Tag Archives: truth

At the Barn 2013

An afternoon at the barn.

Hosted by Emily P. Freeman and her husband, John, her sister, Myquillyn (also known as The Nester) and her husband, Chad, and their parents, Gary and Brenda Morland.

A small gathering in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that promised to be full of stories, music, and conversation to encourage awakeness of mind and soul to living art and Christ-honoring vision.

That was the invitation.

One that I was all too excited to accept.

Even though I only have what I’m more often referring to these days as barely a hint of a vision. The hazy beginnings of a dream that I’m not at all certain of, but that I’m [often imperfectly] trusting the Lord to unfold.

atthebarn1

When Saturday came, I was nervous. But I also knew there was something in this. Something I needed to see. Something I needed to hear. Something I needed to experience.

And The Barn did not disappoint. It was altogether lovely. In a quiet and thoughtful and peaceful sort of way.

Though I’m not convinced I executed my attendance perfectly.

I met two women from Virginia on the sidewalk right before the doors opened and they readily welcomed me into their little group. They were friendly and delightful and made the day so much more fun! But I could have mingled more. I could have talked more. I could have shared more. I could have asked questions more.

But instead. I listened. I watched.

And you know what? It may not have been perfect. But it was good.

atthebarn2

It was good to be an observer for an afternoon. Of people. Of beauty. Of art. Of Christ.

It was good to be a fully engaged listener without the pressure to process out loud, to figure everything out, to respond immediately (or even at all).

As I was getting ready to head out, I stopped Emily to say thank you, but I told her I couldn’t quite put my thank you fully into words … because I couldn’t quite express the depth of my gratitude for this afternoon of soul awakeness.

And do you know what she said? “That’s okay. You don’t have to.”

And the same freedom that surrounded the entire afternoon event was somehow wrapped up in that statement.

Because this afternoon wasn’t about a “supposed to” or a “should”.

atthebarn3

It was about leaning into the truth that we were created in the image of this Creator God. And when we make art with our lives – not just of the traditional variety, but when we do the things that make us come fully alive – Christ comes out and is glorified.

And I came to The barn desperate for that freedom, desperate for that truth. And in a season of life where I feel as though I’m clinging to Christ out of sheer weakness and total desperation more often than not, these words were perhaps the most needed and most beautiful:

“You can’t get too desperate for Christ.” – John Freeman

The afternoon At the Barn gave me soul space that my too-full calendar and over-committed self have all but pushed out.

Space to breathe, to listen, to intentionally lean further into Christ, to acknowledge some desires He’s placed on my heart, to just sit with those desires and to pay attention to them, to ponder, to reflect, to give them back to Him.

Space to be reminded of my eternally secure identity (an image bearer of the most High God), to be reminded of my purpose (to glorify Him), to be reminded that being is more important than doing, but that some of the doing allows Christ to come out of us because He’s designed us to reflect Him well through our unique expressions of art … in A Million Little Ways.

And for that space At the Barn, I am grateful.

{Giveaway} Let Hope In

**11.16.13 Update: The two randomly selected winners are #4 (Rebekah) & #10 (Meghan). Congratulations to both of you! Check your email for details. :) Thanks to everyone else who entered…you can find the book here!**

Last month, I had the great privilege and opportunity of participating in the launch team for Pete Wilson’s new book, Let Hope In.

Let Hope In

If you missed my full review, you should definitely go check it out here. Word on the street is that the review was pretty helpful, but I’ll let you be the judge of that for yourself.

I won’t restate my whole review here (because you just clicked over and read it, right?), but in short, I still believe this book is powerful and freeing. For me and for you.

Because over and over again, its message points to the hope and truth of the Gospel.

In every past hurt and future unknown, the cross of Christ is constant.

And it is only in the person of Jesus Christ that we find the hope and freedom, the healing and wholeness, the grace and forgiveness, that we so desperately seek and crave.

“He [Jesus] clearly says, “In me.” When you immerse your current reality into my reality, that is where peace is found.” (p. 74)

Our hope, our future, our being, is secure in Him alone.

Pete outlines the fullness of this truth in four choices:

Choice One: Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer

Choice Two: Choosing to Be Okay with Not Being Okay

Choice Three: Choosing to Trust Rather than Please

Choice Four: Choosing to Free People Rather than Hurt Them

And through each of these choices, we are encouraged to let go of who shame tells us we once were or who we think we should be according to our own standards, to lean into Christ, to understand our identity in Him, to trust Him, to walk with Him, to experience the richness and fullness of His presence, to breathe in His grace, and then to pour His love back out onto others.

Here’s how Pete himself says it…

{note: if you’re reading via email or a feed reader, you may need to click over to the actual post to see this video.}

Yes, I am a part of the launch team for this book, but this is a message I firmly believe in sharing. Because this message is literally life-changing!

And because I believe in it so much, I am super excited that the publisher has so generously offered to provide TWO copies to giveaway in this space!

To enter for a chance to win a copy, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book. Or just say hello! Just be sure to use a valid email address, so I can get in touch with you if you’re one of the winners.

You can comment until midnight (EST) on Friday (November 15, 2013), and then TWO winners will be chosen randomly and announced/contacted on Saturday (November 16, 2013).

And just for the record, you can also order the book (or read some other reviews) here.

This is the Art I Live Everyday

Have you ever had one of those moments when you were just completely and utterly overwhelmed by the Gospel?

By its truth, by its fullness, by its richness, by its completeness, by its beauty, by its perfection?

Last night, I had just such a moment.

Yesterday was my birthday (yes, my birthday is on Halloween), and it had been a pretty wonderful day full of life-giving words and thoughtful blessings from friends and family. I mean, my brother wrote me a poem. In Middle English. More-or-less about the Sovereignty of God. Which I love! And he mailed it to me on stationary. He also included a Starbucks gift card…he knows me well.

I’m a words girl. Word of affirmation is my love language. My heart was full!

this is the art i live everyday

But as I arrived at Bible Study last night, I had no idea how my heart would be so full to overflowing by the end of the evening.

To begin with, my Bible Study group of women that I love dearly surprised me with a cake…complete with candles, y’all! And when I say I was surprised, I am so not kidding. I did not see that one coming!

But then as we continued our study of John (we’re on our third consecutive semester, Precept style), as we looked carefully at John 14 and how through Jesus Christ we have full and total access to God the Father, I was literally blown away by the truth and the reality of the Gospel.

I know this sounds ridiculously simple and basic, but this Gospel is just so eternally complete and perfect.

And to realize that we can’t DO anything to be saved through this Gospel, that all that is required of us is to ask and believe, yet it compels us, out of pure love and devotion, to know Christ, to trust Him, to please Him, to obey Him (because obedience is HIS love language)?

I can barely even begin to wrap my mind around it! It’s just THAT good!

So I found myself praying this prayer…

God,
We know You are good, and You are faithful, and You are true.
Thank You for loving us first.
Thank You for providing the way of confident and sure access to Your throne.
And thank You for that way not being an accident nor a surprise to You.
You have a purpose and a plan from beginning to end.
And we know it is perfectly complete … carefully crafted and thought out and executed.
And we praise You for that!
Thank you for Your presence that goes before us and walks with us.
Help us in our everyday as we lean into You, as we trust You, as we follow You, as we obey You.
Thank you for Your radical grace. Thank You for Your presence. Thank You for the new covenant through Your Son, Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice.
May the truth of Your Gospel never cease to overwhelm and amaze!
Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief!
In Christ’s Name,
Amen

This Gospel.

THIS is the art I live everyday!

“Every step we are breathing in Your grace.
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise.
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.”
– Never Once by Matt Redman

—–

we-will-make-art

*linking up with Emily P. Freeman of chatting at the sky for we will make art*

A Weekend Word

Because this is too good not to share…

the God of hope

And who doesn’t need to hear this reminder, this encouragement, this TRUTH?

At the end of a weekend … full of many good and rich and wonderful things that in our weak moments threaten to exhaust and overwhelm?

At the beginning of a week … full of work and routine and busy that tempts us to get lost in the mundane?

In the everyday … as we learn to trust Him more one moment at at time?

Trust the faithful God of hope.

Be filled with joy and peace.

So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit alone.

—–

ps: just for fun, if you happen to love this print as much as I do, check out StudioJRU for this & others!

Let Hope In

When I first heard about Let Hope In by pastor/author Pete Wilson, I thought it sounded like a solid, Gospel-centered, and timely message for this generation – any generation, really – about hope, a message of truth that I wanted to be a part of sharing, but I didn’t think it was necessarily for me because I just couldn’t identify a particular hurt from my past that was stopping me from living fully in the present.

Let Hope In

But I was wrong. My perspective was too narrow.

My past is no where near perfect. It has its own set of hurts and regrets. But beyond that, over and over again as I read, I saw just how relevant this message is for my present circumstances and how necessary this message is to continue walking with Christ in the unknown of my tomorrows.

We’ve all either experienced some sort of pain in our past or we’re going through something in our present or we’ll come across a new hurt in our future.

But the one constant, the one thing that remains central in every such hurt (and just for the record, every joy, too), is the same: The cross of Christ.

“God has come in the person of Jesus to set you free. There is no story in the world like the story of redemption, and it can be your story.” (p. 53)

So, this message of hope and freedom as only found in the person of Jesus Christ? It’s for everyone.

My life seems to be a mess more often than I’d like these days. But what I think I’m realizing (yet again) is that the mess is just part of my flesh and every time it’s in conflict with the Spirit (which is often), it’s going to get messy. But it’s in that very place where God’s strength is made perfect and where His grace abounds … in the weakness, in the uncertainty, in the sometimes getting it wrong, in the mess.

And there’s such a gift in this realization, even in the mess, because it reveals just how desperate and in need we really are. We have to understand the reality of our mess – our hurts and sins – to see the radical beauty of God’s continual presence with us made possible only through the cross.

“He is not like us. He is faithful even when we’re faithless. We can trust Him. Especially in our brokenness.” (p. 72)

I’m dealing with perfectionism-driven insecurity affecting at least a couple of different aspects of my life right now, and this book has not only helped expose some of that, but also directed me towards the freedom and courage to move beyond it. To walk in victory over the try-harder, perform better, pretend more mentality. Before its grip is any stronger or its roots are any deeper.

I’m not saying it’s an instant fix and I’m not saying there won’t still be some struggle, but it’s a step towards leaning further into Christ and trusting Him more and finding my identity in Him, and that’s stepping in the direction I want to go.

“He [Jesus] clearly says, “In me.” When you immerse your current reality into my reality, that is where peace is found.” (p. 74)

And reaching that? Walking in healing and wholeness from that? It’s only in and because of the person of Jesus Christ. Our hope is in Him alone.

In the book, Pete takes us through four choices:

Choice One: Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer

Choice Two: Choosing to Be Okay with Not Being Okay

Choice Three: Choosing to Trust Rather than Please

Choice Four: Choosing to Free People Rather than Hurt Them

And through these four choices, we see that this message…

It’s about letting go of the pain and regret from the past and letting go of the worry for the unknown future.

It’s about the freedom of walking in our identity as found in Christ alone.

It’s about walking in victory over sin. Yes, as believers we still make mistakes and sin, but it no longer rules us. Its power is gone. And that doesn’t mean we don’t repent of the sins we commit. We most certainly do, but then we walk in the freedom of what’s already been done on the cross, knowing that we’re forgiven, we’re covered, we’re redeemed.

It’s about walking with Christ and trusting Him more and experiencing the beauty and fullness of His presence.

And it’s about fully receiving this freedom and grace, so that we can love others well.

“You can’t breathe out what you haven’t breathed in. Breathing grace totally hinges on your moment-to-moment dependency on God.” (p. 154)

This message of hope and grace – it blows me away!!

But isn’t that just God? Isn’t that just grace?

It’s shocking and surprising and stunning.

And for some reason, maybe because of this recent battle with insecurity, it hit me with a such a freshness and newness and I am undone and overwhelmed.

I come away from this book grateful and humbled and amazed. Knowing more deeply that I am loved. I am forgiven. I am free.

“The goal here is to fully trust God in this moment. To trust in his grace. To trust that you are forgiven. To trust that this very moment, as imperfect as it might be, is actually a gift.” (p. 130)

So why do I think you should read this book, too?

Because read prayerfully with a heart seeking Christ, this book is a burden lifted.

It’s one more step on this road of walking with Jesus Christ in grace, in freedom, in fullness by choosing Him and trusting Him and hoping in Him.

So much truth. So much freedom. So much Jesus.

“All of Scripture points to one man, one God, not because he gives us everything we’re hoping for but because he is the One we put our hope in.” (p. 196)

So yes, this message is solid, Gospel-centered, and timely.

And this message is for you.

But this message is also for me.

Because this message is for everyone.

Let Hope In.

—–

*for the record: I was a part of the launch team for Let Hope In, which means I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. this post reflects my honest thoughts on how the book impacted me and why I believe this message is important and worth sharing.*

Count it All Joy

As soon as I started the car Monday morning, I knew something wasn’t quite right. But it had been raining for two days, and historically, the battery sometimes just needs a little extra time to get warmed up in such conditions.

But as I pulled out of my neighborhood, I realized whatever was wrong wasn’t correcting itself, and it seemed I was at risk of the engine choking out at any moment. So instead of heading to work (because there is little that terrifies me more than the car breaking down on the side of the road. seriously.), I drove the shorter distance to my parents’ house, not able to go more than 40-45 mph. And let’s just not even talk about the car’s distress on hills and at stoplights. Once at my parents’ house, I knew my Mom could drive me to work and my Dad could look at the car after work. (Huge shout out of thanks to both of my parents!)

count it all joy

By mid-morning, safely at work but with the knowledge that I was either facing a new car purchase before I was fully prepared or a likely substantial repair, I knew that the correct response to this situation was something along the lines of James 1:2

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”

And while I was incredibly grateful that I had started the morning in focused prayer, to at least give me a fighting chance to maintain proper perspective … even uttering these very words, “Lord, this day is all yours” … this wasn’t exactly how I would have planned for that prayer to be lived out.

So as I reflected on the right response, to count it all joy, realizing that I was pretty much failing miserably at it, my thoughts shifted towards what this passage wasn’t saying, to hopefully better understand what it was saying.

It wasn’t really saying to find the silver lining that somehow made the circumstance ok.

And it wasn’t really saying to be happy about what just went down.

But it was saying to count it all joy because of what was coming.

“…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James 1:3-4

Because there is great hope and expectation in what lies ahead after and because of the trial: steadfastness which leads to perfection and completeness.

That’s where the joy is rooted. In the assurance and security of that promise.

It’s letting the worry and concern and circumstances fade in the light of Jesus Christ. It’s moving closer to Him in faith regardless of the trial. It’s knowing and trusting and abiding.

Honestly, even with all of that at the forefront of my heart and mind, I still feel like in many ways I failed. I knew the right response. And my flesh continued to battle with my spirit over it all day.

But at the end of the day, if nothing else, I just know.

I know I’m a day closer, a circumstance closer, to Him.

I know a rest in my soul because I know He’s here in the midst of my car issues and my heart issues.

And for today, maybe that’s enough.

Because He’s enough.

Speak Truth

speak truth

My love language is a near tie between “words of affirmation” and “quality time”, but as one who identifies as a writer and puts a lot of thought into word choice, words tend to mean a lot to me.

So recently, as several people in my community (both near and far) have taken the time and made the effort to make generous and genuine investments by speaking words of encouragement, affirmation, and Biblical truth into and over my life, to say I have been incredibly beyond blessed would be a serious understatement.

And I can’t not come away from those conversations – sometimes lengthy and sometimes quite short – changed by the encounter and seeking out opportunities to make the same investment in others.

There is such tremendous power in your words.

So the next time you sense the Lord prompting you to speak truth into the life of someone around you, by all means do it. And keep your eyes and heart open to the opportunities He so often provides.

Send an encouraging note … facebook messages work, too!

Go out for coffee and listen more than you talk.

Tell someone you’re praying for them … and tell them specifically what you’re praying.

Better yet, offer to pray on the spot.

Give a compliment that may seem too obvious … it may mean the world that you noticed.

Affirm someone’s actions that clearly align with Scripture … you may be the voice of encouragement in the very area they’re feeling discouraged.

Speak truth.

And if you’ve been one of those people in my life recently, THANK YOU! I am deeply grateful and forever changed. Keep listening to the Lord and speaking truth to those around you. Your words make a difference.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25