Five Minute Friday // Begin

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Her words have been resounding throughout this season: the thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. His words follow, we are constantly invited to be who we are. 

Its a good thing that the Lord's mercies are new every morning. Every January, we make these resolutions, to lose weight, to redecorate our homes, to get that promotion, to read more, to be more on top of our spending habits. And by the third week, it seems like everything is out of control again, and there's just no sense in trying to fix it, because we're already too far gone.

But that's not what scripture says. Lamentations promises that He is faithful, even when we fall down, and that every morning is a brand new chance. We don't have to wait for the clock to hit midnight on the eve of a new year to start all over again. We are constantly invited to start over and be who we are called to be. But I think sometimes we spin our wheels trying to figure out who the world tells us we are supposed to be instead of being who we were created to be. We build walls, because it couldn't possibly be that simple, could it?

What if we were brave enough to let go of all the supposed to be's and grab hold of all of the created to be's? We were created to be joy bringers and mountain movers and kingdom builders. What if every ribbon of the rising sun was seen as a starting line, a safe place to begin again inside His grace?

It is 8:45 a.m. on August 1. Who do you want to be? Who were you lovingly created to be in this moment, this hour, this day? It took a long time for me to realize that I don't have to wait any more.

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Hard to believe that just shy of a year ago, I did one of the craziest, best things I've ever done since I began blogging. I wrote my first post for Five Minute Friday, on starting small and living the truest thing. The women I've met over the past year have changed my life in so many beautiful ways. I have found sisters who constantly encourage, a community that always leaves a light on. Mothers and daughters and sisters and friends. My story is so much richer because of them, and my passion for the power of testimonies has grown beyond what I ever imagined it could. And now, Lisa Jo is beginning a new season, passing the torch of Five Minute Friday to Kate, who I pray has felt wholeheartedly welcomed.

A Letter to my Sisters {Five Minute Friday}

rp_five-minute-friday.jpg Dearest, most wonderful Sisters,

Professors had warned me that life outside of my small Christian college would be lonely. They told me that I would never again have that sort of genuine community. In many ways, though this past summer was joyous, it was also one of the loneliest times of my life. I was newly graduated and married, in a new town, and without a job or  a car. Even though family and friends were still close by, I felt heartbreakingly disconnected.

And then, I met Hannah. I don't even remember the circumstances of our introduction, but despite being half a world away from each other at the time, she made me feel right at home. And she invited me to a party one Friday night that would change not only my writing, but the heart that those words flowed from.

For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. -- Luke 6:45 (NKJV)

In the beginning, I must admit I was shamefully wary -- worried that whatever community I found here would be shallow at best, and that life and faith would be portrayed in a woefully unrealistic manner. I thought I would find snide perfectionism,  even competition, and I assumed that no one would want anything to do with life and God as I knew them.

I had beautiful community  in college, but the last semester was laced with hurt at the hands of someone I was hesitant to let in in the beginning. The wound was deeper than she knew and I struggled to let go of the pain and forgive.

But what I found here was everything humble and broken and life at its very best. What I found here was Jesus, again, between the lines of tweets and blogs and comments. I found genuine community to come alongside me in my joy and in my frustration. I found sisters encouraging each other in the wee hours, holding fast to the promises of God. And now there's hardly a Friday night when I don't weep over 140 characters of pure, unadulterated grace.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -- Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)

It filled me past the brim. Oh, that we can take part in the restoration of souls. In the past six months, I have made friends that will be kept for a lifetime.

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. -- Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

You all are a gift. Living proof that the Lord knows what we need and His timing is perfect. Each of your lives are brimming with evidence of His goodness.

You, mothers, who saturate every character with love for your children. You, wives, who strive to serve your husbands in all that you do. You, who struggle deeply with insecurity and every word is infused with your need for Jesus. You are so important, so magnificent in all of your everyday grit and hope. I admire each of you so deeply for faithfully coming to the altar every Thursday and Friday night. You have made me better.

Jacqui, your testimony of loss and redemption has been such an incredible example to me. Your friendship has made my life so much richer. And Sarah, its hard to paint a more realistic picture of life than you have. I so deeply appreciate your willingness to be broken before the Lord and before others. Dana, your calling to open your home to the broken -- the orphan -- you are doing the Lord's work. And you write it all out with such an incredible, tangible passion. Lisa-Jo, all of this is really because of you -- your faithfulness has brought all of us together. Fridays on the internet are like holy ground.  None of this goes unnoticed. So if you haven't heard the words thank you in awhile, please don't ever forget that your willingness to put your life into such beautiful words has changed mine. 

I could literally go on forever -- there are over two hundred of you. Even as I punch these keys, salty liquid joy spills across my cheeks. I so wish there was space and time to mention each and every one of you by name.

Lisa-Jo wrote this week about how much our words matter. And its so, so true. Another professor of mine frequently spoke of the power of our communication. Our words hold the ability to image the Father.

Because in the beginning, God spoke, and all that is went through the process of becoming. And He's still in the business of collecting the dust and creating something beautiful. He's still the God of miracles -- each of you is evidence of that. He declared that everything He made was good, and He is singing goodness over you, even now. He's so in love with you.

Thank you. Thank you for taking me in, and for being so faithful to encourage me in this journey. Not a day goes by that my prayers are not for you, that Yahweh would come alive in you, that you would sense His presence in your lives and the lives of your families.

Surely, no eye has seen and no ear has heard -- but every Friday night, I see glimpses and hear whispers.

Psst! Obviously this took a little more than five minutes to put together, but it was so worth it. You are so worth it. Back in August, I didn't know the first thing about "linking up." If you're a blogger in search of constructive community, stop by Lisa-Jo's place. You'll find that Five Minute Fridays are about so much more than weekly writing prompts. Linking up this week with 200+ of the most fabulous, brave women on the planet. 

Five Minute Friday: Small

[Hello, there. I'm new to this whole Five Minute Friday thing. My friend Hannah introduced me today. An honest word? Writing for five minutes straight without pausing to edit or backtrack my thoughts is daunting. I've never written anything in five minutes, short of a grocery list. Plus, she said I wasn't allowed to think, just to write. I can already feel my perfectionism getting twitchy. But I'm taking a deep breath and saying here goes nothing...] I'm in a season of transition: recently graduated from college, newly married, moved to a new town, and searching for a job.  It is enough to make anyone feel small, isolated, and unaccomplished. Because when you're starting over in a new chapter, it can be difficult to remember that God honors the small things. Even as I write, the lingering Spirit whispers just keep going. 

Hemingway said that when you have writer's block, start by writing the truest sentence you know. Could the same be true of life? That when I feel small and directionless, the best way to begin is by living the truest thing?

Because at the end of the day, the truest thing I know is the love of the Father. I know that the world aches regardless of where we are or what season of life we're in, and we have been called to carry shalom into the dark corners.