Last year, I felt led to begin writing a book. I shared the introduction online and was encouraged to keep going. I then went on to write the first chapter. I actually was typing up the last words to that chapter as my mom was (unknown to me) gaining her wings. So this whole book has a tender, hard, challenging raw place in my heart.
The moment I finished chapter one, I cried. I had some weirdly spiritual moment as I finished it that I could NOT explain. In the following weeks, God would use the words I wrote as my Mama was leaving this earth to bring me immeasurable comfort and certainty.
However, I then put the book away and haven't touched it since. It's all very raw and needs a lot of editing, but I am considering releasing it one sloowwww chapter at a time, to my subscribers. I wanted to share my intro here with you and see if this is something that other women would be interested in reading.
Keep in mind, it's not in its final state. I plan to maybe release chapter 1 next month as we launch the #jesusinjoyout challenge. I'd love to hear your thoughts!
You don’t have to be perfect, because I Am. -Jesus
So maybe that’s a paraphrase of the entire Holy Bible packaged into 9 little words. But it fits, and it’s truth. However, if you aren’t a paraphrase kind of girl, here's the real deal:
But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. -Hebrews 10:12-14
This, sweet friend, is FREEDOM in Christ. This one line, this singular notion, sums up how truly free we are IN Him.
We are not, can not, should not, would not be capable of being perfect of our own accord. Not on our best day, in our shiniest, holiest moment, running on 3 cups of coffee, wiping the butts of our newly adopted orphan babies with one hand, while patiently and sweetly doling our perfectly measured training to our squabbling toddlers with the other. Not after we’ve had the best worship in our car EVER, singing “Oceans” at the top of our lungs at the school drop-off. Not even after the best Women’s Conference to end ALL WOMEN’S CONFERENCES. Even then, in the moment of our greatest peek of sanctified holiness in all of our life- we can NOT be perfect, except Christ.
I strive. I strive HARD. I love Jesus, and I want to be LIKE him. I want to love well and do ALL THE THINGS that I think will help my family fit the bill of a “blessed family”. I crave and run hard after the “aroma of Christ”. I want it ALL. God’s BEST. And if you’re Type A at all, like I am to the most extreme, then maybe our blessings can sometimes become tasks? Items to tick off a checklist? A set of things to measure and weigh, critique and correct, manage and complete… Maybe I get so sidetracked by all of the THINGS to do that I turn my people into a checklist too.
I can sometimes run so hard after an ideal of what it’s like to be like Christ, that I lose the joy that brought me a desire to be like Christ in the first place.
As moms, we take his gifts and treasures and blessings, and we put checklists by their names. We love them well through the work of our hands, but then we sometimes lose the LIFE that their love brings into our hearts as we instead focus on the bare-knuckled management of it all. We get so busy DOING that we forget what God has DONE for us already. We seek perfect in one or ALL areas of our life, and the busyness of it all rips the the truth right from our hands.
As moms and wives, our greatest task is to show Jesus to our loved ones daily- to preach the gospel through our words and actions. And the most contagious experience known to the human heart, beyond love, is JOY. I CRAVE to radiate the JOYFUL freedom I have deep in my heart, that I experience during worship and my time alone with the Lord. I crave meeting my babies and husband with the same grace that I know is so deeply extended to me. The desire to pour out unbridled joy of the Lord into my children and my husband is truly the deepest wanting in my heart- to preach the gospel to the eyes and ears that surround me everyday through my irresistible joy in the Lord.
But HOW? How when the world is so loud and so angry and so busy? How when I can’t manage to get my dishes done and teach my two students and plan a meal and keep the baby out of the dog food and teach the toddler to obey the first time… HOW when there’s a mountain of laundry to fold and put away, I have 10 text messages I haven’t responded to, I can’t remember the last time I called and checked on my mom and sister, and now Christmas is coming and I’ve done zero shopping? HOW do I exude joy when my life is bursting at the seams, and I don’t even remember what actually BRINGS me joy?
When I’ve lost myself in all of this busyness and someone says “tell me something you love to do”... my brain becomes a screen of white noise.
How do I grab hold of the Joy of the Lord hard enough and long enough to actually extend it fully to everyone around me? To LIVE it. To embed it into my soul and use that JOY alone to fuel me in every area of my life.
Maybe you’re like me and you forgot what JOY truly is. Maybe you’ve forgotten who you are in Christ and can’t quite figure out what it is that brings you joy anymore. Maybe the flames in your marriage have been doused and the fire in your belly to love your family well is burning dim. Maybe you have a hard time accepting love from those around you and so the constant strain of always giving and never receiving has you running on empty- fueled only by resentment or duty?
This book was born from an impassioned weekend in a hotel room when I “ran away” from my family. It came from hitting rock bottom after a couple of years that were so blessed by babies I almost forgot who I was and what my purpose is. It was embedded into my soul by a God who told me not to “run away” from my family for a weekend, but rather run TO A FATHER who missed me, loved me, and had precious gifts of restoration for my soul. This is the path that my Father walked me through to restore my soul and open my heart to all the joy available in the universe. I truly pray and hope it will bless your soul as it has mine.