Encouragement

love to all of you

love

Sometimes people write about all the things they have accomplished.

 

Number of Christmas treats made: 0

Christmas shopping: Not Done

Number of times I forgot to hide the elf on the shelf: 8

How much of our Christmas tree is lit up: 1/4 the rest of the lights will not shine

My good intention to do an act of kindness each day in December: not doing so good

Christmas Cards: 0

Christmas devotions read at the dinner table: 1

Also: Christmas lice nits and one hundred loads of laundry

 

I love the Herdmans from the Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 

Imogene Herdman was crying.

In the candlelight her face was all shiny with tears and she didn’t even bother to wipe them away. She just sat there-awful old Imogene- in her crookedy veil, crying and crying and crying.

 

At my job, the librarian is reading this book to the second grade class.

One of the students raised his hand, “Are the Herdmans real?”

Yes. The Herdmans are real. They are more real than most of us choose to reveal.

 

Those Herdmans are real.

Hey! Unto you a child is born

Jesus was born for the Herdmans. He was born for us.

 

I am feeling a little like Imogene in the crookedy veil.

I will be taking a little break until the New Year.

Love to all of you.

I am looking forward to regrouping to so we can draw up in proximity to all the Herdmans we know and are yet to know.

 

Drop me a note aboutproximity@gmail.com

I really love hearing from you all. Your voices mean so much.

from night to night

sign

We stepped out of the car to look at Lake Michigan. This weekend the air whipped cold, sand blew, and the water not yet frozen over roared toward the shore.

They wanted to make it to edge where sand meets the waves. We watched from the warm car. They struggled against the wind, through varied rows of snow fence, across icy snow patches.

There they stood two dots in the distance. The waves appeared to nearly swallow them.

On the return, they burst into the car triumphant. You didn’t think we could make it! We ran all the way to the water’s edge! It was hard! I was slippery. We’re freezing, but we made it. 

 

Matthew 14:31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

 

I am so, so guilty of doubt.

My mind is like that sign, hopelessly jumbled in worry.

He reaches out his hand.

night

The days can feel like night, when doubt and expectation suffocate joy.

My favorite is the little white lights of Christmas, popping out of the darkness.

Those little white lights are hope.

It is his hand reaching.

How do you see hope when you are traveling from night to night?

what means a great deal

ellieThis is my girl. She has been excited for some time about joining the fourth grade.

Her teacher Ms. Slusher holds Slusher’s Sweet Shop each year for two weeks in December for the whole school, and she bakes and bakes.

Ellie is the tropical treats and duct tape factory girl. She has been beyond excited.

 

Sweets for the sweet for a quarter, and all the proceeds go to a local mission. Last year, the sweet shop raised over 1,ooo dollars. This year the proceeds go to a local mission called Community Action House.

I just really love the heart of this 4th grade endeavor. The kids line up with quarters in hand and a mission is strengthened.

We really, really can make a difference, even with a quarter.

 

My Mom and Dad in-law from Iowa helped us make chocolate-covered pretzels. My parents made brownies with gummy worms. I’m so thankful for the grandparent team effort!

candyI’m encouraged by Ms. Slusher and her sweet shop cuties!

I hope this day, you might be encouraged too.

Something as small as a quarter means a great deal.

What act of love has encouraged you lately? 

poured without restraint

sprinkleExtravagant Sprinkles.

poured without restraint.

 

This season…

May we give extravagant love.

poured without restraint.

ridiculously implausible.

simple and beautiful.

 

I want this. Not crazy busy. Not picture perfect.

Just extravagant love poured without restraint.

It is what God gave us.

cmHow does your family pour out love to others during this Christmas season? 

a song that breaks

yet

Ginny Owens. Her song, if you want me to, breaks me.

A degenerative eye condition left Ginny blind. I never knew that about her. It is her story now and she sings.

 

It’s these words that I love…

You are not through with me yet.

Thank goodness. Because I feel like one frigid mess right now. I’m not even a hot mess. For everyone that is put together, I don’t get it. I get so weary of battling myself and all I feel like I should be.

 

What you want… I say yes.

Because God, you are good to stay with me and not be through.

 

One of my other favorite songs is Coldplay’s Fix You. 

Sometimes he doesn’t want us to fix ourselves constantly. He kind of loves us just as we are.

yetyet

What are your favorite songs? How do they break you and draw close to God? 

but I do love.

photo (2)My Mom took this photograph of my daughter Ellie on a class field trip. Each student was lying at the base of a tree, staring up into its branches.

When I was a girl, I remember lying on the grass of our backyard, behind our red brick house. Our golden retriever Tessa, was probably close by. I would lay there and stare at the clouds moving by. I would pick daisies and feed them to Tessa out of my open palm.

 

I don’t pause often enough to dream anymore. Life moves forward so quickly, I forget.

Yesterday afternoon, the wind howled and rain fell in sheets. I laid on my bed watching, drifting off to sleep. In that moment I was thankful. I thought of all the years I spent doubting myself and worrying about making everyone happy, I felt terribly thankful for the fading. All that living small faded with one thing…

 

If I do not love. I am nothing.

But I do love. That is everything. Enough.

The best gift I could receive, I am enough for God.

When we are still and dream, we are assured.

love

What keeps you from pausing? Dreaming? What did God bring forth in you the last time you paused to listen. 

a gift so simple

heal

On the far side of the sea

You are in the midst of overflowing waters.

exodus

Unexpected wind…

This weekend the wind picked up thousands of fallen leaves and carried them to new resting places.

For those that are overwhelmed, hurting, broken a word of encouragement is surprising love.

 

A wind reviving hope and life.

Especially this time of the year, when it is easy to be consumed with self and our plans, take many moments to stretch out your hand and tell people in your life why you are thankful for them.

 

A gift so simple…

is enough to lift someone to a cleared path. A path that can lead all the way to a renewed resting place.

It blows out the dust within. It softens. It heals.

 

I saw it this week, I like the stars you draw. Six words. Enough.

 

And to each of you, I am so thankful.

What words have been surprising love to you?

on the far side of the sea

far side

if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me

{Psalm 139}

 

Sometimes, I feel like I have settled on the far side of the sea.

Adrift in my fears, tossed around by waves of inadequacy. I skirt edges of nowhere.

The far side. Nowhere. This place where there is dark and doubt.

 

Even there. He is present. His hand guiding me. Away from far.

Even when I stubbornly tread those waters, instead of fighting to shore or at least safer waters.

 

If he is present, the far side of the sea must not be so full of nowhere.

His hand reaching, that is not nowhere… it is somewhere. There is deeper meaning.

 

What draws you to the far side of the sea? What causes you to reach?