How To(ys) Become Real

One thing that is so comforting to me is the promise of a new life, in Jesus. I get so easily caught up in my flaws that I have to remind myself, almost constantly that it doesn’t matter. Truly! The fact that I’m a little softer in my middle after my kids is not a deal breaker with God. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says this – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: he old has passed away, and the new has come!” This goes for other flaws as well: being late, forgetful or short tempered. Guilt, jealousy and grudges will all go away with the love Jesus has for us.

There is a beautiful example of this in the classic children’s story, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It brings back a nostalgia of childhood and it is such a sweet story of unconditional love between a boy and his beloved toy. Also, it is a beautiful comparison to God’s love and how it transforms each of us.

If you are not familiar with the story, it begins at Christmastime with a toy, stuffed rabbit in a little boy’s stocking. The rabbit soon becomes the child’s favorite toy in the nursery, bringing much joy and comfort. The rabbit tries to understand what “real” is and is informed by the rocking horse that “real” only happens when a toy is loved, so much. “‘What is REAL?’ asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. ‘Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?’ ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’ ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ … ‘but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

The story continues with the rabbit being loved so much by he boy that his fur rubs off and his color fades but the rabbit doesn’t notice. The child then becomes ill with scarlet fever and all the toys in the nursery must be destroyed. The Rabbit is thrown out in the yard to be burned but before the gardener comes the nursery fairy appears! She tells the Rabbit “‘You were real to the Boy…because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to everyone.'” The Rabbit is so excited! He can hop around and play with the other bunnies and he has beautiful soft fur and real whiskers! He lives the rest of his days in the garden outside the nursery, near to the little boy who’s love made him Real.

I just love how the innocent, pure love love of a child changes the Rabbit into Real. That’s why this story has always been one of my favorites. In the Bible Jesus promises that His love for us will do the same, one day. When we give our lives to Christ Jesus and we receive His love, we may be shabby and worn out by the time we get to Heaven but we are promised new bodies without hurt and suffering. Real is not having fancy things and nice clothes and the newest technology but rather it comes from a love so strong that literally changes us, inside and out! In 1 Peter 1:3-4, Peter writes to the churches “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you.”

No more cancer, no more heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, debt, homelessness, hunger- EVERYTHING will be new and perfect with Jesus.

Living Intentional

Matthew 6:31-34

As I promised in my welcome post, I am keeping it real! Being intentional with my time and living in the moment is one of the hardest things for me to do. My mind is always in a hundred different places and I’m so hard on myself when I do not get things done. Its this horrible, vicious cycle of me struggling to “get ahead” and also enjoy time with my family and then feeling bad about not getting things done and when I work to get my list done, I feel guilty about not spending time with God and with my family-ahhh! Now anyone with a crazy schedule- kids, school, work, marriage- will know these struggles, too. So why do I feel so bad about myself when I can’t complete my checklist? I feel that I am not a good enough mother because I chose to do the dishes instead of play with Play-Doh with my son or I’m not a good enough wife because if I get a free minute, I fold the laundry instead of engage in conversations with my husband. I am writing about this today because it is probably one of my biggest struggles- if not my biggest- but it also is a recurring theme in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus understands our humanity because of His time spent on earth with us. We are reminded, constantly in the Bible to rest and take refuge in Him and if our time is spent with Him and for Him then our days become less chores and more blessings .

Jesus makes a point to explain this during His sermon on the mount. This was Jesus’ first big preaching opportunity and He made it a priority to teach about the importance of an intentional relationship with God. “(28)… Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Consider the lilies… Seems simple right? These small flowers want for noting and all their needs are met by God. They just stand in their fields and flower beds and be beautiful, drinking in the sun and the rain as God intended. Surely I mean more to God than a flower?

Ok. So we’re not flowers, how will God take care of us? We have to go to the store and doctor appointments and as much as I’d like for it to happen, my house won’t clean itself! If we read through any of the stories of the Bible, we see time and time again how those who are faithful to the Lord are rewarded: Noah-survived the flood and repopulated the earth, Moses-led God’s people out slavery, and led them to the Promised Land, Abraham-descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, Esther-saved her nation by faith in God, David-what wasn’t David blessed with? I’m sure there are more but the point is, that the world tells us if we want to be blessed we need to be busy but Jesus says otherwise. We were created for His glory and to glorify Him. He wants to spend dedicated, intentional time with us in prayer and fellowship and study. Now if you go back and read the passage again, Jesus is specific and says “seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness”, not ONLY. He understands that life still happens all around us but setting aside intentional time with God will help put it all in perspective and meditation on the Word helps us to realize the rich blessings from God already around us. He doesn’t ask us to stop being human or to never make a to-do list again but rather He asks us to make sure we are putting the right things on that list.

Especially today on the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I want to encourage you to be intentional with your time. Time spent with God, time spent with family and friends and even time you take for yourself. God’s checklist looks much different from our own and He will love us even if we go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.

Hello & Welcome!

Firstly, welcome to my introductory blog post! I am so excited to be sharing my thoughts with you and I hope that you will find encouragement in my words. Let me tell you all a little bit about me. I’m a born and raised Midwestern girl from Southwest Ohio, near the Ohio River. I have been married to my wonderful husband for four years now and we have two precious babies. I work as a RN Diabetes Educator in Cincinnati, OH and I have been a nurse for 6 years!  I have wanted to begin writing for sometime now, but have struggled with the question of “Am I good enough?” or “Do people even care what I have to say?” But honestly, I’m not counting on changing the whole world but if my words can have a positive impact on my little corner of it then I think that will be just fine! I want to share with you all my struggles and be a source of encouragement, in our day to day.

I am not new to my faith, in fact I was raised in the church from 6 weeks old. But during my 29 years, I have gone through seasons of my faith and I have learned some things about myself. One, is that I most definitely need God in my life. No matter how hard I try to do it all by myself, it just doesn’t work. I had been walking alone for most of college and part of my adult life and it is exhausting; I would still go to church occasionally but I wasn’t living the Word. Over the past few years I have found myself turning to God when things get tough and every time I turned, He was there.

In middle school and high school, I was the “religious” kid wearing church camp and Christian concert t-shirts and even working at a Christian summer camp (best job, ever!!). I could recite a bible verse relevant to any situation or conversation I was having and I enjoyed being the person that people came to with difficult things. I knew the stories backwards and forwards and looked forward to long discussions at Wednesday night bible study. I knew my identity was in Christ and I was confident in that! But as I drifted away from my faith and further into the world, those precious words have been lost to me. It makes my heart sad. There have been times when I knew there was a verse or a promise from God that I needed but I couldn’t remember it or even where to find it in the Bible. I was so disappointed in myself and realized just how much I rely on God’s wisdom in my day to day life. Whether it be a difficult situation at work or at home or in a moment of joy or praise, the words that were supposed to be hidden in my heart were gone. The enemy is powerful and his influence is everywhere, convincing us our identity will be found on Instagram or in our careers or with a certain partner. In social media, on the news, books and magazines and music-everything that we are slammed with on a daily basis. These things promise fulfillment and comfort but in reality leave us disappointed and in want of more- more likes, more follows, better pictures, better clothes. My life had been so filled with things of this world that my heart was bruised and dirty and I couldn’t find God’s words anymore.

As David sings in Psalms 119- I have hidden your words in my heart so I might not sin against you. David, who God hand-picked to be King of Israel even had to remind himself of God’s promises and keep them hidden in his heart. I think David is very much like the rest of us. We are all chosen by God as His children and we all fall short as did David, but stronger than any sword or army against evil are the words of God. And when we stumble in our faith, God is there when we turn back to him. I continue to stray, on occasion, tempted by all the shiny things but I find myself turning back to God more quickly than before as I realize the things of this world are temporary. God and His word is forever and will stand firm.

As I have turned back many times, needing His strength and love to help me we can all turn back even if the words we need are not so easily found in our hearts. God makes our hearts clean again and reveals His word to us; those memorized Bible versus are still there, just a little dirty from all the distractions. I hope to tattoo those words, to carve them back in to my heart, never to be lost again through this blog and through conversations with you, reader.

~ Laura

Psalms 119:11