Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: April 2016

Don’t Fence Me In



I’m a country girl. I mean, I didn’t grow up on a farm or anything like that, but the housing addition I grew up in was out in the middle of the country, next to a lake, surrounded by woods and, beyond that, farm pastures and ranch land. The neighborhood itself was pretty spread out, with houses that sat on lots of an acre or more, the majority of which offered at least a glimpse of the lake, and plenty of empty, wooded lots, teaming with wildlife, scattered in between. There were few fences of any kind, and no privacy fences. You had to drive at least a dozen miles to get to the nearest grocery store. Life moved a little more slowly. There was plenty of space to roam and stretch out. Plenty of room to breathe.

When we bought our house in the city back in 2008, it was so exciting, all the hustle and bustle, being right in the middle of the action. We have multiple grocery stores within walking distance, not to mention restaurants and takeout places and drug stores and gas stations. We pretty much never need to travel more than a mile from our house unless we just want to. It was nice. For a while. But it didn’t take long for it to start feeling a little too exciting, too much action, too closed in. I feel claustrophobic here, and my soul yearns to return to the country, or at least someplace with a little elbow room, where the view beyond the fence offers something other than more fences and rooftops.

I’ve been struggling with this for quite a while now, puzzling over why God hasn’t responded to my yearnings and answered my prayers by opening a door for us to move out of the city. Why He seems to want us planted right here, seemingly indefinitely. I feel so limited here. So stuck. So hemmed in.

That feeling doesn’t just come from my physical location. I’m limited in many other ways. Chronic illness. ADD. Introversion. Only having so much energy and focus to give each day before it runs out and I become useless. God’s been working in me to get me to accept my limitations, even embrace them, recognize how some of them can be flipped around to become strengths.

But this morning I realized something: limitations are not limits. God doesn’t give us limitations in order to fence us in and place boundaries on what we’re able to accomplish, but to provide us with opportunities to rely on His grace and strength in order to overcome our limitations and accomplish more than we ever even dreamed of.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Corinthians 12:10 (emphasis added)

I’m coming to realize that God has us planted here because this is where He’s growing us. And I have faith that when we’re mature enough, he’ll transplant us somewhere else — somewhere with plenty of room to unfurl our leaves and achieve full blossom. Meanwhile, I’m learning to see beauty beyond our fence, interspersed with the chimneys and satellite dishes. And I’m learning to find joy right here in my own back yard. And I’m learning that the more I invite Him in and rest in His grace, the more I’m able to breathe, right where I am.

What I Learned In March

This week I’m doing my first link-up with Emily P. Freeman in which we look back on what we learned in the previous month. This is kind of a doozy because March was a big month for me as far as spiritual healing and growth, which means we’re going to get a little vulnerable here. Which brings me to…


1. I learned I need to let myself be more vulnerable. I’m pretty good at that in writing (although there’s room for improvement; also, some people *cough*myhusband*cough* might say I have a tendency to be a little too vulnerable, if by “vulnerable” you mean “tending to overshare about things nobody wants or needs to know”), but face to face I can be pretty reserved and closed off, and it’s hard, even online, for me to reach out, put myself out there and take risks with people. So, praying about that, and resolving to work on it.


2. I learned that I’m a fan of Emily P. Freeman. I’d read posts on (In)Courage and on her blog before that gave me that eerie feeling that she’s peeled back my skull and peered directly into the inner workings of my brain, but after reading her books Simply Tuesday (which I finished in early March) and A Million Little Ways (which I finished last week), that feeling intensified to the point that I got all Anne Shirley over how she’s a kindred spirit. That lady GETS me.


3. I learned that I need to be kinder to my own soul. This includes accepting–nay, even embracing–how God made me instead of constantly fighting it and believing that I’m not enough. It means shedding the lies that the enemy used to prevent me from becoming the woman God wants me to be. And it means understanding that desire, in and of itself, is not a sin, is not selfish, and it’s okay to move beyond survival mode and spend time and money on the things my soul needs to thrive. It’s okay to want nice things for myself.


4. I learned that I enjoy passing the evening with a book instead of a TV show. I mean, I love my shows, don’t get me wrong. But we were in such a habit of feeling like we had to have something to watch together in the evenings, even when our shows aren’t on. But our Prime membership expired and we haven’t gone back to Netflix yet, and we’re down to just a small handful of network shows each week, so for the last couple of weeks we’ve been spending a lot of evenings just sitting quietly together and reading, and it’s been lovely. And I got a TON of reading done this month, which was nice.


5. I learned that my soul needs these things in order to really thrive:
  • Quiet and stillness
  • Opportunities to sit, think, process and dream
  • Opportunities to be creative, not just in writing but also hands-on things like crafting and visually creative things like graphic design or even just doodling
  • Beauty and art
  • Opportunities to connect with nature
  • Pretty things: a pretty home, pretty surroundings, pretty clothes, pretty tools, etc.
  • Intimate connections with people — having a few close relationships with people who really understand me rather than a lot of casual acquaintances
  • Books/good stories via any medium
  • Kindness and gentleness from others; assurance that I’m loved and cared for


6. I learned my “love language,” which is, probably unsurprisingly, me being a word herder and all, words of affirmation. I also realized that I need to feel really listened to, heard and understood in order to really feel loved on a deep level. A close second is physical affection, which also isn’t very surprising, seeing as how I’m both a hugger and a patter.


7. I learned that I think God is nudging me toward writing inspirational romance, except then I went to the bookstore and checked out that section and it all seemed to be stuff about either cowboys or Amish people, so probably that’s the wrong label for it. If there’s a category for chick-lit style books featuring strong and snarky but broken heroines figuring out their lives that are clean and explore Christian themes without being all preachy, then that’s the category I mean.


8. I learned a lot about Jesus. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been slowly working my way through the Gospels (I’m still in Matthew — that’s how slowly) with an eye toward trying to connect more with the human side of Jesus. When I think of Bible characters I can relate to, people like Elijah and Peter and Paul spring to mind — flawed, broken, plain ol’ human people who were prone to screwing up sometimes. As much as I love my Savior, I’ve always had a hard time relating to Jesus as a person. This latest round of gospel reading has really opened my eyes in that regard. This is stuff I plan to elaborate on here on the blog at some point.


9. I learned that I enjoy reading memoirs. It used to be like pulling teeth to get me to read nonfiction, but this year I set an intention to broaden my reading horizons, and so far I’ve been sticking to it. After reading the above-mentioned books, plus Wild in the Hollow and Bird by Bird (which is about as much memoir as it is writing advice), I’m eager to read more in this vein.


10. I learned that I’m really tired of feeling bad and being in constant pain and I’m finally ready to do something about it. Which is why on Monday I’ll be kicking off my first Whole30. I’m slightly trepidatious but mostly I’m looking forward to it.