Timeless Grace

We have this old piano that was left behind when the previous owners of our house moved out and didn’t want to bother attempting to move it from the basement. It has broken keys and damaged wood and plays out of key and is over a hundred years old. And it’s my favorite thing in our whole house. I grew up playing on a hundred year old, well worn and and well loved, free piano. And this one we have now reminds me so much of that one. I have a love for old hymns, spanning multiple hymnals, and this well worn and played piano played its way right into my heart. I still think there is a place for the old and traditional things, both inside our homes and inside our churches. Even if that means not exactly holding onto everything from the past, but instead carrying what was wise and grace filled from our histories into our bold and powerful contemporary ways. That’s the beautiful thing about Grace, you see. It’s old. As old as time. Yet it’s new every morning. It carries with it a history of eternal love from our Heavenly Father and pairs that right upside fresh budding new testimonies of today. It’s a well worn, broken in, kind of Grace that transforms what we were into what we become and holds us together with the history of our Loving God. How amazing that Grace really is. So if you need me today, I’ll just be over here, playing through all the old hymns and reveling in the beautiful new things God is bringing to light today. God is surely doing new and wonderful things, but they’re all based on the Grace and Love He’s had for us since ages past. Jesus, grace, faith, hope, Love, peace, healing, the power of the Holy Spirit…they’re all the old things God uses to bring in the beautiful new life He has for us.


A Long Awaited Spring

Spring is going to arrive here in Wisconsin soon and it’s the longest awaited spring I can remember. For years I’ve prayed that with spring would come hope. That one day Mother’s Day wouldn’t break me. That on Easter morning all of the sweet kiddos with their Easter dresses and excitement wouldn’t make me tear up. That one of those spring baby showers would be mine. And God has answered my prayers and I feel as though I’ve almost been stunned into silence over here. Most of my prayer sessions used to revolve around asking God to grow our family, healing my heart, setting me free from bitterness, and embracing whatever plans He had for me. And now I know that His plans were always good. There was a time I used to be afraid to ask for healing, because what if God didn’t heal me. Not because He couldn’t, but because He might choose not to. I believed He could, but knew that sometimes that’s not what happened. Here is what God taught me through that: We can always continue to ask our Heavenly Father for anything. He will always hear us. He will always answer us. Sometimes those answers don’t look like what we planned. Sometimes the answer is “wait”. Sometimes the answer is “trust me”. But whether He gives us the things we so desperately ache for or not, He is still carrying us and still writing beautiful life stories for us. I thought this day of healing would never come and I had accepted that God could heal me in other ways. But I couldn’t see the whole picture clearly. I didn’t have His vantage point. I only saw the up close muddled mess of everything. As long as you cling to Him your story will be redemptive, healing, life giving, and grace filled. Living out a testimony in the making is hard. But getting to glorify God for what He has done at the end of it, is incredibly worth it. I’m praying for your stories and all of your yet to be answered prayers. God is at work. Trust Him and fight for your Joy. Keep praying. Don’t lose hope. Stand firm in faith. Believe in His miracles.

Grace in Transition

My days have been slow and long over here since finding out we are expecting. Stepping into new roles and slower paced life has me wondering how I should spend my time in these next couple of months before long awaited motherhood arrives. While we were going through infertility God had shown to me that He wanted my life to be intentional, even in the waiting and in the in between moments. I believe He is calling me to live intentionally now as well, as we wait for our lives to change yet again. No moment, or time frame, or period of waiting is too small or too big to be used by God. How are you intentionally living out your in between moments? I used to spend my time wishing away those moments that I thought were meaningless, those moments in which I felt nothing was happening or I was stuck in between transitions. But every moment is a gift from Him. Every moment can be lived with Grace. Even the slow and quiet moments have significant purpose.


Grace In Wandering

I struggle with identity and purpose often. I’m a college graduate with an English degree but I spent half of college studying Early Childhood Education and almost all of my working years serving families as a toddler teacher, two year old teacher, piano teacher, and nanny. Yet, my heart is to write about Grace and illuminate Jesus through my story daily. I’m a musician who only plays on Sunday mornings, I’m a survivor of infertility who suddenly finds herself miraculously pregnant, and I’m a wife who sometimes makes dinner on weeknights. Recently, even though our adoption plans fell through, my job has ended because I planned on staying home with our baby and I’ve found myself stepping into the role of full time homemaker. So many hats and so many roles often make me feel as though I appear scatter brained to the world, a floater from dream to dream. Yet there is beauty in the wandering, and I very often feel that while many of my layers are being shed my identity in Christ has grown stronger and more rooted. And that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter what you “do”, even though the world makes us feel that it does. It matters more who you love, who you serve, who you live for. For me, that’s Jesus. That’s my husband. That’s my family. That’s my sweet miracle baby. When I feel like my life has been all over the place, I remind myself to look for the constants. I’ve been with this man I call my husband since I was 15. I’ve loved my family forever. I’ve been held by Jesus my whole life. I’ve prayed everyday to meet this baby now growing inside of me. Nothing else matters. The Grace that has been poured into me through those blessings is what I hope to pour out into this world, through many different outlets and in as many ways as God sees fit. I will probably keep on wandering through this world, but my prayer will always be, “Jesus, bind my wandering heart to thee and let come what may”. New directions, new places, new faces, I’m not afraid or ashamed of any of it anymore. Because Jesus is my constant, and Love is my guide from here on out. So don’t be afraid of your story or the twists and turns it has taken. There’s Grace in all of it.


Homegrown Faith

I always knew I wanted to have a church pew in our home, and so when we bought our very first house I was quick to scour craigslist for one that would fit right on this wall. It had to be full length. It had to be worn in. I had hoped for a backstory along with it, but this one actually sat in the waiting room of a veterinarian’s office and they weren’t sure where it came from before that. But you see, the last four years I’ve been sitting in God’s waiting room, waiting for Him to give me answers and to heal me and to do the miraculous, so this pew and its story is actually perfect. The thing about church pews that I love so much is that they are very often found in rooms where Grace and Rest and Healing and Forgiveness are needed most. I want to be reminded to sit in the presence of God daily in the rooms of this Home and humbly come before Him for all of those things. Sometimes we sit on hard pews because our prayers are hard and holy. Other times we rise up from those pews with lifted arms of praise because God has heard and answered our hard and holy prayers. I believe that repentance, forgiveness, grace, healing, mercy, faith, and love are not meant to solely take place within formal church walls, but also inside the holy and broken walls of our own homes. I love that Jesus entered into the homes of those He loved and even into the homes of those He hadn’t met yet but knew He needed to meet. He didn’t only sit in the temple, but He also reclined at the tables of friends and sinners. He went inside their homes and He brought miraculous healing. He listened and He loved and He extended Grace within the most intimate of spaces. I believe there is a time for worshipping Him formally under church steeples and together in prayer as congregations, but I just wanted to share my heart today that this worship of Jesus in our homes is just as important, if not more, to our relationship with Him. Sure, He loves to see our lifted hands on Sunday mornings, but He also calls us closer to Him when He extends His Grace to us in the raw and authentic spaces of our hearts while we’re at home. Because often times, this is the space where we become who we truly are with Him.


Grace at Home

There are days I wish my house was bigger, or that all the rugs matched, or that our dining room table chairs weren’t falling apart, or that Joanna Gaines would just magically appear and make every inch of my home beautiful with shiplap and barn wood doors and large open living spaces. But then there are also moments when I know this is exactly where we’re meant to be, in our small cozy house in our small town, with our mismatched rugs and our loved in furniture and our hand-me-down pianos and our dishwasher-less kitchen. Because in this house we’ve received mighty blessings and in this house we will bring Home our first little one. Houses aren’t meant to be perfect anymore than we as human beings are. They are redemptive places where we pray our deepest prayers and experience life’s sweetest moments and spend our precious time with those we are closest too. I wanted to show you scenes of God’s mighty creation in nature today, of the half frozen river and the towering trees, but instead the weather today has kept me indoors, and has led me to see God’s mighty hand right here inside the walls of our home. It’s easy to overlook the blessings and provision that God pours out for us when we view them as necessities or tiny moments. But when we really open our eyes to all that God has given, I think we can all find that God often gives more than we can ever ask for or imagine. There is beauty in what we already have, in what we have already been given. I want to be more than content in all circumstances as scripture says, I want to be increasingly thankful and fully filled with Joy with life as God gives it.


The Certainty of Grace in Serving Jesus Only

The last four years I’ve been in constant wonder of what lays ahead for us. It’s been a fog of uncertainty, and even now with huge things finally being revealed to us after so much time spent in prayer, there are even more unknowns we still will face. But one thing is certain: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It is surreal to be on the receiving end of an answered prayer, a prayer you knew full well only God could answer. I believed in Him before, and I saw the wonders of His hand many times. But this most recent miracle for us, finally carrying a child we never thought we could, has me held captive in certainty that my God Lives and that He Loves and that He is for us. I believe my faith would have remained firm in Him even without this, but my understanding of how He truly listens to our every word and How He genuinely loves us so deeply is now engraved and cemented in my heart. Maybe you don’t know what comes next in your life. Maybe you feel wrapped up in uncertainties and you’re wondering if God can even hear you. I assure you that He does hear you and that He is loving you and moving for you in ways that may feel completely invisible but are actually world changing and life altering. Trust His timing. Know His heart. Serve Him always and only.


Grace in Every Season

At the beginning of every new season here in Wisconsin, I declare that it’s my favorite. I seem to fall in love every time the trees start to bud, and the sun shines hot, and the leaves begin to turn to gold, and again when the first snowflakes begin to fall. But about half way through each season I discover that I’m ready for it to be over. There are simultaneously both beautiful and ugly moments in every change in life. There are bittersweet goodbyes and joyful new beginnings. I keep reflecting over our life these last four years and all the heartbreak they brought, but also the closeness that came of it. The nights I cried myself to sleep because they were hard endings to hard days and yet I found myself wrapped up in the strong steady arms of my husband who never left my side and in the heart of my Father God who was holding my heart close the whole time. I will forever remember those moments, both for their hardness and also their gentleness. I can choose to look back at those days with bitterness and resentment or I can see the truth that even in my darkest seasons God still allowed the light to shine in. We are walking into a new season over here filled with joy and reflection but I’m not naive to the difficulties which will also lay ahead for us as we navigate new parenthood and probably new challenges. But I won’t forget that there is beauty in both, and that every moment in this life is laced with God’s grace. Every single moment. Even the hardest ones. I’m praying that your life be filled with more Joyful seasons than Dark seasons, but I’m also praying that even in your hardest seasons God’s beauty, grace, and light give you moments to be incredibly thankful for.


Grace In a Season of Delay: A Gospel Meant for Hard Places

Snow has finally fallen here in Wisconsin. The blanket of frozen white has seemingly settled in for the long haul over  the still coming winter months, and I admit that it all feels like relief for me. It has been an unusual winter here in our small town. As we hung our Christmas lights and brought home our trees, the farmers fields remained an ever dulling brown and our yard seemed just a swirl of old leaves from an autumn which refused to end and pine needles fallen from tall trees not yet frozen. We experience a delayed season, which mirrored a similar delayed season in my own life.

Last year, I wrote quite often about my struggle with infertility and our emerging new adoption journey. I wrote how God was redeeming my story, and how He was working strength into my days. I watched as God took me from a shattered state into a state of hope. And then the last month of the year, December, I seemed to unravel. Our plans weren’t happening the way I had hoped. Uncertainties and familiar feelings of failure, remnants from our infertility journey no doubt, were seeping deeper into my bones. The delay in winter weather spoke deeply to me, like nature was portraying the physical representation of what my heart felt: stuck.

We were with my family at my childhood home when the snow finally started to fall on Christmas Eve. There has been a steady blanket of white covering the ground ever since. If I had been more open to it, maybe I would have realized that the inevitable end to the season could be symbolic for me too. Maybe if I wasn’t becoming bitter, I would have known that God doesn’t leave us stuck forever. But I felt stuck. Coming so close to four years in our struggle to grow our family, the uncertainty of our future was beginning to hold me back from the certainty that I once knew so deep in my heart: that God is Good.

Having survived the many extended family Christmas get togethers, complete with their fresh new babies and age old celebrations of heritage, I stepped into January with a deep realization. All year long, all of 2017, I thought I had surrendered everything in my life to Christ. I thought I gave Him all of my struggles, all of my pain from infertility, all of my anxious worrying about our adoption process. I thought that I was almost completely healed of the deep wounds infertility had branded into my heart because God was moving me forward, into a new path, into a new story. But what December revealed to me was that I hadn’t let go of the hurt at all. I had just buried it. I had hid it away so deep that I was certain not even God could find it.

Infertility wasn’t going to destroy me. It wasn’t going to destroy my faith. I wasn’t going to let it. And that’s where I went wrong.

We can’t declare victory over our battles. Only Jesus declares the victory. And for that victory to take place, we must be willing to keep treading out deeper into the oceans of surrender. There is always more to give to Him. There is always more healing that needs to take place. As long as we live on this side of Heaven, there is a constant pursuit that takes place between our brokenness and our need for a Savior. Whether our battles be physical or spiritual or emotional, there is still more Healing in His wells.

Relationship with Jesus isn’t a surface kind of friendship. It goes down deeper, “dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) Real relationship with Jesus results in a continual pulling back of the layers of our hearts, revealing more and more of what it is that we are holding onto more than Him, and loosening our grip on those things with Grace.

You know what I missed out on this Christmas when I built up my walls instead of entering into the stable where Jesus came for me? Him. I put my story ahead of His story, and I lost out on Joy.

I don’t know what it is you are holding onto into this new year, but don’t hold on to it tighter than you are holding onto Jesus. Don’t lose sight of how He loves you.

Jesus warned us that in this world we would have trouble. I think sometimes when we read that passage we read it only in regards to trouble spreading His Gospel. But the Gospel isn’t just a message we proclaim. It’s a message we live. How does the Gospel change our illnesses? How does the Gospel reach our marriages? How does the Gospel grow our families? What does loving Jesus look like when we’re mad or bitter or angry? What does surrendering to our Savior mean to us when we’re walking down unexpected roads with unforeseeable outcomes?

The Gospel is meant for hard places. We often get to hear its words from pretty pulpits and dreamlike representations of Christmas stables, but Jesus didn’t come to be remembered as the sweet baby laying in that manger forever. No. Jesus came to Heal us.

So maybe you had a hard Christmas. That’s why Jesus came. To rescue and save you from all the places you find yourself stuck. He is the Light in the Darkness. He is the Joy of the Lord. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And He came here for you.


A Grace Note: Seek Justice, Love Mercy

Dear Reader, 

We caught this photo of this beautiful little songbird on our walk through the arboretum last night. The last two days have ripped our hearts open wide to so much pain in this world. Sunday was freedom Sunday at church. We talked about human trafficking, about the International Justice Mission, about bond slaves. About children caught in a world of cruelty and harm. And then today we woke to news of Las Vegas. This little bird, perched high in the sky, staring back at us like Hope, even for just a brief second, calls my heart to a single message: Stay the Path. Do not let evil keep you from doing good. Be the Light in this world. Carry the Light of Christ into dark places and through dark nights without fear because Christ has gone before us illuminating the Lost and chasing away the shadows. On our heart this week even more than usual was this message: children need safe homes illuminated by the Light. And we need the Light of those children and all the Hope that they carry. This songbird gives me hope. How strange that he would fly so close, stare so intently at us. But that’s what God does, He comes close when things make no sense and He stares right at us giving us hope, conviction, illumination. Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God, friends. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer