Tuesday, September 25, 2012

More gifts

September 20:

  • #411: Singing patriotic songs at Rotary club
  • #412: Enjoying a nice finish to a much more relaxed work week
  • #413: Dinner with the Pearcy ladies and brainstorming future fun things that we can do to continue connecting with one another
  • #414: Being able to use Google maps on my phone when I'm lost
  • #415: Hanging out with Laura even though I was so tired that I almost fell asleep while talking

September 21:

  • #416: A nice continental breakfast
  • #417: Attending a professional seminar
  • #418: Learning helpful and practical tools
  • #419: Realizing that the Holy Spirit really does lead me into effective counseling strategies
  • #420: Driving into Chicago with tons of traffic and not feeling frustrated because I was in no hurry
  • #421: Revisiting some Chicago favorites like Sweet Mandy B's, Julius Meinl and Mythos Restaurant
  • #422: Dinner, deep conversation and lots of laughter with Miss Lilita

September 22:

  • #423: Running with Karyn and Lily
  • #424: Laughing with Karyn as we struggle through Jillian Michael's 30 day shred workout video
  • #425: Eating frosted sugar cookies and watching The Biggest Loser to celebrate our good workout
  • #426: Singing with Mackenzie and how worship can be like Heaven coming down
  • #427: Praying corporately
  • #428: Late night movie with my parents

September 23:

  • #429: Catching up on reading my favorite blogs: www.aholyexperience.com, www.chattingatthesky.com, Exodus Cry and Kimberly Smith of Make Way Partners
  • #430: Visiting the MacDonald family farm
  • #431: Watching 3 dogs jump in and out of the pond in hot pursuit of a big stick
  • #432: Telling funny stories
  • #433: Making baked potatoes for dinner
  • #434: Watching a movie with mom and laughing so hard I almost cried

September 24:

  • #435: My first run with frost on the ground and my breath coming out in visible puffs
  • #436: Time with God out in the sunroom with my coffee and the prayer room web stream
  • #437: Praying for my clients
  • #438: Attending mom's Bible study and feeling fiercely proud of what a Bible scholar she really is
  • #439: Finding Lily asleep on my bed at the end of the day

September 25

  • #440: Scrambling 72 eggs in a big metal bowl at the soup kitchen
  • #441: Coffee and quiet time in my office to start the day
  • #442: Celebrating the incredible work of transformation that God is doing in so many of my clients' lives
  • #443: Reading Hiding from Love and being so challenged and encouraged, personally and professionally
  • #444: Leaving work in the middle of the day to get with God at the Rock River House of Prayer
graceful for young women

Dear Me at 16,

First, take a deep breath and try to relax. You're not receiving this letter because you are bad or in trouble.

To the contrary, I'm writing to you because I care about you and I know that it's hard for you to let others be caring toward you. You feel exposed and vulnerable, wondering if the person will stumble across all those imperfections that you work so hard to hide. You feel afraid of how they might judge you if they knew how needy, fragile and broken you actually are behind your put-together facade.

I want to let you know that it's not your fault that you are this way. At least, it's not entirely your fault. Your desire to encourage and help other people is a wonderful, God-given part of your personality that influences you to put yourself in the position of helper. And this is an important part of how God has made you because it relates to the high calling that He has placed on your life to partner with Him in restoring people. Being the oldest of five children and always being complimented on your helpfulness to your mom and your maturity and responsibility have also contributed to your idea that you have to be helpful. You think that this is all people want from you and you fear that they will reject you if you don't provide it. In this way, how you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God has been used against you by the enemy and this broken, sinful world.

Jody, there is much more to you than just being able to meet everyone's needs all the time. You have a really tender heart, a great sense of humor, a natural enthusiasm and a creative mind, just to name a few other qualities. I encourage you to try sharing your real self with people more often. Your friends will actually feel closer to you when you do this. Their hearts will be moved with compassion if you tell them how much you really struggle with asking for help, feeling afraid and pressure to be perfect. It will be easier for them to accept you because they will actually have a chance to know you and you will feel such powerful affirmation of who you are in letting yourself be known.

When you feel discouraged, weary and alone, let God and other people love on you. Confide in them that you have these feelings and allow them to care for you. This will feel scary at first because it will mean that you are at the center of the conversation and you receive prayer and encouragement and it's possible that other people will resent you for having needs and asking for them to be met. It's more likely that God will actually comfort your heart in such a way that the painful feelings lose their sharpness and hope can take root again. When you encounter all of your imperfect parts, don't hide them away. Bring them to God and bring them into community so that they can soak up grace and love and be healed. Start thinking of yourself as a really precious person who is worthy of care, attention and love from God and others. Don't be ashamed that you want and need it and don't be afraid to ask for it.

Remember that sanctification is a process based on relationship. As you grow in relationship with God, He will change you and make you more like Him. He will not finish this work until the day that Christ Jesus returns for you, so please be patient and gentle with yourself when you encounter the unfinished parts. Enjoy friendship with God and the deep peace and joy that come from being chosen and accepted by Him. Let Him do the transformation work that is needed and remember that this is a work He really, really enjoys. You are not a burden to Him, but a great delight.

You have a wonderful future ahead of you and God's going to bring you into a wonderful, spacious place of freedom from fear and perfectionism. Just lean into Him, be still and know that He really is God and He will do the work you need.

I love you with the love that He has lavished on me,

Me at 31

Thank you Emily P. Freeman for this wonderful exercise! www.chattingatthesky.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm struggling with the September joy dare because her gift topics are hard to find. Instead of feeling challenged to look even harder, I keep procrastinating writing out my gifts. I want to do the joy dare perfectly, but I can't. Instead of waiting for that magic moment when I will have a perfect answer for each 3 gifts each day, I have decided to just write out 3 gifts from each day and skip the categories.

September 6:

  • #351: Another crazy-busy day that I pray to make it through
  • #352: My quiet, reflective celebration as I replay the events of the day on my ride home from work
  • #353: Excited anticipation of a weekend away with mom, dad and extended family

September 7:

  • #354: Sharing ourselves through hours of conversation in the car
  • #355: Gathering with extended family to celebrate a marriage
  • #356: Excited hugs and smiles at our reunion
  • #357: Getting inside right before the rain starts pouring down
  • #358: Funny and engaging conversation about Meyers-Briggs and everyone's personality preferences

September 8:

  • #359: Breakfast at Peppermint's
  • #360: Restaurant coffee that actually tastes good
  • #361: Midday at The Old Toad
  • #362: British accents and laughing loud
  • #363: Megan and Chris' wedding
  • #364: A beautiful night of celebration and conversation with family

September 9:

  • #365: Sleeping in
  • #366: Brunch and more conversation
  • #367: Visiting Grandad and touring his home
  • #368: Pita pizza's
  • #369: French films with their bizarre story lines and stunning cinematography

September 10:

  • #370: Sleeping in the car and waking up in a new state
  • #371: Finally finding a starbucks!
  • #372: Coming home
  • #373: How the intensity of my week stretches before me and I find myself praying desperately

September 11:

  • #374: Welcoming visitors in my office
  • #375: Seeing 10 people in 1 day, 9 within a 7 hour period
  • #376: How God sustained me in what was impossible
  • #377: The quiet burn in my stomach that warns me I'm pushing it too much

September 12:

  • #378: New contacts
  • #379: Samples of face wash, an answer to a secret prayer
  • #380: Cancellations that feel welcome because it gives me time to breath, to pray, to read and to think
  • #381: Going out to eat
  • #382: When I can really share my heart
  • #383: A friend who really understands

September 13:

  • #384: Another long day of work
  • #385: Being surprised by time I didn't know I would have
  • #386: Watching TV with my mom to unwind at the end of the day

September 14:

  • #387: My first Rotary Academy meeting
  • #388: Feeling excited to work with students in a school setting again
  • #389: When I turn my office in a room of prayer
  • #390: The start of the Aglow retreat
  • #391: My mom and how I forget how absolutely amazing she is and then feel overwhelmed with gratitude and joy when I remember it again

September 15:

  • #392: When I prepare for one thing and something totally different happens
  • #393: When I feel uncomfortable by what God seems to be doing in other people
  • #394: When I realize that my heart is hard toward God
  • #395: The way it hurts when I choose to let me heart be tender again even though that makes it vulnerable
  • #396: Being able to teach what God is teaching me
  • #397: Praying for women
  • #398: Singing

September 16:

  • #399: Nespresso in the morning
  • #400: Fresh waffles
  • #401: Playing with Ava, Noah and Kingston
  • #402: Resting on the day of rest

September 17:

  • #403: Clean teeth
  • #404: Choosing to go to the HOP during the day since it's been hard to get there at night
  • #405: The way I feel close to God when I am there
  • #406: A quieter work week with time and space to enjoy God, take care of responsibilities and connect with people
  • #407: A new season of Bible study under my mom's gifted leadership

September 18:

  • #408: Being at the House of Prayer in the middle of the day, for the 2nd day in a row
  • #409: Getting to leave work early and feeling peaceful about it
  • #410: Babysitting and how excited those kids are to see me

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 1: 3 gifts summer

September 1: 3 gifts summer
  • #309: Breakfast out in downtown Chicago with a dear friend
  • #310: Encouraging people to pursue the dreams that God has given them
  • #311: Humid weather curling my hair
  • #312: Cold Dr. Pepper and hot pizza at the end of a move
  • #313: A beautifully crafted desk that suddenly became mine when it didn't fit where it was supposed to go
  • #314: Quiet reflection in the car
  • #315: Falling into bed at the end of a long day
September 2: 3 gifts cut
  • #316: Fresh mown grass
  • #317: Pineapple: yellow, fragrant sweetness and delicious
  • #318: Homemade pizza with mozzarella, parmesean, tomato and basil
  • #319: Organizing the store room with mom and Karyn
  • #320: Helping my dad bottle beer
  • #321: A night out with my parents
  • #322: Learning what a blue moon actually is
September 3: 3 gifts yellow
  • #323: Crepes full of melted butter and sugar
  • #324: Farm cucumbers
  • #325: Cornbread muffins
  • #326: Installing my new desk in my office
  • #327: Feeling my smile stretch across my whole face as I admire it
  • #328: Reading the WORD aloud in downtown Rockford
  • #329: The roar of my family talking all at once when we're together
  • #330: Friends who fit right in
  • #331: Bonfire season starting
  • #332: Playing outside
  • #333: Dashing inside when it starts to rain
September 4: A gift cool, warm, sun-soaked
  • #334: Air-conditioning in 90 degree weather
  • #335: The sun on my forearm as I drive
  • #336: The familiar feel of the HOP after several days away
  • #337: Seeing how God works
  • #338: Contending for youth in this city and my practice
  • #339: Catching up on Bible reading
  • #340: Finally finishing Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder!
September 5: 3 gifts autumn
  • #341: Early morning rain when I'm snuggled in bed, trying to awake to the day
  • #342: How much I actually want the weather to start getting cooler
  • #343: Edward's Apple Orchard, where I long to visit, but haven't been yet this season
  • #344: How tender God is with my heart
  • #345: Time in my office to read, think and write
  • #346: How counting gifts really does help me to feel better
  • #347: The reassurance that my singleness really is God's gift of love to me today
  • #348: Opportunities to keep trusting and confessing that God is good AND loving ALL the time
  • #349: A chance to be a light in some very dark places
  • #350: Blog writers like Ann Voskamp and Emily P. Freeman who inspire me to share my heart authentically as I pursue the LORD wholeheartedly