1.17.2013

you asked, she answered


I have loved getting to know Emily through reading her book, Grace for the Good Girl, over these past couple months.  Reading it alongside my #thesamepage co-host, Rachael, and several of you, made the journey all the more sweet as we struggled through and learned together.  

Below are some questions you asked Emily about the book, raising children, and further reading.  You can also head over to Rachael's blog to find some additional Q&A with Emily...


Q:  How do you go about teaching your daughters about grace? I have a young daughter, and I'm concerned I'm going to set her up to be a "good girl" that focuses on performance while struggling to understand grace. It feels like such a daunting balance when I think about passing this on to kids! -- Rebecca 
Q:  I would love to hear your thoughts about your daughters. Do you talk with them about masks and good girl behavior? Do you notice them wearing masks or is that still down the road as they grow older? I often wonder how we teach our children the big-ness of God and his grace (vs. teaching them to obey and value rules). The picture that has stuck with me is the tiny stream and the big river that your husband stumbled upon while hiking. I want my daughter (and myself) to experience the type of BIG, GRACEFUL life that really comes from God. xo.  -- Lindsey 

A:  These two questions were both about parenting, so I decided to answer them together. I get asked this one a lot, actually. And I know people might want to hear my amazing technique for keeping my nine year old twin girls from becoming good girls.

Don't I wish.

First of all, I don't think younger girls struggle as much with mask-wearing as we do. Or maybe they do, but I'm not sure it's fair to call it that. They are still figuring out who they are, so to tell them they are wearing a mask just confuses things. They need the freedom to "try on" different personalities at this age and see which ones fit and which ones don't.

That's why, when I wrote the youth version of Grace for the Good Girl (called Graceful) I didn't talk as much about masks - more, I talked about the voices we choose to listen to. Are you going to get your identity from the voice of the good girl or from the voice of God? 

I always think about something my mom told me once while she was working as a teller in a bank. When she went through training at the bank, they told her that she would need to recognize fake money if it comes through. But they never showed her fake money. Instead, her job was to practice counting and handling the real money so that when the counterfeit comes through, she would recognize it right away.

I suppose the same could be applied to parenting girls - I don't think we have to teach them about the masks, especially not when they're young. Teach them about their identity, about their deep beauty, about the grace and freedom and love theyalready have. Hopefully as they grow, they will know truth so well that the masks don't feel right from the start.

But let's be honest - there is nothing my mom could have told me early on that would have kept me from becoming a good girl. I had to live through it and learn from it. But that made grace that much more real for me. And the process allowed me to know Jesus more personally that I would have otherwise. I want that for my girls.

May our daughters be able to say the same thing. And until they can, may we not allow their well-being to be another try-hard life we hold onto.




Q:  I would love to hear about how you balance "not wearing a mask" and not stepping on toes. I have struggled in sad seasons of life with being vulnerable because I don't want to offend someone else or make them uncomfortable. I guess my question is how do you decide when to be vulnerable and take off the mask and when to just be quiet? I pray about this often, but would also like to hear your thoughts. -- Brooke
A:  I've struggle with this one too, Brooke. 

You ask "How do you decide when to be vulnerable and take off the mask and when to just be quiet?" I will say this - the mask is your flesh, or those unique ways you get your needs met on your own and by yourself. So choosing to take off the mask (in other words, not live from your flesh) is ALWAYS the choice to make.

But taking off the mask does not therefore automatically mean you will share everything on your mind or heart. You may take off the mask and still remain quiet, or you may take off the mask and honestly share where you are coming from. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

I will tell you this: I've had to come to a place where I know deep within the core of who I am that I am safe - regardless of the circumstance of life or the condition of my soul (mind, will, emotions). But that "knowing" doesn't come easy and often it doesn't come at all. But that is what it comes down to.

I think the question is also this: why are you speaking up in the first place? Is it so that they will meet some need you have and you have an expectation of them and if they don't live up, you will be hurt/disappointed/worse off? Is it just so you can "get something off your chest"? Is it just for the sake of being honest?

In the core of who you most deeply are, will you be okay no matter what their response is to you?

I don't think you can balance not wearing a mask with not stepping on toes. Sometimes what needs to be said will step on toes. But "not stepping on toes" is not your highest goal. Your highest goal is the glory of God - and the way he reveals his glory through us is how we relate to one another in relationships.

Jesus stepped on a lot of toes. But it wasn't just for the sake of being honest. It was always for the well being of those whom he loved.


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Good GOOD stuff!  Am I right?  Thank you Emily for taking the time to answer these questions and for so much more! {find more Q&A here}

If y'all have never checked out Emily's blog, Chatting at the Sky, I urge you to -- you'll find a blog heave on inspiration and low on fuss. Add it to your reader. 

You can also check out Emily here: 

1.10.2013

daily bread


{via}

"Small gifts wait in quiet places.  They hide under piles of daily tasks, waiting to be discovered and celebrated.  That's why I think Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread -- not bread to las a life time, but bread to last this day.  It was a call to dependence, a call away from self-sufficiency, a call to turn to the Giver, a call to humbly and thankfully receive.  

I romanticize the past, longing for its fuzzy memories to rematerialize so I can hold them in my arms again.  I wish for the future to hurry up, certain that in its arrival will be peace and promise and finally, rest.  This is the day that the Lord has made, yet I long for another.  To find the lovely in the ordinary sometimes takes a bit of work, but the more i look for it, the more quickly it shows up."

-emily p. freeman, grace for the good girl
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It's not often I finish a book.  I love books.  I like to have them.  I like to get them as gifts.  I just never finish a book it seems -- no matter how much I enjoy it.  So usually, actually finishing a book takes a good couple/few years of picking it up and putting it down again etc. etc.  This is a book I am so glad to have read front to back in one season... in a season that I needed it.

I met Emily, our author, at the Influence Conference.  She was the first session I went to & sitting in the middle of her session I texted David that if all I had driven up to Indiana for was to hear what she had to say, then my time had already been well spent.   She made me, as one who was created in the image of God -- a divine image barer, feel like an artist with a voice.  Not just feel, but believe.  She said we should "Listen to our tears."  I turned to my blog friend Nat & asked jokingly, "what does it mean if i start crying when she says 'listen to your tears?'"  Oh boy.  She backed some heat.  I wish you had been there.  I walked away challenged and profoundly encouraged.  

I don't have a crazy story about coming to Jesus.  But my redemption is no less miraculous.  I didn't have to be saved from a deadly addiction or an abusive relationship, but I needed saving just the same.  I don't struggle with sins of murder or adultery, but I need grace no less and deserve it no more than those who do.  

Sometimes we don't believe that.  We take our role as whatever we perceive it to be and fall into the shadows of those with "bigger stories" to tell.  We fall into insecurity, jealousy, pride, shame, fear -- instead of standing in freedom.  Because God is graceful, I am free!  Free to be myself sans apologies, masks, or stipulations.  I have a God who finds pleasure in giving the exceedingly abundant!  Do not be afraid little flock, for the Father is pleased to grant you his Kingdom (luke 12:32)!


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1.03.2013

Living Worship


Notes from my reading this week.  Some really good stuff on worship...






"We send money and offer prayer and sit with a lonely neighbor, in Jesus' name.  We wait for love, we long for home, we pour out our hearts and hopes and fears and longing; we create with words and photos and colors and food, all beautiful acts of worship.
But we don't call it that.
We call those things living.  But when the Spirit of the living God lives inside of you, then your living is also your worship."  -- epf

"Free women respond with worship in everything.  It is a natural outpouring of thankfulness and awareness of love and grace and truth.  It isn't mustered up; it flows out." -emily p. freeman

{grace for the good girl, #thesamepage}
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12.20.2012

Abide


{{ this post is part of #thesamepage book club series hosted by myself & Kincaid Parade.  We are reading through Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman.  All are welcome to join in, read along, and link up posts discussing the book.  Don't feel like you have to be "caught up" on the reading  to join in, but feel free to share links to any posts pertaining to the book.  For more info, start here. }}

One of my favorite reminder/truth words is "Abide."  I have it engraved on a bracelet.  I scribble it.  If I ever get a tattoo -- there is a strong chance it would be this word.  I love it.  I need it.  Abide is the most beautifully relaxing verb in the whole universe.  It sounds like breathing -- and exhale of exhaustion and an inhale of life.

I love how in chapters 11 & 12 Emily talks about "letting."  You have to LET peace rule.  And we also have to remain.  On page 147 -

To remin in him means to refuse to get up from his lap.  When it seems like the situation calls for me to stand up and take charge, Jesus gives me permission to remain stil, if only on the inside, to trust deeply and fully that he will be strong on my behalf.  Een when it seems impossible.  Even when ti's counterintuitive.  Even if it means I will look weak.  To remain in him means to let the Great I Am be.

She goes on and references the verse from John 15 about how Jesus is the true vine and we are the branch.  Apart from Jesus we can do nothing.  If we remain with him, we will bear much fruit. 

Emily writes, "The job of the branch is not to make life happen, but to remain in the vine.  To remain in Christ is to stay where you already are.  No need to get up and try to find that which you already have.  Stay.  Abide.  Remain.  Believe."  

She writes all this in light of finding quiet time with God.  That we put pressure on ourselves that it has to look a certain way and be this and that.  She writes on page 149 - 

Quite time is no longer something I do.  Rather, it is a description of what happens when I am with God.  Time can be a loud, chaotic, rushing-around companion.  But as I sit in the presence of God, he quiets my time.

It doesn't have to be at dawn in serene solitude.  It doesn't have to be 13 pages of prayer written in thin black ink in a moleskin journal every evening.  there's no list to check off.  there's nothing to do ... but abide.  

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12.13.2012

a bug, guilt, and shame


a bug of the throw up variety has taken residence in our house. pic above is me trying to read while patient number 1 attempts milk for the first time in too long and patient number two is trying to recuperate after a nasty-no-fun night. {and yes, i was under lining with crayon} soooo... just a quick hello & quote for this week's #thesamepage link up. 
 
"Guilt says I did wrong.
Shame says I am wrong.
Guilt deals with behavior.
Shame deals with identity.
Guilt leads to repentance.
Shame leads to hiding...

Guilt is a good thing, a God-reminder when things aren't right and an opportunity to change them.  Shame is what happens when we let guilt fester and sink deeper and don't deal with it.  Shame seeps into our skin when we aren't looking and takes our spirit hostage.  And then she sits down heavy and masks herself as us to se cant tell the difference between the two."   -- emily p. freeman, pg.117

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What's #thesamepage? start Here.

12.06.2012

#thesamepage // vulnerable

{pictures has nothing to do w/ this post -- was looking through old vacation pictures and it made me happy}

I wrote a very abridged version of my college years a couple weeks ago.  One detail from my college story is when I was given the challenge, early in my freshman year, to be vulnerable.  My college minister, after just a few meetings, must have seen my masks from a million miles away.  The ones that I kept well groomed and exercised so that I could be a big fish in a little pond -- doing a little this and a little that.  The thinner I spread myself, the less authentic I became.  The less people knew me.  

Loved these quotes from Grace for the Good Girl (and by loved, i mean kinda hated -- they stung a bit, but were good for me):

"If you are anything like me, then you know the fine art of how to be vulnerable enough to people believe you are authentic, but not so vulnerable that all your mess hangs out.  You know how to be vulnerable with boundaries." -p86 
"We deflect the threat of closeness by learning to read others' responses to us.  In this, we simultaneously avoid and long for discovery." -p92 
"You train people to think you have no needs, but you are secretly angry with them for believing you." -p92

Well, man o man!  I feel like I should just stop talking after sharing those incriminating quotes.  I actually asked Rachael if I could have a doctors excuse from posting today -- I didn't know how to share without being: A.) debbie downer of conviction B.)  write from behind a mask  C.) sharing stories that are intertwined with others' and so wouldn't be fully mine to share here.  

(here is where I tell you that I have typed and erased several times)

And you know what? -- I think I am going to stop at that and share this scripture that is screaming through my thoughts right now:

Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” -- Romans 10:20

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11.29.2012

#thesamepage // Many Things



{pallet art by a cup of lindsey jo}



Martha, Martha.  You are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary.  Luke 10:41-42


Blair, Blair.  You are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary...  Can you put your name into that scripture (I can!)?  What are your "many things?"

a snippet from Grace for the Good Girl, Emily (the author) talking about the time she was asked what her many things were:

When I heard that [question], the tears were surprising and immediate.  I thought to myself, Oh girl.  Do you have a week?  Because my many things list was deep and wide.  It was the regular day things, like home keeping, foodmaking, clothes washing, and children rearing.  And at that particular moment, it was also the dream-wishing things, the stuff of later and someday all mixed in with right now.  My many things list felt heavy and impossible.  I had so many things. 
And then Renee spoke of the choice we have to receive the gift of rest, because we have a God who sees and cares and notices.  He will not come undone.  He remains un-overwhelmable. 
I wanted to stand up, clap, and whistle.  I wanted to burst into the ugly cry.  More, I wanted to give myself permission to sit down on the inside and live like I have a God who knows what he's doing. *

Gosh, it's hard to stop the snippet there and not share more (you really need to get the book).  Emily goes on to write about how we can get caught up in a life of performance when we are choosing to please God -- that even though it feels right at first, choosing to please, is not the same as trusting Him.  

Martha might have very well thought she was doing what Jesus would have required for her.  Working hard and preparing dinner.  Showing him that she wasn't lazy and that she was hospitable.  Doing things in His name.  Being a servant. A performance.  Look at me.  I am worthy.  I am good.  

Mary knew that all the stress of preparing a meal, or the guests, or appearances, or planning... all of that pales in light of a present Savior.  She choose to say no to those things.  She sat at his feet.  

If I am trying to please God, it is difficult to trust God.  But when I trust God, pleasing him is automatic. 
Anything we do to get life and identity outside of Christ is an idol, even service to Christ.  He doesn't want my service, He wants me.  And from that life-giving relationship, "streams of living water will flow from within" (John 7:38 NIV). 
So serve.  By all means, serve.  But don't do it from behind a martyr's mask of duty or self-righteous obligation.  By faith, believe that you are free to do it from a place of toal and complete acceptance by the only One who is extraordinary. *

Okay I had to give you more snippet because of how much her words hit me.  Do they hit you?  What are your many things?  Do you wear a martyr's mask?  Or do you rest in grace and mercy, letting the many things fall off?  

Lord, when I am tempted to to choose to hide behind the mask of my many things, bind my wandering heart to thee! 

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If you are reading along, link up this week's posts below and use #thesamepage on twitter/instagram to share what you're learning.  Try to make it over and meet some of the other girls who you are reading along side.  Community is what its about people! Next thursday we'll link up covering chapters 6-8.  Let Rachael or I know if you have any questions. 

What is #thesamepage?  Start Here.  
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11.15.2012

My Cliffnotes, #thesamepage week 1




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Hi everyone! Welcome to the first #thesamepage link up!  If you are new here, we're going through Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman and today's focus area covers the introduction and chapter one.  If you aren't reading along, still feel free to stay a while and check out the other links.  We're reading the same book, but this is more about growing a community and sharing our stories.
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About me (its about to get real here people):

I like to preform.  I like to please people.  I get a nagging sinking feeling in my stomach when I know I have disappointed someone.  The worst thing anybody could ever say to me when I was growing up was "you're annoying."  I like to fix things.  Well, more like fix people.  Cue Vanilla Ice - if there is a problem yo' I'll solve it.  Or at least fake like I can.  I absorb emotions.  I am a classic extrovert.  Want and need people, but have a short attention span and oversized need to be heard. 

High school me: I never went to (nor was invited to) a party where there was alcohol.  I did go to a party once where people were smoking clove cigarettes and called my mom to come pick me up because I was so nervous.

I had a boyfriend for two years.  Sleeping with him was never an option that even crossed my mind.  I behaved.  I kept curfew.  My biggest offenses at home were not cleaning my room and smarting off (and sorry mom & dad -- I did smart off way too much. i thought I knew it all). 

I didn't excel in a particular sport or academic area.  I preferred the social scene and racking up leadership roles.  The president of this the vice president of that.  Mostly I just had these titles on paper.  As Key club president all I did was buy a tiara for basketball homecoming and get my picture in the year book.  But man.  Did I think it was important.  

I sobbed for a week my senior year after 9/11.  And several scattered time over the following months.  And it made no sense to me.

My principal got arrested (loooong story) shortly before graduation.  The very first thought that went through my head was "I hope whoever replaces him knows that I was supposed to get the leadership award."  Nice, right?

Every youth Sunday I would talk in front of the church and give the "sermon."  I wanted to make sure everyone knew I even had faith figured out.  I always asked questions and took whatever answer someone gave me as the truth.  I was the rocky soil.  The seeds would get planted, but no roots could grow.  

I thought I was the absolute shiz-nit!  Little miss suzy-sunday-school-goody-two-shoes.  Job well done.  Look at me, cause I'm awesome.  I picked a small college so I could be a "big fish in a little pond."  I literaly said that during my search.

College me:  Long story short.  I got to college and found myself in the middle of a tired and broken mess.  I had spread myself too thin joining every club I could and staying up too late making sure I never missed a thing.  To make matters worse a youth leader growing up told me that God never wanted us to feel broken.  He just wants us to be whole.  She failed to acknowledge that the process of becoming holy (sanctification) definitely requires brokenness -- making the old things new!  So there I was -- being broken and totally scared of it because I thought it was wrong.  I look back and it is one of my most favorite life memories.  God was changing my heart and breaking my "me me me" identity and giving me His.

...fast forward...
(i'm skipping a lot of good stuff here, but I don't want to keep you here all day)

Today me:  I don't have it all figured out.  There is so much rest in that!  I daily wrestle with God in a battle over my identity.  But there is joy in the wrestle.  It's grace and this "good girl" needs it!



If you are reading along, link up this weeks posts below and use #thesamepage on twitter/instagram to share what you're learning.

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Next Link Up:

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving so we'll have a special "thankful" link-up party!  All are welcome to join (even if you aren't reading along).  Then the following week (11/28) we'll continue reading together.  So next week, prepare a post about what your thankful for and come link up! (I'll be preparing a post in advance so i can just set it to post and spend time with family).  

On the 28th we'll link up focusing on chapters 2-5.  Hopefully this extra week will give everyone a chance to jump in and catch up.  So if you haven't grabbed a book, its not too late. 

{i'm also linking up today w/ @thehollierogue #tellyourstory}


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11.08.2012

a new kind of book club




Rachael and I are so excited to embark on a new kind of book club with you.  A weekly series/link up that we hope you'll be a part of!  Here are the details...

Who we are:
Sisters, standing smack dab in the middle of grace & truth. Reading whatever Jesus brings our way.
Journaling our way through life change. Building a community of sisterhood, friendship, & accountability.
Loving on each other every Thursday.

A few reasons why you should consider joining us:
A great way to meet new bloggers, accountibility to spend some time reading stuff that feeds you,  focused prompts for when you have "writer's block," linkups build new readership, your bookshelf will be prettier.

Logistics: 
Grab a copy of Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily Freeman. Paperback , e-reader, whatever your preference! This book was the inspiration for our plan and after Emily's blessing, decided it was a great place to start. We'll be covering one or two chapters a week, with blog link-ups every Thursday.

Use #thesamepage for your Twitter/Instagram hashtags, as we'll be chatting on all the usual social media platforms. All are welcome! We want this to fun, challenging, encouraging, and empowering.

You do not have to have a blog to participate.  Share what you are learning anywhere -- instagram, Facebook, with your accountability partner.  It's all up to you.

Disclaimer:
We are so pumped about this first book.  We are reading it together for the first time too.  Reading books like this that stir your heart are so great and can lead to personal growth, but lets be super careful not to substitute any of this reading with time in the word.  That is where the real good stuff is!

--> Next week is the first link up!  
Week One // Introduction and chapter 1

feel free to post on whatever questions/quotes you like from the selected reading. If you need help with a specific writing focus, tackle these:

"I fear I fall through the cracks because my story draws no attention. I lack intrigue, drama, and interest. Can he see ordinary, unspectacular me?" pg.18

"While I thought I was searching for him, he graciously, miraculously, and intentionally found me." pg. 22

What does life look like for you when you are being driven by fear? What is your "sometimes truth" that challenges Love's lead in your life? pg.20/23

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p.s. super huge thank you to nicole of the style hatch for making our same page graphics!