Following Jesus Into Less

Let's talk about stressing and people-pleasing less and living out our real callings more {praylivecreate.com}

This month has torn through here like a whirlwind. A lot of it has been awesome. Heshan and I got to vacation   in the Hudson River Valley with Steph and her husband, my younger brother landed on my couch for 4 days to celebrate his 30th birthday, and in general this summer is carrying with it a lot of the fun things that summer usually should. But it’s also been busy. Even when we’re just going through the daily motions of it all, Heshan and I are finding ourselves worn thin.

Last week he asked our social network to let us lay low for a bit and recover from all of the excitement and upheaval that comes from having friends and family in town. I knew how badly I needed it, but I didn’t realize how badly I needed him to protect that time for me. When it finally happened, I felt like I could collapse under the weight of it all… I haven’t even read Bonnie Gray’s Finding Spiritual Whitespace yet, and I can already tell you I need what she’s selling.

I’ve been sharing about how Jesus called me to follow Him this year, and how so much of that starts with kissing people-pleasing and the ways of this world goodbye to follow Him into fuller life. It sounds catchy when I say it that way, but I’m still peeling off the layers of each of these things. I’m pulling them back only to find more layers of abuse and self-neglect that go back as far as I can see, and I know God is inviting me into a deeper place of rest and healing, of confrontation and renewal.

I know insomnia is just the tip of the iceberg of everything in me crying out, it’s time for a real change.

The deeper I look, the more I can see that I am more than one foot in and one foot out when it comes to serving two masters. I am like 75% immersed in that riptide of cultural expectation and baggage and everything else that tries to occupy in the place of Christ, going as far back as the day my parents didn’t lift me up and say, “This child shall be protected for the Lord and we’ll do what we can God to keep her safe but You do the rest and carry her into Your kingdom.” (Yep, praying that over my kids some day if we ever get the chance to have ‘em, and the Lord knows I forgive my parents for not knowing it was even an option because bitterness never brought anyone into fuller life.)

And I’m so over it.

Intellectually I know the truths. I know we’re here for one reason: to share the hope of Jesus and to help each other through this world until He comes again. Period. End of story. And honestly, I know that the more I get caught up in the distractions this world throws all around us, the more I’m contributing to all of us failing. Because when it comes to sharing hope and help, we’re failing as a human race. Our doctors are failing, our leaders are failing, and our churches are failing. We are failing. We’re living like our number one priority is figuring out what I need to be when I grow up (really?) and like our faith somehow intersects with the great race to be the next big thing. We’re white washing our American Dream with Scripture and calling it good, and all the while people are floundering for someone to share hope and someone to help.

We are categorically way too busy. And in it all we’ve missed the point. We’ve missed the big flashing signs with the neon arrow shouting “This way! Your purpose is right here!”(or here, or here, or here.)

So I’m stepping out of the scene – whatever threatens to occupy my time and attention in place of my First Love. For 40 days. Maybe for 90. We’ll see how long it can go. The hope is this following Jesus away from people-pleasing and the ways of this world will change me forever.

So what does that look like for me now?

1. Granted it doesn’t take much beyond going to work and coming home again for me to feel like my plate is already full. So I’m starting by saying no where I used to say yes.I’m stepping away from the world’s request to do way too much without doing anything of eternal value or significance at all, because in doing that everyone around us is missing out on hope and help.

2. And I’m acknowledging, because maybe we all should, that God has placed me in one place, with one sphere of relationship and influence and industry, and that’s where I should stand to share hope and help. That’s who I need to be available to before I go stretching myself thin.

It’s about how in being available to our families, we’re available to God.

And you know what? I’ve sucked at that pretty bad. On an average weekday I have two and a half, maybe three hours at home. I’m protecting those fiercely.

3. Instead of looking to always do something, I’m talking to Someone. I’m remembering that God has given me the great privilege and power of lifting all things up to Him in prayer. That He’s not depending on me to take on more than one woman can handle. He’s capable of it Himself, and our greatest weapon is always turning in faith to Him.

He’s asking me to share His hope and His help in the ways that I’m able. Where I am – physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, and tangibly. Share it where I am. Then stop. Rest. Lift it all up to Him. Trust Him to move.

So that’s it. I’m starting with the Moses on the Mountain approach (I’m confident I didn’t coin that, but I love me some alliteration). I’m letting God water me where I’ve let myself run dry. And after that? We’ll see what doors God opens. My family first. My God always first of all. Big wide swaths of time with Him. And hands lifted high for the stuff that’s out of my control and for His promise to come back again.

Heshan and I have already started, so I’ll share updates as we go. We may or may not have razed our closet in our first zealous attempt at letting stuff go. And I can only imagine what the next 40 to 90 (to 365?) days have in store.

“The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep.  The schedule you keep determines the life you live.  And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.” – Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes (can’t wait to read this book)

So let’s chat, because God willing I’m not going anywhere when it comes to this space. Have you ever found yourself worn thin or in need of a giant time out? How are you following Jesus into less?

 

Kim from praylivecreate.com

#follow - kissing yes-itis and the ways of the world goodbye and following Jesus into fuller life {praylivecreate.com}

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What Would You Do: Red vs. Blue Front Door?

Gorgeous red front doors and beautiful blue front doors. I love these!

Hope you guys all had a great weekend!

I’m in need of a serious tie-breaker (with myself) for a new front door color and I’m hoping you guys can help. My husband and I bought our house two years ago outside of Washington DC and have been slowly updating it in small phases.

Phase 1 of our exterior updating was landscaping. The yard was very well maintained, but the bushes were too big for the front yard and blocked the wrap around porch. Plus, they were like the local hangout for every spider in Northern Virginia ever. Not even kidding. Ask Kim. Only bonus? Free Halloween decorating.

updating our curb appeal {praylivecreate.com}

After a year of living in the house we ripped almost everything out and started fresh.  We’ve made even more changes this year that I hope to share soon, but here’s a look at our phase 1 in the meantime. We chose plants that will stay under 3′ to allow the front porch to shine.

re-landscaping for curb appeal {praylivecreate.com}

This summer we plan to re-do the siding and shutters. The whole thing has been a major unexpected blessing that just goes to show God really does love lavishing us with unexpected and undeserved gifts. Our siding was 30 year old aluminum and I’ve disliked the harvest gold and brown-green color scheme since day two (day one I was too excited to care). I thought for sure we’d be living with it for many years to come, though, so instead we just thanked God every day for a roof over our heads and a floor under our feet. Then a hail storm came and our insurance company told us we were due for some new siding. I seriously got down on my knees and thanked God for the “best birthday present ever!” True story.

I’m leaning toward an ivory color for the siding called Antique Parchment, classic black shutters, and white trim. The porch will be painted white and the light blue-gray floor will stay. But the door is tricky. I need your help.

I’ve been in love with red doors for years. Like bright-look-at-me-red.

 pin from original source BHGBHG

red front door via House BeautifulHouse Beautiful

pin from original source apartment therapyApartment Therapy

 But I’ve recently fallen for blue doors, too.

pin from original source HGTVHGTV

pin from original source BHGBHG

pin from original source hiyapapaya.comhiya papaya

What would you do? Red or blue?

 Thanks!

Linking up with Jack of All Trades at A Harvest of Blessing 

Stephanie from praylivecreate.com

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Dose of Hope: Loved

God's Word straight up says we are loved more than we can comprehend. {praylivecreate.com} #scripture #Bible #quotes

It might sound like we’ve heard this before, but bear with me for a second. When it comes to talking about how much God loves us, do we really let it sink in? I’ll be the first to admit in this space that as I inch into my 32nd year of living, I’m just starting to believe it as fully as I wish I would have for every second of my life up to this point. And I know I still have a long way to go.

As Scripture straight up says, I don’t even know if I’m able to comprehend. But letting it sink deep into our hearts and souls and skin and bones is definitely the best thing we could ever do for ourselves. We are chosen. We belong. And we’re loved with an everlasting love.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. – Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT)

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. – Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)

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Affordable Art: Out to Sea

5 ocean themed art prints for under $25!

I love art, but when it comes to buying stuff to hang on my walls my budget is itty-bitty. I’m having so much fun profiling some of my favorite affordable art prints by super talented independent (mostly) artists. I hope you guys are enjoying it, too!

This week I’m sharing sea-themed art for under $25 a piece. I love the ocean and bringing fun ocean-themed accents into the home. I actually have print #4 and have a special spot picked out for print #2.

1. Genesis 18 | Naptime Diaries ($14)  / 2. Synchronized Swimmers | Rifle Paper Co. ($24) / 3. Waiting, Malibu 2012 | Annie Seaton via Minted ($25) / 4. You’re the Only Fish in the Sea for Me | Stay Gold Media ($10) / 5. Out to Sea | Carolyn MacLaren via Minted ($20)

p.s. As always, none of these are affiliate links.

Happy decorating!

For more affordable art posts click here.

Stephanie from praylivecreate.com

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Quotable: The only thing you control is how you respond to your disappointments

"...The truth is, you never had control in the first place. The only thing you do control is how you respond to your disappointments and unexpected obstacles." - Pete Wilson, Plan B

…[T]he truth is, you never had control in the first place. The only thing you do control is how you respond to your disappointments and unexpected obstacles. And here you have some options.

You can allow the river of fear, anger, and disappointment to just rage…

Another possibility is to keep trying harder. You can turn yourself inside out trying to make things happen…

But you have yet another choice.

You can get to the place where you can say, ‘Not my will, but your will [God]. I’m not in control. You are.’

If you can do that, if you can leave the puppet strings in the hands of someone who actually knows what he is doing, you’ll have a lot better chance of surviving your shattered dreams. – Pete Wilson, Plan B

My health is a frequent reminder that I’m not in control. Endometriosis keeps me on my toes on a week-to-week and month-to-month basis. I’m that annoying girl with 1,001 food intolerances that make cooking for me or picking a restaurant super tough. Exposure to chemical cleaning supplies once made the inside of my nostril swell up so much I had to have surgery to cut an opening for airflow. And on top of that I feel like I’m allllways (okay, definitely more often than the average person) sick. Not just kinda under the weather, but running a fever, “sorry I can’t come to your wedding / birthday party / Super Bowl party / play you’ve been working on all winter / help you move / my own honeymoon” type sick. And these sick-enough-to-have-a-fever-and-not-leave-the-couch instances always always always fall coincidentally on days when I’ve been invited to something important or fun or meaningful.

That happened this past week and I was furious with God about it. I was supposed to help my friends move to their first new home. I’d known about it for a month, put it on my calendar, and was super excited to help out and see their new place. And like clock work I came down with strep throat. At least I thought it was strep, I’d had it before, the sudden swollen throat that makes even water feel like tiny shards of glass, the low-grade steady fever, slight nausea and no other symptoms to suggest a virus or cold. I went to the doctor and told him what I thought and was sent away with a dismissive “it’s just a virus, you’ll be fine.”

Long story shorter, five grueling painful days later I was finally diagnosed with strep and prescribed the antibiotics I need (I hope!). But in the meantime I was mad at God. Mad that He lets me get sick so often, mad that He allows it to interfere with meaningful social invitations when He knows I so desperately want community, mad that He “set me up for suffering the minute I was born prematurely and stuck in an incubator” (yeah I went down that rabbit hole, I was really mature about the whole situation).

But the fact of the matter is it’s not up to me. I’m not in control. I can’t control my immune system or when I get sick or whether or not doctors make correct diagnoses. The only thing I can control is how I respond. I can get mad and let the river of fear, anger, and disappointment rage like I did this past week, I can try harder, or I can seek God in the midst of my disappointment and trust that if I seek His will He’ll guide me through. Easier said than done, but an important reminder during tough times all the same.

So when I read the quote above from pastor Pete Wilson’s book Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would? I knew I needed to pause and write about it.

PSA for the day: don’t be like me.

Stephanie from praylivecreate.com

 

linking up with Jack of All Trades at A Harvest of Blessing

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Dose of Hope: We Belong

We belong to God and He loves us. We can trust that He'll always take care of us even when hard times hit. {praylivecreate.com} #Bible #scripture #quotes
If we connect the dots, I love what God’s Word tells us about His love for us. It goes so far as to say we belong to Him. (Anyone else thinking of The Lumineers “Ho Hey” right now?) He went so far as to give His own life for us. And because He purchased our lives with His own, we can trust that even when the hardest times come our way (and they will), He will see us through. He’s not going to let anything defeat us. We belong to Him as His prized possession and He loves us like woah.

All who belong to the Lord,
    show how you love him… – Psalm 31:23a (CEV)

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.- 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NLT)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (NLT)

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? – Matthew 6:28-30 (NLT)

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Marriage and Happy Beginnings

why marriage isn't a happy ending, but a beginning {praylivecreate.com}

 photo by (the always amazing) Annabelle Dando

I get to spend my days dreaming up ways to make wedding planning easier, and I can honestly say I love every second of it.  There’s something about marriage – even as I wish that churches and communities would stop defining people by terms like “couples” and “singles” – that is worth celebrating. But whenever I hear people talk about a marriage or wedding as a “happy ending” I don’t really get it. Inside, the wheels start turning.

Hesh and I married two weeks before my 30th birthday and 2 months before his 32nd, and for the life of me I’m still trying to figure out what about marriage looks like an ending.

Our incompleteness now that we’ve found our “better half”?

Our search for love?

Or if we take the “unhappy ending” perspective, our personhood? Our independence? Our freedom?

Or all of the above if we’re to believe anything society has to say about walking down the aisle?

I actually firmly believe in biblical definitions of and mandates for marriage: two becoming one, building a relationship on respect and love, mutual servanthood, and all of that. Even though I’m still learning what it l means and I don’t always get them right. And I’m the first to make jokes about my “better half” when the moment is right. I know at the end of the day marriage is a monumental shift and a bonding of two people together, and I know that this is in and of itself awesome .

But I don’t get the “ending” part of that phrase “happy ending.” Because for the life of me, in the two short years of my marriage I haven’t found a good opportunity for the credits to roll and to call this thing smooth sailing from here.

Marriage is hard. It’s happy, but it’s hard. It’s daily. It’s a new beginning, and it’s also more of the same.

What I’ve come to find is very little ends at the end of the aisle. While we exchange our vows and promise to be together until death do us part, and we begin what will ideally be a lifetime of commitment and getting to know each other more and more, we’re still bringing ourselves into the equation. Whatever personality quirks or hang ups or issues or cultural influences or even traditions and passions and dreams and fears, anxieties, and past experiences, even in the best of marriages and especially in the best of marriages, those things come with us. They don’t end. Some of them will benefit the marriage and some of them are smoothed away with time. Like iron sharpening iron, or even as one of my former pastors put it, sandpaper smoothing down a block, which is probably exactly how it feels.

But marriage isn’t an ending, it’s a beginning. Of whatever crazy new change this union of two people is bringing about.

And it’s not an ending to some perceived incompleteness that comes before the rings have been exchanged. No matter how much our culture tries to tell us so, there is nothing about saying “I do” that makes us a more full person. There is no moment after the wedding night in which one of the two wakes up and says, “everything I’ve ever wanted in life has finally been fulfilled.”

At least not for long. Because if we subscribe to that model of thinking there will always be something next to make us feel incomplete until we’ve checked it off the list: children or a house or getting the job of our dreams. And then living where we want, having that perfect wardrobe, or even wearing the right size jeans. There will always be something telling  us we’re incomplete if we’re willing to believe that lie.

Marriage is after all modeled on the gospel. God’s first institution to unite humanity in a relationship so intimate that it hints of God’s love for us (even as it’s not the only form of human relationship that does so – consider parenting or care giving or even the faithfulness that comes with long term friendships and family relationships). And like the gospel, it transforms us into a new creation and it teaches us something about faithfulness and endurance and love that doesn’t give up even when it really, really wants to. It’s about commitment to a person who doesn’t always deserve it and love for someone even when we can’t always feel it.

When we make marriage about a happy ending we forget about the lifetime – literally – of the hard work of loving and surrendering and serving and honoring and cherishing and trying to figure out what all of that means that comes afterward. Marriage is a beginning and a blessed one, but a beginning nonetheless and it usually has nothing to do with getting what we want or tying life up with a pretty bow and everything to do with becoming more like the One who created it in the first place. Because it’s only in Christ that we’re complete and it’s only in Him we stake our personhood.

He’s our alpha and our omega. The beginning and the end. And married or single or something in between, our happiness is really only found in Him.

p.s. I love how Rachel at Our Yellow Door puts it,too!

Kim from praylivecreate.com

Linking up with Community Brew at Wetherills Say I Do

community brew link up

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