT): 35% off your ENTIRE PURCHASE.

  • 8 – 11AM (MT): 30% off your ENTIRE PURCHASE.

  • 11AM – 2PM (MT): 25% off your ENTIRE PURCHASE.

  • 2PM Friday thru midnight on Sunday, November 29 (MT):
    20% off your ENTIRE PURCHASE.

*All orders between 5-8AM (MT) will include a FREE 5×7 bonus print (randomly selected)

*Plus, every order $75 or over will include a FREE “The Newborn King” print…

Be sure to take advantage of the bundle pricing already at a discount on calendars and multi-pack Christmas prints! (The Black Friday discounts are on top of the bundle pricing!!)

Visit GraceLaced Shoppe here!

Because of grace,

 

Free Indeed (Happy Fourth!)

Grateful today, and remembering that FREEDOM and strength are not free. The more we know what we are set free from, the more we value the freedom we have and the price that has been paid to secure it.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

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Christmas is the beginning.

(Photo by @missannasue on Instagram) 
(Photo by @missannasue on Instagram) 

Thinking this morning: If we are weary, perhaps we are seeing Christmas Day as the finish line, rather than the starting point. He didn’t come so we would adore him at the manger but that we would surrender at the cross. 

We rush about to wrap and deliver, attend and acknowledge. And breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all done…and rightly so.

The arrival of Christ is the beginning of the end to our striving.  

So, let’s not forget, friends: Having homes and gifts prepared for Christmas morning is not our aim…receiving and surrendering His gift of redemption through his coming is.  

Because Jesus hung on a tree, there is nothing better we can find beneath ours than a surrendered heart this Christmas.    

Praise God! The baby Jesus is the beginning of our Savior King. 

Rejoice!

10 Years Ago Today {Celebrating Liam}

Ten years ago today, our second boy was born, arriving the speediest out of all six of the boys. His birth was so unexpectedly quick that I barely made it onto the hospital bed before he slipped out and into Troy’s arms. (15 minutes total at the hospital!) It was just the three of us. Nurses came rushing in soon after, but for a few short minutes, it was just us…in awe of the miracle of Liam.

Tonight, at dinner, we went around the table and each shared what we love about Liam. 

“He is a good brother.”

“Liam is patient with me.”

“Liam encourages me when I am grumpy.”

“His laugh is contagious.”

“Liam is artistic and super creative.”

“I love that Liam is thoughtful and considerate of others.”

“He makes yummy breakfasts.”

“I love his jokes.”

But Troy and I both agree…the most encouraging thing about our 10 year old is that we can see Jesus at work in his life. We can see Liam’s eyes alert and responding to what he sees and hears from God’s Word. We watch him ask for forgiveness. We see his soul stirred, his conscience moved. We see him stoop down low to help his young brothers tie shoes and pick up spilled cheerios. We’ve noticed how much he’s grown into a multi-faceted young man. 

He and I went to the grocery store by ourselves the other night to shop for birthday party menu items. It was a late night date- just he and I. And, there on the boxed cake aisle, we laughed and joked about the various flavor combinations, and how indecisive we were: Like mother like son. 

And I looked at him and said, “I LIKE you so much. You are so fun to hang out with.”

After 15 minutes of deliberating frosting colors, flavors, and cake accessories, we settled on a decision of lemon cake and fun blue raspberry frosting. It was the most thought out decision for two creative types. Feeling proud of ourselves for making a decision, we walked through the produce area, and both of us spied a pre-made strawberry and whipped cream cake in the refrigerated section. 

We looked at each other and laughed. He ran and put back all the ingredients we spent 15 minutes to decide upon, and we giggled at the wisdom of purchasing a cake at this hour of night. I experienced a little bit of his humor, wit, and unassuming nature that night. And I was more than delighted and proud to be out with my son.

A son, who at 10 still held my hand in a grocery store. 

“Will you try and still hold my hand occasionally when you get older?” I said, as we headed to the car.

“Oh Mama. Of course I will (eye roll)…I’ll always be your son.”

Lately, I’ve been taking longer looks at him, listening a little closer, and laughing a little louder. It’s passing by way to fast. Happiest 10th birthday to my one and only Number 2, Liam. 

But To Echo, At The Start Of Passion Week

The pressure’s off, friends. 

We don’t need to be the brightest star, the most memorable melody. 

We can lay down the heavy weight of pride and self-reliance, the demands of proving ourselves worthy.

Rather than arming ourselves with self-worth and feigned confidence, we’ve been given a free pass…

…to be really broken,

…to be weak and lacking,

…to fall short,

…to cease striving,

…because the freedom to be his child has been paid by the costly gift of the Father.

Our free pass is His covering over us. Passover is his sheltering of grace over our ugly and self-reliant sin. Passover is remembering that his blood is our covering. It is us remembering that we have no defense other than him. We have no hope but to be presented as his own. 

The pressure’s off. We have no use of making much of ourselves, when we’ve been given freedom to simply echo his great name. Come as you are, friend…his love is greater, deeper, and wider than you can contain, but not more than you can echo, when submerged in the vastness of redeeming grace…

Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at the flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord’s feet, and there let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by his love, having no virtue or value; and only venturing to whisper to him that if he will put his ear to me, he will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of his own love which have brought me where it is my delight to lie, even at his feet forever.

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

As we begin this Passion Week, remembering the Cross, rejoicing in the resurrection, and marveling at the covering of the blood of Christ…let us cease striving, and surrender to the what great provision Christ prepared for us as he rode into Jerusalem…

Because of grace,

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