What Leaning Feels Like and a Circus

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I am loving my mornings this week. My almost 2-year-old wakes up happily talking to himself for at least 10 minutes. Listening to my tall little (recently asked if my 22 month old is 3) babble on and utter a chuckle or two is purely the truest joy. And today it’s the prefect way to start my day.

 

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Vulnerability is never easy and if your like my toddler, it might come natural to you. Their world is completely wrapped in a full coverage protection plan with their biggest liability being getting that cookie or wearing boots instead of shoes. What a life.

Or, if you’re like me, you’re scared to death of vulnerability and your biggest liability is, well frankly, every thing.

Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly is a super good read. Packed full of research she mentions so many people that she interviewed express instances of vulnerability and what it was like for them which makes this book one that you can easily connect with and lick those fingers to keep turning pages.

From the back of the book:

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection.

So inspired my this Texas native, I want to be able to risk some pride and safety in situations where I know I walk fully armored. Baby steps where my insurance is security in God and knowing that he always keeps me safe. I’ve heard people say,  “This is just who I am. Deal with it.” and it scares me to think that I’ll land out beyond the playing field with them somewhere surrounded by a thick wall of prickly hedges.

We can change.

I hope I keep changing – becoming more Christlike and not some crazy hiding behind a ridiculous stiff, thick, clanking armor suit that’s not even comfortable to wear in the first place.

Imagining risking some wild, fresh vulnerability scares the tar out of me too. It’s so easy to NOT have scary hard conversations. And so this week I’ve been thinking about different responses and leaning into what could be life giving instead of death and stabbing. I’m leaning into the mystery of another way.

Years ago I was at a Bible School doing a week of missions prep just before leaving for the summer to go to Mexico. One of the activities was to stand on the stage in the gym and and fall backwards into the group’s arms below you. I think it was called the Faith Fall. I remember standing up there, my back towards the group. Good thing because I couldn’t see if they were smiling big and confidently or had huge creased brows oozing uncertainty.

I took a deep breath, crossed my arms over my chest and just fell. I had no idea what the landing would feel like. Didn’t know if I’d give a little or give a lot. Had no idea what to expect.

Leaning into vulnerability feels a lot like that. You don’t know anything for certain once you start to let yourself go.

I just came across this anonymous quote.

“Sometimes the thing that we are most afraid of doing is the thing that will set us free.”

Who doesn’t want to be free?

And, so I hope to practice the leaning…

 

In other news, the circus came to town.

 

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I took my kiddo and one of his favorite cousin, the one that we always have to pray for every night when we say our prayers, along to check it out. Because when we heard that a circus was coming to such a small, small, very small town, I was a bit skeptical but also a bit excited and I might have even imagined a three-ring tent and lots and lots of wild animals, clowns, fire and tight rope walkers.

I’ll let this picture tell you everything you need to know.

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And, so after we said ‘hello, mr elephant’ and ran around in the mud behind the tent to pet look at the miniature ponies, hubby and I decided at the supper table that that was enough circus adventure for one day. Lucky us our one-year-old didn’t know he was missing out on anything that night. And we’re $24 richer because of it! :)

 Have a great week!
#bringSPRING

A Safety Issue

I can’t believe it’s Saturday already. I’ve meaning to post by Wednesday this week and now it’s the weekend. But I have something to share with you, dear readers and so I’ll get this post out before it’s the start of another week!

The promise of rain on my weather app was right today. Outside my window, the thick heavy clouds could nearly burst. In fact when I went out to feed the dog an hour ago, they had begun to leak. It’s another dreary day in Texas. Oh, how I promise to never complain about the hot, hot sun in July.
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Last week I wrote about how I was greatly daring in beginning something new. Something new which involved hanging out over food with people I knew, knew of and a complete stranger. This all came about after attending IF:Gathering in the beginning of February. I risked an If:Table which turned out a success and we are continuing it next month! Yay!

I’ve also been praying this prayer for Lent this year (read the prayer here) inspired by Ann Voskamp who spoke at the IF:Gathering. I follow her blog for the most part and she wrote a recap post from IF and then included this prayer challenge.

And, all I can say is along came that prayer and rocked my little safe boat.

This Lent Prayer is so powerful and motivating. I feel empowered and rested each time after praying it. It can be a bit of a drag to remember to get that prayer in some days, but when I’m through, I’m so glad I prayed it.

Sometimes when I read it different parts pop out at me. Sometimes I’m stuck on a phrase or two for a couple of days. I’m stuck on safety right now. I never thought that was an issue for me.

Here’s the paragraph that I’ve been praying:

 

We lay down our comfort zones because they are death traps, and we will be strong and courageous because You literally save us, and that makes us safe and the safest place we could ever be is in Your hand — and because we are saved by You, we are always, always safe, — so we are now called to go live dangerous lives.

 

I used to quickly breezed through part thinking, “this is probably a big issue for some people since she wrote a whole paragraph on being safe. Sheesh” All the while confidently believed it wasn’t my struggle.

Then it began to haunt me. “Do I feel safe?”

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As I wrestled with the word safe I began to see how I often live in fear more than I was ever being honest with myself. Fear of what others think, what my husband might say about what I did, that I’m over-bearing or coming up short, or if I’m doing the ‘right’ thing in a situation.

I think when I’m living fearfully, like fearful of how an evening might go and trying to be somebody I’m not – I don’t have a sense of safety. So, maybe safety isn’t a word I connect with as much as fear. Not feeling safe is living in fear.

If you’re like me when in a situation that leaves you feeling a bit fearful of what might happen, then you try to produce all obvious efforts to control the situation and push down that feeling of fear creating for myself a Jolynn-itized safety. And Jolynn-itized safety has nothing to do with God-itized safety. All my best efforts to knock out fear in my heart will not leave me at rest and secure in God.

When fear rules, there’s no room for faith.

 

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Is any of my crazy brain registering with you?

I used to believe that faith in God meant that I was NOT afraid or doubtful when I had faith. Like I was either one or the other and that one day I would arrive and no longer struggle with faith and fear and doubting. But, on my spiritual journey with God, I learned that that’s not at all the case.

Three things. 1. Having faith in God does not mean all those doubts and fears are vanished – kaput. Faith simply overcomes those feelings. Daily. 2. I still might have a twinge of fear, meaning they actually co-exist. It matters more which voice I’m leaning and acting on.  3. I will never arrive and not struggle with fear, faith and doubt.  Even when I’m 81. Not until heaven with the struggle stop.

My desire in this moment of awareness on my journey is to use my feelings of fear or insecurity as red flags to stop and ask myself what I am afraid of right now. And then teach myself to pray and ask God to replace that fear with faith and remember I’m always safe in Him no matter what I’m dealing with or how I feel. God makes me safe if I invite his presence in my troubled heart.

Owning my fear and not bulldozing through it will make me more fully alive then any fake version of myself ever will be.

It’s amazing what all humans struggle with. I hope being honest with you about my struggles  will cause healing in our hearts and render encouragement. We can learn so much from each other. Being a student of life is the greatest classroom one could ever attend. May my struggles help build curiosity in you for more of God and freer, more alive living.

I’m amazed at how much I can grow and change when I’m seeking after God. I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact it seems harder. I’m realizing that God isn’t fixated on making me happy but desires a close relationship with me and that takes intentionality on my part. I’m such an independent, I’ll-figure-a-way-out, bulldoze-through-the-confusion kinda gal. Yeah, not much room for God to move in me! Ha! :p

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Have a happy & safe weekend ya’ll!


 

Praying for Strength & Courage

be strong and courageous
In the past Lent was always a bit pre-meditated for me. I approached it as somewhat of a challenge and looked forward to sacrificing something for a whole 40 days. Most times it was chocolate. It was hard for my very sweet tooth to be in such favor of the decision which is why I did it I’m sure. But I always was aware weeks before that Lent was coming and tried to figure out what to give up.

This year Lent sorta rolled around and caught me by surprise. About a week before it began I read this post by Ann Voskamp and seriously considered praying a prayer she wrote on Dangerous Faith as opposed to giving up something. Her post came after speaking at IF:Gathering — a ladies event that challenges to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation of woman to live out their purpose — that I was privileged to attend locally via Livestream. It was totally awesome and next year I purposed in my heart this Texan is gonna do everything she can to be to a part of it LIVE in Austin.

So, back to the prayer. In a short time I was in. I committed to praying Ann’s prayer entitled Be Courageous. Maybe giving up that chuck of time as I pray is my sacrifice for Lent? I don’t know, but so far this prayer was only skipped once and I’m continually drawn to its message.

I’ve been praying that I can be strong and courageous like Joshua.
I’ve been praying that I may not be fearless but faithful because God is greater than my fears.
I’ve been praying that I can lay down my comfort zones and walking to the land God is calling me believing He will always keep me safe.
Praying that I hunger for a life of hidden service and humility and take leaps of faith and believe God can.
And, praying to step up the stairs not stare up the steps and to not quit even when we don’t know what’s going on.

There. Wow. All that I’m praying. Every day. I haven’t felt a big difference but I’ve sensed a nudging to trust and move/risk and to keep my heart soft in the face of fear. If you’re like me, then that’s huge. Because people like me are prone to handle things on their own and figure it by themselves.

For me, most of this prayer is about relationships and what I can do to be more open and speak life into them and not words of death. I’m also reading Larry Crabb’s book, SoulTalk right now which is so timely because he explains how to listen and care for others.  >I highly recommend it.<

So with SoulTalk in my mind and God’s spirit in my heart and Lent on the calendar, I’m yearning to risk speaking words that offer life and hope. To move beyond clichés and what Jolynn would say but instead tap into the Holy spirit living in me and wait with faith for God to move. Don’t you wish you spoke more out of God’s spirit too? — and not just what you think and out of fear of looking foolish? Oooh yeah.

IF:Gathering also designed this thing called IF:Table. (This video explains more about it) The table idea is for woman to gather together and have Christ centered conversations around a table and food. What an awesome idea, right? What female doesn’t love the idea of connection and community and food – haha! I love this concept and this Thursday night I’m a part of our very own first IF:Table. It feels kinda scary and like a huge leap of Faith on my part – like what I’ve been praying about. I feel like I’m leaping, yes, LEAPING into something and I have no idea how it’s going to go. I don’t even know everybody attending.

Did I mention that I’m hosting it. That’s a huge fear factor in its self. As a host I always feel pressure to keep the ball rolling and pressure to make it ‘fun’. As host though, I really, really, want to be open to how God will lead the conversation and make the night about Him and not me, my lousy table, my food or my unfinished front door. Umm… yeah.

I guess I’ll keep praying my prayer until then. I guess I’ll keep creeping along and moving in faith as I nervously risk opening up my heart to trust God and believe that where ever he leads me, I’ll be safe. The evening probably won’t be prefect but hopefully I can relax and enjoy the imprefections! Did I mention I’m excited too? I really am looking forward to the Table! I love meeting people especially in my new-ish community. I’ve lived here almost 6 years and still feel new.

That’s my Lent story. There might be a part II down the road. I’m kinda spontaneous and unpredictable with my writing so you never know with me! If you want to hear how it goes comment and tell me!

How about you? Are you sacrificing something this season? Are you risking something to draw closer to Christ?

A Wish For Your Weekend

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It’s Friday. Woo-hoo! We’ve made it through another week! I don’t know about you but the sun is shinning, it’s in the 50’s and the promise of warmer weather to come is enough to whip out my sandals and toe nail polish!

Today Gavin had a cute, sweet little friend over and it was fun watching them interact. Gavin, an only child, and her the youngest of 3, was not used to fending for himself. Sometimes they played coexisting beside each other. Sometimes his jealousy got the best of him and he grabbed her toys to which she screamed. Other times she took a toy from him or pushed him out of her way as he curiously stared at her. I couldn’t help but rationalize, there are mean people everywhere. We can’t assume that others are going to treat us nice or how we like. 

Maybe I’m going over board. I have a tendency to be to, to, too thinky. As mom used to say, “Jolynn, you think too much.” But, I’m learning to embrace who I am and not misplace myself as wrong or try to stop the bothersome thinking. Through the years I’ve met some really neat people who, like me, think too much. I take solace in the fact that I am not alone.

So, as you go into your weekend, remember that it’s not helpful to expect others to treat us as we prefer. May you offer grace to those that fail to meet our expectations and may we move to love in-spite of our desires to turn and run.

Happy weekending!

When You Can’t Make Life Work

Ever since last weeks post on priorities, I’ve been better at brushing my teeth before 10 o’clock in the morning. I love how when I write about something it sticks way better than when I just think it. Writing resonates with me and helps me process and think. So, I’m glad you’re here and at this space. It’s where I think out loud and learn to dance. It’s where I hope you muse out loud, “Hey, me too!” and become brave to take the next dance step…


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When I was 5, learning to tie my shoes was a challenge. Once somebody showed me the neat little ‘chase the bunny around the tree’ trick and even after practicing the bunny race, it still was challenging to master the fine art of tying.

One bright sunny day I was in the kitchen sitting on the bottom step by the stairs. It was one of those steps that opened and in it mom kept the onions and potatoes. My brothers were outside playing but not me because my shoes weren’t tied and I was frustrated trying. The laces refused to cooperate.

Suddenly a song popped into my head and all I can remember from it now is “Do your best. Do your best. (da da daaa da da – something. . . ) and Jesus will do the rest.”

This was one of my earliest memories of relating to God. I prayed He would finish tying my shoes. I had done my best and begged him to finish just like in the song. No amount of hot tears, stomping my feet or pounding my onion seat would bend God’s arm any closer to earth to tie my darn shoes. Taking a bite out of a raw onion would have seemed easier to me in that moment.

As most stories end when your 5, mom came and saved the day. She tied my shoes. Probably brightened my spirits by ‘chasing the bunny around the tree’. What would we do with out mothers. They’re saving little people all the time.

 

God disappointed that day 25 years ago. And, guess what? He still disappoints. When I have a plan and it doesn’t go as planed I feel God let down. The hardest part is when my plan that God didn’t fulfill wasn’t even a bad plan. It was a good one. Like dreaming to marry the man of my 17-year-old dreams or wanting to be a teacher for 10 years but the door closing at 3, or when I started an amazing girls ministry but it came to a screeching halt after only a short season or more recent dreams to have another baby.

God’s plan isn’t always our plan. It’s a hard lesson to learn. I’m still learning it and I’m in my nice ripening 30’s. So if you’re 19 and reading this take heart – even older people like me struggle to understand God more.

The hard part is believing God is still good even when our ‘good’ plans don’t succeed.

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Now that I’m married to Jason, I can see how it wasn’t God’s plan to marry my hot crush from my teens. Back then I couldn’t see or understand things about my life and it’s still that way today but I’m trying to be ok with that because I can trust God. I trusted him with whom I married. Jason is the one for me. I know it. Some days it might not feel that way or I might not treat him like it but it’s God’s plan we are married and it’s good.

I can also tie my shoes now. Woohoo! I did learn and I’m trying to remember to not demand God to fix my life anymore. Instead when life gets hard I’m asking God for faith to move into the moment. Instead of asking for God to take the situation away or make it better but faith and courage while in it because I know I can’t handle it.

I’m also trusting God with my love of teaching. Maybe someday that season will re-open but for now I’m at home with my teeming toddler. I’ve also considered the fact that maybe that desire will never land in my lap or if so maybe in a different way than most obvious to me and to be at rest with that.

Can I be ok with God’s different plan? Can I trust how God is writing my story?

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There’s a certain amount of accepting the fog which I’ve come settle for. You see, I used to demand God to shoot it to me straight. I’m direct. I like direct goals and objectives. It’s taken me 30 years to come to grips with my reality that God has never yielded to my way of conversing. Looking back I see a trail of how God has tenderly showed me each next step when the time came. He never explained why or how it all works together, just the next step. He’s still doing that with me today.

 

He’s God. I’m his servant. I am here, in my little life to bring Him glory. May you’re going through something that you prayed long and hard about and it’s not making any sense. Like a child who you struggle to reach, or a parent whose been difficult to relate to or maybe your spouse putting pressure on you. We don’t have to understand everything or see in detail how this mess all works out. Just trust Him. Today. Right here in the fog. Right now.

 

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Isiah 55:8-9

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! May God have your heart through the fog today!

 

What To Do About Priorities

There are certain things in our life that we need to do in order to stay alive.

I’m not talking about drinking coffee, though for some of you it might be just that! — but, eating food, drinking (h2o) and sleep.

Then there are the things that we like to do that help us function at a healthy capacity. Like, get exercise, take our vitamins, brush our teeth, put on deodorant and read our Bible.

In between, we have other things that we like to do or just plain enjoy. They are not necessary to survival but they keep us happy. You know what I’m talking about, hanging out with friends, checking Facebook, texting, maybe writing and reading or watching movies and don’t forget — shopping. :)

Today after lunch as I swallowed my vitamins, I wondered, why is it that we get our priorities so easily out of order? Normally I take my vitamins in the morning at breakfast. With a life of distraction, it got checked off the list at lunch.

When it comes to not reading my Bible each morning but defiantly acquiring time for Facebook I’m contemplating hiring a schedule manager for my brain fog.  For more evidence, I can run all morning long with smelly coffee breath, in my pi’s and messy hair and of course, take time to feed the dog but there is no room for 5 minutes in my morning push and pull to sit and read my bible or just simply go brush my teeth. Can somebody organize my schedule better for me, please!?

Priorities. Oh, how the list of things we ought to do each day seem to get tossed in the popcorn machine and pOp out who-knows-when.

Last Friday I had my devotions after lunch and after Gavin was in his little crib, sacked out. (I prefer to have my God-time first thing in the morning.) It struck me as I gulped down those vitamins today that maybe the order doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it actually happens.

I read my bible today.

It happened.

Check.

And that, dear readers is good. It is good and it doesn’t matter when.

So don’t hold the stick of failure over your head today for not measuring up to your expectations each day. If you still haven’t accomplished those things today that you feel should have happened a couple hours ago, it’s ok. I just might happen yet.

Or,

Maybe it won’t even happen today. I’ve gone complete days with out reading my Bible and without deodorant. I’ve gone an entire day without remembering to take my vitamins too. It’s not something I want everybody to know about me, especially on days I’m deodorant-less. My poor health and spiritual health may digress but it’s not the end of the world even at the end of the day. As you lay your head on your pillow, choose not to shame yourself for it. Your intentions are good.

 

My little toddler knows what he wants. He goes after it and gets it. It’s just that easy.

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How about you?
Do you shame yourself when you miss a day (or two or three) of Bible reading?
Do you get disgusted when you for get your vitamins or even your kids one morning?

Is there an area in you life where you fee like you should be something but not taking time for it? What stands between you and getting in done?
We are human with good intentions.
We are imperfect beings making imperfect progress.
We can choose to accept fallible ourselves.

And it’s ok.

 

No Small Adventure

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It’s monday. I rub my eyelids trying to wake up. Awaken to another week.

Of all the smarter, more energetic, Godly and happier woman in the land, God choose me for this mothering life. It’s a special role that He has called only me to. I do want to get up and follow Him today but– Yes, sometimes there is a but…

My but is, I want to leave my dishes and my little pile of laundry and follow just as the brave and fearless fishermen did when they left their nets to run after Jesus. I want to leave for an adventure too. Go somewhere big. Travel across the sea.

But that would not be following Him today. Following walks out through my hands. Hands sorting through my piles of dirty clothes. Hands wiping a snooty nose. Hands warming up leftovers. Hands pulling up the blankets to make the bed.

God has made a perfect path for me in this motherhood journey. I don’t have an outstanding resumé for the this job but God still chose me and sees me fully qualified. He sees my saint-hood while I see my fail-hood. God wanted imperfect me right here, right now.

Lately I want to just jump on the next flight out of here and go. Leave these small walls and small town. Go somewhere big. Live a grand adventure.

 

But – God has perfectly placed me here today.

He knows what no-small-adventures awaits me in my mama-hood.

 

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Do you ever become weary in mothering day after day?

Do you ever dream of traveling? Maybe not living a different life necessarily but miss the single days of carefree adventures?

Does the responsibility of raising and being there for your children appease you? Keep you  centered to your calling at this season of life?

What are your feelings? Stories? Do you resonate with these words? I’d love to hear your thought and comments!