Hearts Unfold


Maybe it’s just me. Or does anyone else find competition just exhausting?

I still love wins and a successful challenge, like seeing a piece of refinished furniture turn out better than hoped. And you better believe I’m giving myself high-fives and backflips are happening in my head when Jim likes a new meal I cook.

But I can allow that joy to be stolen when I measure my work against someone else’s accomplishments. One scroll through Pinterest or Facebook and, if my mind is not guarded against comparison, the joy I had from that cute little side table or yummy Italian dinner can quickly be diminished.

As I’ve gotten a little less young (oh, alright…older), I’ve also become more comfortable in my own skin. God has been patient and kind over the years, chiseling away and exposing the root of my desire to overachieve. I’m still such a work in progress in this area, but I like what he is doing (I could write volumes on this journey. Perhaps someday…).

But what I really want to share is about this FABULOUS little t-shirt that inspired this blog post. I found this while flipping through a $5 clearance rack of workout clothes.

Yes, I’m a runner. But that’s not the word that made this shirt just everything.

In a world where we strive to be noticed or validated for our successes, pushed to be high achievers and set goals that can frustrate our souls, I think “okay-est” may just be my new favorite word (and let’s just play along that it’s grammatically correct, y’all, because it makes me happy).

I’m not saying settling for average in all things life is a good idea. The Bible is clear about the value of excellence in the areas which mark our character, such as relationships, job, ministry areas. But I find scriptural evidence God meets us in those activities we do for the sheer joy they bring to our hearts.

For example….

I am the world’s okay-est pianist. While I won’t be invited to give a concert, God uses times I sit down to play worship music to calm anxiety and prepare my soul to hear from him. Something about putting together the good and bad notes is a picture of my life,  like a composition God is writing for his glory.

I am the world’s okay-est decorator. I mean, you won’t walk into my home aghast, but you aren’t whipping out your iPhone to post pics of my fabulous color choices and decor on Instagram, either. But entertaining is not about how things look ~ it’s about hospitality and a welcoming, Christ-like spirit. I am good with not being able to pull off a designer look, but I want to create a warm, comfortable atmosphere where laughter and deep conversations around a kitchen table are encouraging and give life.

And back to that t-shirt.

I am the world’s okay-est runner. Barely faster than a sloth trudging through molasses. But I have developed close friendships and opportunities to share Christ in a community I would have never imagined. Just last week at the Pensacola Marathon expo, I met a couple with whom I had a brief conversation about things of faith. I’m reminded of the quote by Eric Liddell, the British Olympic gold medalist whose life is chronicled in the movie Chariots of Fire: “When I run I feel God’s pleasure.” When we can say that about anything we do, we have experienced worship.

Friends, let’s serve the imperfect cake. Open the color-faded front doors. Hang our Painting-with-a-Twist masterpieces. Sing loudly, even if out of tune.

Take a chance on being exposed as the World’s Okay-est Something.

Because joy is not found in perfect, but in finding God in those small, unexpected moments of our imperfect pursuits.

(For further study, see Psalm 73:12, Romans 12:13).

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All That Remains

Posted By on Nov 8, 2017

Hello, sweet friends!

It’s been a year since my last post. For various reasons I took a break, but I’m so glad to be back to writing. It’s my passion, my lane. And I’ve missed connecting with you.

As a writer, sharing an authentic Christian life and being real is a must. So today I’m opening the pages of my journal and giving you a peek into some personal stuff.

My mom passed away just a few weeks ago, ushering in all the messiness of grief. Ours was a complicated relationship at times (but seriously, aren’t they all), but we always loved. Journaling has been a source of comfort, helping me sort through doubts and questions that come with loss. I wrote this entry two weeks ago, and honestly I’ve struggled with posting it. But the Holy Spirit keeps impressing me to share. Grief touches all, and perhaps something here will be of help. Whether you laugh or cry, I hope you are encouraged.

Hey Mom ~

Remember when I was little and asked countless questions about heaven? Like, if that mean woman (you know, the neighbor with the green apple trees) would get in. Or if my pet collie Rowdy would be there. Or if it ever snowed. Guess you know the answers now. I’m thinking, though, you just look at Jesus all the time and stuff of earth doesn’t even come to mind. I miss you more than I thought possible, but knowing in one breath you were there, healed and whole and free of this world, is everything.

Everything…in this life has changed now. This grief stuff is no joke. It is raw and random. I’m good at stuffing the feelings down and pretending to be stronger than I really am. You always knew that about me, though. So I’m pretty sure you have asked God to give me extra help these last few weeks. He sure has been gracious and comforting. But still, this process has been harder than I thought.

Thought…about so much. Journaling and sorting through pictures while listening to all your favorite Reba, Garth, and Waylon music has been good for my soul. The best memories? Goofy Christmas gifts and softball tournaments…and Jim’s favorite…that time you pulled a pistol out of nowhere and killed a copperhead in a single, long-range shot! Regrets have been stirred up too, but I refuse to let them take root. Not one single bit of that matters now. Never did, really. Forgiveness and grace are beautiful healers when allowed to do their work. You always understood that far better than I did. And now love is all that remains.

Remains…that word took on a new meaning after you died. You were always bigger than life, left people laughing and loved a good ending. So when your cremated remains rode out Hurricane Irma (only the strongest storm in Atlantic basin history) in a surge-prone funeral home in Fort Myers, I had to laugh and just pray for the best. You definitely saved the best exit for last and it mirrored your reality. Writing has helped me see how brave you were, facing down your own destructive storms with strength and determination throughout your life.

Life…thank you for this amazing gift you gave me. It’s such a good one, filled with laughter and love. Whatever years I have left on this earth, I want the many good parts of you to live through me and bring glory to God.

God…you are with him. You are home. Tonight I looked up at the starlit sky and wondered what you were doing. And as a song you loved says, I can only imagine.

(photo credit: Shari Thompson Ancelet)

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