Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm learning

It seems to be a common two-word statement out of my mouth these days: "I'm learning." I've spent the (almost) last year working in (almost) full-time ministry work and I guess I thought I'd just all of a sudden know how to navigate the ups, downs, conversations, challenges, changes with ease and grace.

But, uh, yep - I was a bit full of it.

In a way, it's good that I'm learning this only a year into the journey... some go their whole lives trying to juggle everything, fit themselves into a thousand tiny little boxes of who and what they are supposed to be, mostly according to the people they lead. 

Thanks to the words of a wise friend, I am moving forward in the journey of realizing that my job description is summed up in a few words: bending only to Him and His voice. That's what I'm called to. My job is to fall so fully in love with my Father, to be loved by Him as I am, and allow Him to transform me more and more into "Ellie", and by doing so, releasing Him to transform those around me too. Here are a few things I'm learning about myself on this journey:

I've got a heart to please. What I'm learning is that He formed this aspect of my personality for His glory, not mine. I naturally want to please others and fit myself inside all their expectations, so that at the end of the day I can rest easy knowing that I am well liked, loved, appreciated. Honestly, it has never been about the good of others - it has been for my benefit. Jesus showed this to me the other day: 
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” -Romans 15:1-3
So that's where the dysfunction manifests itself: selfishness. And the irony of all of this is that I say I'm a people pleaser, but actually, I'm me-pleaser. But I'm so glad He is my example... "He did not please himself..." (vs. 3). 

I need to take time to rest. My passion dies when I'm tired. My compassion dies when I'm tired. I lose my joy when I'm tired. But I also, far too often, listen more to the taskmasters in my head than to Jesus. Jesus, calling me to come and just be with Him for a while. To slow down, take some time to breathe, change things up, have fun creating something I enjoy. I'm learning to practice this: tonight, I'm going home and making some of Granny's Tea Biscuits (courtesy of Ann Voskamp's Granny), just for fun.

Gratitude, in all circumstances. It really works. Two Octobers ago, I began my own gratitude journal. You've seen some of my list - the recording of all these gifts, given freely to me, the thousand ways He loves. I'm learning to really believe it is true: He loves me, adores me, lavishly. But even so, some days I just find it such a chore to open that journal of mine. These are usually the days I end up seeing everything through grey-coloured glasses. Today was one of those days. I struggle so much with desiring to do that which is for my own good. I'm a stubborn and prideful creature. So I write this, in hope, that I would continue to learn to be obedient:

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Ps 100:4) 
“You are my God, and I will give you thanks” (Ps 118:28)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6)
“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Cor 4:15)
So, all of this is to say... yep, I'm learning.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The words have been slow coming

It has been a fruitful winter.

I'm seeing now, spring popping up, all over lawns in our little seaside village. The air is less shockingly chilled, and things are warming, surely and gently.

I have close been working, for almost a year, as navigator of a growing ministry that's been a challenge and salve to my heart both.

A challenge because of what I've been learning, and unlearning. Learning grace, unlearning self-sufficiency. Learning trust, unlearning fear. Learning faith, unlearning unbelief.

And a salve because somehow, loving and being loved by children has been His way of showing me that my story is significant and won't return to Him void.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,  
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
{Isaiah 55:9-11 NIV}

And so it feels a bit like spring is blooming inside of me as much as outside.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


here are some glimpses of where I've been lately ... by way of my list {glimpses of # 180-432}

|| the liberty of obedience, seeing another live it out
|| green tea in a green mug
|| flexible days and time to study, all given
|| clouds rolling in
|| her laughter, and what it means
|| calm puppy sleepy time
|| not-so-calm puppy sleepy time
|| that he hasn't fully destroyed the house
|| durable trim *sigh*

|| peeking blue sky
|| "the righteous will live by faith" Romans 1:17
|| the hard decisions
|| the asking for peace
|| the peace that follows humility & servanthood
|| my dancing friend
|| the pride & joy smile
|| new opportunities making clear a new path
|| bosses & supervisors that understand changes of plans
|| that He hears my heart!
|| time and adventures with friends He has called home
|| Patience - truly GIVEN -  it is NOT mine!
|| that He softens me, exchanges my stone-heart for flesh-heart... and yes, that means pain
|| fence posts like soldiers
|| tulips gracing bookshelf
|| family time, how He has unfolded it to be beautiful
|| a friend safely home & healed
|| apple pie for breakfast
|| that I am clean, His child, His friend
|| the Cross
|| a new job!
|| Oh, that He would give this to me! And that He is using me!
|| bravery, prophesied & being fulfilled in me
|| bowling parties
|| "remain in Me, and I will remain in you" John 15:4
|| surprise daffodils
|| an answer to my question... "how can I remain in You?" ... and it is to look, and see Him everywhere, this is the making of my list, gratitude, eucharisteo
|| a year later, a less excruciating sorrow
|| so much love from my Cross-family... scones, cards, kind words, God-words
|| more to give away
|| little birdie held up, and me too
|| a little friend's "I love you SOOOOO much", written in chalk on pavement
|| stuffy nose
|| the continual reminder to not rely on myself
|| "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"
|| that we are jewels in His crown
|| "that must be a pretty big crown!!"
|| community, being formed, and that we get to be a part of it
|| tears
|| that they are counted and kept
|| the "I know" and "I'm here" of God
|| heads held high
|| "Happy Easter" notes from little friends
|| baby nephew born healthy!
|| beach view and tide out
|| kingdom on Oprah
|| baking soda

|| lawnmower
|| enough to feed many mouths
|| oatmeal with bananas
|| "a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body"
                his body, broken for me
                             take, and eat
|| little rainbows on paper
|| puppy with green tongue :)
|| hot water boiling
|| even the bed He provides
|| the generosity of friends
|| little ones come, all at once, a glimpse of kingdom here on earth
|| that I could step back and see that
|| that He sees details I don't, and takes care of them
|| travel to a far-away land & airplane rides
|| clouds? ice? Greenland? ... that the guessing is okay :)
|| brave mama
|| laughter of him and her
|| cobble stone streets
|| sunshine, out to play!
|| family that cares
|| day spent as princess in a castle!
|| rain on Paris streets
|| the city of love
|| roadtrips across Europe
|| a hubby who enjoys me, and whom I enjoy!
|| laughter and jokes at 1AM, just me and him

and #433: how He has used the story of a far-away sister who I've never met to help hold me up and walk through the unthinkable

"{She} who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and {she} prepares the way so that I may show {her} the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23

May this continue to prepare the way, Lord!

Monday, March 7, 2011

two years, and approaching the one year

Today marks the second full year I have been {his}...

We haven't had it very easy, we have wrestled and fought and struggled through our junk...but every day I see that he is perfect for me, God's very best.

He is patient with me, and kind. He carries the weight of so much so that I don't have to. He listens to me, like really listens, and offers wisdom... And he has walked with me through the most harrowing valley I have ever known... one which is approaching an anniversary as well.

The pain is less raw these days, less at the forefront of my thoughts. I am missing Dad, yes, and long to see him just once more, but I can feel that the sorrow is being restored to joy.

I was thinking, this morning, about the Scripture we had read at his funeral...

Psalm 27
 Of David.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
    2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
    3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
 4One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
    5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
    6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
 7Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
    8 My heart says of you, Seek his face! Your face, LORD, I will seek.
    9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Saviour.
    10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
    11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
    12 Do not hand me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
 13I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
    14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.


It's just floored me, how the Lord has used this word to speak into my life over the last (almost) year. Yes, truly.... I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living (v. 13).

And so I give thanks; for this year, this journey that I didn't ask for, this man who has braved the barren valley with me...

This is how I am seeing the goodness of the LORD even still...

|| husband love
|| that smile of his
|| the snow capped peaks that I get to drive through each day
|| polite paws crossed
|| pretty blooms emerging all over lawn
|| a car that doesn't get stuck in snow
|| runny noses and little ones who need them wiped
|| snuggles with puppy
|| friends who read my words and encourage me to keep them coming
|| connections... the kinship of grief and loss
|| the ones who tenderly show me that they remember the one year
|| His peace, over and over again, His peace
|| His beauty here, now, and that by looking I can see it

Monday, February 28, 2011

on giving thanks

in joining with the many, many women practicing gratitude
inspired by her & her story
being transformed and healed through the looking...

i give you some glimpses of
my list... as it is this moment

|| evening light on water
|| a certain doggy all covered in white snowflakes
|| the leash that makes him a dream to walk and...
|| the treat that keeps him occupied

|| the knowing... how she can just know when i need an ear
|| friend time... always laughter
|| His provision in ALL things
|| a box of free apples
|| a sink full of dishes, because it means we have eaten
|| fridge full, cupboards stuffed

|| my home with him
|| deep love
|| that He teaches even through impossible seasons difficult with strife -- Yes, He teaches!

|| His peace
|| His grip on my life, on daddy's life
|| the healing that comes in the pain of reminiscing
|| "how great Thou Art"

|| the asking, "please speak to me through your Word"
|| the speaking
|| Christ the wisdom & power of God

|| the good conviction all the way through a sermon
|| a man's 'thanks so much' and what it means... a heart opening to God's people

|| "life is not an emergency" (-ann voskamp)... that I can slow...

|| black branch silhouette against cobalt skies
|| tiny twigs
|| salty beach breeze

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a new year

2011 is here. It has been a while since I have had time to write.

Christmas was bittersweet. Seven days spent on the beach in the blazing Mexican sun, with my 'new' family -- my wonderful, warm, compassionate in-laws. It was a gift-trip, a Sabbath week, a time of grace given to us by my husband's incredibly generous grandparents. They are getting on in years, frail and fragile people, but so kind and I do feel like I am their's - their granddaughter, and loved.

Also awkward conversations that birthed insecurity and sadness, followed by tears alone in our hotel room in my husband's arms, but then grace. Grace upon grace, and good, encouraging conversations... Grace gives us room, room to heal, room to let go - grace gives me room to be myself.

Our time away was just what we needed. And I asked Him throughout if He would give us excitement, anticipation for coming home. He did.

What followed upon our return was a handful of really hard days. Call it a woman-thing, call it grief, call it stress... whatever it was, I was sad. I bawled for several hours one night, frustration and suffocation and sorrow and anger collided and left me in the fetal position. But my husband held me again, and let me cry, and told me we were going to be alright, that I have been hurt and so the wounds can tear open again with even a small thing. He is right.

I love him.

I am having better days, now. I love my job, my little buddy is a joy to work with and it is so rewarding to see him succeed. What a gift.

I am learning that it is okay to be vulnerable, and it is necessary in order to connect in community. I want to be a whole-hearted person. {Click the link and watch the video. It is worth the 20 minutes}

Already I have seen the answer to my prayer for a friend -- He has given many.

2011 is here, and I am here. I have a good Father who hears what I ask for even in the silly, back-of-my-mind desires, and speaks to me in ways that I can hear.

And all the time, grace.

Grace upon grace, and He sustains me.

Friday, December 3, 2010


My dad's birthday is on Christmas day.

Yep. It's true.
See the birthday balloons in the background?
That means however awful the holidays were going to be, multiply that by an impossible number and you'll get the what's-left-for-us-to-celebrate-anymore heartache that I am overwhelmed by often.

Perhaps it sounds insensitive, but I never thought I would be one of them: the ones who just can't do Christmas like everyone else because it hurts too much.

But now I am one of them. I miss my dad more than I even knew I could ever miss someone. I often find myself desperately looking for him, seeing a truck from a distance that looks like his (and sometimes with a driver who resembles him closely), going places I once went with him, wishing that just one more time, he could be there.

And Christmas is never going to be the same. I want to say that it won't ever be good again, but I am hoping.

I'm hoping that though the pain is so real, this will be redeemed.

The void left in my family. The destruction left in the wake of destruction. The hurtful words that have been spoken to us by those who should have spoken love & grace. The what's-left-for-us-to-celebrate-anymore heartache that hopefully, won't always overwhelm. The incredible abyss of loneliness, and the fear of community that keeps me from reaching out.

I'm holding on to my precious, valiant Jesus, hoping.

I am struggling, this is true. But I'm holding on, for dear life.