I had a missed call from Crystal, so naturally my heart sank a little.
This is a very bizarre facet of our friendship, but whenever I get a call from this dear barn bud, it's because something bad has happened. And it's very much likewise. We laugh about how she dreads phone calls from me because 9 out of 10 times it means:
World, meet little Annabelle, the newest and smallest addition to the Camp Allen herd!
She's already got one ear on me like she knows I'm trouble. She's not wrong. I'll be stuck to her tiny little side all summer.
She's momma's little mini-me. Major emphasis to little and mini, because this baby horse is 22 inches tall and 20 pounds.
This little baby had a very busy first 12 hours of life, what with learning how to get those tiny legs to walk ...
and learning how to eat ...
and learning how to smell funny things ...
and learning how to manage a stall full of horse obsessed bi-peds who won't leave her alone.
And maybe also how to deal with couple of stinky fellow quadrupeds who are so dang curious they about had anxiety attacks (okay so maybe only the curly headed one had the anxiety and the other one kept his cool).
They're like, "Plz let us in?"
Seriously, Bowie just whiiiiiiiiined and whined. He wanted to see the baby so bad. He truly has a nurturing side. He licks Howie incessantly and once we got him a toy chicken that played a recording of a chicken. Not a squeaker, a recording. He so tenderly carried that thing around, basically weeping, and finally went and sat by the door like he knew his little baby needed to go outside. It was tragic. So Kenton performed surgery on the chicken and removed the recording device so B would feel a little more permission to obliterate his chicken with joy. Mission accomplished. That chicken is now in Bowie toy heaven along with a fluffy hedge hog and camo armadillo. RIP B's favorites. Anyway, back to cute horses and the baby whose face is smaller than my hand.
Little Annabelle is so special. She's so teeny tiny, looks just like her momma Fergie, and has THE MOST RIDICULOUS MANE I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. It is CURLY. Like, RINGLETS. This is a never before seen for me, and confirmed even more rare because my horse expert pal Crystal has never seen it on a baby either. This picture doesn't do it justice. The curls are so fuzzy/tiny and little girl wouldn't stop moving so I couldn't get a good shot. But trust me, if you were having a horrible day and then saw this curly baby horse mane, things would be looking up.
Isn't her little face precious? Momma does a good job keeping that face nice and clean too. And baby likes it :)
Speaking of momma, isn't she striking? She's so pretty, and it's so special that she's a rescue and is enjoying a second chance at life.
It's been a big day and little Annabelle needs to sleep, but doesn't want to lay down. So with a little help from her friends, it's nap time.
Naptime is a good time for momma to give baby some love.
If you've never felt a horse's muzzle before, imagine the a mix of velvet and suede, only softer and warm. Horses use their lips like fingers, so in the photo below, Fergie is loving on her little baby with the softest, most caring touch she has. And look! You can see those little curls in these photos too!
But nap time is also a great time for momma to rest. She's done a big job today, and she's tired too.
This feels too sacred to intrude upon any further, so we all step out of the stall and let mom and baby rest together.
Soon though, momma's back up, because her work is never done.
But little A keeps sleeping, which is smart because goodness knows she'll need her rest as I'll be back to see her tomorrow!
So much gratitude to God who embellishes seasons of sanctification, like living in a cabin in the woods for three months, with little snippets of radical joy, like the day I got to hold a baby mini horse not 8 hours after she was born.
And so much gratitude for my dear friend Crystal, who called me with GOOD news, and who openly invites me into a life full of animals that I have dreamt of forever, and have now been given upon saying 'yes' to God and joining my husband in a season of summer camp assignment.
Hugs all around.
I'm writing this one from the bottom of the bucket, y'all. You know when you feel so messy in your brain that you can't decipher what's logical and what's illogical? "Am I wrong to think this? Am I wrong to feel this? Is it okay to say these things? When was the last time I wasn't confused?" Another way to put it is lost. I feel lost. Kind of like Kenton's slippers right now. Seriously though, where are they? He's walking around searching and they must have fled the house or something because they're totally gone.
Actually, no. I'm not lost. I'm not lost because I know I've been found (Luke 15:24). But how do I push through this momentary disillusionment to get back to every day peace? How can I set aside the anxiety that has pushed me to the bottom of the bucket, especially when I can't even figure out if the objects of this anxiety are worth taking note of or not?
Step 1: Pray. Invite the Lord in. Surrender anxiety, thoughts, feelings, all the bottom of the bucket-ness.
Step 2: Talk to someone who knows me and have them tell me if I'm crazy or not. Get someone to speak truth to me.
Step 3: Meditate on/recite scripture to replace those anxious thought patterns in my head with truth from the bible.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3
Hey guess what? K just found his slippers. Roomba pushed them under a bed in the guest room in his quest to clean the house for us.
Yay. They've been found.
WE MOVED, Y'ALL!
As I write, I'm sitting at a dining table in a little cabin in the piney woods, and Howie (the bunny) is scurrying around my feet, exploring his new (temporary) home, while Bowie (the Doodle) is perched on his bed in the guest (bunk***) room looking out the window, protecting us from intruders (lol).
I'll start from here and work backwards. We're currently living at Camp Allen, where Kenton is a summer camp director, until we will likely buy a house and move to Bryan in the fall. This will be our third summer living at Camp Allen from May-August, and this year we decided to move out of our house in Navasota entirely for the summer (the past two summers we've kept our lease) and prepare for a new season of life, which we anticipate will occur in Bryan. Kenton will stay at Camp Allen and I will continue to be a wedding and portrait photographer. God has just moved our cloud a little, and the season of living in small town Texas felt like it needed to come to a close.
This move was hugely bittersweet. We're excited about what is to come, but we loved our house in Navasota dearly, and never did I ever think I'd live in a small town. God did so much in our lives while we lived in that little pink brick house on Moore Street in a small town Texas city of only 7,000 people. More on that later, but for now, I think I'll let this post be a monument to almost three years in a little home that God used to build our lives, our hearts, our vision, and our marriage. When I knew we'd be moving, I decided I wanted to take photos in our house to remember the season and the spaces of our pink house. They'll serve as an ebenezer for us, and we'll always be able to look back and remember this special time in our lives. So, I'll share some of them with you today, and give you a little tour of our home of almost 3 years, because this post is a monument! These photos in our little pink house were taken by a sweet photographer friend, Shelby Tsika. We're so grateful to have them!
Please enjoy this tour of our Navasota home and all the details and dreamy scenes of this little pink house!
That cute vine creeping up the brick over my right shoulder was one of the first things I planted when we moved in almost 3 years ago! It's survived 2 frosts and is doing exactly what I wanted it to, which is add a little whimsy to the front porch. And those succulents over Kenton's left shoulder? I've had those for 2 years and never done a thing for them, haha. They are happy little guys and just keep growing. Their blue table is a garage sale find from a cheery Saturday morning in Navasota. The "seek Him" sign hanging on our mailbox was given to me by one of my dearest friends from our church in Navasota, the one who's family is the namesake of our street, Moore Street! Love you Melanie!
Isn't Kenton cute? :) Also, that shirt I'm wearing is a Goodwill find, haha. It's actually one of my favorite shirts ever. It's a boxy crop top that sits perfectly on top of a high waisted jean. It's Croft and Borrow, which I'm pretty sure was popular in the 90's, lol.
I love this table! This is another hand-me-down from my parents, and I'm really grateful to have it. It's Amish made, so there are no screws or nails, and it was an anniversary gift my parents bought for themselves years back. When I was in grade school, I sat at this table with my dad, crying over my math homework. That was pretty common for me in fifth and sixth grade. If only I knew I'd one day study English at Baylor so THAT MATH DOESN'T MATTER GIRL!!!! But I do have to admit I treasure those tiny pencil markings that accidentally got carved into the surface of the table when I didn't use a notebook under my homework one night. I felt bad about it then, but now it's just part of the story of this little dining room table. That neat crock under the roses was a Warrenton find, the salt and pepper shakers were wedding gifts, and the coasters were a garage sale find that I'd been looking for for a while! The piece you see to the left in the photo below is a vintage wood (oak?) cooler Kenton's parents gave to us. It's incredibly cool, and we use it as a little mini bar.
Now onto the kitchen! The light hanging behind our heads is, you guessed it, a Warrenton find, but it needed wiring I bought it. On the way home, I stopped at a hardware store in town and asked the men behind the counter what I needed to make it work. Before I knew it, an electrician who was there shopping for supplies walked me out to his truck and wired if for me. I drove away feeling so loved by that small town hospitality, and I still have his business card on the refrigerator here at camp. Navasota friends, his business is ML Repair and his name is Michael Laster. His number is 979-421-0659 and he does all kinds of plumbing, carpentry, and yard services. And he's THE BEST. Hit him up!
I really don't have much else to say about the kitchen, other than we spent a lot of time in there and it's also the scene of many a good conversation Kenton and I had over the past 3 years. What is it that we choose to sit on the kitchen floor to talk when the dining room table and chairs are literally inches away? I think the best impromptu connections happen when we're relaxed enough to not realize where we're sitting or how we're postured.. if that makes sense? Something about the kitchen connects people.
This little hutch below is another antique shop find, but it's not from Warrenton, unlike the majority of my house. I found this little guy in Tomball years back, right after we got married and I LOVE HIM. The enamel top is super useful and really pretty. I needed more storage space in our first house, which is why I got him, and he served me well in our Navasota home too. Also, we NEVER used those lights you see at the top of the photo (there's another one near the sink). They're just really harsh, ugly light. Lamps were all over this house. Whatever, I like lamps, okay? #thanksmom
Oh, my little office. I loved this bright little room. We actually did end up all cuddled in that floral chair pretty often, including the dog. But I'm dying laughing at the bottom right photo because of my face laughing at Howie licking Kenton's nose. Okay, aside: if anyone is interested in getting a bunny, please ask me all the questions! They're incredible pets and if you spend time investing in your connection with them, they really become attached to you! Exhibit A: Howie licking Kenton - that's a sign of affection in bunnies. Howie will literally snuggle with me, like he asks for pets all the time. It's the cutest! He also begs for treats like a dog. They're so much more than just cute, fluffy, little pets. However, they're a longer term investment than a lot of people expect (they can live 8-12 years) and they need care and attention like any animal. If you don't spend time with them, building a connection, they can become ornery, which I think is why a lot of people are surprised at how amicable Howie is when they meet him, because a lot of people have experience with grumpy bunnies. My best guess is that those bunnies probably didn't have a ton of human contact, and became quite introverted and a little hostile. But by nature, bunnies like to have buddies - they're extroverted and very sweet! So if you want a rabbit, consider the investment of time and consider if you're willing to build into the relationship. And when you get one, please stick it out and don't dump them! There are so many bunnies in shelters, too. Okay wow this took a turn. Sorry for the novel on bunnies. But seriously, if you have questions about owning, just contact me! Obviously I'd love to talk about it because wow this 'brief' aside got super long. My grandfather calls me Dr. Doolittle. I'll take it.
Those horse photos in the frame came out of a little paper book my mom found at a garage sale and gifted to me. I LOVE THEM. They're vintage and precious and have little blurbs at the bottom of each image explaining the horse and the type of riding for which they were used, like Hunter, Western Pleasure, etc. Rug is from Target (praises) and the little bench is from my f a v o r i t e antique store in Navasota, Granny's, that sadly closed about a year after we moved there, but not before I pillaged it for all the good stuff.
Here's a few more pretty details Shelby captured featuring my Anthropologie perfumes (Stella by Tocca, L'Aromarine Oceane, L'Aromarine Rose, Royal Apothic Wood Lily that sadly is no longer made, Royal Apothic Noble Carnation that is Kenton's FAV, and vintage Kate Spade), garage sale vintage books, a stack of current reads including Streams in the Desert daily devo from a sweet friend and The Road Back to You to learn about the Enneagram and also snort laugh at the same time, foraged things in jars and bottles, my dad's old bible open to one of my favorite passages, and a beautiful watercolor painting of my parent's hold house by my incredibly gifted cousin, Kate.
Finally, some photos in the precious backyard with Boo next to the hilarious old light post that still works but serves no purpose whatsoever, except to add charm and a gentle reminder that time is fleeting.
Moral of the story: God is good and I'm so grateful for that sweet little house and all the memories treasured there. Thank you Jesus! Next week I'll share what our now looks like now, living in our little cabin in the woods of Camp Allen!
I see two major enemies to trusting God in our culture, and their names are Entitlement and Instant Gratification. We believe we deserve certain things, and we believe we deserve them now. And this wouldn't be so bad if it didn't directly oppose how God chooses to work in our lives the majority of the time, which is through the patience of time and seasons. And it wouldn't be that bad if it didn't mean a skewed self image that inflates us to such a degree that we can't see ourselves for what we really are, which is dust. And dust has earned nothing to award entitlement.
If God works in ways that doesn't award entitlement, and doesn't abide by instant gratification, I can only assume that's why it's so hard for a lot of us to trust God. He takes too long to answer prayers and He doesn't award us for good behavior and He doesn't give me what I want and He doesn't meet my timing. And if that's how we're thinking, of course we won't trust God. We're using the wrong yard stick to measure his faithfulness. We can't measure His work according to our expectations and our definitions of success, especially if we're measuring His work in our lives with any influences of entitlement and instant gratification. That's like trying to measure the distance from earth to the moon with spoons: inaccurate and misleading. We need to convert our measuring system to Kingdom units, which can be found in scripture. When we start measuring God's work in our lives according to what the bible says, then our trust in Him will grow, because we'll learn that perhaps He wasn't unfaithful, we were just trying to measure Him with spoons. Or forks or toothpicks or coffee cups. Is this metaphor working? I feel like I may have just destroyed it with all that embellishment. MY BAD.
So. If you're looking for a new measuring system to employ, Proverbs is a great place to start. Proverbs is a book of wisdom. It's like drinking from a fire hydrant of good information on how to live life well. Self help books are very trendy right now, so if you're in the market for one, try Proverbs. Here are the two verses from Proverbs that influenced me to write this post. Both speak against entitlement and instant gratification, and both give great action points for all you do-ers out there.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.
When I first re-read those verses a few weeks back, both of them made it onto bright pink sticky notes that live on my window right above my desk. I've got so many now they almost inhibit my view. These verses tell me two things:
So, what kind of yard stick are you using to measure God's work in your life? What kind of yard stick are you using to measure your own efforts in your life? If after reading this you find yourself thinking you need more patience, this post may help! I think patience might be the most all inclusive solution to what entitlement and instant gratification does to our hearts. Well, that and gratitude. Entitlement and instant gratification have no grounds for permanence in the face of gratitude. If our minds are a white board that entitlement and instant gratification have marked all over, gratitude will be the eraser and patience will be the expo marker writing new, good things.
If after reading this you're not sure you struggle with entitlement or you're having trouble defining it, Brian Buffini has a great test for that. He says that if you ever find yourself complaining, that's where you believe yourself to be entitled..... YIKES. I mean the line at Starbucks, traffic, the ticketing booth at the airport, the wait for food at a restaurant, the rate of growth in your finances.... there's a trend here. It's easy to complain anytime we have to wait. Which means we tend to believe, whether consciously or subconsciously, that we're entitled to instant gratification of anything we think we need or want. Double yikes. Entitlement breeds instant gratification, instant gratification breeds entitlement which breeds.
And do you know Who never entitled himself to what He truly deserved?
And Who never rushed the process, even when He could have?
At the end of the day, I want to be about the journey and not the destination. These verses in Proverbs and the life of Christ teach me how to do that. God values process. It's all over scripture. Bible stories carry impact to us because they show a journey. It's so rarely about the destination. Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Ruth, David, Peter, Paul... all of these people were on a path (a path leading to Christ!). Had they jumped the gun and abandoned trust in the Lord's process, they may not have a place in scripture. But they do, because all of them, in their own way, joined the Lord in His process in their lives instead of creating and following their own.
So the next time you hear yourself start to grumble, remember that tip about entitlement. It's stopped me in my tracks tons of times and it's really healed a lot of day to day grumpiness and self-absorption in my heart. And just pray for God to reveal where you struggle with all of this. He's faithful, and He'll meet you in it! He might not meet you at your timing (haha), but that's kind of the point!
Kenton and I fasted from TV for Lent.
He came home one day and said, "I think I might want to drop TV during Lent." Before he had time to recall his musing, I jumped on it. My TV (TV read as Netflix, Hulu, and movies) habits had been a consistent source of inner conflict for me for a while. I knew it was just what we both needed when he came home and voiced his thoughts that day. I also knew God was in it and I'd learn so much while the TV, a deadly vortex of entertainment and information, was silent for 40 days. I was right. And full disclosure, there were a few times we broke the rules and watched a movie. I can count those times on one hand, but I did want to be forthright. But even though we had a few cheat days, it was still a fast. And fasting always yields growth. This time was no different. So, without further ado, if you're considering changing your TV/entertainment habits, here's what I learned after 40 days of going without:
It's at this point in my writing process that I usually go back over what I've just written to hear how it comes off and edit where necessary. And after reading each point, it still feels like a shallow description of what God did during our fast. Honestly, I'm not sure I can accurately express how rich this has been. On this Maundy Thursday, I'm so utterly grateful for God's abundant work in my life.
So, since I can't really describe how awesome this has been, I guess the only thing you can do is see for yourself!
Since it's officially 2 full months into 2018, I thought I'd write a new year post... makes sense, right? But don't you just love the new year? I love a blank slate. Like me, I'm sure you have a list of things you're trying to do differently this year to improve your life and general sense of wellness.
Something I really want for myself in 2018 is
s i m p l i c i t y .
Less clutter, less stress, more peace, more enrichment.
I've started 5 new practices this year to help simplify my life and I wanted to share them with you, because I know you value a peace-filled life, just like I do. So here we go:
1.) MORE ENRICHMENT - Podcasts. I've listened to more podcasts this month alone than I did all year last year. I listen when I drive, when I do housework, when I'm editing photos... I've found there are lots of times in my day that I can supplement music with the useful and encouraging information found in podcasts. And if I'm listening to the right podcast, then I do feel more peace-filled and less stressed. Here are my top three favorites. Oh, also, podcasts are FREEEEE and that is amazing. [The Brian Buffini Show for boooooming business motivation and general life improvement hacks, Dear Daughters to fill the love tank, Bethel to grow in my faith]
2.) LESS STRESS - Leaving the phone in my office at night. No more waking up to sad current events. No more hearing emails buzz into my inbox just as I close my eyes. No more radiation (yikes). I'm slow slow slowwwwing my roll and my first step is to ditch my cell phone each evening. And solution to the alarm issue? I'm buying an alarm clock! Though honestly I haven't found one I like yet (apparently I have very specific alarm clock needs, aka soft wake up, snooze button, and needs to be attractive). So until I find one I like, my husband is working as a fine alarm clock. :)
3.) LESS CLUTTER - New item comes in, old item goes out. Anytime I purchase a new article of clothing, I cull through my closet and purge pieces that no longer bring me joy or use. One comes in, one goes out. Less clutter, less stress. Quality over quantity.
4.) MORE ENRICHMENT - Photos! I looked back through my camera roll last year and was sad to discover that though I take photos of people for a living, I had very few of my own life! So this year I'm going to use my iPhone more for day to day memories and also I'll be booking photos sessions for me and my husband!
5.) MORE PEACE / LESS STRESS - Goals. I've actually never been a goal setter in the past, but this year I've set both personal and professional goals. How is this helping me have more peace and less stress? I've set realistic goals for myself and I've organized them into bite-sized quarterly chunks instead of just looking at the big huge goals I want for all of 2018. Waking up every day and looking at a colossal year end goal can be stressful! But waking up and daily looking at my small, building block goals that will lead me to a grander goal for 2018 is less stressful and a far more sustainable way to create and institute self improvements.
And that's it! I hope this list has helped or inspired you in some way as our first month of 2018 comes to a close.
Finally, if there's any way I can bless or encourage you please feel free to reach out! And if #4 struck a cord in you too, then you know how to reach me! Spring is coming and it would be so fun to play in the wildflowers!
I'm guilty of pursuing God only for direction and guidance. Not saying it's wrong to go to Him and ask for clarity and next steps; He loves that! But I want to first and foremost chase God because I love Him and I want more of Him, not only because I need direction from Him. And maybe I feel I need direction from Him so consistently is because I am missing His tiny nudges and signs. Perhaps it's not that I lack his guidance, it's that I'm not in tune with His quiet messages to me.
The other morning I read in Exodus 3 about Moses and the burning bush. Moses is the man who God chose to lead Israel out slavery in Egypt. But before God could get Moses to that specific purpose for his life, He had to give him the calling and the steps to get there. Enter the burning bush.
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."
What stands out to me is how Moses responds, and then how God acts on that response. It says that Moses first saw the bush, and then turned aside to investigate further. Then the text says "when the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him." This is so profound to me! God waited for Moses to turn aside. Moses could have just kept walking. He could have seen the bush burning and kept on moving, but he didn't. I mean, it was probably common to see a bush burning in the desert. But he stopped to investigate, and it is then that God chose to speak to Him. Because Moses chose to turn aside, he had an encounter with God where, one, he witnessed God's holiness (v 5-6) and, two, he received a calling (v 7-12).
Truly, this is all I could ask for in a moment with God. First, to just get to experience his beautiful presence, and then to receive guidance on how I can live my life to fulfill His purpose for me. What a gift!
So, this passage begs the question: What signs are in my life right now that I have not chosen to turn aside to and investigate further? What invitations to God's holiness and guidance am I inadvertently declining? I mean, I'm praying about things constantly. Asking for input and clarity. Asking for direction and guidance and blessing. Perhaps God has already answered those prayers, but I just missed the moment when I was supposed to turn aside and investigate further. If this is the case, I know God is patient with me and he will continue to give me opportunities to turn aside.
Since reading this passage, one big question I'd been asking of God for a while is finally at rest. Why? Because with this new insight, I see that He's been giving me little signs all along that, when I turn aside to examine them in the context of my prayer, make for a perfect answer, a solid "yes."
I'm laughing at how I've failed to see the prayers answered and at how good and sweet God is to be so patient and loving with me as I learn this lesson in prayer and guidance. Maybe you can relate? This passage makes me get out of my head. No doubting, no vacillating between options. Just turning aside, receiving my answer, and quietly following in obedience and gratitude. Simple as that. Wow, when was the last time I used the word "simple" to describe finding guidance from the Lord? Probably never. But clearly, that's on me. Good thing God stays the same and lovingly waits for the moment I finally see that following Him is simple, as simple as turning aside to the events in my life and seeing his "yes" or "no," and then continuing to walk with Him until the next time I need to turn aside.
A few months back I was moving plants around my backyard. As I was toting a Geranium to a bench beneath some trees I looked into my overgrown garden and saw a new plant I didn't recognize. Usually I pull the invaders immediately, but for whatever reason I let this one keep growing. It had already grown so tall I figured I'd not thwart its plans for life and leave it alone. Sometimes I respect weeds for their tenacity. But I wasn't sure this was a weed, so I left it.
My word for 2018 is patience. The past few months God has continued to place that word in front of me through song, literature, weather, and random acts of kindness from people in my life. The quote that has sown this word into my heart is by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
This truth has resounded loudly in my heart this new year. January 1st brings the beauty and joy of a clean new start, which is normally accompanied by resolutions and goals, which are great. I have many hopes and prayers that in 2018 I will see my goals become realities. I think this is a good and positive way to sow productivity. But this quote is always in the forefront of my mind, warding off my desire for instant gratification, reminding me that growth requires patience.
And time. And steadfastness and persistence. Yes, goals are the end game, but in-between the conception of a goal and the achievement of a goal, there are many, many small steps to be taken. God lead me to Matthew 1 today and I understood the passage with new eyes. Matthew 1 recounts of the genealogy of Jesus. If I'm being totally honest, sometimes I don't even read Matthew 1 and I just go to Matthew 2 where the storyline starts. But today I didn't, and it was because God wanted me to see a new thing in the passage.
There are 42 generations of patriarchs from Abraham to Jesus. I'm no Bible scholar, so I don't know the average lifespan of men in the Old Testament, but I think it's safe to assume most of them lived longer than our average lifespan. So that's a lot of years between Abraham and Jesus, the Savior of the world.
Why do you think God did that? Why do you think God intentionally waited 42 generations to bring Jesus into the picture? He's God. He could have put Jesus in history at any time. He could have just saved us all in a breath. But instead, he chose to plant a tiny seed in a long line of Israel's patriarchs. The seed quietly waited for years and years, and finally, 42 generations later, Christ, Immanuel, was born. Everything changed the moment Christ was born. Our world went from waiting, waiting, waiting.... to God with us. And again, God could have done that at any time. He didn't have to wait 42 generations. He didn't have to wait at all. But he did.
This is so profound to me. If the best thing that's ever happened to all of creation required years and years of preparation and waiting, then the Emerson quote means even more to me now, as I pursue my hopes and dreams for my life. God did not rush the introduction of Immanuel. He patiently waited until the exact right moment. This truth brings a rushing river of purpose to every single day that preceded Christ's birth, because every single day was leading to it. All the days that felt lost or disillusioned to those who proceeded Christ, held intense, beautiful purpose, even if they couldn't see it. If God waited through all those days to bring Christ here, then all of those days had an intricate purpose in bringing about God's ultimate goal, introducing salvation for all through Immanuel.
As I look at my list of goals for 2018 and beyond, I'm excited to see change. However, I know that for every day that I don't see growth and change, there is a purpose so deep for that waiting that if I sat at the bottom of it I'd be looking up to the summit of Mt. Everest. There is no boundary for God's goodness. Every single day of our lives is coated in grace upon grace even if we can't see it, even if we don't know what lies at the end of the waiting. All the waiting and hardship and suffering Christ's ancestors experienced holds so much beautiful purpose, because the best thing to ever happen to all of creation came from their journey through life!!!!!! THIS IS REMARKABLE!
In this moment, as I'm writing, I'm just sitting in wonder at the mystery of God's work. I'm now gazing out my window looking for agreement in creation--creation is the greatest evidence of God's beautiful, mysterious ways. Creation knows things we don't. Creation has no problem with waiting, with patience.
I'm looking at the barren trees, the blue sky, green blades of grass peeking through piles of leaves. My wonder is interrupted as I see a squirrel hopping around my backyard. Squirrels are so weird, am I right? They're such a pain - they get into my potted plants and spill soil everywhere. But okay they're also funny, because this little dude is currently hiding something in the grass and the sight of him moving his little arms so fast to hide his treasure is ridiculous to watch. This little squirrel is a minutia in creation, and yet he's here. He's part of the story of God's work on this earth.
"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience."
If we are prudent to listen, creation sings the mysterious rhythms of new growth. God waited through his own creation of the generations of man to bring a new thing, Immanuel, into our world, much like trees wait through winter for the new growth of spring. Winter has purpose in creation. It also has purpose in our lives.
I'm looking out my window again and remembering my garden. The other day I went to see just how unruly things had gotten over there, and I found that the little invader was no longer little, but big. I bent down to inspect the plant and what do I see but two tiny green tomatoes on the very top! What a beautiful surprise! I had not planted tomatoes in this garden for over a year, and when I did the plant died pretty quickly (I have bad luck with veggies). And here is this little tomato wonder who grew all by himself through months and months of quiet patience.
"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience."
Patience is my word for 2018, and I anticipate that having patience and adopting the original pace of life, the pace of nature, will make this the most beautiful and rewarding and fruitful year of my life.
Gdad, it has been a year since you left and I still miss you. I go to the lake and think of you constantly. I look at the Front Range and dream about you in heaven with Jesus. I look down at my knobby Davis knees and smile because a piece of you is with me every day. Can't believe it's been a year since you and the Lord gave me this post, but I wanted to share it again in your honor. Miss and love you Gdad, and can't wait to see you again soon!
My father, Will Davis Jr., inherited Lake Austin from my grandfather, Will Davis Sr. (or Gdad).
So did I.
Gdad, you always told me that you didn't have much growing up, and as a young man your motivation was your wife and three children. You went from skipping school to work at the Capitol as a 9 year old page boy (to help provide for your family) to turning down running for governor of Texas because you wanted to be present at home. Who knows, maybe you could have been president. But you weren't. Instead you raised 3 amazing children, cared for your beautiful wife, Ann, pioneered the fight for excellent public education in Texas, served as President of the Board of Trustees of Austin Independent School District for three terms, helped found Austin Community College, had an elementary school named after you in Austin, and served as Chairman of the Board of Regents at Baylor University (to name only a few accomplishments of your 87 years). You had always loved the outdoors, and along the way you bought what was then the only house on Manana Street on Lake Austin (we call it a lake, but technically Lake Austin is a river). You raised my dad and two aunts to love skiing, bare-footing and doing all sorts of awesome, nonsensical things behind a legendary Ski Nautique. Then they all got older, got married, and had kids themselves; enter myself, my siblings, and my cousins.
Lake Austin is our inheritance. Lake Austin is my inheritance. You gave it to me, Gdad. And I don't mean the physical property on Manana. I mean it's in my blood. That river is a part of my soul. So many memories and moments spent on that lake completely encompass who I am today. I actually don't know who I would be today had you not given the lake to my dad and had he not given it to me. I will speak for my siblings and cousins and say that they probably feel the exact same way. Because we all grew up skiing and doing all sorts on nonsensical things behind that legendary Ski Nautique, too (No bare-footing for me though; there are limits to my nonsensicalness. No doubt I got that discernment from you.).
I love that river. I love that big green lawn. I love that huge cypress tree by the water. It's a part of me. Growing up it's where I went for escape and reprieve. It's also where I went to make the happiest memories. It's where I got baptized. It's where I got ordained. It's where I took Kenton on one of our first dates. It's where we got married.
And now, it's the place where I got to say goodbye to you.
That day, you got quiet. You looked out at the lake, past the glowing fire pit that kept rudely blowing smoke on you in your chair, and after a while you said,
"Something about this place revitalizes."
"... for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people." Isaiah 43:20
Isaiah was a prophet and the chapters in his book are be both bleak and beautifully hopeful. They're mostly about God's relationship with his people, Israel. In Isaiah 43, the Lord speaks of his steadfast love for Israel, despite the people's disobedience and abandonment of their God. Verse 20 speaks of his provision: "rivers in the desert." Though God once literally provided water for the Israelites in a desert, it offers a truthful metaphor as well: God provides in the hard times. When we're walking through dust and desolation he will come through for our good and his glory. Maybe not how or when we want it, but always "for the good of those who love Him." And why this provision? Because, through Jesus' death and our profession of faith in Him, we have inherited it. We are adopted into God's family as sons and daughters (or granddaughters), and given unlimited access to God and all he offers.
Rivers in the desert.
Gdad, your whole life testified to this truth, that God provides rivers in the desert. You made your way through a lot of desert places in your life, but you held fast to honoring the Lord and he provided rivers upon rivers for you. That house on Lake Austin is one of those rivers in the desert. And years later, God is still providing through that river. You probably don't even know the depths of the blessings that flow out of Lake Austin and into who I am and into my entire family's identity. God has used your faithfulness to bless me a million times over. Grace upon grace, just like the waves that continually crash into the rock wall on a Lake Austin summer Saturday. The repercussions of your choices are still rippling out years and generations later.
And I couldn't be more grateful that the last time you kissed me on the cheek and told me you were proud of me was at our river.
Gdad, my hope and prayer is that my life honors you and your legacy. If I live a life that honors you, I know I'm living a life that honors God. I feel royal to carry the maiden name Davis and the blood in my veins that is so, so genetically yours (I also inherited your calves and Mima's wrinkly hands).
Love you Gdad, thank you for what you gave me.
You gave me a love of the outdoors.
You gave me respect for creation.
You gave me a heart to honor the Lord.
You gave me tubing scars.
You gave me precious memories behind the wheel of a Ski Nautique with light blue leather seats.
You gave me a river.
To Gdad, thank you.
This picture was taken on the day I got engaged to Kenton. Afterwards, we had a party at the lake house with close friends and family, and sweet Gdad was in attendance. When he saw me, the first thing he did was kiss my newly engaged left hand. This picture is such a representation of the man he was to me and many others. Thank you to my cousin Kate for this precious gift!
"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?" John 6:9
What is in our hands is enough.
Some days I feel so busy that I could suffocate. Wait, no. That's what we like to call it, right? We're 'busy.' But more often than not, busyness is a disguise. In more occasions than I bet we're willing to admit, being busy is lack of trust. It's hard to see sometimes.
Right now I'm busy because the list of things I need to do to get where I need to be never stops growing...
I'm trying to grow a business.
I'm trying to pursue dreams for my life.
I'm trying to pour into people around me.
I'm trying to keep taking steps in a season of healing.
All of those things are journeys, and journeys require steps. So, to take matters into my own hands, I make a list of steps to take that will get me to where I want to be in each journey. The problem is that list making can lead to exhaustion, discontentment, disillusionment, hopeless feelings, and lack of self care. So I find myself in this no-win situation because I have so many steps to take and no time or resources to take them. I've gotten ahead of myself. I've gone out ahead of God. The problem is I put those things on the list. Heck, I made the list! We do it to ourselves, right? We make the lists and then we start working. We see where we want to be, we see what we want to grow towards or attain, and then we make a list of steps to take to get there. The list grows and grows and becomes daunting and overwhelming because we don't have the resources to check off every item on the list. So, we do it to ourselves. God didn't tell us to make a list. What he did do is give us what's in our hands today. He gives us daily bread.
God doesn't do lists, God does trust.
Let's go back to that. Why is this list making and step taking a lack of trust? Because of John 6:9, that's why. What is in your hands right now is enough.
Before Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000, He only had five loaves and two fish. That's it. Jesus held what looked like insufficient provision in his hands, gave thanks, and then a miracle of not just abundant, but over abundant provision unfolded because not only was there enough food, but there were baskets of food left over. And it all started with "not enough." (My adorable, awesome, fantastic, weird, goobery, lovely, loving, kind, wise parents, Will and Susie, talked about this, among other things, on my Mom's latest podcast if you want to hear more.)
If I'm trusting God with what is in my hands today and where I dream to be tomorrow, all the lists can fall away and I am not busy anymore.
Suddenly I have time to do Youtube yoga in the mornings.
Suddenly I have time to throw the ball to Bowie in the back yard.
Suddenly the jobs I have and money I'm making is enough.
Suddenly living in a tiny town in between Kenton's job and the resources of College Station (gym, food, etc) is no longer a strain.
Suddenly I'm content with where I am.
I took care of myself today. I did YouTube yoga in my office while Howie hopped around/on me and licked my face whenever I came down on my mat (No, Howie is not the dog. Yes, Howie is my bunny. Yes, my bunny licks me like a dog. No, I'm not kidding.). I took extra time to get dressed and feel like a real human. I took time to write this post.
Today I took care of myself because when I have gratitude for what's in my hands, my thoughts are transformed and my to-do lists become much less important. And honestly, there are a lot of things about my life that aren't 'ideal.' I could have a lot of reasons to keep feeling busy and unsatisfied. For example, the gym. This is a hard one. Navasota is in the middle of Camp Allen and College Station. There is one gym in Navasota, but there are no classes and it is very small and kind of expensive. I've looked at gyms and yoga/dance studios in College Station a lot because exercise is so important and life-giving to me. But it just doesn't make sense to drive all the way to College Station in the mornings for a gym because I'll have to come home to change and then drive all the way to camp after. All that driving alone adds up to over an hour. So there's an issue of time and convenience, but also budget, because I'd be going through gas like crazy. Therefore I've pretty much stopped working out, which means I've neglected self care, which sometimes contributes to feelings of sadness and dissatisfaction. And sometimes I work out at home, but we all know the struggles with that. All that to say, the gym issue has been a hard thing about living in Navasota. We've never resolved it because all of our options aren't great. So, I feel dissatisfied with my work out options. I make lists to try and fix it. Make more money. Schedule more in advance. Move this here, do that there. On and on.
But. What is in my hands right now?
I have a yoga mat.
I have a computer.
I have wifi.
I have a house in Navasota that God lead us to and I really love it.
I have a bunny that makes yoga at home 100x more awesome because sometimes he gets on my back when I lay on my stomach to prepare to do a plank. He's probably just trying to add weight to make me stronger.
What else is in my hands?
I have daily bread for by business. I have just enough to keep rolling. God is providing one day at a time. I'm not where I hope to be by the end of the month, but when I trust him with what I have now, even though it doesn't look like enough, I can make time for bunny yoga and quit neglecting my body. When I make lists, I have endless amounts of work to do to get to where I need to be. But when I trust God and thank him for what I have now, however 'insufficient' it may look, I have peace, rest, and can look forward to over-abundant provision.
And this can go with anything in our lives.
You think you don't have enough in you to keep pushing in your marriage? Give thanks for today and give trust for tomorrow.
You feel hopeless waiting on that spouse you've prayed for your whole life? Give thanks for today and give trust for tomorrow.
You are in a season of loss. You feel hopeless and need healing. Give thanks for today and give trust for tomorrow.
You need more money to provide for the basic needs of your family? Give thanks for today and give trust for tomorrow.
Go read John 6:1-14. God lead Christ to that mountain and he brought those 5,000 people to him. Jesus asked his disciples where they would find food to feed the people in order to test them, to scan their hearts for belief. He lead them to the obvious conclusion: we don't have enough to feed the people. Then Jesus demonstrates how we can have faith in tight situations: acknowledge what you do have, give thanks for it, and keep moving in obedience, trusting for the future provision. Every seemingly negative situation is an opportunity for our providing Father, Jehovah Jireh, to step in and take a few loaves and fishes and do something over the top beautiful.
What is in your hands right now?
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