Peace for Dummies

Lately as I’ve read through Scripture, I’ve started writing down things that stand out to me. It seems like something about that simple act of copying something down makes me think a little bit more about each and every word in the sentence, which is good. I’m a slow learner.

A few days ago, these words from 1 John 1:8-9 struck me:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Man, do I love the idea that I get a clean slate, right?

Around the Collie house most mornings, Hero Hubs and I are up and dressed and ready to start the day, and the little Collies mosey into our bedroom with messy hair and strong breath and sleepy eyes. I close my Bible and hug and cuddle and those few moments are often some of the sweetest and most lovely of the day. HH and I talked about it recently and he commented, “I just love that every morning is a fresh start and we get to put the day that passed behind us.”

That fresh start really is an amazing feeling. No one has scratched anyone, or taken anyone’s toy, or chased anyone with a spider. The day spreads before us with great possibility.

And I think that fresh and new sparkly clean feeling is what we’re being offered in those words from 1 John.

A couple days after I wrote those words down, I totally messed up. I took offense at a situation I didn’t get to be in control of — pretty much because I didn’t get to have the say-so I thought I should have. In retrospect things were actually going the way they had been previously discussed to go, but I just didn’t like it at the time and was in a bit of a ‘huff.’

After a good post mortem examination on the whole thing, I recognized how I’d chosen to take offense for not getting my way. In the midst of the relational frustrations I caused, I had to turn and turn again to Jesus and be reminded of two things:

One, see those verses above again and remember: If we confess, He forgives. If we think we’re not sinners, we’re totally deceived. We are sinners. We ARE going to mess up. Rather than try to point fingers and blame anyone else, let’s just own it, right? Let’s own our mistakes. Let’s apologize for letting selfishness rather than love and patience and kindness and gentleness and goodness take the reins of our hearts.

We can apologize to God and know that we are forgiven. Know. But what about people?

Reminder number two, in the midst of it all, was found in these verses I love:

You will keep him in perfect peace
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.
{Isaiah 26:3-4}

Here’s the whisper I hear in all this: First, God forgives. That fresh-first-thing-in-the-morning start is available to you and me. It’s a free gift with purchase… Jesus already made that purchase for you, and you get the gift.

Second, even when we’re struggling with earthly relationships, with our own shortcomings and failings, and with the repercussions of the offenses we’ve caused to our fellow man, there is still a deep and abiding peace available.

Should we apologize and try to make things right? Absolutely.

But the peace available to us is available regardless of how things are going in your earthly relationships. Did you apologize and find the other person was still ticked? That’s okay.

Peace is still yours for the taking. It comes from keeping your heart centered around knowing, knowing, knowing and believing: God is good. He forgives me. He will give me the strength to trust Him even through the rockiest places in every relationship, the hardest seasons of the soul — even the ones where I’ve messed up and brought the trouble on myself.

Yes, it’s true. We’re dummies sometimes. We’re selfish sometimes. We sin and we fail and we fall short.

Take a deep breath. Confess. Know that a kind and faithful God is ready to forgive you. Put Him back at the center. Ask for His help moving forward. Give thanks that He’s on the throne… and we don’t have to be!

xCC

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When You’re Scared of Everyone Else’s (Better?) Story

Funny question: When’s the last time you read something you were afraid to read? 

Maybe a book you thought you’d find to hard to deal with — something you thought would poke at some old wounds? Maybe an envelope that came in the mail with a yes or a no in it?

Funny answer: Last year, I read a book I probably would’ve avoided, had the sweet friend of mine who works at the library not handed it to me and said “I think you would love this.”

The book was Daring to Hope, by Kate Majors Davis. She’s the author of Kisses from Katie and she is (in my humble opinion) like a modern-day-mother-Theresa serving orphans in Uganda. This story, in some respects, picks up where her first bestseller Kisses from Katie left off.

If you know the slightest bit of backstory — that I served as a missionary in southern Africa for a couple of years — you might wonder why I was extremely hesitant to open the cover.

Here’s the thing. Even though the Hero Hubs and I felt completely confident that it was absolutely clear that our season in South Africa was coming to a close and it was time to move to the US, even though the Lord just about put road signs in the sky for us to say “This is the way, walk in it…” still, I was afraid I’d just feel plain guilty that I am here… living, breathing and writing in North Carolina, and I am therefore no longer there.

I decided to be brave enough to open the cover and start reading. Instead of condemnation and guilt and shame washing over me, I was embraced by grace, love and… hope.

Katie wrote about her everyday life, and she wrote about what it looked like to be faithful to Jesus, right where she was, doing the things each day that she felt the Lord calling her to do. Baking the bread. Feeding her many children. Caring for the sick in her community.

She wrote:

“As I’m tempted to wallow in guilt over all that I am not for my children, gently He points out that I was never meant to meet all their needs anyway.”

And I said in my heart, “Me, too.”

She wrote:

“This is such a simple truth, yet it strikes my heart in a profound way. To dwell in the place I have been given. To do the things I have been given. To love the people I have been given. This is not mysterious or far reaching, yet this is the truth of a God-ordained life.”

And I said in my heart, “Yes! This is the truth!”

And as the encouraging words unfolded, story by story and page by page, I was reminded something I’ve been telling myself all along: my job is not to do what anyone else is doing.

I think the good and profoundness of these six words only hit me when my neighbor wrote them down on a notecard and put them on her refrigerator: Your Race is in Your Lane.

If God calls me to Uganda or Sri Lanka or Argentina, I will go. But what if He is just asking me to be kind, to love well, and to live my life in my lane right here? Is that any less faithful?

I finally decided I didn’t need to be afraid of anyone else’s story — because my faithfulness will not look like theirs, and it’s not supposed to.

Katie wrote:

“As it turns out, faithfulness was in the ordinary, in the everyday things that do not feel glorious but, in fact, lead us to His feet.”

And when the last page was read, I took a deep breath — relieved. With a sigh and smile and maybe wiping a tear or two, I gave thanks to a God who doesn’t write the same story for everyone to live. He has a million stories up His sleeves. SO many different threads to weave together in the beautiful tapestry He’s unfolding.

Are you maybe comparing your story to someone else’s and feeling like you come up short? Comparing your Mom skills? Your productivity at work or your volunteer hours or your kid’s performance on a sports team?

If so, please hear this and believe it: Your job is not to walk anyone else’s walk. It’s not to talk anyone else’s talk. And it’s not to fulfill anyone else’s calling.

Whether you’re on a farm in Kansas or in a penthouse in Hong Kong, keep on asking: 

Please show me what it looks like for me to be faithful today. Lord help me to stay in my lane.

And then my friend, go out and live your extraordinary-ordinary beautifully-unique story — you’re the only one who can live faithfully to the beautiful life God has planned for you.

xCC

You can find Daring to Hope and Kisses from Katie on Amazon.

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Psst! Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for supporting With Love!

Is This Person a Gift or a Threat?

I love love love it when something I’ve read a dozen times before suddenly explodes like fireworks with new meaning. 

Like, re-reading a classic like Pride and Prejudice and suddenly seeing all the prides, all the prejudices, playing out between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett — the themes come to life when you know what’s coming next in the story, right? 

I find it even more magical when someone pulls an incredibly simple, yet extremely profound — life-changing — truth out of a passage I know I’ve read from start to finish on numerous occasions.

We had a fantastic guest speaker at church a few weeks ago, and he jumped into 3 John and brought to life something I’d never seen before, that spoke with significant clarity to me, I’m still finding fresh truth in it.

There are a few key points to bring up that will help me pass along the lightbulb moment to you.

Ready?

So. John, who wrote Third John, addresses Gaius, in this very short letter, and he starts by praying prosperity and blessing over Gaius. He addresses him as Beloved three times (and hold onto that thought for a moment) and he encourages Gaius because, basically he’s just totally stoked to hear that Gaius is walking in the truth, and being generous in the way he faithfully serves his church peeps, and even strangers. 

John goes on with a few choice words about Diotrephes… but I’ll let you read the passage below to see what his thoughts are there.

Words addressed to Gaius:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. […] Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well… {3 John 2-3,5-6}

Words about Diotrephes:

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. {3 John 9-10}

John follows that with these remarks:

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does what is good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. {3 John 11}

So we’ve got this interesting little thing we might call a “character foil” from a literary perspective. There are two characters set side by side, and we get to see a contrast of personalities that makes us better understand them both.

Gaius is welcoming to everybody and is commended and encouraged for it.

Diotrephes longs instead for preeminence and, like the coolest of the cool kids at the ‘cool’ lunch table, he wants to call the shots on who’s in and who’s out. And it sounds like everyone who’s not already in is out.

When John writes Gaius this letter, he repeatedly reminds him of one thing: he is Beloved. And that’s not just like “I really think you’re awesome.” That word should speak to Gaius’ heart and whisper: you are the Beloved of an Almighty God. You are the Beloved of this Jesus that you preach. 

Side note: That lovely Greek word for Beloved, is the same word spoken when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and a voice spoke from the clouds, “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” 

We get to be called THAT kind of Beloved. Wow.

That’s a side note light bulb, but let me get to the one I promised earlier.

Like Gaius and Diotrephes, we have a choice about how we receive the people who come into our lives, and this is it:
Every person can be a gift. Or, every person can be a threat.
If we feel like Diotrephes, say, maybe we want to stay in control, we are likely to see people as a threat.

When we first started our photography business more than a half a dozen years ago, it was hard not to think of other photographers as a threat. It was hard not to be filled with a mindset like, “There’s not enough pie for everyone. We need to get as much of the pie as we can get.” 

But when we began to trust that God was calling us to build our business, we could see more clearly that our part of the story was to be faithful. We connected with other photographers who helped us succeed, and we did our best to help other photographers along the way. We learned to live as the Beloved, and to trust God to open doors for us as He saw fit.

And open doors, He did. 

All these years later, we can sense how God has changed our hearts and helped us to have a sense of peace. When it seemed like another photographer was knocking on the door of some of our current clients, maybe even trying to offer similar services at lower prices, it was hard not to get ‘itchy’ and uncomfortable about it.

But over the years, we’ve learned to trust God and to say “There is enough pie to go around. God will take care of us.”

And even this worked together for our good, as our clients asked if we could do those same services for them — and we could, and we are.

This looked like a threat — but God made this person a gift.

As a writer I’ve had a hard time navigating the ropes of the writing world, wanting to lock arms and encourage others, but at the same time feeling “If I push you ahead, will I then be behind? If I help you get to the top, will that put me closer to the bottom?”

But I’m learning to receive fellow writers as gifts. And just this year, in choosing to join a community of writers where I can encourage others and be encouraged, I’ve found life and growth and … you guessed it… gifts, one after another, in the form of friends to walk alongside me on the writing journey, and wisdom I might’ve been too prideful to realize I needed.

Whether it’s the new nurse on your floor at the hospital, the new neighbor who just moved in down the street, the new gal at church who everyone seems to like, or the new business in town that seems to be in direct competition with yours, you can choose how you will receive every person you meet: threat, or gift. 

And if, like Gaius, we can find our identity as the Beloved, we can receive any and every person — brother or sister in Christ or absolute stranger — as a gift, deserving of welcome and encouragement, of friendship and love. 

You are Beloved, friend. Welcome the gifts around you today!

xCC

Special thanks to Peter Hartwig for being a fantastically encouraging guest speaker and inspiring many of these thoughts for sharing!!

Also note: Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved, is a fantastic, brief and deep read to help you understand what it means to be the Beloved of God.
I highly recommend it!

Are you encouraged today? If so, you can subscribe to receive weekly Love, From Here and never miss a post by clicking right here!

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Psst! Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for supporting With Love!

A Secret Whisper For the Not Good

You know what’s really hard sometimes? Trying to find the good in the seemingly not good.

I want to let you in on a little secret about it. 

And as usual explain the secret with a story.

Around the sweet little kiddos at the Collie house, there are lots of dear friends in different circles. The church friends and the homeschool group friends, the new neighborhood friends and the old neighborhood friends… you get the idea.

Now among these friends, there are some in particular that my kiddos visit from time to time. And when they return from playing with those friends at their house, sometimes something just seems off.

The last time, my eldest came home feeling frustrated, but he was unspecific about his frustrations. Arguments started arising surrounding allowances and chores and items on his wish list that he would like to save up his own money to buy, but that his Mom and Dad have made the executive decision he cannotbuy even if he has three times the money he needs to buy them.

Sometimes I try to sit down with the one kid having trouble, and just start gently, slowly asking questions and listening. And sometimes I think when you sit down with someone and try to ask thoughtful questions and really really listen? You can hear things they don’t even realize they’re saying. The message beneath the words, right?

And this time what I really heard beneath the talk about wanting to be able to spend the money on this or that, wanting to do chores and make more money, wanting me to create opportunities for this to happen… what I heard underneath all that was:

I want something, and I think it’s good. You don’t want me to have it, so you are not good.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. 

{Read the Whole Story in Genesis 3}

Do you see a bit of a theme developing here?

Maybe that sounds like oversimplification but look at a different story and see if you see this theme here: 

Why does the woman eat the fruit? This is the moment. This is the first “not good.”

God created and saw that it was good. God created something else and saw that it was good. 

If we believe God is good, we believe He creates good things and He gives good gifts.

In the life of the believer, we can, we should, we must take this a step further and cling to a belief like this:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly. {Psalm 84:11}

I think many of our “not goods” come from believing that God is withholding good things from us. Like Eve in the garden, and like my kid coming home from a friend’s house, we want to say:

I want something, and I think it’s good. You don’t want me to have it, so you are not good.

It is pretty darn hard to be happy when we don’t get what we want, right?

But what do we do about it when we don’t get what we want?

Celebrate car accidents and broken bones? Throw parties when someone dies unexpectedly?

Absolutely not.

But here’s that secret I promised you. If you can choose to believe God is always good, then when something not good comes along, you can take a deep breath and whisper a prayer like:

This seems not good. But God, you are good. And somehow, you can make even this good.

When we choose to trust, and we choose to still believe — even when it’s hard, even when it hurts… especially when it hurts — when we choose to trust, we can find hope to keep us going and anchor our souls. 

When we choose to trust in the goodness of God, and to focus on Him, just like Isaiah 26:3 says…He keeps us in perfect peace. We find a peace we never expected in the midst of the hard and the scary and the hurt, because we believe God can and will work things together for our good. And He does not withhold good things.

After sitting on the couch for a while with that sweet child of mine, hearing his heart and getting down into a sense of the real ‘not good,’ I had the opportunity to tell him two things that I wanted him to hear:

1. Your Dad and I love you so much. We are deeply invested in wanting to choose what is best for you. We are careful about what we allow you to have and see and do because we want to keep you safe and we want to do what’s best for you.

2. Please trust us. Even when it seems unfair and you’re not getting your way, I want to ask you to believe that we love you enough to sometimes say yes and sometimes say no. We want what truly is good for you.

I wonder if the Lord would sit us down on the couch to say the same thing? To the thing you’re waiting for, the diagnosis you’re facing, the no you got when you prayed so hard for a yes? Would He say:

1. I love you so much.

2. Please trust Me.

And at the other end of the sofa, when you look back at the Lord who loves you, what will you say in response?

Next time, try whispering this one simple thing:

This seems not good. But God, you are good. And somehow, you can make even this good.

xCC

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I hope you’re encouraged, friend! I write With Love, From Here every Wednesday. Take a moment to subscribe here and you’ll never miss a post!

If you’re walking through some very ‘not good’ I highly recommend Timothy Keller’s book, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering.

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Psst. Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for supporting With Love!

Ten Cheap or Free Ideas for Your Summer Activity Arsenal

The last day of school has arrived. And part of you might feel relieved to get a break from the pick-up lines… while part of you is suddenly asking WHAT are we going to do between now and August?

Hopefully there will be trips and adventures and maybe even some summer camp on the calendar… but what about those in-between days when the play date is cancelled or the weather is rubbish? Or… what about ALL THE DAYS… you’re asking yourself?

I’ve gathered up a handful of ideas that I hope will help you have fun and keep learning this summer… and perhaps you won’t pull out any hair in the process.

  1. Create a Daily Schedule… like now.
    Before you get into the thick of planning the activities that you’ll cross off the list, think about what your day is going to look like at home. Decide when snack time is so that when kid #3 says they are hungry for the eleventeenth time, you can say “Snack is at 10 am.” Maybe reading time is from 9 to 10. Maybe screens are only allowed to come on at 2 or 3 pm. Maybe you’ll do art every day at 11 (see tips below!). Maybe you’ll always hit the pool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The routine will help you keep your sanity!! Sprinklers on Wednesday, Kitchen time on Friday… brainstorm the ideas and then start plugging them into the calendar.
  2. Shop the House and Make Some Stations
    You already know this: Part of the “I’m bored” struggle isn’t that there’s anything to do, per se, it’s more that your kids are kinda used to someone telling them what to do. When they start tumbling over each other with frustration and you can tell they need some ‘separate’ activities, consider setting up some stations around the house. Set up your stations, send a kid to each one, and then rotate every 20-30 minutes. A few stations ideas:
    – Playdough at the Kitchen Counter
    – Puzzles on the coffee table
    – A reading nook with pillows and blankets in a cozy corner somewhere
    – Lincoln logs or legos
    – ‘Painting’ with a wet brush and water on the back deck
    – A drawing station with blank paper, crayons and markers
    The key is to spread them out, switch up the ideas and let everyone get a turn to do the ‘thing’ all by themselves.
  3. Your Library + the Summer Reading Program
    Our local library has a fantastic summer reading program we’ve participated in for several years now. The kids earn prizes for reading based on time or the number of books/pages they read… They LOVE going to the library for more books and they love getting to color in their little star chart recording their progress. Extra stars for big siblings who read to smaller siblings. #win Your library might also have some fun visitors coming to town — ours has a program that welcomes guest storytellers, musicians and even magicians. Ask for a calendar and plan to take advantage of this wonderful FREE resource! Library on Tuesdays!?!
  4. Introducing Art for Kids Hub… you’re welcome.
    If you haven’t already been visiting Art for Kids Hub on youtube, check out their channel and get ready to say THANK YOU. The kiddos around here can spend HOURS drawing with the simple, step-by-step instructions AFKH offers. My Little Pony and Pokemon and animals and the list goes on… this is fun and learning at its finest!!
  5. Grab this Origami paper and get folding!
    We found several GREAT origami instruction books at the library, but you can also check out Art for Kids Hub where there’s tons of great step-by-step stuff. The Collie kiddos are currently spending thirty minutes a day on Origami… seriously… music to my ears!
  6. Audiobooks are awesome!!!
    If you have a library card, you probably also have access to tons of free audiobooks. The Libby app makes it crazy easy to get audiobooks on your phone. Pop popcorn and crowd the coffee table. Draw and color and let someone else do all the reading! You can also visit Librivox.org, where hundreds (maybe thousands?) of books have been recorded by volunteers. The quality is not necessarily as great as a traditionally published audiobook, but Sarah Mackenzie has a list of some favorites to help you get started! Audiobook Thursdays?!
  7. Plan Your Own Summer Chore Chart
    This can be as simple as writing on popsicle sticks and putting them in a jar or as detailed as all the things the kiddos need to do before friends can come over or screens can go on. Jordan Page has some GREAT free printables right here to help you create a clipboard and your kiddo can get to work and check off on their own list!
  8. Get Outside with a Nature Guide
    Over the past few years, without ever specifically focusing on this one ‘thing’ as a ‘school subject,’ we’ve learned to identify dozens and dozens of insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians (and even a few mammals) in the backyard with nature guides. Pick up a book at the library or grab a few of these on Amazon — your kids will have so much fun learning so much. And ya might find a five-lined skink or two in the process… who knew! I’ve linked to some full-sized guides and some pocket guides, which are easier to tote but don’t have as many species.
    Full Sized Birds Field Guide | Kid-Sized Pocket Guide
    Full Sized Reptile Guide | Kid-Sized Pocket Reptile Guide
    Perfect-Sized Guide to Insects (SO well-loved at the Collie house) | Pocket Sized Insect Guide
    Full Sized Mammals Guide | Kid-Sized Pocket Mammals
    One other idea: This fantastic Illustrated Guide to Wildlife by National Geographic covers many different types of wildlife you’ll find out your backdoor.
  9. Bring Back the Awesomeness of Pen Pals
    Each of my boys has asked a friend to be a pen pal and they spend AGES drawing pictures, writing letters and even folding origami to send to their buds. They don’t have to be in another town! It doesn’t matter if you are likely to see them before they get the letter! For the price of a stamp, it is so much fun, and encourages them to write without you having to prompt them at all…
  10. Welcome the Kids to the Kitchen
    Sometimes we’re in such a hurry during the school year, I just want to get DONE with whatever needs to happen in the kitchen. Summer is a great time to slow down and welcome your kid to join you doing whatever you already need to do. Bake a loaf of bread or some muffins. Mix a batch of overnight oatmeal you’ll be able to throw into the oven for breakfast tomorrow. Make time spent together well the main goal.

    Woot, woot — Bonus Idea!!!
  11. Out the Door? Dollar Store!
    One last idea for when the walls seem to be closing in and you just aren’t sure you can be at home for another full day: give each kid a dollar or two, or tell them to grab their wallets … or even better get them to do the chores to earn the dollar… and then make a break for the local dollar store. Maybe they’ll pick up a hula hoop and some sidewalk chalk… or some pool noodles you can turn into a backyard obstacle course… and yeah, maybe they’ll choose something that will break after ten minutes but at least you got out of the house for less than $10!

Do you have some great boredom busters ideas or some fun activities planned for the summer? Please leave a comment to share the fun!

Meet Jupiter, Your Cosmic Big Brother

A single slice of information, obtained from a very interesting audiobook listen a couple of months ago has stuck with me hard and fast — a fresh encouragement about a God Who is all seeing, all knowing, and intimately inthe details great and small.

If Astrophysics isn’t your thing, just bear with me… and let me quote the source on this one.

“Newton’s Laws specifically state that while the gravity of a planet gets weaker and weaker the farther from it you travel, there is no distance where the force of gravity reaches zero.” (Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry)

Huh?

Okay. So anything that has mass has gravity. And objects with more mass? Yup. More gravity. This means that a mighty big planet, like Jupiter, which also has a mighty big gravitational field, can pull on objects quite, quite quite far away. Even though the gravitational pull diminishes as distance increases, it still exists. And (in this case) it pulls in or bats out of harm’s way many comets and other objects floating through space that would otherwise wreak havoc on the inner solar system, the part we call home. 

Uh… what?

Well, this means Jupiter acts like a gravitational shieldfor Earth. Jupiter is like the cosmic big brother that has protected Earth from getting constantly slammed by asteroids that would make a stable life on our beautiful green-and-blue planet virtually impossible. Without that protection, Earth would have a hard time being an inhabitable planet — we would constantly be living out Deep Impact, or whatever that other movie with Liv Tyler was.

So why is this even worth a mention?

It is absolutely glorious — I’m inspired by a fresh sense of wonder — that the existence of other planets inside our solar system could have any impact on life on Earth whatsoever, let alone be seen as a crucial part of the system that allows us to live on our beautiful planet. I’ve often imagined our incredible Creator flinging stars into space — but I’ve never imagined Him setting up the cosmos in such a strategic way, with infinite knowledge of how the very existence of any object will have some sort of impact on every other object in creation.

And if the God who knows all this, and does all this, knows me, and loves me? Then He must also be intimately aware of my every circumstance because it really, truly all matters more than we can even possibly conceive. Your second grade teacher. That first heart break. The time you stubbed your toe so hard it bled. The job interview that was a big fat NO. He sees it, He knows it, and He is in the business of weaving all things — from your shoe size to the location of the planets in the cosmos — together for the good of those who love Him.

So what are you walking through today? Does it seem like a mountain that needs climbing? Or do you feel like you’re facing something that is completely insignificant to everyone else? Can I encourage you with two simple words today? 

It matters.

You are seen and known and so deeply loved, you’re worth dying for. If you’re struggling to hold that truth deep down, and believe it, remember that even the planets of the solar system are contributing to this one rare, amazing, precious life of yours. *Snaps for Jupiter*

In all the universe, there is only one God, and He has set His affections on you.

xCC

“But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
The Lord will hear when I call to Him.” {Psalm 4:3}

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Just a heads up so we’re on the same page! My blog posts and emails sometimes contain Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make a purchase, I receive a teensy compensation at no cost to you. I’m grateful when you do that!
Thanks for supporting With Love, From Here. 


How Jesus is Smashing My Rejections

Hey friends! I know I’ve been saying this good ol’ Love, From Here will be back into a regular routine soon… and then it isn’t … but I think I’ve finally turned a few corners and let go of a few commitments that will allow me to continue writing and encouraging your hearts. Thank you so much for your patience and your consistent encouragement, for sharing and for praying! More love and more news to come…

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“You can’t sit with us!”

It’s hard not to feel a little guilty leap of heart happy when Regina George, the Queen of Rejecting Others gets rejected by her own hive of bees at lunch. If you haven’t seen Mean Girls, just know that this is the moment when the meanest of the Mean Girls gets a taste of her own medicine.

When someone else is getting rejected, let’s be honest, we can feel a mix of emotions. If we feel the rejection is deserved, maybe we’re okay with it. But I don’t think too many of us feel overwhelmingly happy when rejection points its unpleasant finger in our direction and says Nope, not you.

Lately I’ve been experiencing a new type of rejection that I think I was probably so afraid of I didn’t even want to try, for fear of rejection.

While *not* being particularly busy writing in this neck of the woods, I’ve still been doing some writing, including working and reworking and thinking and rethinking a picture book and then wording and rewording a picture book, tentatively called She Curtsied for the Queen

I won’t outline the story for you here (as I hope you’ll get to read a lovely, fully-illustrated and well-edited version of it someday) but I’ll tell you it’s one of those things that arrived by surprise, and I feel like there’s a lesson for me here, about recognizing a gift of God as something we ought to properly steward, even when that looks hard and it looks like potential rejection.

Two agents thus far have come back with this exactly reply, truly almost word-for-word:

“I’m sorry to say I don’t feel I’m connecting wholeheartedly with your writing, despite its many charms.”

(One used that sentence with “I” and the other with “We”… seriously that was the only difference. Even though it’s polite, it’s still rejection.

And that ‘R” word is the thing you hear from so many writers — that the pile of rejection letters is rather long before anybody gets anywhere.

So when this little picture book’s second rejection hit my inbox yesterday, I took a deep breath and decided to smile and text a friend these words:

“She Curtsied for the Queen got its second rejection letter today! I’m two rejections closer to finding a literary agent who wants to publish it, right? 😁🤓”

And I’ve decided that’s exactly what I am choosing to believe. 

Here’s why.

If God puts something in your heart that you know you’re supposed to do, the outcome really doesn’t matter. Truly, it just doesn’t. If this baby never gets off the ground… if this airplane never takes flight… I will still know two very important things:

1. God has asked me to do something, and He can make a way where no way seems possible.

2. My responsibility can be summed up with one word: Faithfulness.

Whether we are excluded from the table at lunch or turned down for the dream job or those 1,200 words I’ve read 1,200 times get turned down for the 45th time, Jesus is the Rock that makes every outcome secondary.

You are known, seen and loved. You are Beloved and you matter.

I am known, seen and loved. I am Beloved and I matter.

Jesus knows us, sees us, and loves us. We will be rejected by the world from time to time (and a great lack of rejection could be an indication that we are going with the flow a bit more than we should!)

Winston Churchill said, “Success if not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

So if you’re experiencing rejection because your art doesn’t connect with the critics, or if you’re experiencing rejection because your faith doesn’t line up with everyone else’s comfortable illusions of Jesus… take heart, friend. 

Have courage to continue walking the faithful walk that consistently says “Yes” to Jesus, regardless of how the rest of the world will look at you.

You may find out the best friends you’ll ever have in this world were sitting at a different table all along.

xCC

How To Smile at Your Biggest Mistakes (And Why To Share Them)

Can I whisper a funny secret in your ear really quick?

This is it:

Sometimes when you’ve messed up, and don’t want to be honest and tell the truth, the best thing you can do for yourself (and the people around you) is be honest and tell the truth.

True story. This was my second year serving as the Director of the local Classical Conversations community. We wrapped up our school year with a fun and happy bang, and shortly afterwards, I had the pleasure of attending a day of training in preparation for serving as Director again next year.

At a mini “break-out session” I sat down with a few other directors and heard some words in the back of my head from a respected mentor a dozen years ago: “You can be honest, or more honest, or most honest.”

I went with most honest and shared that I felt like in a certain area of my role as a Director this past year I’d totally failed. Like not even a little. Big time. I felt like I could point to specific consequences of that failure. And — maybe I was being hard on myself — it was hard to be honest and just say “I messed up.”

I was a little bit afraid of judgement. At least discouragement. Maybe a sideways glance or two.

Instead, I was wrapped up in an embrace of acceptance and encouragement and given words that gave me such cheer, and have been rattling around in my brain ever since:

“I think you should celebrate your failure.”

This sweet new friend went on to encourage me to look at how much I’ve learned from it. How I’ve grown closer to God. And it struck me: this is truly the heart of the Gospel. We will mess up and fall short and err again and again. The grace of God is available. The forgiveness of God is paid for. The hope of God will help us get up and try to do better next time.

I realized that there is an incredible power in being willing to be honest about failure.

When you admit your failures you:

Encourage others to believe they can make mistakes and still “be okay.”

Demonstrate the power of hope and forgiveness.

Model the “I will get back up again” attitude that is so hard for those of us who only always ever want to get it all right the first time.

Give people the permission and encouragement to be brave and to try, even if they’re not going to get it all right.

I’ve wrestled often over the course of this month with those Good Words we’ve been talking about around here: Be of Good Cheer. I’ve realized I find it especially hard to be of good cheer when I look in the mirror and feel displeased with my fragile humanity. My failures and shortcomings. The times when I say I will and don’t or say I won’t and do.

But this is the goodness of God at its finest hour!

We fall so short…and are SO loved anyway! We mess up so big… but we are never too messed up for God to unravel our troubles and give us hope and purpose. We lack and stray and sin, but God is able to use these shortcomings for our good — where sin abounds, grace abounds more — and then He turns our hearts, helps us hear His voice, and empowers us to get up and try again.

If you are struggling with your own failures, friend, you can truly Be of Good Cheer. Our faithful God loves making beauty out of mess. And when you are willing to own, and even share, your failures, you give others permission to breathe a little easier. You show the world that God that doesn’t demand perfection — that instead He welcomes our imperfect and longing hearts. That we can try and fail and keep going.

There is so much learning, so much growth and so much beauty when we are willing to look our failures right between the eyes and own them.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation;” [And sometimes it will be the result of your own doing, but that doesn’t make those next words any less true.] “But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

He has already overcome… and He will help us do the same.

So be of good cheer.

xCC

 

P.S. Side Note! If you’re a parent looking for a way to connect with your kids, I truly cannot recommend the book The Read-Aloud Family highly enough. Why to read with your kids, what to read, how… there is such a wealth of great information inside this fantastic book by Sarah Mackenzie. If you’re interested in a full book review, let me know — I just wanted to share it because I read it cover to cover SO quickly and was just so grateful for the wisdom and advice inside!

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Just a heads up so we’re on the same page! My blog posts and emails sometimes contain Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make a purchase, I receive a teensy compensation at no cost to you. I’m grateful when you do that! Thanks for supporting With Love, From Here.