Get Real

Two years ago, I turned another year over 40.

My daughters, 13 and 10 at the time, brought me a bagel and a cup of coffee in bed.  The youngest made a paper flower and put it in a vase on my breakfast try.  They hung up a happy birthday sign outside my bedroom door.  I shared pictures of their sweetness on Facebook.

That evening, I posted pictures of my birthday tulips, and yummy dinner my husband prepared.  Yes, all of that really happened.  Yes, I was so blessed to be surrounded by and served by my loving family.

At church the next day, one of our pastors teased Dan about being so perfect.  He had seen my Facebook posts and said it made the rest of the husbands look bad.  I told him, what you didn’t see on Facebook is that before dinner, we had a major argument.  He laughed.  I thought about what others see when they read these small snap shots of my life.

The truth is that my bagel was cold, and I don’t really eat breakfast.  I did take a few bites to make the girls happy.  Between the breakfast in bed and dinner,  my husband and I had a huge fight.  My husband would call it an argument, I would call it a fight.  We are both crazy passionate people- so we’re not the couple that has calm “discussions” when we disagree, we have loud fights.

Like 80% of the arguments we’ve had in our now 5 years of being married communication 101 had gone out the window and there was big misunderstanding.   Just as a sidebar, the other 20% of the arguments I’ll just own as my own fault.  I’m often wound tight, always too serious, and wear my heart on my sleeve.  Thankfully we do always make up and are committed until death,  hopefully not at the hands of one another.

Talking about our social media saturated world, Pastor Steven Furtick says, “You’re comparing your everyday life to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

Do I really want to portray this “all together woman”?  Hasn’t God called me to a life of being undone?  Undone by His lavish grace, by His loving gift of salvation and abundant life now. Undone not all together.  Not make my life, my faith, about looking good, doing good, or being good.  It creates a barrier because others think they have to have it together, like me (ha!),  in order to follow Jesus.

The truth is that real life is hard and beautiful, messy and unexpected, delightful and heartbreaking all at the same time.  It’s imperfect.  I’m journeying through it, following Jesus, hanging onto Him most of the time, Him hanging on to me all of the time.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were the ones who had it all together on the outside.  They had mastered the art of superiority.  Their lives were Pinterest perfect.  You know what Jesus said of them?  He called them a brood of vipers! He called them white washed tombs.  Picture a beautiful, ornate, ancient stone tomb- above the earth it was lovely, but just below, was rotting flesh and death.  I definitely don’t want to be identified that way!

God doesn’t need that kind of help from me.  He doesn’t need that brand of Christianity- no one does. God needs me to be like Jesus.  I think if He had a Facebook it would look very different than mine.  It would have pictures of strangers, the sick, the hurting, the “bad guys”, “those people”, that “other woman.”  He’d be in those pictures loving them.  He’d be laughing, or hugging, or sharing a meal with compassion in His eyes.  His strong arms pulling them up, out of deep pits and dark places.

Not only did Jesus love those less than picture perfect people, He died for them.  And guess what, we’re all in that less than picture perfect category.  No matter the beautiful life we have on Facebook.  Jesus took our place when He gave His life on the Cross.  The only way to a Holy God was by following the Law perfectly.  No matter our highlight reel of life, we all miss that mark at some point.  Just ask my husband!  Thankfully, we get to put on Christ’s perfection when we surrender our lives to Him.  That is the very best reality and it’s the one I want to reflect.








Granite Countertops

Good-bye kitchen.

I loved this kitchen.

How many times had four kids sat at this large island in their cartoon pajamas?  Messy morning hair and laughter.  Spilled fruit loops on the faux marble countertop.  How many times had we sat at that kitchen table for six sharing life and a home cooked meal?  I loved this kitchen because it meant family.

Reality meant leaving this house for a Mom plus four house.  I found a perfectly cute rental close to our favorite hiking trails.  The soccer fields were just around the corner.  (High five soccer parents!)

Here in the empty kitchen I was having this lone farewell moment.  I was half reflective of what was, half prayerful about an uncertain future.  Then, I thought:

If I love this kitchen and if God loves me- then what would be better than this kitchen?

The answer literally dropped into my brain,

Granite Countertops.

What?  Where did that come from?  I’m not a material girl.  Certainly I admired granite countertops but taming wild acres in the country ate up most of the building budget we had several years earlier.  There had been zero dollars for granite countertops.

God used that question and answer to shift my perspective.  To shift from what was, to what could be.  To dream a little. It was a move to future HOPE in the middle of right now loss.  Real HOPE.

2 Chronicles 16:9a (NIV) is such a favorite of mine:  For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

One way Jesus strengthens our hearts is by giving us hope!  Hope in His goodness.  His plans.  His purposes.  Hope for a future that isn’t bleak but bright with possibility because of Him.  Because He is our Hope Giver.

I moved into that cozy rental house with four precious kids in tow.  It didn’t have granite counter tops, but it was a Goldilocks, just-right fit for us.

Fast forward several years (and hundreds of lessons learned) later.

I met and married Dan.  As a blended family, think Brady Bunch, we needed a much bigger house than either one of us lived in.  Unfortunately, small rural towns don’t boast many large-enough-for-eight-rental-homes.  My Type A timetable had long come and gone when just in time, God made a way!

His way was a good way!  This house was huge- 3400 sft. of custom living space that included four bedrooms, two of which were master suites.  It sat on 82 acres with beautiful sunset views.  Lots of space for us to spread out and grow into a family together.  Totally unexpected and crazy!!!  (Note- we didn’t win the lottery!  We paid half the value of this home in our lease!)  It was a God thing.

And guess what?

The kitchen had granite countertops!

Life is always moving.  Whether the season is suffering or joy, it’s a moving season.  That’s something to hold onto!  The hopeless place that feels so permanent is temporary!  God takes us through things.  We don’t have to understand it all to trust.  Wrestling with trying to make sense of it all- is exhausting.  We can ask Him for hope.  We can even dream because He loves us!

What would be better than this?

Sarah Young says it this way, “Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven.  This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multiple trials are buffeting you.” From Jesus Calling, page 218.

I don’t know what you are facing friend but I’m praying that He gives you a granite countertop moment. That you can hear Him whisper hope.

God’s Word describes hope “as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure…” Hebrews 6:19 (NIV).

Doesn’t that sound amazing- to be anchored, firm, secure?  It’s possible when we place our hope in Him.

I pray that you will know that God is at work in your right now.  And actually, since He’s God and not bound by time like we are, He’s even at work in your future.

Let’s hope together friends.


PS  Here’s one of my favorite HOPE songs!