Dependence Day.


[Caution: Sap Alert!]

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Dear Jared,

Happy Dependence Day!

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I can’t believe it’s already been a whole year since we got married. I still feel giddy when I roll over in the middle of the night and realize you are sleeping beside me, or when I realize that I could have married anyone, but somehow, I was lucky enough to end up with you. I’m so glad you’re my husband. You rock, Homie.

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I’m thankful for all the ways that you work so hard to provide for us. Thank you for the long days you put in at the factory — even when it’s the absolute last thing you’d like to be doing. (Especially the months you had to be at work by 5 in the morning, and the thing you would’ve liked to do instead was sleep.) I see your hard work, and I cherish it.

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I love what a beautiful friend you are… to me, and to the people that are around you. You’re sincere, supportive, and kind. You’re excellent at listening to what people have to say, and at encouraging them, and being honest with them. You know how to have fun, but you can also have deep, intelligent conversations that make us all think at things in an entirely new light.

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Your sense of humor is my favorite of all the senses of humor. You make fantastic Bible-themed jokes and puns, and you know how to tease me better than anyone I know. And you sometimes laugh at my jokes, too. 😉 I’m also really glad that your humor extends to CarTalk. (That’s actually more special to me than I can really express) I love that you love to laugh with me, and I’m so glad that we’ve spent most of our first year laughing and enjoying being around each other.

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You’re one of the most gentle, patient humans I’ve ever met. You never yell at me if you’re mad at me. You never make me feel stupid if I think about something differently than you. You bear with me when I am hurt or scared or anxious about something. You listen to all the things I have to say, no matter how nonsensical or irrational I happen to be at that moment. Thank you for always being willing to offer me a hug, even if we are in the middle of an argument. You make me feel loved and valuable.

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With you, going to the grocery store is just as much of an adventure as going on a hike or taking a road trip. The smallest moments are ones for laughing at each other being strange, discussing big things, singing along to acapella worship music in the car, (and skipping all the lame songs they decided to put on the CD) or having dinner and Grumps. (Seriously, I’m thrilled you eat my cooking. It does a number for my ego.)

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Year one has been amazing beyond words. Thank you for loving me so much and for being the best friend and partner I could ask for. I pray that in year two, we will grow even closer as we follow the call of Jesus, that we will continue to learn ways we can love each other more deeply, and that we will reflect his face as we walk on together.

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In lieu of all the things I’d love to say, but don’t know how to express with words: Thank you for you.

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You make my nose crinkle.

Here’s to the next 365.25 days as Mr. and Mrs. Mills.

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Words, words, words.


Qualified words.

Recruited

Enlisted

To describe

The One who created them

~

Qualified words?

Inadequate.

Winded.

From chasing

The One who cannot be caught

~

Qualified words?

Father…

…Yet Mother hen…

…Also Lover, but…

The One who formed the cosmos

~

Dangerous words.

Buckets

Filled with oceans

To name

The One who simply is

~

Nonsensical words

Explanations

Wild grasping

For the essence

Of One who is Spirit and Truth

~

Faithful Word

Holy

Indescribable

In love–

The One who’s never left.

Happy Birthday, Princess!


To my friend (on her actual birthday): I couldn’t choose just one picture to celebrate the wonderful multifaceted person you are, so here’s a bunch, and some ramblings to try to communicate the fact that the day you were born is a day worth celebrating… because it definitely is
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You’re the only person I know that would pose with a Welsh dictionary in a random bookstore, and later the same day, buy classic Italian literature to brush up on your Italian. You’re one of the smartest, most driven people I’ve ever met.
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You’re the only person I know that would decide I need songs as my Christmas present, which, if you think about it, is a wonderfully practical gift because a song takes up no space in a suitcase, and it folds well into your mind.
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You’re the only person I know that dances gleefully in a dressing room, or my kitchen, or generally any place music is playing just because you love to dance. Your grace and love of life are inspiring to me.
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You’re the only person I know that could laugh ironically with me about the possibility of our having Malaria (because really, what else could go wrong?) You’re always ready to laugh in the face of danger because you would rather enjoy life than fear it.
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You’re the only person I know that can speak excruciatingly hard truths with the gentleness, embrace, and warmth of light blue Turkish cotton sheets.
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You’re the only person I know that is unapologetically kind and caring to every person you meet, no matter what they look like, or how old they are. Regardless of how you feel, or how people feel about you, you always try to find a way to communicate with even the toughest cases.
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You’re the only person I’ve known to fall deeply in love with an entire country, and their way of life before even visiting. Visiting just filled you with more wonder and deepened your affection for 1.3 billion people who need the love of Jesus.
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You glow so brightly with the love of Jesus, and love for everyone around you.
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You’re a spectacular sister,
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A gifted encourager,
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And an amazing best friend.
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Thank you for walking with me through thick and thin and for always being gently honest with me. You are a blessing to my life, and today I celebrate the simple fact you exist.

I find Jesus in the Kitchen


I work at a hotel. Most days, I’m either working the front desk from 5:45 am until whenever I get off, or I’m working my backside off cleaning up the messes of a small town. Sometimes the mess belonged to a man who left his wedding ring in the room because he wasn’t staying there with his wife, sometimes a group of very messy Mexican workers who cook moldy burritos in the microwave and have idols and candles to worship the goddess of death who will keep them safe. I work for a Hindu woman whose parents were Indian and emigrated from India to South Africa. I learn a lot from her about God, and she inspires me to spend more time with Him. Her ideas of culture and God coincide with mine some days, but other days, they are very different. Other days, I get very frustrated with her lack of patience for people who are doing their very best to help her. Some days my frustration for this place makes it hard to feel like Jesus is present anywhere in or around me, like I’m in any way making a difference in the midst of all the things I see: the drug addicts with “Do Not Disturb” signs on their doors, the men coming in month after month with increasingly younger women, never wanting receipts that would incriminate them, the coworkers who struggle through things I never could have imagined struggling through. Sometimes, Jesus seems a little far in that.

This morning, I was standing at my kitchen counter making breakfast. I was cutting mushrooms and potatoes, I had just thrown a baked oatmeal in the oven, and my eggs were ready to be scrambled, my sink was overflowing with dishes because I haven’t been home very much this week because of work, more dishes still were stacked on the table from Thursday night’s dinner, I have 3 loads of clean laundry from several days ago in my bedroom that need to be folded. My house becomes chaos some weeks. Standing there at my pumpkin colored countertops slicing food for my breakfast with my husband with my worship music playing, I felt Jesus so near and close to me. Since then, the phrase “I find Jesus in the kitchen” has been lodged between my ears. It’s been an anthem of sorts, telling me that even in the midst of chaos, I can find Jesus in these moments that seem so insignificant.

Jesus is in my mountain of dishes that reminds me I didn’t have time to do them because I have a job where I can excel and solve problems and work with my hands, and because we had company over and spending time with our friend is a beautiful blessing. Jesus is in a pile of diced potatoes and Baby Bella mushrooms and the aromatic garlic cooking in coconut oil. Jesus is in that baked oatmeal in the oven baking all warm and cinnamon-y for our friends at church. Jesus is in the small moments reminding me that He’s provided space for me to serve my husband and our friends and the people I work with and to do things, like cooking, that I love doing so much.

My worship music played and I couldn’t do anything but smile, sing a little louder, and bask in the presence of Jesus I could feel swelling through me and around me in my little kitchen telling me again and again, “No matter who you are or who you’ve been, I’m still here filling every little moment of your life with gifts and building you into who you will become. I’m not done with you yet.”

Prize.


Philippians 3:12-14

                                                                                                                                                                                            “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

I’m up really late. I’m an introverted night owl who doesn’t have to work tomorrow, so I’m writing. I’ve been thinking about something lately. Actually, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately because my job allows me a lot of time in my own head. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes when I’m working, my head runs around in circles and reminds me of my glaring flaws. There are a lot of them. I’m stubborn; I like to get my way; I can be very insecure; I worry way too much about people’s opinions of me; I spend most of my time assuming everyone is mad at me; and I have to fight myself to not make decisions out of fear. Each time my brain gets into a loop pointing out all of the things I should have done differently, and the mistakes I’m probably making now, there’s always a common denominator: my own ability to change myself. Being stuck only with my own hands is hopeless and really lonely, because when it comes to my ability, I got nothing. I can try, but I can’t maintain perfection by my own hand. I’m broken and I can’t fix myself. I need a Life Alert button for my existence.

I’ve been studying Philippians for the past week or two. It’s a really comforting piece of literature, and the person of Jesus, and our transformation through our “partnership with the Gospel” are revealed beautifully in it. It comforts and challenges me because it takes my idea that I need to be able to fix myself, sets it aside, and hands me Jesus: The Prize. Jesus, Who makes the world whole. Jesus, Who doesn’t let us walk alone, in triumphs and screw-ups alike. Jesus, Who did not hold onto His own glory, power, and deity selfishly, and because He prized us, left a throne to give Himself to us, and in doing so became even greater.

The Prize of Heaven prized us… Prizes us. There is so much power in this for me as I do not see myself as a person worth being prized like that.

There is so much room to rejoice in this. No wonder Paul could write that he had learned to be content, no wonder he would tell this church not to be anxious, but to seek their God for peace in His Son.

This is a God worthy of the surrendering of my every millisecond — every struggle, every worry, every joy, every step. This is a God worthy of being chased after as the winning of a lifetime race. The cross of Christ is no burden to bear. It is a delight, because He has delighted in me.

Engaged.


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“Let’s take a day,” He said

“Yesterday was rough.

Let’s get lost in the woods.”

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“Where are we going?” I asked

“Places,” He told me

And places we went

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Led by orange dots in the forest

To the wrong end of trails

Wrapped in green, plaid, and flower crowns

We journeyed

Each beside our closest friend

Practicing redemption as we walked

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“Where are we going?” I asked

“We’re going to this bridge,” He said

An overcast sky domed above our heads

A lake stretched beneath our feet

For us to just stop and stare

And guess what clouds are supposed to be

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“Where are we going?” I asked

“Wherever it is, I’ll be there with you,”

“I’ll walk with you,” He said

“And, Papa, walk with us,”

He prayed with a breath

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“I love you more than anything,” He said

“So, my dearest, marry me?”

“Absolutely,” I said

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“Where are you going?”

You ask.

“And how will you get there?”

“How long will it take?”

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“We’re going places,” We tell you

Together we’ll get there

On a journey that lasts forever

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Worship


With every reluctant step

Your resurrection brings Your song to my lips

Your name is the quenching cure

For my desert tongue

Lead me to worship: my home with You

But mind my faltering human steps

Take me by the hand

Let me delight in your Glory

Lead me to praise

To dance in Your beauty

To find healing on the battlefield

Bring me to the wilderness

And though I wander in search of You

Still,

Lead me to worship

Torture


Some days, I like to torture myself. I let my mind go to those deep dark corners in which I’ve stored the memories of all the things I’ve ever done to hurt or take advantage of people I love. In those corners are lists of people who deserve a thousand apologies from me. In those corners are all of the ways I fall short of being fully beautiful and whole. On those days, in those deep recesses, my mind is full of the ways I do wrong, and not a savior who has made me new, who has handed me fullness and completion. When my mind is intent on stirring up the murky waters full of me, may I remember that Jesus has given me living water in exchange for all of myself. He has made me clean.

Malachi


Hear Me.

I’ve loved you

I chose you for my own

I rebuilt your torn down city

But you chose for me

Half-dead wondering sacrifice

Your priests built for me

Temples made of useless wealth

Made of violated wisdom

I’ve become your burden

I’ve taken the place of oppression

Tied tightly to your backs

You sniff at me like dogs

But even dogs bring their masters gifts

Shut my doors so I won’t smell your lies

You come to appease me

With your limping animals

With your mercilessly kept laws

I’ve not changed

I

Have

Loved

You

Yet you rob me —

Bleed me dry

And you ask how;

What have we done?

And then turn to the other gods you’ve wed

You walk with them in faith

You walk clothed in violence

But come

Walk clothed in My essence

Stop asking where I’ve gone

As you walk away from Me

Hear Me

I’ve loved you

You are Mine

My promises are coming

They will refine you in fire

I will rebuild you from ashes

And My name will be great