Sweating about the hugs, and a class on motherhood.

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Pausing from the to-do lists and the travel-prep stress long enough to join in on this year’s Influence Conference linkup! Are you going to the conference this year? Use your blog or your Instagram account to get to know other attendees… can you believe we’re only a week out?! The prompt is easy: a photo/intro of yourself, something you’re excited about, and something you wouldn’t dare to leave at home.

Confessing to being a introvert is perhaps one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. I can safely say that I feel far more uncomfortable one-on-one than on stage, and that I will never travel without my husband so long as I can help it. So while I’m a bit sweaty about reminding all of you that I’m not a hugger, I’m excited to see you ladies and to watch the Lord do a mighty thing or two when hundreds of us convene next weekend. I’m also excited about some kid-free time and a week of hotel-living, and about letting my husband in on some of the special parts that come with working for the Influence Network. Last year, he straight-up wept through one of the sessions, so I think he’s probably excited about next week, too.

Things will be pretty quiet on here for the next two weeks as a result of our conference, BUT I’m teaching a class next Monday night and wanted to invite all of you mamas to join me!

Five things on a Friday.

 

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Ideas for dating at home:

1. Get hooked on a Netflix series. Chris & I typically go through a few TV shows per year, and it’s the perfect go-to after a long day when we need to sit quietly in the same room and just be together. We only have one TV in our house, too, which guarantees that adult tube time won’t become a nightly thing in our home.

2. Wake up early together. Sometimes it’s coffee for me and tea for him, at that little table in our kitchen. For awhile there, we went through a phase where we exercised together before dawn. Regardless, it’s always a better start to our day when we’re the first ones up.

3. Get the good food. My husband & I keep a few restaurants reserved for take-out nights only. Sometimes eat super light during supper with the kids around the table, only for one of us to pick up something yummy to share after they go to bed.

4. Make flowers a must. Regardless of who does the shopping or the errand-running, a bouquet of flowers is usually on the list. We split the blooms up into small mason jars, in order to keep sweet little arrangements all over the house.

5. Turn in early. Fond memories are made when we crawl under the covers before we’re tired. Hanky-panky jokes aside, there’s something special about pillow talk with the love of your life. Hard conversations, tickle fights, whispered prayers, dreams for the future… the bedroom is quite the powerful place.

 

This is the new him.

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I used to sit across the room from my husband, picking arguments and begging him to be different. I just want you to lead me, I’d whine from the couch. And he’d smirk to that, following it with this sad smile. Folks who know me in real life can probably understand why I say my husband has a difficult job. Being married to me is not easy. I set the bar too high, for myself and everyone around me. I’m extremely opinionated. I’m critical and driven and those things don’t always mix well. I also happen to be a leader myself. Chris & I have spent a lot of years working through what it looks like for a peacekeeper to lead a leader.

Before we get too far into this, please let me clarify that this post has nothing to do with submission or marriage roles. I saw something in Chris that I wanted brought to the surface. I wanted to hear him cast big vision for our family and our life together. I wanted to see him get excited about something without fear, and I wanted him to talk about it. Let’s do this. Let’s go there. Let’s explore that. I wanted him to lead me into calling and adventure. I wanted to see him healed and restored, so that he could walk out in his gifts and talents to the fullest extent.

When I fell in love with Chris, I began to push. I’m a bit of a bulldog; I can’t help it. He’d been playing in bands for a decade, but I wanted him to lead worship. He’d been managing people in jobs for years, but I wanted to see him pastor his family and then some. I wanted to see the Lord move his powerful gift out of his garage studio and his retail store, and out into the world. I pushed and pushed. And Chris pushed back.

Rach, I’m not sure that the Lord can use me in the ways you’re dreaming. I’m not sure I can be the man you want me to be. I’d sure like to, but I think I’m a bit too damaged. I’m too far gone.

In our early days together, my husband was a different person. He was wounded and alone, unsure of himself and what the Lord could do through him. He had a past and some baggage and two little boys who made up his entire world. He wasn’t looking much farther than beyond the next few days. Meanwhile, I was young and privileged. At that point, my hardest decision in life had been choosing a college without disappointing my parents. I was untouched, unscathed the by the world. I arrived at Chris before I ever had a chance to experience what it felt like to be jaded.

So back to the couch, and his sad smile. I’d sit across from him and ask him questions and hear these words of another language. The song of a broken man, the words of which I did not know. His world and my world collided and crashed and made a mess all over the living room floor, on a weekly basis.

But slowly, over the course of months and years, I got to experience my husband’s healing. We just stopped talking and started living, and I watched him blossom and bloom. He began playing out at churches and worship events, and eventually he joined a church staff. He began speaking up and sharing bits of his story, and eventually he became a small group leader to husbands and dads who have walked the same roads. A few weeks ago, I watched him baptize a man who’s known my husband for a decade, a man who’s followed his journey and experienced his baggage and still seen Jesus through it all.

As I watched Chris lower this guy into the water, down with the old and up with the new, I was reminded of my husband’s own transformation. Although he’s been a follower of Jesus for most of his life, Chris recently got a fresh taste of the gospel. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of that old life, and that old couch, and those old conversations. And now here he is, casting big vision for our family. He’s getting excited about things without fear. He’s pushing me to be bolder, braver. My husband is healed and restored, and he’s using that to turn around and extend the same to others. This is the new him, and it leaves me breathless.

A week-long party.

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Today is my husband’s birthday and this morning, in typical last-minute fashion, I realized I have a few posts with his name all over them. So I’m going for it! A week-long bloggin’ birthday party, in my sweetheart’s honor.

Today, I’m sharing about Christopher’s and my upcoming worship sessions at this month’s Influence Conference. Click on over to read a little bit of my heart and some of what you can expect from our collaboration!

I’m not looking away.

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Thing have been and will continue to be quiet around here out of respect for what’s happening in #Ferguson. The longer the violence drags on, the deeper my heart sinks. I don’t have a lot of wisdom on the subject, but I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts while I’m hot and bothered.

I want to be known for listening more than I talk. This means I’m watching, reading, and soaking up pretty much everything you send my way about race in America. I know this goes far beyond a shooting and police work. I’ve spent the last several years coming to terms with my white privilege, filtering things through a new worldview, and making amends with people I probably failed as a young woman.

Feelings are real. Therefore, feelings are facts. Whether you’re a wounded person of color or a wounded member of law enforcement or a wounded person of privilege or a combination of those things, I’m here. If you’re angry, if you’re hurt, I want you to know that I see you. I hear you. I’m listening. And I’m on your team.

I love my country and its people too much to let this go. I love truth and justice too much to wait this out. Regardless of where we stand and where the fallout lies, we cannot look away from this. We cannot turn our children’s faces from it. And if you’re a follower of Jesus, if you’re a walking, breathing extension of the Church, your voice is especially powerful right now. So I’m speaking up to say that I’m listening. And that I’m not looking away.

A flag that waves itself.

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I sent a message out to my Influence teams a few weeks ago, on a morning I felt especially weary. As I typed, I felt the Lord give me the mom smile. You know… that sweet, I’ve-been-telling-you-the-same-thing-but-you-had-to-learn-it-yourself smile? That one. He wanted me to soak my own words in. They were meant for me just as much as they were for my women. So I saved them in a journal, and they found their way out again today.

Check it out here.

A big day for dreams.

Sometimes the Lord places something in your heart and you save it for later. Sometimes you save it so long, it never happens. And sometimes, the Lord places something in your heart and you birth it. You quit your job and you birth it.

Can we all just celebrate Hayley and Mike for a minute today? It’s not about them, I know. This is Jesus at work. But still, the glory is His, and the sweat is theirs. The Morgans said yes. They didn’t save this dream or keep it quiet.

It makes something swell up in you a little bit, doesn’t it? Good. You should go for it, too.

five things on a friday.

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Reasons to keep an extra jar of coconut oil in your bathroom:

1. Your skin will thank you. Scoop some into in your bath, or a slather some on your skin afterwards.

2. It works as an excellent eye makeup remover and puffy circle-reducer.

3. Swishing it in your mouth (it melts fast) prevents and even heals cavities. Google “oil pulling!”

4. Its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties make it an effective first aid cream, but it also soothes against the pain of scrapes and burns.

5. I don’t buy shaving cream anymore, and I’m not the only one!

Just be tired with him.

I once took care of a man who was trying to die. Sometimes, the dying patients are my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy about surgeries. Give me an otherwise healthy person who needs a little fix-up, and I’m in heaven. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, either. I don’t need the emergencies and the near-death stuff to make me come alive. I’m just as excited when people pass gas for the first time after an operation.

But every now and then, I get to take care of a man or a woman who’s at the end, someone who’s lived a full life and is ready to let go. If you’ve never been around an actively dying person, let me tell you something about it. It is a sacred, holy experience. Even if you aren’t a spiritual person, you’ll be one for a few minutes when you’re standing next to someone who’s literally about to breathe their last.

During the last several decades in this country, we’ve slowly forgotten how to let people die. We love medicine and we fear death. I heard it best described recently as “predatory.” We view the end as predatory, something dark that’s coming for us, something that needs to be beaten and overcome. Regardless of your views on death and what happens afterwards, it’s unavoidable. It happens to each and every one of us, and it’s not something to be feared or ignored. I’ve learned the beauty of the dying process over the last few years of my career, and I’ve had the privilege of helping a few family members see the beauty in it as well.

So back to the man who was trying to die. I can’t even remember his diagnosis, but I remember it was only slightly sudden. His wife had been dealing it for a few months, and she knew it wasn’t curable. Nonetheless, she doted and prodded and made big plans for his recovery. As he began to fade throughout my shift, she began to push harder. Let’s sit up and eat. Do you want me to call so-and-so for you? They’d love to hear from you. I can’t wait until we get you out of here. Take another bite. Wake up. Don’t sleep all day. Look at me.

He grew less responsive as the day wore on, and she grew more determined. The more agitated and restless he became, the more she paced and talked to him. After several hours, she asked me if I thought she should leave to check out nursing homes for him. She said she wanted to be prepared for the next step of his rehabilitation. We see this a lot, when people aren’t sure what to do with their grief. She asked one of the most loaded questions ever fired at a nurse. What would you do? I took a deep breath. I closed the door behind me and sat down next to her. I put my arm around her shoulders and I pointed at him.

I need you to look at him. Do you see how tired he is? Let him be tired. Be here with him.

The patient immediately settled down, bowing his head ever so slightly. It was almost as if he agreed with me, that someone what finally shooting it straight with his beloved. I pushed on to describe a bit of what she could expect to happen as her soulmate headed into his last few hours. How long do you think he has? Her eyes filled up with tears, and mine soon followed.

Not long. He’s been telling us all day. I think it’s time for you to just hold his hand. Just be tired with him.

I left them alone then but she called me into the room thirty minutes later, to confirm what she already knew. Her husband was gone. She smiled through her tears and gave me a tight squeeze. Thank you for what you did.

I wrote this story down so I wouldn’t forget that patient or his wife, but the truth is my job is full of these accounts. What a powerful place to be at work… walking into the dark, holding hands, and turning faces towards the light. And I chose this one to share because that day, those words taught me something. For a woman who is always on the move, who pushes to see progress, who tends to bulldoze her husband, I want to be a woman unafraid to someday just be tired with him.

things i’m clickin’ this week.

Sign up for the Kate Spade surprise sales, y’all. I scored the cutest business card holder for dirt cheap last time! Or rather, I sent my husband multiple pictures and links until he scored it for me.

The #JCLA stream is archived and available for the next month. Do yourself a favor and check out the worship. If you only have time for one thing, though, watch Christa Black’s talk.

I’m really into my new glasses. Actually, I’m really into Firmoo in general. It was such a simple, hassle-free, and affordable process.

The SheReadsTruth app dropped and it is absolutely nothing short of life-changing.

I listened to this story on the way to work one morning and was moved. Isn’t this the way to communicate through conflict and experience growth in most areas of life? We could all do with a little less armor.

Several gardening books and small farm guides are en route to my house, thanks to this neat article on Mother Earth News‘ 2014 Homesteaders of the Year.

I watched this video at church, surrounded by middle and high school students, and promptly burst into tears. Women’s bodies are absolutely amazing.

A retired photographer recently found a decades-old collection of his work while cleaning out his storage unit, and I am thankful that he did.

Just in case you forgot the kind of Jesus I follow and the kind of church I call home, you can read more about the idea here – none of us deserve to be here anyway.

Try to watch this without smiling. As someone who’s been accused of having no sense of humor, this guy did the trick for me.

You know the topic of postpartum depression is near and dear to my heart, and Katherine is a champion for it. CNN recently did a piece on her work and I couldn’t be more excited for what her voice is doing.