All posts by vickibruening

Why it Matters-The Importance of Bridge Building

I have been entrusted as the mama of three of the most handsome black boys.  This magnitude of this is never lost on me.  I’m not black.  I don’t have a clue.  I’m white as white gets.  A rural country girl who loves farming, country music and line dancing.  I’m terrible at the whip and nae nae and hit the quan.  For real, I have a responsibility to allow them to be who they are.  To embrace their roots. Their African culture and the new culture they will embrace as black kids being raised in America.  So race relations and relationships with AA peeps is on my radar big time. I long for it, chase after it, pursue all of it.  And I’ve learned along the way, that this isn’t just for my kids.  It’s breaking down the walls in my heart as well.  It’s changing me.  The journey is making me better.  Opening my eyes. Helping me to understand other cultures and to be able to get it.  Really get it.

Last August I had a longing to start a racial reconciliation group of some kind.  I wanted to do something.  Our city seemed to have misconceptions about people of color and I was starting to find that out now that I had lived there a couple years. And the shootings of unarmed black men that I saw all over the media were making me sick. There has to be a better way.  I want to leave a better legacy for my kids.  I longed to be the change. I knew that God’s heart was all over this.  He longs for us to be in unity.  To be love to each other.  So I started the conversation with a couple people in August, but I had nothing to use to start a movement of healing.  God had a plan.  He always does. I attended the IF conference in February of this year and watched Latasha Morrisson speak about Be the Bridge. This was it. The answer to prayers and longing.  God clearly told me RISE UP, start a group, be for this thing.  And so it began in March with my sweet friend Keisha co-leading.  These last couple of months have changed my life and my families’ lives in ways we couldn’t even imagine. We have such huge grace and wisdom when it comes to other cultures.  We can more clearly understand what it feels like to be a minority.  My husband and I weren’t raised around people of color.  We had one black girl in our high school.  ONE.  So we know nothing.  And when you know nothing, you judge and you fear. But when you take the steps to really get to know people, to really be aware of what is happening, you are changed.  Made better.  Man am I grateful that I said yes and that Keisha said yes and that brave people showed up and said yes to racial reconciliation.

Folks need the gospel.  We need to have our hearts changed.  We see people from a skewed point of view.  We need to see people the way GOD SEES THEM. -Trip Lee

Saying yes to this group made me grab all the books and start reading.  Listen to all the podcasts.  Read every FB post about race relations.  I just wanted to grab a hold and be knowledgeable. Without understanding, we jump to conclusions and judgments that just aren’t true.  The relationships I have been blessed to form are amazing.  The stories I have heard blow my mind and make me cry.  Sometimes in our little town, we hear people say, what is the point, why come, I’m not racist.  Well, I think we are all racist to some degree.  I have three black kids and I’ve thought and said some pretty racist things.  We all have preconceived notions of how a person is until we hear the stories, create the relationship, understand the history.  You may think a certain way about me just by sizing me up, but you don’t really know me until you hear my heart.  THAT is the point.  To create relationships, to hear each other’s heart, to love each other freely.  Like my friend Keisha says, you may see a black person walking around with their pants low and their headphones on jamming out and you may feel some type of way.  But the way you feel isn’t the truth of who they are.  The key to breaking down the walls is getting to know each other.  Getting to the heart of the matter.  You get to know that person and all the sudden your thoughts have changed.  It’s called justice. Treating each other fairly, equally.  Imagine how the world would change if we all attended a Be the Bridge group, we all got to know one another and our eyes could see clearly the truth about each other.  As each community starts breaking down the walls, there is a movement of love and healing that changes the world.  I want to be a part of this thing that God is doing, this incredible work of healing a nation.  If you haven’t joined a group because you don’t see the point, the point is that we all need to be for each other.  The point is that the word N***ER can no longer be said in our schools and written on people’s driveways.  The point is that there can be no more shootings of unarmed black men.  The point is that there can’t be African American boys and girls who long to be white because being black isn’t seen as good.  The point is there can’t be any more “driving while black.”  The point is we are called to create a better world. We are called to create unity, love and peace.  To be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

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The point is to commit ourselves to allowing God to break down the walls that exist in our lives regarding racial issues. To break down our preconceived notions, our sinfulness. What if we allowed God to change our judgement and stereotypes, what if we work together to change the narrative of race in this country and soon it becomes a massive movement that changes everything.  This movement is happening and will continue to grow because unity and love is God’s heart.  His greatness always wins, his promises never fail and his will WILL BE DONE!!  He just asks us to join in the holy work of bringing heaven to earth.

This movement that Latasha built, it’s happening all over the country, and it’s epic.  It’s life changing.  Be a part of the solution, be the change, rise up, love freely.

If you haven’t joined a be the bridge group yet, I urge you to get on the band wagon.  To do this thing.  To stand up for the rights of all.  Be brave!

Learn more about Be the Bridge and Latasha’s movement here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abundant Life

My word for 2016 is Abundance.  I KNOW God gave me this word.  But I asked him not to because this is a hard word.  My fear is that everyone would think I just wanted more stuff.  I think often times we view God’s abundance and blessings as a beautiful home, a nice car, more vacations.  God gave me the word abundance not for material goodness but for spiritual blessings.  I deal with anxiety and small thinking and fear sometimes and God came crashing in on my 2016 to teach me that that is not who he is.  He is a God who came to give us life and life to the full.  I was praying yesterday and just felt like he said he wants us to fight.  To fight against the enemy that backs us into a corner and makes us think we are not enough.  To fight against sickness that creeps into our lives over and over.  To fight against the terror attacks that make us afraid.  To fight against the jealousy and covetousness that seeps into our hearts.  To fight against the fear that keeps us from living imago dei, in HIS IMAGE!!!

He has come to give us life to the full and if we just lean into the one who loves us more than anything, he will provide.  He wants us to pray the lights out, to be the change, to rise up, to go and do and be all that he has called us.  I am so over fear and anxiety and scarcity.  It’s not who God is.  It’s not who he created us to be.  He longs for us to run to him, to abide in him and then to do good things.  God things.  Big things. Brave things.

I see you single mama working your ass off supporting your family.  Keep on rockin it.  I see you mama taking care of your babies and feeling like you are not enough.  You are incredible and you are doing holy work right now.  I see you mama’s running businesses and working jobs and taking care of your kids.  You are supporting your family and juggling it all and you amaze me.  Keep fighting the good fight.  I see you women chasing after ministry and missions and adoption and changing the world.  #bethechange brave woman.

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Man, I just long for us to keep fighting, to keep running, to keep loving BIG.  To pray and worship and serve and to destroy the enemy.  I woke up this morning to Matt saying, did you know the airport we were at  (Brussels) just got bombed by ISIS?  What????  I immediately turn to sadness and fear and why God, why???  I am quickly reminded to rise up.  To not let fear take over because then the bad guys win.  But to keep pushing through, to keep chasing and running after a God who promises fullness of life and just wants all of me.  Glennon Melton says it best, “Remember who you are.”

We are children of God, born to conquer and full of power.  Our earthly duty is to bring heaven to earth.  We can’t do that when we are filled with doubt, sadness and fear.  Let’s keep pressing on into his incredible abundance.  Let’s lean into each other.  May we be women who are vulnerable and real with each other.  Who tell each other like it is.  Who talk about the hard things with each other.  Who are not afraid to bare our souls and extend grace.  We have to be willing to give ourselves soul care so we can then be all we can be.  I pray we build each other up, that divisiveness and jealousy do not overtake us.  I pray that we are SO FOR EACH OTHER that nothing can stand in our way.  Let’s do this thing.

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Go and do scary things.  Love unconditionally.  Encourage one another.  Be brave.  Give this one life all you have.  And the whole time God’s got your back.  He’s holding you in the palm of his hand.  We have nothing to fear because we are made in his image, precious children of God.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” -2 Timothy 1:7

Love One Another

I pray every day that my kids would love well.  That they would be includers, fierce lovers of people.  I pray that Jesus would help me love well and more and deeper.  So often I feel like we are bomarded with disunity in our world and our communities.  Instead of loving each other, we are divided over issues that really don’t matter to the kingdom.  Instead of judging others for every little choice they make that we don’t agree with, what if  we just loved freely, radically and simply??

Every person is not called to the same job, the same ministry, the same walk with Jesus.  Every person has a different story, a different path laid out before them.  And every.single.person matters to God.  He is jealous for them all!!  My favorite author Hugh Halter says it like this,

“A point of view is simply a view from a point, and oneness, or unity, can therefore never be based on getting someone to see from your point; instead it is love and unity amid different beliefs. And this is exactly why unity is so powerful.  It is almost impossible. And because it is so difficult, Jesus would much prefer we fight for a supernatural form of love and unity instead of fighting against each other or people outside our faith.”

We worry so much about people’s outward lives and even what we see others doing and we fail to really SEE them.  A wise pastor I know said the Lord looks at the heart, at the motive, intention, desire, not at the outward appearance.  We have to look beyond swear words, beer drinking, tattoos, the way people wear their clothes and dig deeper.  He calls us deeper still into love, love, love.  For he is a good, good father.

Matt and I drop some swear words here and there.  We drink wine and beer and moscow mules.  I want a tattoo.  We love Jesus with a passionate love that I cannot even put into words.  We long to see heaven on earth.  We chase after social justice issues like poverty, racism, equality.  We long to honor the king with every bit of our life.  God has opened our eyes and taught us that it is ok to be who we are.  That we don’t have to conform to a certain way of being in order to love him and live for him.  This is freedom.  Sweet sweet freedom.

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Along the journey he has taught us how to love like Jesus does.  It’s so easy to get into the habit of forming opinions and biases based on the actions of others.  You may see them do something and then they may act another way.  It seems they have a lack of integrity.  I am not saying this is ok, but I wonder if we go deeper into the story and we see what is revealed to us, if maybe then our eyes are opened to a deeper truth and we can love in greater ways.  Every time I ask Jesus about the actions of this person or that person, every time I question how I am supposed to love, he whispers to me in the middle of the night, just love freely, madly, recklessly.  He tells me you know how to do this, I have taught you.  And he has, he has given me the gift of just genuine pure love for others.  An ability to see beyond outward appearances or actions.

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”  -Luke 7 34-36

He says that no one is righteous, not even one.  And I am far from righteous.  I fail all the time.  We are human, it’s normal.  We are only ok because God’s got our back.  And guess what, he’s got your coworkers and your neighbors and your church congregation and all the people in your cities backs too.  His love is radical and overwhelming and crazy amazing.  It is our gift to be able to go deep and sit in his love.  When we abide in HIM, he takes care of it all.  He just asks us to love him and love our neighbor.  He doesn’t ask us to change their hearts or their actions, he’s got it.  Jesus is such good news.  He just came and took it all for us on the cross and allows us to live in his love and freedom.  He doesn’t require us to do the hard part of being judgy judgers.  Just the easy part of loving freely.  I am so thankful for this reckless, radical Jesus.

Jen Hatmaker says that Jesus loved the poor, the sick, the powerless, the horrible sinners, the traitors, the scandalous women, the mentally ill, the immigrants.  And that he loved them through touch, presence, and proximity.  He loved them as friends.  Not as a project, not a charity case, not through exploitation.  He didn’t have an angle.  It was just straight Jesus love. He elevated their voices and stories, their equality and fairness.

My prayer is that we would all love each other so much, with such audacity, that the whole world couldn’t help but know Jesus.

Together we are POWERFUL

I feel like God puts books, podcasts, sermons, information in front of you when he wants you to see it.  When he is ready for you to learn about a new subject and take action on it for the kingdom.  So often I will come along the book that he wants me to read at the specific moment.  There have been times when I have felt so ugly, so broken, so far from his reach and he has used a book to infuse grace back into my weary soul.  Of course, his word is the most powerful, but I also truly believe he uses godly men and women to preach his message.  So thankful for the countless number of writers who have transformed my life by sharing their story.

Lately, God is wrecking me with the issue of racial reconciliation.  He has been for some time, but I feel like he is now saying it’s go time.  Time to educate, to listen, to understand, to experience, to teach, to love freely.  I have been reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.  My social media has been raging over the incredibleness of this book for some time and I am so excited to have finally gotten on the bandwagon.  The book is eye opening and gripping.  A MUST READ!!  I have also listened to Michelle Higgins speech at Urbana, Opel Tometi from #blacklivesmatter on Rob Bell and Q ideas.  I am being transformed as I am understanding the issue of poverty, mass incarceration and injustice in the African American community.

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I am not new to this issue, it has always been huge on my heart as I raise my African boys.  As we live as a blended family.  We have had our fair share of haters, of naysayers over the color of our boys’ skin.  So dumb.  So ignorant.  But even still, it is nothing compared to what my African American brothers and sisters have endured for years and years.  My heart aches over the injustice of it all. The time is now.  We cannot ignore this anymore.  It is time to stand up and fight.  To read the books, to listen and to join.  We have to gain knowledge so we can be passionate about change.  If you don’t know about it, you aren’t equipped to fight for it.  It’s like poverty, malnutrition and living conditions in Africa.  If you don’t know that their are children dying daily in Africa, you likely won’t do anything about it.  Once you know, you can’t say no.  You can’t sit back and say that’s ok, we’ll just them die.  You have to engage and be a part of the solution.  It’s the heart cry of Jesus.   “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

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I have been studying the kingdom.  Reading through the gospels, trying to identify FOR MYSELF what the kingdom truly looks like.  The one thing that I kept seeing repeated over and over were these words, so the last will be first and the first will be last.  I have wrestled with it, asking God what it means.  I can read the commentaries, I can see what every other bible scholar says it means.  But I wanted to know what God would reveal to ME about it.  As I sat in church last Sunday, I felt like he was speaking to me about those on the margins, the ones we pay attention to the least.  The widowed woman in Africa who is struggling to survive, the drug dealer who knows no other way of life, the prisoner who is desperately seeking God’s grace, the single mom working her butt off to provide for her family, the teenager who wears baggy pants and raps and just wants to be loved for who he is, the refugee who longs for stability and a home.  These are the ones who will be first.  These are the ones who should be first.  These are the ones who should be leading us, teaching us, telling their stories.  These are the ones who are so so precious to God that he puts them first.  Yes, he loves me,and my white middle class comfortable life, but he calls me to have eyes to see who his beloved are.  To understand this backwards kingdom.  The story goes that the workers all received the same pay even though some of them only worked half as many hours. (Matthew 20:1-16).  God says this is his generosity.  His incredible goodness shown to all men.  “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.” -MLK    Sometimes God’s whispers to me are that those who were treated the worst, the forgotten, they will be first in his kingdom.  They will experience incredible glory.  And I can’t wait to see that day.  It can happen now, if we take a stand.  If we love freely and give generously to all people.

I heard my son singing these words the other day, “there’s so much strength in you and me, powerful, a breath away from victory, I matter, you matter, we matter all.”  My heart swelled.  This is what I want my kids to know, to believe.  I want words like, ” I see a colorful future where skin don’t define any human” to fill their soul.  My sweet sweet kids don’t know the tragic stories that are happening in our world right now.  They are so innocent, they don’t see differences, just people.  I long to stand for justice in everything I do and for my kids to be raised watching that.  I long for them to see it in the world, in the church.  People taking a stand, meeting needs, loving well.  They are the next generation and I want them to live well in a world where skin don’t define any human.  I long for them to live in a world where EVERY person is celebrated.

I won’t close my eyes to the realities of the world today.  I won’t live arrogant, overfed and unconcerned and turn away from the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)  I will speak up, speak life. On this Martin Luther King day I will read my kids his story, I will talk to them about justice.  I will read the scriptures that so clearly outline justice and mercy.  I will live the words of MLK, “And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.” 

Because we are all powerful and just a breath away from victory.

 

Song lyrics from Powerful by Jussie Smollett and Alicia Keys

Redefining Love

Love. It is supposed to feel warm, tender and good.  It is all the warm tingles.  It is happiness and fullness.  God’s love is the best, the warmest hugs from a heavenly father.  But what about when HIS love doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy.  What happens when your love runs out, when your child’s love runs out?  What if you are walking in an obedience out of love but it doesn’t feel great, awesome, amazing.  Rather it is akward, hard, broken and messy.  How can we find the love in the middle of the hard, of the brokenness?

I distinctly remember waking up the morning after we landed back in the US from Africa.  We now had three new members of the family.  Sweet little boys who we were supposed to love and who were supposed to love us.  This was God’s plan.  We completely walked in obedience to him on this one.  So it should be a fairytale, it should be easy, it should be warm and fuzzy.  It wasn’t.  Not even one bit.  Matt and I looked at each other and said, we don’t know how to love them like we love our girls.  We were perplexed, confused and sad.  The boys didn’t seem to like us much either at first.  It was an exhausting dance of intentionality for many months as we learned to love.  It will never be over.  This is a forever dance.  For months Matt and I looked at each other and said, we don’t get it, everyone else who has adopted seems to have it all together.  Why are we struggling so much?  What is wrong with us?  Why can’t we love them like they deserve to be loved?  I had so much guilt and sadness (to be honest, I sometimes still do) over the fact that they have a mom.  Their mama has that beautiful natural bond with her babies.  A bond that God created.  It is the perfect love between a mother and a child.  I wrestled with God.  I told him I’m not enough.  I can’t be that for them. I don’t know how.  Why would he take such beautiful, perfect boys away from a mama who has the ability to love them way better than I ever could?  I don’t know the answer to this question.  I am hopeful that someday God will reveal this piece to me.  I do know that he very clearly wanted these boys in our family.  And I do know that he spoke to me and told me that love can be redefined.  Love can be hard, messy and broken.  He told me that love is giving them Jesus when my humanness fails.  You see in these days when guilt, shame, and sin wanted to overtake love, Jesus came and his light shined brighter.  In the midst of the struggles, the one thing we were consistent on was teaching them about Jesus.  Reading scripture, worshiping, attending church, life lessons, prayer.  Lots and lots of prayer.  Because when I had nothing left to give, I knew that Jesus could fill the gap. His love was enough to cover my anger, my frustration, my lack of perfect love.  There were so many times I talked to my kids about Jesus and how he loves them more than daddy and I ever could.  And I’m so thankful for that gift.  My constant prayer is that HE would cover them, that he would fill them to overflowing.  He is the one who provides the peace, the joy, the goodness.  He has taught me that love can look crazy like this.  It’s not this neat, tidy package of perfection.  It’s not always warm and fuzzy, it can be ragged and rough.  But his grace and mercy are enough, his perfection is enough.  The cross is enough.

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The times that I have felt the father’s love the most have also been the hardest times.  The most difficult paths to walk.  They have been paths of obedience or trials, but they have never been easy.  In these seasons, I feel his love hot, burning like a fire through me, around me.  I long to live in that space, that place of love and dependence on my heavenly father.

 

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Adoption has been the most difficult road we have walked, but it has also been the sweetest spot of love.  We are cradled and held in huge loving Jesus arms.  As things settled down with the boys and we got into a groove, I longed to do more.  This is too easy, who needs a break, let’s run hard to the finish, to the next thing.  We moved to a bigger house and started foster care classes, sure this is what God had planned for our family.  Matt was hesitant, but trusted in my lead.  And again, God showed up and redefined love.  This time it came in a big fat NO.  He clearly spoke to us that this was not the ministry our family was supposed to pursue.  It was so hard, so messy, so broken.  Again, the guilt and shame burned in me.  What will people think?  Clearly this makes sense, clearly God would be calling us to this.  We have experience, we have room, we can take more children.  I kept pushing forward for some kind of adoption, domestic, international.  Something.  Longing for that sweet spot of dependence on the Lord.  Longing to serve, to run the race.  Every time he clearly said NO.  And I realized that this no was so loving, so incredible, so beautiful.  It didn’t feel like that.  It felt awful, yucky, dark.  The love came as His no released the best yes.  The best yes for our family.  The best yes for those families clearly called to foster care and adoption.  It was so so hard to be obedient to the no but it has released a fountain of blessing for us to say yes to the ministries we are truly called to.  For us to say HELL YES (thank you Jen Hatmaker!!) to the things that ignite us.  And it is beautiful to watch the families who are called to adoption and foster care and to see how his love is surrounding them.IMG_3999

Sometimes the love comes in form of a no.  Sometimes the love comes as a crazy, broken mess.  Sometimes the love is hard to understand.  It’s not always warm and perfect. But it is always there, hiding in the shadows, waiting to hold us tightly.  If we allow ourselves to have eyes to see, he will redefine love and it will come in greater ways than we could ever imagine.

Our King is Coming

I feel like I have been climbing up wrungs of a ladder out of a pit for a really long time.  Inside the pit, I can see the light and I work my way towards it.  But sometimes a wrung collapses and I go backwards.  I have been fighting for my faith.  Questioning, doubting, lamenting, begging God for answers.  Instead of taking each pastor, priest, or author that I have encountered for their word, I have been wrestling with God to figure this thing out on my own.  To make my faith my own.  Finally.  This is lovely and fruitful and hard all at the same time.  I get overwhelmed by all the different authors, all the different demoninations.  Which is right, a missional church or a charismatic church?  Which author is the best, one who defines the presence of the Lord or the one who talks about feeding the poor?  My head swims.  I become cynical.  I don’t love the church anymore because it seems like it is failing on the issues of orphan care, poverty, and racial reconciliation.  It feels confusing and difficult.  Loving Jesus is easy but figuring out faith and church and all the issues is craziness.

So I read every book by ALL the authors, I highlight my bible and research the meaning of God’s kingdom.  I listen to sermons and podcasts.  I give. I serve.  I pray. I seek.  I beg God for clarity and wisdom.  I beg him for JOY.

And he provides.  He allows me to wrestle, to be hurt, to say things I wish I could erase.  He allows me to hear that this fight, this making our faith our own, is completely normal.  He helps me to see that this is all ok, but he tells me what I already know, that I can’t survive in this place, in this pit.  I have to get out and be surrounded by the light.  HIS light.  I cannot be angry, cynical, disheartened and truly live.

He has shown me what matters and what doesn’t.  He has shown me that he is so much bigger than a denomination or a book.  That his love is all around.  He is in every place, every crevice of my life.  And THAT place is church and faith.  The place where he meets me and loves me and teaches me.  Church is people serving together, church is a meal with good friends, church is spending intentional time with my children, church is an amazing conversation with a friend, church is loving my husband well.  It is ALL holy ground.

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o come let us adore him

We are all sinners.  All imperfect.  And as church is made up of people, it will be messy and broken and beautiful all at the same time.  I am so thankful for the truth he has revealed to me, that none of it matters.  All of the different beliefs don’t matter, the different styles don’t matter, the focus of the church doesn’t matter.  All that matters is the sweet baby lying in a manger. The baby that died for our sins and gave us freedom.  If we keep our eyes focused on him and plow forward with grace and love, it’s all beautiful and sacred and holy.  Every. Single. Thing.

This Christmas season, I am so thankful for all that God has opened my eyes to see.  I am so thankful for the tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes who came to save me from my sinful self.  This is true joy.  This is good news.  A beautiful gift that we all get to unwrap and hold tight forever.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Reflections on 2015

2015 has been an amazing year.  A year filled with learning new things, finding joy and embracing all that God has for me.  2013 and 2014 were years of survival.  I guess adding 3 little boys to your family and having six kids under the age of 7 will do that to you.  God is so faithful and so good.  He saw us through those years, those moments of figuring out how in the world to do this new thing.  And he has brought us to this incredible place of joy, of finding ourselves, of fighting for our faith and seeing him in new ways.

We are all healing from the hurts, the hardness that adoption can be. We are praying for the bad memories to be erased and working so hard to make new joyous memories.  He is teaching me to wonder again.  To marvel at the sunrise, the sunsets, the beautifully painted sky.  To be childlike in the way I see the world.  He is teaching me to find joy in the words and actions of my kids, to truly SEE them and to speak life over them. He is teaching me to let them go and be light.  He is showing me how to fill them up so they can fill others up.  I don’t want to brag, because that is not my way. But my kids are incredible.  God has done a work in them that is so amazing.  This year has been such a grace, watching them grow and shine.  So crazy thankful!

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He is teaching me to go my own way, whether or not others agree.  To not please people, even if they are doing something good and I think I need to follow. He wants me to be me.  He wants to use me as I am, not as a prettied up version of myself.  This is so freeing!!  The greatest blessing ever.  Last night Matt and I were talking about Kiki and how she just doesn’t listen.  Matt said, she does her own thing and doesn’t give a shit what anyone else says.  Just like her mama!  Pretty much sums it up.  And you know what, I am so thankful God brought me to that place.  It’s not always the best character trait, but it does allow me to be who I am and go forth doing what he has called me to do.  I want that for my kids.  Not a watered down version of themselves but a true picture of humanness that runs after all God has for them, not looking to the right or left but keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus.  Because as the woman says in War Room, we are HIS before we are yours.  I am HIS before I am a wife, a mother, a member of a church, a sister, a daughter, a friend.  I am HIS first and foremost and if he calls me to adopt, to give lots of money away, to love the unloved, to care for the poor, to fight for justice then I am going to do it despite what the world around me thinks or says.

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He is teaching me about writing, art, creativity.  To find it and love it and do it.  To teach my kids about it and how it is a form of worship to him.  He designed us all to be creative.  To give back to him through song, art, words, design, photography, gardening.  These things feed our soul and draw us closer to him.  I long for my kids to know this and be free to use their talents to honor the Lord.  We all have gifts, we just have to feel free to take the time to engage in them.  This year I am coming back to the creative things of my childhood that I have missed for so long.  The reading, the writing, the coloring.  And it is just so incredibly wonderful.  I am learning about this blogging thing this year.  It can be kind of hard.  I love it as my creative outlet.  And I want it to be there for my kids.  That is my only goal with it.  So I bare my soul and write as if my kids are going to be reading my journal when I am 90.  But then I worry about sharing it. Do others really want to read this, do I need to obsess over site stats and how many likes it gets on Facebook?  Ahhh, the answer has become so easy.  Do my own thing and don’t worry what anyone else thinks. I don’t feel like I am supposed to write for anyone.  Just for me and my kids and to use it as my outlet.  The social media world can think what it wants.

And then there is the vulnerability.  God has brought that in front of me this year as well.  He is teaching me to be open and honest, to not hide behind anything.  To dig deep into the soul as I engage in community.  Because we all want that.  We just don’t always feel comfortable doing that.  It is so much easier to talk about the football game or the vacation rather than tackle the big things like religion, racism, raising kids, the poor.  I love being honest about what is really happening in my life rather than sugar coating it.  If I had a hard day, I am probably going to tell you rather than smile at you and say it’s all fine.  Because being real and vulnerable and true produces deep lasting connections.  It allows friendships to blossom.  I mean really we have this one life and I would rather go deep and let people in than live my life not really feeling.  Being vulnerable is hard, it can kick our a**, but it is REAL living.  And I long for that.  I am so thankful that God has thrown that in my face this year.

vulnerable-quoteThe Lord has been teaching me about feeding my soul this year. I am so so thankful for this lesson. This bonk on the head.  I am a severe type A personality.  If I am not doing doing doing I don’t feel worthy.  I feel and live best in a clean space with laundry folded, however there are times when I have to be ok with putting other things before that.  If he whispers to me to go write, I need to sit down and feed my soul and not put it off.  If he calls me to open my home and create community, I have to not be obsessed with whether or not it is perfectly perfect.  He is softening my hard edges and teaching me that community, creativity, learning is often more important than doing.  It’s the Martha and Mary concept.  Martha was distracted by all that had to be done, but Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.  I need to learn to be more like Mary.  To sit at his feet.  To be filled up by the only one who has all the answers.  He is teaching me that sitting at his feet encompasses so many things. It is conversation with good friends, it is loving big, it is being vulnerable, it is creating, it is taking in a good book, it is being filled with his word, it is long walks with the kids, it is vacations and mission trips.  Jesus is everywhere and he longs for us to be all encompassed by his love.

This year has been so so good.  The best ever really.  I have learned so much, grown in my faith in huge ways and felt wrapped up in a love that is so huge my mind cannot comprehend.  His goodness is so amazing.  It is mind blowing.  His love in unending and unstoppable.  I am forever grateful for this Jesus who opens my arms wide to receive his glory!!

Happy Holidays friends!!  Be blessed this season!!