Walking In Freedom

I grew up going to church every time the doors were open. I went to Awanas and memorized all the verses. I won the Bible drills, every time. I spent time with Jesus “first thing in the morning” because that’s what you were supposed to do. I did the whole read the Bible through in a year, every year. Sunday’s were days to rest. But really they were spent going to church, leader’s meetings, choir, Bible study, and then church again. All good things.The smell of that old building, the clanking of the air conditioner, it felt like home. It was home. I grew up there, I met Jesus there and for that I am eternally thankful. But I wish someone would’ve told me sooner that Jesus didn’t need for me to go to church, memorize scripture, or lead Bible studies. Jesus didn’t need anything from me.

Even though I knew I didn’t have to work for His love, I didn’t believe it.

I came to a point in my life, when my whole world fell apart. My mom was very sick and I was certain she wouldn’t live to see another spring. Every phone call, I would brace myself, just in case. A three year journey of infertility treatments, negative pregnancy tests, surgeries, and hormones left me with lots of questions about the God I had grown up knowing. I obviously didn’t serve Him well enough for my life to be in complete shambles.

And then one of those mornings, when I saw that lonely pink line for the hundredth time, He met me on the bathroom floor. All of the working, all of the striving, all of the trying to be enough, was just too much. My heart was so broken and so tired I couldn’t even pick up my Bible. There were days I didn’t know how to talk to Him, so I just sat with Him and He kept meeting me there.

I quit doing and just started being with Him.

He slowly began to take the truths I had grown up knowing, and lacing them with grace. All good things. All true. All of Him. But those things didn’t make Him love me. He started unveiling my eyes to look into His, and see what He sees back in me. I started learning that He wasn’t a god who was untouchable and unquestionable. He started meeting me at my dining room table and in the car and on the bathroom floor. I began to see a god I had only known in black in white, in brilliant color. I started crawling up onto His lap. I was able to lay my broken heart against His and listen to the cadence of His heart beating for me. He was near, so near I could almost feel His Daddy arms wrap around my broken body and weary heart.

I was free. Finally free.

My circumstances did not change. In fact, they got much worse before I was able to look back and see His faithfulness. But I was walking in freedom for the first time in my life, and those days, living in that newfound freedom with Him, were the absolute sweetest days of my life. After years of being bound to rules and begging Him to love me, I knew that His love for me was indescribable and there was nothing I could do to change it. Our journey together deepened. Our relationship of Him being God and me being servant changed. He called me friend. And I called Him lover.

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Photos by

Rachel Ackerman Photography

Be Brave. Smile At The Future.

I don’t know if it’s the crisp wind, the smell of burning leaves, pulling out those leggings and boots, or the warmth in my hands left over from my pumpkin spice coffee, but there is something about fall that I just love.

It almost beckons an invitation.

The wind blows and a few bright colored leaves fall to the ground, inviting me to cozy up on my couch with a blanket, coffee, and crackling fire. The busyness and freedom of summer is met with schedule and routine, things I so desperately need. But with the cool, crisp mornings, fall also brings to me fear.

Every fall, since I was in the seventh grade, something traumatic has happened in my life. It sounds silly for me to even write, but it’s the honest truth. Around Labor Day of each year, it starts calling out to me...

Fear.

My spirit is unsettled. I have trouble sleeping. I tell my husband a thousand times to be careful going to and from work. I feel terrified when he leaves and make sure to kiss him and tell him how much I love him. Because what if something happens to him? I text my babysitter throughout the day, checking on my children. Are they safe? Do they seem sick? I ask for protection every time I get in the car. I fear tomorrow. Because what if that’s the trauma this fall brings?

It sounds silly, doesn’t it? Um, those things could totally happen in any season of the year. So why do fall winds bring with them such fear to my spirit? Those traumatic events that have previously happened do mark my memory and senses associating them with the fall. But each year, fall also beckons an invitation.

Fall invites me to be brave.

Because I know, I struggle with fear in the fall, around August, I ask the Spirit to prepare my heart. I ask Him to guard my mind, to cover me, armor me with Truth. And each year it gets better. Each year, I feel more victorious.

This fall, the Lord has brought to my heart the woman in Proverbs 31.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25 ESV

I looked up several different translations and they each express how she doesn’t fear the future.

She even laughs, thinking of tomorrow…

“…smiles at the future.” NASB

“…laughs at the days to come.” NIV

“…full of joy about the future.” NLV

So how can I become brave and not fear the future?

First of all, my fear is sin. It is a huge sin issue in which I constantly struggle. If the opposite of fear, is faith, then faith is what I’m lacking. If I truly believe that in all things God works together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28), or that He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col. 1:17), or He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hew. 13:8), if I truly believe Him and what His Word says about Him, there is absolutely no ground in my heart for fear to claim.

But even more, let’s just say those terrible fears happen. Does He change? Does that mean He is no longer good? Does that mean He leaves me alone? As hard as those days would be to walk through, it doesn’t change Who He is. My Dad. My Lover. My Best Friend.

Each season that passes in my life, I have been able to look back from where I journeyed and see a very faithful, very beautiful God. By the time I am able to start the trek back up the mountain; the valley below has delivered to me a new side of Him. A side I would never want to trade for easy.

Are valley seasons fun? Um. Never. Do they hurt? More than anything. Are they scary? Absolutely.

But that’s where I have found Him to be the most good. There. In the hard. In the scary.

Like that time I was told after a lifetime of wanting to be a mommy, that I can never carry biological children. That was my worst ever fear. And it happened.

And I can never be more thankful. Because I know Jesus in a way I would have never known Him had I become pregnant. And I have been given the gift of two, beautiful brown babies that call me, “mommy” through adoption.

So, ha ha ha, Future!

He was good yesterday, He’s still good today, and He’ll be good tomorrow! So whatever that means for me and you, let’s curl up on the couch, with our coffee, crackling fire, and pumpkins perfectly positioned on the front porch.

And let’s be brave.

Because whatever happens tomorrow, we’ll have Him. And, dear sister, He is always enough.

*Photo by my fav,

Rachel Ackerman Photography

*

New Year, New Dance

Free. I am free.

Little blue birds tweet and flitter above. The grass beneath is soft and able to bear the weight of my dancing feet. The flowers. Oh, they're so beautiful. They're everywhere. I hear laughter, the cackling kind. And it smells like cinnamon. Warm, and cozy like home. 

And I am free to dance with Him. To enjoy Him. To delight in Him. To find Him. Not the Heavenly Father that I've come so well to know, but My Husband, my Lover.

Here in this field, I am free.

Not wrapped up tightly in a box of perfection with a perfect bow, but able to be messy. Not worried about controlling the imperfect, but living freely in it.

Not fearful of what

others think

, because they aren't in this field. It's just Him and me. And if they were, I wouldn't notice them, He's too beautiful.

Not scared and unqualified for what I feel He's called me to, but here in this field, I am brave, and free to dream. To dream BIG about caring for His daughters.

But more than all of these, I am free to know Him. I know what He looks like from this side, but there are parts of Him peeking out that I long to know.

"I think God is like a kaleidoscope. God is unchanging, but we're standing on the image we see. One day we wake up and find that God has shifted the image. Everything looks different. The world looks different. The world seems new. The trick is learning how to recognize that all the old colors are still there. It's just the patterns that have changed." -Preston Yancey,

Tables in the Wilderness

In this new year, I have a new dance. And it feels so free. I'll be the first to tell you, I don't have moves. But I'm finding them in the rhythm of His love.  

Yes, we need to quit drinking soda. We really need to put our phones down more, and for heaven's sake, the gym is calling our names. But by April, when we have caved and drank that soda, we'll be reminded once again of our failure.

It's different with Him. If we resolve to know Him more, we will not fail.

And He surely never fails.

Sweet sister, won't you come dance with me?

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord." Jeremiah 29:13-14a

*Photos by Rachel Ackerman Photography*