Things We Do To Stay In Love: Part 1

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For the greater part of my 20’s I have listened to and watched the media ministry of Jentezen Franklin; pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, GA. Even though I’ve only actually met him twice in person, his ministry has been a huge part of spiritual nourishment and encouragement in my life.

My favorite thing about Jentezen’s way of teaching is that he doesn’t sugar coat truth and he relays it with a conviction and boldness that makes one want to listen. Maybe I’m just one of those “give it to me straight up” type, but all I know is that for whatever reason I appreciate and value those who are bold enough to say things that others are afraid to say.

So this past weekend I got to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time. Along with my husband and a couple of our closest friends, we attended a marriage conference as well as a Sunday worship service at Free Chapel!

The whole experience, especially the atmosphere of worship was everything and more than I had hoped it would be.

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We are so grateful for this ministry and what it has poured into us from afar over the years and again this weekend. And for friends who want to honor God with their marriage as we do and who know everything about us, the good the bad and the real ugly.. and still choose to walk this road with us. 20130227-085928.jpg

I don’t care who you are, every marriage needs a time of refreshing every now and then so things don’t go stale. This is one of the reasons we’re learning to make events like this one something we do on a regular basis – not because we have a bad marriage, but to help keep us from having a bad marriage. Not because because we don’t love each other, but to always be working on staying “in love.

I think we left for this weekend with the expectation of being encouraged in our marriage and spending some time away together, but what we have come away with is that and so much more. The kind of thing in which your soul feels full to the brim with faith and hope and you wish you had the ability to spill out what you’ve just experience with those around because it’s just too good to keep to yourself.

For this time of refreshing and the reminder of all the reasons that marriage is the greatest show on earth, I am so grateful.

Time4Learning: A Homeschool Review

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Jackson doing school with Time4Learning!Since I’ve had several homeschool moms contact me about my thoughts on Time4Learning, I thought I’d share them here!

We’ve been using Time4Learning for our son Jackson (Kindergarten) for about five months now and from the start we have been extremely pleased! We also tried it for our daughter Olivia (2nd grade) but we quickly realized that this just isn’t her learning style so we didn’t push it.

However, Jackson loves to learn by listening, watching and interacting on the computer rather than by just sitting and doing seat work so Time4Learning fits beautifully into our school days!

We use Time4Learning for subjects: Math, Science, Social Studies & Language Arts in conjunction with Abeka curriculum, Sylvan, Kumon and Flashkids for our seat work (multi-subjects) and have found that the way Time4Learning presents each new grade appropriate concept is much more thorough and entertaining that I could have ever come up with!

The things I love most about Time4Learning are:

  1. Administrator & students log-ins are separate. This allows me full control, access and keeps all of his progress in front of me in an organized, easy to access way. 
  2. Time4Learning keeps track of all of his quiz/test scores, attendance and daily work completed and allows me to run printable reports each day, week or month should I need to do so to show proof of education, or just for my own records!
  3. As the administrator, I can request to change the grade level of each individual subject at any time I feel that the originally chosen subject grade level is too easy or too challenging. Time4Learning processes my request and the grade level for the selected subject is adjusted within 24 hours!
  4. The subject materials are grade appropriate, fun, interactive and meet (and in my opinion succeeds) all state core grade level standards.
  5. My son truly loves and benefits from learning this way!
  6. Lastly, it truly does take some of the pressure off of me to “come up with” all the fun, entertaining ways to teach him every new concept.

So if you’re a homeschooling parent, or just a parent wanting something extra to throw in with what your student is learning in school, and you’ve been wondering if Time4Learning is worth the $19.99 a month! (with a nice little money back guarantee if you don’t love it!)

Here’s me giving you a huge head nod, YES! Go for it!

[Disclosure: I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used in many ways including as a homeschooling curriculum or afterschool tutorial. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.]

How To Be A Friend: Lessons From Two Little Men

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best little buds!

If we pay close attention, there is much to be learned from children. Especially in the way they do relationships with others. Let’s face it, they’re just better at relationships than we are.

I have observed this the most with my son Jackson and his best pal, Reagan. These two boys have known each other as far back as they can remember and I have never seen two little men who love each other more than they do.

Their life stories aren’ t the same…. they aren’t the same. And yet still I watch them look past all that separates them from one another as if none of it even exists.

Reagan speaks with a little stutter. What I love the most is that Jackson has never mentioned it or even seemed to notice. This is refreshing in a culture overly obsessed with perfection.

These two sweet little boys represent the child in all of us, the one who still needs that kind of friend. The kind who overlooks our flaws and imperfections and loves us anyways because they know that all of those tiny little things make up the unique collection of who we are. And who we are, is what they love most!

If we would be brave enough to admit it, we all need someone to do life with, to love us despite our differences, and to pull us in us even when we are difficult.

In a blink, Jackson & Reagan won’t be so little anymore. As I watch them play and grow together, I can’t help but close my eyes and whisper a quick prayer that the innocent bonds which hold them together will never give way to the pressures and demands of the adult life that is sure to come all too soon.

Because somehow it seems that when little boys (and girls) grow up, somehow we stop needing each other, overlooking & forgiving faults, longing for each other and taking the time to do whatever it takes to keep our fragile hearts, woven tightly around another.

We need to change that.

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

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Life is hard, the struggle is real; overwhelming at times.

And yet somehow still, amidst the struggle and the imperfection; I see glimpses of the stuff that dreams are made of. 

There is a fairytale to be discovered and re-told in the everyday small joys that make up our lives.

I know of no better antidote against feelings of melancholy and sadness than a heart overflowing with gratitude for the small things because it chose to take note of them.

For in the quietest, most seemingly insignificant of moments, an entire life is made rich beyond measure.

I don’t want to miss it because I chose not to see it.

– Rachel Rowell

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One day in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.

– Sigmund Freud

Maybe It’s Time To Stop Believing In Super-Heroes

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I spend my girlhood days submerged in the life of two small, very tight-knit, very conservative Baptist churches. To say I was churched, is a bit of an understatement. We lived & breathed church and religion and everything that I had believed to be God and faith.

Our lives revolved around the church schedule and our social circle consisted only of those within only the church we attended. That’s just the way that it was, no one questioned it or formed close ties with worldly outsiders. I mean, the Bible clearly states that Christians shouldn’t be friends with the world right? (cough, cough…)

We had it all right. We dressed modestly, we didn’t go to restaurants or grocery stores on the Sabbath, recited the ten commandments incessantly, held all night prayer services and kept ourselves separated from the world – except for the weekly “visitation” times in which we methodically went out into the community to knock on doors and snatch the lost out of the pits of eternal damnation as if their spiritual destiny depended on us alone.

If ever there was a group of people worthy of heaven due to their righteousness, it was us. We were the 44!

….oh yeah that’s right, it’s supposed to be 144,000.

Well, if you had asked us, we couldn’t have told you where on earth the other 100,000 were gonna come from good enough to have earned Heaven. (assuming of course the whole 144,000 thing was really even a true fact – of which it’s not.)

I vividly remember all the time and energy we put into taking prayer requests and praying. And if you couldn’t pray for HOURS, you felt that maybe you just weren’t quite as spiritual as others. We prayed for our nation, needs to be met and healing for the sick.

I didn’t realize it then, but looking back, there were huge problems with our prayers….and our faith. First off, we relied mostly on our own ability to follow rules to make us righteous rather than allowing the righteousness of God to cover us, we didn’t really believe in modern-day miracles, we believed that divine healing was a thing of the past, tongues were of the devil (not kidding) and the Holy Spirit was a topic that remained almost totally unspoken of and untouched.

When I became old enough to piece the pieces of faith puzzle together, they just didn’t connect.

“So why then, did we even bother to pray?”

I guess because it appeared to be the spiritual thing to do and it eased our conscience. But the greatest damage done by this outward facade of righteousness is that it gave us a false sense of connection & relationship with God which robbed us of the real thing. We were, in essence, using very spiritual things to give the appearance of and convince our own selves of a power that we did not understand, recognize or even really allow to operate within our lives.

Although much of what I gained from my girlhood years spend in these churches were indeed positive foundations in my life even today and is a main reason I still have tons of scripture tucked away inside me; still, I’ve spent the last ten years letting God open my eyes and untangle the webs of confusion and contradiction that religion had created in my heart.

Faith without power = religion.  

And last time I checked, the world doesn’t need just another religious affiliation to add to the long list of others that are no more effective than licking your bathroom mirror 5 times and touching your right arm three times with toilet water.

Religion feels good for a while. But eventually, when life gets really out of control, doesn’t make any sense and God feels completely absent, religion usually ends up dropping us off, leaving us stranded on side of the road with no where to else to go.

In time, a powerless religion (instead of a true faith) will eventually create a false image of a God who has abandoned us. 

Religion in itself, offers us a Jesus that we eventually find to be about as real and powerful as the super-heros my little boy still believes in.

This is THE reason so many “churched” people have walked so far away from anything that resembles religion or reminds them of God.

Somewhere along the road, they realized that what they had wasn’t enough. But the big problem is, it was all they knew… and it failed.

Religion lacks the warmth and love we crave – but mostly, it lacks the power our lives desperately need and are completely unaware of.

So what does religion do when someone you love greatly comes to you and admits that they have a serious addiction that they’ve tried and can’t get out of? And when another comes to you with tears streaming down their face and admits that for years they have been literally and physically tormented by demonic forces?

The “Jesus” of religion runs and hides in the face of things bigger than it and things it can’t rationalize.

But when we sincerely ask God to reveal Himself to us and we mean it enough to be willing to allow Him to open our eyes to things we may even have a hard time wrapping our minds around, He will.

But it will require something of us.

Surrender, Trust & Faith.

These three things open our lives up to a power that is so much greater than anything we’ve ever known or could have imagined on our own.

But it’s the very thing He came to give us. He has not left us weak and defenseless against the dark forces within our world and our personal lives.

He came so that we could walk in freedom and authority, by filling us full of the same power that dwells within Him.

I’ve never met a super-hero who could do that. Maybe it’s time for us to stop believing in super-heroes.

The truth is, the “Jesus” of religion could never compete with this JESUS I have found. 

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name. ”And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

 At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”  – Luke 10:17-22

Confessions Of A Former Facebook Addict

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The day was October 8, 2007. It was the day I joined up with a social media site I knew very little about. But since everyone else seemed to be there, I thought I’d head over and give it a try too! It took me a while to catch on the hang of it at first because to be honest, I didn’t see what the big deal was! It was less than appealing to me. But day by day as my friend list grew, so did my interest….and the amount of time I was spending “hanging out” around FACEBOOK.

I had the best time reconnecting with old friends, ones I would never get to see or hear from otherwise. I loved seeing the pictures and status updates of what was going on in their lives. It didn’t take too long for Facebook to become a source of connection, entertainment and even at times a form of personal expression.

For a little over five years FB had become a part of my life! Through of avenue of FB I had watched other’s and even my own kids grow up there through pictures and statuses. It connected me with some pretty cool organizations, inspirational people and worthy causes. It allowed me my own personal little window into the intricate, day to day details of the lives of friends, people I hadn’t seen in years and even many of whom I had and would never met.

At first glance, FACEBOOK seems like such a positive thing. At least for me it did. I mean, it connects us, broadens our world and gives us a voice!

Or does it really?

Over the past few months, that is the question I have been asking myself. Has Facebook truly done anything to strengthen my already existing relationships? And does it truly connect me with people I have never met and never get to see face to face?

Does the time I give away to it equal the value it adds back to my life?

Well honestly, that’s not a difficult question to answer.

And as far as the message of truth, how sufficient of a job do avenues like Facebook really have the ability to do in relaying and spreading it as it was first meant to be?

Somehow, messages…no matter how innocently proclaimed, tend to end up twisted and distorted into something completely different than how they were intended.

In more recent days each time I hit that button to “log on,” more often than not I found myself dreading what I might see. I found myself feeling frustrated, misunderstood and wondering if even my own attempts at personal expression had turned into something more of distorted exploitation of my own true self.

And all, with my permission.

I really knew I had an issue when I found myself “checking Facebook” first thing as I awoke  each morning and last thing just before falling asleep each night. On top of the quick clicks to check it throughout the day when sitting in traffic, waiting on an oil change or just every spare second that I needed something to fill in the “holes” of daily life…. even the times when I really didn’t even want to be on there.

Yes, it had become a literal problem. Maybe even dangerously close to a bone-fide addiction. Because of smartphones, Facebook has become way too easily accessible and using it had become much too much a routine part of daily life for me. It was crowding out parts of my life that I think maybe were meant to remain untouched, empty and silent.

Not everyone has this issue, I understand. And I’m not proud to admit my own. But I’m sort’ve an all or nothing girl and sometimes I tend to struggle with moderation. I had tried several times to “lay it down” by “deactivating” my account. The problem with Facebook, is that you’re never really deactivated. You can reactivate your account anytime simply by signing back in and it so easily and quickly welcomes you back!

Honestly, how something a silly as a little social media site could get the best of me, I’ll never understand. But THIS time, I knew it was time to do something about it. And I realized that simply cutting back my friend list or even just deactivating Facebook wasn’t going to fix my problem.

So, one by one, I hit that “unfriend” button on all 2,000 something of the “friends” I had accumulated on my list.

It took DAYS. Literally.

But with each click on my mouse, It felt as if I was freeing myself of so many of the seemly small things Facebook had subtly caused me to struggle with over the past several years.

I truly want to live authentically. Not just say that I do. And something I read over at Pete Wilson’s blog the other day put the final nail in the coffin for me on my internal FB debate.

Choosing to be “real” over being “liked” will not be the safest thing you do today. But it might be the most rewarding. Constantly controlling your image so you get the good opinion of other people will not only exhaust you, it will keep you from looking into the face of the One whom you should be living your life for.

But while authenticity is the cry of all, it’s the game of few.

Do you know why so few people live authentically? Because it takes tremendous courage. You are constantly bombarded by a culture that is doing it’s best, day and night, to make you anybody but yourself.  Letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are is one of the most courageous battles that we’ll ever fight.

I don’t know about you, but I have sure found myself in this trap… caring so much and projecting and predicting and wondering what other people think that all my energy is wasted there instead of living my life for the One who has created me.

 I knew those words were for me – that day, that minute. And it was time.

Facebook had been such a seemingly small thing, standing in the way in a big way, of me truly being free to be who I am without apologies, without constantly worrying about how what I said came across and whether or not it offended someone. Or wondering if people thought my life is all rainbows and unicorns because people do tend to mostly post the happy, beautiful parts of life on social media.

…Or even worst, measuring my own worth and value by “likes” or comments of approval. 

It just feels like that now, those who know me, will truly know me. They will know me because they’ve sat across the table from me at a coffee shop and saw the expression and emotion on my face as we listen to each other share our hearts, or because we actually do life together in some way.

I have just come to a place in which I am weary of being just another profile picture on a social media site; representing only a very small portion of the total person I really am. 

With real feelings

dreams

beliefs

convictions

and a real life.

And I’ve just come to the personal conclusion that part of what’s wrong with America is that we have raised up generations of people who have never really grown up because they are not truly living in reality.

And for me, Facebook has become so far from reality.

It’s time for me to grow up and be a big girl and live life in real life now.

“Goodbye Facebook, you were awfully entertaining for a while….but I just don’t need you anymore.”

The question that lingers on the inside of this girl’s soul, as does most all of us, “Do I matter? Do you see me? Am I heard and known- and still loved and valued?” Was never Facebook’s place to answer in the first place.

 

Letters To My Daughter -#8

My Sweet Olivia,

Today you turn eight years old. I can’t believe it’s been that long since the first time I ever held you in my arms and looked into your tiny face. I still remember the smell of your sweet, warm, pink skin. I couldn’t believe you were mine.

I know you are so excited to turn another year old! I remember feeling the same way with each birthday that came when I was a little girl. I know it doesn’t make much sense to you now, but every birthday you have is a little bittersweet to me. Sweet, because it means I’ve been blessed to spend yet another year with you, watching you grow and living life with you. But bitter because your birthdays always remind me how fast the time is flying by and that there just never seems to be quite enough time left before you’re all grown up.

But this year, I am thankful for all the time you and I have been able to spend together. I have loved being your mom and your teacher. It feels so nice to have you home with me during the day again…..just like when you were really little. I had thought that time was gone, and then I got it back again. 🙂  I love waking up next to you every morning because you’ve crawled in bed with me after daddy leaves for work. Sometimes I just lay there and stare at your face, remembering a time not so long ago. I love going to the coffee shops with you to eat cookies and have coffee…sometimes while doing school and sometimes just for fun! Sometimes I catch myself looking across the table at you, imagining you all grown up, and what you will be like then. That makes me happy too, because I know that even though you won’t always be little, you will always be mine. I love the car rides and our walks on the trail, and the collection of all the small details that make up our days together.

I’ve learned so much about you this year. And what I love most about you is that you are so creative, independent and full of ambition.You dream big and you see the possibilities in everything and no idea is to crazy or too impossible to at least give it a try. You believe in yourself and in others, and when you love, you love hard. Don’t ever stop dreaming and believing for BIG things. Dreams – even the ones that seem impossible, are what make life worth living.

This year you’ve told me several times right in the middle of doing school that you want to be a veterinarian when you grow up! Only time will tell, but just know that I think it’s a great dream and no matter what, I will be proud of you.

This year of you being 7 has shown us all how much you love art, crafts, anything that let’s you be creative and you LOVE being outside…especially if you can spend time with animals. You LOVE animals, especially horses and dogs. I try so hard to bring structure, order and CLEANLINESS to your life, but I think you would be just as happy to live in a zoo if the truth be told. 😉

In some ways, you and I are alike- but in other ways we are a little different and that’s ok! I have been learning to let you be who YOU are and encourage and help you have the opportunities to find and do the things you love. Because I’m your mom, and that’s just what mom’s do.

What I want the very most for you is that you will always put your faith in Jesus above all else, that you will always stay sensitive to, hear and follow His voice. Wake up every morning and spend time with Him. He wants to be with you, because He just loves you that much. Everything else about your life, will fall into place. It doesn’t mean things will always be easy, but you will be in His will. That is the one thing that is important above everything else.

Your dreams for life will be His dreams.

Know that no matter where you go, or what you do – I will always be here for you. To love you even in the times when you feel like you’ve screwed things up, to hold you when you cry, to cheer you on and celebrate with you in all of life’s big wins.

Even though I know I get on your case at times, it’s because I want only the very best for you. Know that I am and will always be your biggest fan, and I couldn’t be more proud of the girl you already are.

You are a very special girl Olivia Faith, and I love you so much more than you can imagine. I can’t wait to spend another year with you, loving you, discovering more about who you are and who you are so quickly becoming.

Keep creating and dreaming sweet girl! I’ll be right here, cheering you on.


Motherhood’s Unwanted Friend: A Goodbye Letter To Her

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I absolutely adore these pictures. Mainly because they represent the collection of all of the precious moments and times we get to share in our days spent together.

But the truth about most days of motherhood isn’t quite so picturesque. I’ve shared this reality here before…. (but this is my house today)

Days spent running a household and raising children isn’t a feat to be taken on by the faint of heart. I watched my mom give it her best shot with six of us, but I never understood the weight of it all until it was my turn. It usually works out that way.

The other day, right in the middle of getting the dishes and laundry caught up, all while trying to keep them focused on getting their schoolwork done, running them here and there and returning library books – I got an unexpected visit from an acquaintance, of whom to be honest, I’m really not fond of. But still I keep letting her in my head.

Guilt.

There she was again. No call, no warning, she just popped in like that’s just okay to do!

Ugh. And of course she always comes when my house is a wreck

the kids aren’t on their best behavior at. all

schoolwork is behind

and I am overwhelmed

exhausted

weary and at the point of tears from the work and pressures of motherhood and life in general.

Yet still, she doesn’t seem to care. And her merciless dialog is always the same:

“You run yourself ragged and STILL you can’t keep up with it all! I don’t know why you even bother because kids would probably rather be anywhere else, with anybody else than you because you’re always on their case. They’re probably going to grow up and be serial killers or something and blame everything that’s wrong with them on you because you don’t spend enough time on the floor just playing and having fun with them. You know, you really should try and be more of a “fun, sweet mom” like all the other moms. Oh yeah, and the way you lose it and yell at them sometimes? You’re definitely emotionally scaring them for life and they’ll probably need years of counseling to undo all the damage you’re doing. One last thing, those Bible verses you make them memorize and devotionals you assign them, it bores them and they’re likely to later resent more than embrace the faith you’re always shoving down their throats. 

You should just give up or at least lighten up. Let them have fun and be kids and do what they want and just be their friend instead of governing every part of their lives.”

And just like that, I find myself in my locked bathroom, tears rolling down my cheeks, leaned up again the toilet in defeat ; wondering if I really could be becoming the mother I swore I’d never be.

But my mind knows that all that she says are lies. Only I know how much of my own self I set to the side because I love my children more than personal ambition. And that I just desperately want to do my part to help them become the best they can become in life, while instilling in them the boundaries and truths that I know can help them to be all that they were created to be.

So why do I keep letting her in? And who gave her the right to presume that she knows the intent of my heart or my actions as a mother anyways?

But this morning I just decided it is time for her to leave. For good. She isn’t allowed in anymore no matter how loud or long she knocks.

Guilt,

You are “friend” {that’s not really my friend} that I’ve tolerated in my life for far too long. You control, manipulate, fault-find and condemn.. and you never encourage me when I’m down or praise me in the many times when I’m getting it right.

You only come when I’m already overwhelmed, I guess you figure I might give you an ear when I have nothing else left to do. You pretend to have me and my children’s best interest in mind with you crafty advice and smooth words, but I have my doubts about that. Something in the sound of your voice makes me thing you come from a dark place, one in which lies are all you know to speak.

I’m done entertaining you. I’ve never liked you anyways, but I had thought I should be hospitable and give you an ear for the small chance that you might be right once in a while.

But you, dear guilt, are DEAD WRONG. You never get it right. In fact, you don’t really know me at all. I am not failing. In fact, I think it ticks you off that I’m succeeding.

My children do not need me to lighten up and be their friend! What they need is for me to be their mother. And that means guiding, disciplining and shielding them wrong pressures and influences and even from their own selves at times.

Yes, I am not perfect, my house isn’t always clean and things aren’t always just as they should be. But my children know they are loved and at the end of the day, they still crawl up in my laugh with their snuggles and kisses and want to snuggy.

Who I am, and the mother I am to them – is enough. But only because there is one who dwells within me that has made it so.

So please go back to the dark life that you came from for good because you aren’t welcome in mine. I think the light hurts your eyes anyways, because when you come you never stay long. And still I always know you’ll come again. Well, not next time. Because there will be no next time. Just know that from now on you’ll find the doors of my mind and life dead-bolted shut. I’ve asked my Dad to help me with this. I have to rely on Him because His security measures against enemy attacks never fail.

Take this as your first and final notice. This is my goodbye letter to you and I never want you come around here again.

You do not get the final say.

– Rachel

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

The Tension Between Comfort & Surrender

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When little American girls are still…well, little – they dream of the days when they aren’t so little anymore. And so they dream of long white dresses, rows of flowers, big comfy homes with spacious yards and a dog laying on the front porch; a life ever so neatly tucked away wrapped up in sturdy, white picket fences.

I’m that little girl too.

But then there’s always that nagging feeling that there’s something more to life than all of this. 

But we push it out of our minds, telling ourselves that this is the life. Yes, it is the one that could be the antidote to all that isn’t whole inside. These are the dreams that will fulfill us, give us self-confidence and a good reputation…..especially with all those people we don’t really like anyways who seem to be always watching. Besides, we deserve to have the same life and dreams as everyone else around us.

But what happens when we finally possess those comfortable dreams we reached for our whole lives? Or worst, when we spend our entire lives chasing after them, believing that once attained, our lives will be complete. “Then,” we convince ourselves, “that insatiable longing for something more will be quenched.” – Only to discover in the end that still, it is there.

Emptiness & Longing.

The two unwanted, faithful friends that chasing the “comfortable life” tends to brings along with it that nobody warned you about, and anyone rarely talks about.

Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with “The American Dream” – it is the pursuit of such that steals our souls, numbs us to the desperate need all around us and robs us of the original dreams that had once been breathed inside of us and etched deep into the layers of our souls.

I find “comfortable” to be one of the greatest enemies of purpose and personal destiny.

Purpose. For me….and I would dare to say for most of us, is so much bigger than net worths, big painted houses with spacious yards and little white picket fences.

I like all of those things too…

The trouble is, so often they end up costing us much more than a dollar amount on a bank note. Sometimes, signing up to pursue “the American dream” is like signing your own death sentence to anything beyond what we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands.

This comfortable and safe American dream is fine. But not if comes at the cost of what is eternal.

So do we trade the eternal for the temporal?

That is the constant tension I feel within my heart. I look around me and that is what I see…

Comfortable and safe.

But I honestly can’t find ANYWHERE in Scripture where Jesus says, “Go forth! Spend your entire lives working a job to make lots of money to live a life of comfort and safety with you and your own.”

Instead I find these words: Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” -Matthew 19:21

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. -Matthew 28:19

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  -James 1:27

But of course, He didn’t really mean any of that for US to actually do….right? Yeah, surely that was only for the disciples in Bible times.

In my fight to maintain only what is “normal” in our culture {the comfortable and the safe}  I keep letting myself off the hook.

hungry mom and kidsAnd then, right in the middle of my pretty little comfortable, neatly constructed life – out of nowhere, the greater need of humanity gets set before me once again. And in their eyes I hear the gentle whispers of the one who lives within saying, “Rachel….you aren’t like the rest. I made you for so much more than this.” 

And again, I have to choose between ignoring or surrender.

And honestly, the tension between it all is overwhelming. Because everything in me desperately wants the courage to know that I could willingly walk away from everything that is my security and leap into the wide open arms of faith.

My heart wants to choose surrender.

Why can’t I just go out and love and serve them and then leave and just get back to life? The hard thing about being faced with the brokenness in the world, is that once you’ve been awakened to it, it changes you and you’re never the same. You can’t “unsee” it all. And after a while, living this way feels a bit like throwing crumbs of bread to a crowd of starving people and saying, “There, here’s a little something to knock the edge off until next time.” 

But still, I find myself trying to reason with God, “Can’t comfortable, safe and surrender co-exist?” 

Truth is, I really already knew the answer. It’s my whole heart He’s after. He’s desperately jealous for every part of me. Even the little pieces I keep stuffing away in the corners, hoping maybe He will just leave it alone there.

I am not sure where to go from this point, and because I tend to be a bit of a control freak, the fact that I can’t see the whole path literally makes me sick to my stomach. All I am sure of is that there is a world who desperately needs an encounter with the love of God through the hands and feet of the true disciples of today.

It’s just that after a while and the more clearly I see personal purpose through the lens of the bigger picture of the Kingdom of God versus the Kingdom of this world – the safe and comfortable house with the white picket fence feels less and less like enough.