Fighting for Ordinary {#wholemama}

The heros always fight for the ordinary. They protect the mundane. The day to day. The boring. 

Heroes stories are exciting because they break up the monotony and give us hope of bursting free. 

Unafraid and here. 

But in the end we’re all left back in the ordinary where feeling stuck is normal and fight for the best way to raise your kids is a never resolving conundrum. 

My ordinary is two kids, soon three. Many fights. Some tantrums. Some breakthroughs and minorly epic changes. But much day to day, laundry, meals to be prepared, toys to be contained, fights dealt with, and diapers changed. The day to day feels long and boring sometimes and I long to be the hero of a story somewhere outside my home. 

I seek the big. The beautiful. The accolades. I want fame, but kind of not, too. I want the feeling of being known and having the big life where I accomplish big things. Bigger than my little kids and mountains of laundry where the chance to simplify is the highlight of my summer (next to my brother’s weddding, of course). 

My ordinary doesn’t have that. 

And then, besides my own desire for the extraordinary way out of the ordinary life, I feel the pressure to succeed and make something of myself in a way that everyone else can judge and name as worthwhile. A specific standard of achievement to live up to that I tend to I forget wasn’t really set by God …so I pursue and reach and miss the goal.

Let down, disappointed, failure. 

The words inside my head telling me I can’t do this parenthood (or life) thing like the “rest” (embracing the myth that there’s only one version of “success”) did so my own little plot doesn’t matter. (Lies)

But here in today I might be trying to claim back my ordinary. 

An invitation to be my ordinary self in this great big world. Because maybe everyone else is just being their ordinary selves too and that’s really how God keeps the world spinning. 

He creates us for a purpose and sets us here without telling us exactly what that purpose might be. So we have to live and feel it out and in the process we live a lot of plain ordinary days. And moments. And maybe a lifetime of things that might feel ordinary to us, but, in the sum of the bigger story, are extraordinary to God. 

Because He made us so. To do exactly what we’re doing in this everyday. Diapers. Cleaning. Normal. 

But I still like to believe God made us like this so he could watch us. With joy and awe and love. He delights in our ordinary extraordinary. 

He loves to watch the little moments where we see a glimpse of Him in the day to day and we invite Him closer. 

He loves to hear our voices call and ask for His attention. 

He loves to pursue our joy through the display of his creations. 

He loves to give the Kingdom vision and share His dreams. 

He’s here in our ordinary. Lighting up the sky and turning it purple upon request, sometimes. He hears our words and our joy and our despair and our longing and reaches closer. Into our ordinary. 

And tells us it’s ok to be ordinary. 

It’s ok to live in our ordinary. 

To love our ordinary. 

To have mixed feelings about our ordinary. 

And even reach out of our ordinary at times.

Our ordinary calls us deeper and closer to His heart for us.

And then somehow. 

That becomes extraordinary. 

And we are drawn up in the midst of the fight for ordinary. 

We get to choose what is in our ordinary. Is it hate, distrust, and scarcity? Or is it love, abundance, and grace?  We fight for ordinary and then are again left in the ordinary. We find the fingerprints of God in the dust of our lives. And the dust of our pianos. And we claim back ordinary.

Ordinary life comes with the reality of it being hard and unpredictably predictable.

The heroes fight for ordinary and we get to choose what ordinary is. 

But then we are also invited to rest in the ordinary of our everyday lives. 

We don’t have to be extraordinary heroes, but ordinary heros come in many disguises.

I’m pretty sure we each have a thread of that ordinary cape. 

So even when our lives aren’t big and grand or changing things for more than just a few, just hang on to your thread and follow it to the end. 

I’m pretty sure that’s where Jesus is, way more often than we think. 

The ordinary everyday. 

—–

Link up with us or read more thoughts on ordinary at Esther’s! Don’t miss her interview with Mihee Kim-Kort!

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads!

And in case you haven’t heard of it, Emily P. Freeman has a new book coming out in a few weeks called, Simply Tuesday. I had the privilege of reading an advance copy, and you guys, it’s for us! It’s all about embracing your ordinary everyday. 

She also hosts a party every week on instagram to inspire us to grab up those ordinary moments for closer consideration: #itssimplytuesday on Tuesdays, of course. If you join her there be sure to tag us #wholemama people so we can join your simple ordinary…and, you know, for a chance to win a book! That’s always a good thing :)  

  

10 about Ten // Five Minute Friday

20140116-140306.jpg

I am one of ten kids. And that is honestly the first thing that comes to mind about ten. So here are ten things (hopefully! I’m racing the clock here) about being one of ten. 

  1. You learn quickly to tune things out if you want to read. I once tuned out a kitchen timer, somewhere around the age of 10 probably, and my mom came into the room asking why I hadn’t done something about it or taken the food out. Oops. 
  2. You get stuck on buying clothes at the thrift store. Not because you have to anymore (and actually I didn’t do it much then because hand-me-downs) but because it’s a treat to pick out your own clothes and it turns out frugal’s in your blood now. 
  3. It becomes normal to walk around in a big group of short people. –>Ok. That was my five minutes. But I want to finish the list anyway because it could be fun :) 
  4. You have to figure out how to only cook for one or two people once you’re on your own so you don’t end up with years of leftovers accidentally. Related: Buying things in bulk is a habit you have to lose so expiration dates can be heeded. 
  5. Personality differences and types can be clearly illustrated within the bounds of your family. But that may also mean you assume most of the world is introverted and extraverts are actually the minority (those oddballs.).
  6. Sharing food as an adult can be stressful because as kids it was always a competition to see who could get more of the goodie being split. I am learning to assume my husband wants me to have good things too instead of assuming he’s out to eat more and it’s a race. Odd things you realize when sharing a dessert stresses you out internally. 
  7. Laundry and dishes are a battle only won with extreme organization and dedication. There’s always a pile to get through. This sometimes translates into waiting a long time to do dishes or laundry as an adult because it’s not worth it if you don’t have enough for a full load. About that… :)
  8. You get really happy when you’re away at school and you get a birthday card with all your siblings signatures in it for the first time in your life. But that might have more to do with my love of written affirmation.
  9. As one of the oldest of the group you always have someone wanting to play with you or begging for attention. Whether you want it or not.
  10. You can pool your money with siblings to get another sibling a super-cool gift. Which sometimes lasts for decades. Hello, my older sister’s stereo/cd player. :) 

And that is a lovely random list for you. 

image

How many siblings do you have? 

—–

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads!

—–
IMG_0507 

Space to be Whole {#wholemama}

image

We chose pretty today.

Space to be whole. 

I’ve been wondering lately if I’ve been leaving myself enough space to be whole. I work to fill each moment of my day with something useful or productive in an attempt to be whole. Reading, cleaning, cooking, shopping, writing, herding my kids. And then the social media habit. Those are probably the main categories. 

Then there are times I have difficulty engaging with anything. In my rush to consume and produce, I gather clutter into my thinking space, my calm space. The space where I would hope to parent from. 

My soul needs space to gather quiet and regroup. And I’m trying to force it full of information.

It leaves me too full, and yet still empty. Like binging on candy at Easter when you’re little. Or making a meal out of popcorn or chocolate when you’re bigger (let’s pretend I would never ever do that, ahem). 
I want to mother from a place of wholeness instead of mothering from a place of wanting escape, or needing a break, or fighting for time to be myself, or wondering what others will think, or trying to convince myself or them of my love and good mother potential. 

As a young mom, I’m constantly told how fast these times go by and how I’ll cherish them later. I know it’s true but still struggle to accept these light and easy words from total strangers. Because life with littles is hard. Even if you get to stay at home as you want or work as you want. It’s hard. Growing people into adults is no easy task. 

But maybe when, instead of focusing solely on cherishing the little years, we intentionally expand our focus to living whole and ourselves in the little years, then we can move towards our children in an attitude of graciousness and connection. And maybe those comments from strangers will come more lightly as we become more secure in our mothering spaces. 

I want to mother as me in our now. Not some other lady in the future in perfect circumstances. 

I want a full and whole soul to feed my outer life and loving. 

I’m learning slowly the importance of making intentional changes. And how I get to choose to make these changes. And how often these changes look like space. 

I’m creating space. I’m establishing some better rhythms where I step away from my kids during the week, where I can accept some time alone or expect some help or count on a date with my husband. I have been learning the art of leaving space for creativity. I have time set aside to write each week. I have been making time to move.

I’m beginning to feel the recharge from having these times on my own. I’m beginning to feel more able to give.

And more like I need to give.

To create more free and gentle space with my children. A little more breathing room. Connection. No extra words or directions. Simple entertainment. Fewer distractionary measures. Stem the constant flow of information. Slow down to listen at their level. 

image

simple, together, pretty spaces

I want to step into new rhythms where I move towards my kids. Rhythms of connection where I meet them in their space instead of primarily demanding they meet me in mine. Stepping down from the mommy throne of offering up orders and into the mama’s heart space in their little lives. 

It may be hard, at first, to allow my head to be that unoccupied, but good for all involved. A moment to breath and drink in the now with them instead of constantly moving forward with my own agenda.

It might mean not picking up a book or a screen to fill every given moment. It might mean paying attention to the my outer life, as it cirlces in their space, a little more even when it exhausts me. It might look like stepping into their space. It might look like hugging when I feel like hiding. It might look like sitting on the carpet. It might look like expecting less and doing less. It might look messier from the outside. It might be hard. 

But it might be as easy as smiling more.

It’s a dance of embracing the together spaces in the midst of the apart spaces. It’s a dance of creating shared space, giving the gift of space, and creating and moving into your own space freely.

Rhythms of connection and space.

And then a shower of grace for when we fall out of step, because God made beauty in that, too.

—–

Maybe these words met you where you are, but maybe you’re struggling with the another piece of whole. What space do you need to give yourself to be whole? Where are you grasping at thin air? Or gasping for air?

Take this as an invitation to make space for it, even if you’re simply making space for empty. 

It’s important.

—–

Our #wholemama friends are linking up on the word Space today over at Esther’s where Cara is sharing her story on being given the gift of space. Join us, please! 

Also we’re giving away books on instagram each week so you should join us there with our #wholemama hashtag and be entered to win (this week) Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines.

—–

One last thing: Emily P. Freeman has put together a lovely video series (only four 5 minute videos, so no overwhelm) about creating space for our souls to breathe in our fast-paced world. You might like it :) 

—–

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads!
  

When Free is Short Hair // Five Minute Friday

Sometimes free is short hair. 

Right now, short hair is a gift and a reminder. 

It is odd because I’ve always gone back and forth between long and short and never felt this sort of attachment or affinity to the length of my hair. 

But maybe I just wasn’t cutting it short enough. Last year i had it chopped fairly short but the upkeep and daily hair drama was still more than I wanted to deal with. I figured out how to do it and liked it but didn’t feel anything  special about it. 

Normal. 

And then this year, I bit the bullet and finally cut it a little shorter. 

And then even a little shorter. 

And somehow this process of cutting my hair has been freeing. 

I chose to do it for me. This is how I like it. 

It’s not an attempt to conform to anything. And the daily hair drama is down to minimum because my hair likes being like this. 

But beyond the day to day hassle. 

Somehow this one little choice, choosing to do something a little bit brave and realizing it’s more me than anything I’ve tried before, is reminding me to be brave in other ways as well. 

I am free to be my own person. 

Free to be me. 

Other people’s expectations are not so important. 

It’s a visual reminder. 

To choose brave, to choose authenticity, to be myself even when I’m not sure I’ll like it. 

Somehow hair is all that right now. 

Because sometimes hair is a bigger part of your story than you thought. 

February: 

May:

July:

—–

Have you ever had something seemingly trivial become more meaningful than you expected?

—–

As always, thanks for reading! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads!

—–
IMG_0507 

Prayer: My Broken, His Whole {#wholemama} 

Prayer might be the one thing I want to write about less than I wanted to write about my mess last week, for some reason. 

image

wisdom from Chara

I don’t live up to my own expectations. I would love to be able to sit down and read the bible, and then journal and then pray.  All in one sitting. but that’s just not my life right now. Standard prayer is marginal. I hardly ever pray intentionally. 

Prayer just isn’t somewhere I feel whole, but sometimes leads to wholeness. Whether or not I engage with a purpose or looks how I might expect. 

Sometimes prayer is simply an unexpressed longing for better and a “please, God” directed heavenward. Because words fail.

Sometimes it is simply thinking long enough on the painful to figure out why it hurts. 

Sometimes it’s praying my worries at the end of the day until I fall asleep. 

Sometimes playing the piano feels like a prayer, but less of a prayer and more just wordlessly tuning into my interior. And God meets me there, too. Oddly peaceful and fulfilling.

Sometimes running brings peace like a prayer might. A connected calm with who I am in the world and then the rest of the day flows more naturally. Because maybe God likes to meet us where we are. 

Sometimes it’s a wordless pain erupting from the depths of human souls colliding. The Holy Spirit interceding we weep in confusion or denial or pain, and then reach heavenward for answers hopefully. Begging a life less complicated. Messy prayer.

image

counterintuitive wisdom from Abby

Sometimes it’s a longing for a close and wholly accepting warm embrace. No doubts, just perfect understanding and love in our helplessness.

Sometimes it’s writing my prayers in whatever way seems fit. Sometimes journaling turns into praying without my permission as I react to what I’m processing and feel my own inadequacy.  Because that’s God.

I suppose if we always felt adequate for our own lives we’d never stop to pray. 

If we never felt pain we’d never reach for comfort.

If we always knew anything we’d never wish for greater Wisdom. 

And maybe that’s why I feel so uncomfortable writing about prayer. I don’t measure up to my own performance standards in prayer. And. And. It’s the only place where brokeness is on free display and I cannot help my own image. It’s admitting inadequacy, vulnerability, and ignorance. God knows the depth of my failings, but also then tells me it doesn’t matter.  

But I so desparately wish to measure up, I’m left resisting this prompt to write about prayer. Because surely my version must fall short somewhere. My human measuring systems attempt to take a reading on the divine. and fail. 

But my relationship will look different from anyone else’s. We all find Him in different moments of our days and use different combinations of our own inadequate words to express our connection with the Holy One. The beauty is being called to know Him and have him know us without the barriers of perfection we so busily establish and protect.

Prayer is the only place we’re known completely. Broken and whole at the same time.

No semblance of perfection in the presence of God. 

Only our reliance on His in place of ours.

I just know my broken better than I know His Whole.

——
Link up with us or read other Whole Mamas’ thoughts on prayer at Esther’s! 

And you absolutely shouldn’t miss going to Esther’s because have our very own interview with the wise Sarah Bessey. She talks about how prayer and motherhood aren’t really as at odds as we might think. 

 So. Much. Love.

Also: you should join on twitter on monday nights. Our hashtag is #wholemama. I have been so encouraged by these weekly chats. So do come! 

You can find randomness from me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads!
  

Climbing, Clothes, and Twister

image
It’s been a cloudy week with thunderstorms in the evening. More like the weather we had here 10-12 years ago and less like the completely desert dry summers of the past few years. I like it. 

Lightning and thunder and wind and rain are great. 

And our yard is happier for the water. 

The top picture was shortly after a more blustery and rainy storm then average. It leveled off the dip in our yard and was having a hard time draining. So fun.

image

Also. Wet chalk is much for fun to draw with than dry chalk. It’s like a sidewalk marker. Lovely, bright and vivid. And less shuddery for the fingertips. :) 

—–

On Friday I tried something new when my Stitchfix box came. I’ve been watching my mom have so much fun with hers. Also they added a maternity option that I’ve been really curious how it differs from online options and I was looking to find a fun dress for my brother’s wedding this weekend. so I tried it. The clothes were so much fun! But since I won’t be wearing them that much longer, it ended up feeling a little outside of my price point. Maybe I’ll try it again sometime when an investment in a nicer piece makes more sense. 

Here’s what I came in my box. Excuse the pictures it’s called: ‘I set the camera on the kitchen counter and didn’t really care that much’ mode. :) 

I loved the details (ruching, darts, double layer of fabric along the front, bright zipper along the back) of the black dress, but at 138 dollars it was a little easier to pass up. 

The dark blue blouse was blousier than I would have liked, though I liked the look of the top collar, so maybe it’d be a non-pregnant detail to look for. 

The coral dress seemed like it could be fun, but the “dry clean only” care tag put a damper on things. Also I didn’t quite understand the floofiness of the top piece. It seemed like it could work if the fit was a bit different, but not quite ”me” 

The grey and green tee was fabulous. So soft. Beautiful colors. Good fit. But $58 for a tee is a little beyond me. 

The silver necklace is so pretty. I put it on with every outfit and it worked. I love the way it dresses up a tee and I think I’ll wear it tons. It was more than I would usually spend on a necklace, but I’ve been in need of something nice for a while. Also I would lose my styling fee if I didn’t keep something. So that is the one thing I kept.  

Takeaways: jewelry makes a difference, i want to wear my heels more (just need to figure out how to walk in them), maternity stitchfix* is too spendy for me though so much fun, and you should always have someone else weigh in on clothes so you don’t get too carried away with the fun of it.

Also: I’ll be wearing a thrifted dress ($2 or 5, I think) and my new silver necklace to my brother’s wedding. Best of both worlds :) 

*if you use one of these links to sign up for a fix I get a referral credit, just FYI. :)

—–

We had a fun weekend. Israel was gone running at a race and we opted not to coop the children in the car for 14 hours out of 34. Ahem. So the kids and I stayed home. 

Sunday morning we walked over to park, climbed and played, and then ate watermelon and reeses cups in the grass.

Ali exhibited once again how determined a climber she is. She ditched her sandals and started with a really tall ladder/bridge and was halfway up before I realized what she was doing. Turns out she was completely competent to surmount that obstacle. 

Next she went after a donut ladder. She could climb up quite high, but couldn’t access the play structure after so she moved on to the climbing wall. 

This child. She made it halfway up one side and then wanted down, but immediately tackled the other side. And with a little spotting and one minor catch made it up the other side. I was happy to help right up to the point where I could not get my hands on her anymore and then I just tried not to gasp and said, “hang on tight”. She managed it beautifully. 

Ranger had fun and climbed as well but tends to scare me less than Ali.

Later that day we got out the twister mat and played: put your nose in the greeN, put your elbow on the red, jump on the blue. Etc. it was quite entertaining. Ali managed a forward roll and Ranger specialized in flying leaps. 

Also in case you missed it I had a guest post go up on Friday! Click on the picture to get there! 

image

—–

How was your weekend? 

—–
Find me on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads!

Hopefully Churching – {Guest Post at Circling the Story}

As chance would have it, here’s another dose of hope for today :) 

A big hope in the middle of change rather than the small hope I wrote about earlier. 

l realize I haven’t written about our church switch much here. It’s a topic I’ve had to feel out over the course of this year. It’s been a heart journey. Good and hard sometimes. But I’m coming to rest in this place we’ve found ourselves. 

I finally brought a few of my thoughts to coherency and this piece and various versions of it were healing and enlightening to write. As I admit our place of belonging in the new.

So here we are. 

Be sure to join me over at Circling the Story for the rest of my ramblings! 

But here’s a taste for while your page loads
———-

“When we left our church last year I thought it was my chance to find a new and younger one. One where the age group that includes 25 wasn’t consistently the smallest age group, sermons were preached with vigor by passionate men and women, and the inspiration and motivation to move toward God was always rampant and nearly palpable.

That isn’t how it looks.

But along the way of attending a new church, where much was the same as the old, God has been asking me to see him here too.

At this church I have encountered a more grace-filled God than I have known before. It is nice, freeing me from shame and ‘shoulds’ like a breath of fresh air. Somehow I didn’t realize…”

Head here to read the rest!

———-

How have you found grace in the midst of upheaval? Or belonging in the unfamiliar? 

I’d love to know. 

As always, thanks for reading here! 

Hope // Five Minute Friday

I greet the unexpected occasions and downturns in life with hope more easily than my day to day. 

My daily ends in a rush of exhuastion and satisfaction in finally being able to go to bed or to just enjoy a few minutes alone in peace. 

Bedtime is more of a moment to dwell in the inhospitable moments of motherhood that day then to launch into the rest with a conviction of better days tomorrow. I have reached into a place of monotony. 

Threenagers. Diapers. Always preparing food or doing dishes or staring at a heap of laundry. 

These places are the harder to find hope. Easier to live in and less overwhelmingly large than a major life event surely, but harder to reach to the place that tells me it will get better, or it’s meant to be, or see how the pieces fit. 

The phrases I reach for and the God I know applies less to my day to day less-hope-monotony than to my big life decisions and ways. 

But God is a God of the little things too. Surely. Yes. He is. 

He guides the shape of our days and tracks the hairs on our heads. So wouldn’t the ending of the day be important there to him too? Wouldn’t He want us to rest in a hope for tomorrow? Even if it’s simply the small tomorrow and not the grandscale tomorrow that really just refers to our future? 

Tomorrow in the little sense. The literal sense. 

He holds that in hand as well. 
—–

I want to leave you with this portion of a morning blessing from John O’Donohue:

“May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

That invites me to new frontiers. 

To break the dead shell of yesterday
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today 

To live the life that I would love

To postpone my dream no longer

But to do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.”

– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

Be fearless and hopeful, people! :) 

Find me on FacebookTwitter, or Goodreads!    

IMG_0507 

Messy Imperfections {#wholemama}

 

 It’s hard to be honest about messes. 

This mess, this floor mess. Was easy. 

Any mess my children make is easy, the state of my laundry pile (huge!) is easy to share. 

I’ve somehow grown accustomed to sharing aspects of my home as token markers of imperfection. “Look at me, my life is messy too!” 

And it is. It’s true. 

But the messes on my floor aren’t important to me. Yes, sometimes they drive me crazy and I go wild-mama let’s pick everything up for an hour or so. 

But really, I’ve already let go of any expectations I have in keeping my house perfect. 

So my home is my claim to imperfection. 

But other messes are harder to share. My heart is a mess. My emotions are a mess. My relationships are a mess. 

Somehow there’s more grace for a messy home and dishes moldering in the sink than there is for messes that simply point out my humanity.

My perfectionism rests and grows in the crannies of my heart, telling me lies about who I am and what I’m worth. 

Shame and anything less than happy emotions come hand in hand. 

And honestly that’s more messy than anything in my home could ever be. 

Somehow in this act of motherhood we’ve been fed the lie that it’s ok for messes to take over your house and sometimes lose it with your children, but the degree of negative emotions I feel on a day to day basis is out of the question and “why would anyone feel that way”.

At least to me that’s how it feels. 

We’re supposed to ba happy shiny containers that just love wiping up the messy bums, listening to screaming fits, and cleaning up the same toys ove and over again. Or at least be explicitly patient and absolutely no spanking or yelling because bad and broken children will be the result. 

But shaming people for their struggle to deal with the life in front if them doesn’t empower, or love, or protect, or inspire. Especially when the shame is a product of your own perfectionism. 

I need to make space for my messy emotional journey through motherhood. 

I need to embrace the fact that my kids will drive me crazy sometimes and then demand room in a society (or self-expectation?) that wishes we’d only express positive emotions.

In my life imperfection is tears and yelling and the inability to communicate anything clearly. 

It is admitting those moments on facebook somehow soothe the abrasive edges of a day and may e it’s not such a bad place after all. And the monotonouse beauty and positivity of pinterest lets a little calming light in around the corners. Imperfection is admitting that social media feeds us in positive ways right alongside the negative. 

Imperfection is embracing the loud outside while not forcing the loud in your soul to silence. 

Imperfections and messiness feed our need for God. 

But we need to normalize the emotional craziness moms deal with everyday. It’s not just hormones. Please don’t minimize my messy feelings and messy everyday. 

We need to move on from there.

And with the messy story comes a messy ending. There isn’t one. I’ll just point you towards some people and books that help me through now and again. 

Lisa Jo Baker – recently: Someone Saw What You Did Last Week and Wants to Give You a Medal

Glennon at Momastery – recently: The Storm Before the Calm is a Good Place to Start (bonus: I’m pretty sure that photo is Idaho) 

Ann Voskamp – recently: When Your Plans Don’t Turn Out at All

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” by Brene Brown

—–
Link up with us or read more thoughts on Mess at Esther’s!!

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads!

  

A Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnight {Book Review}

“The We of fellowship, then is spiritual, it is social, and it is financial. But fellowship is not something we create.; it is the result of God’s work in us. When God’s people love in fellowship with one another, when they “do life” together, the church embodies the gospel about King Jesus and people respond to the gospel about him. When they live in fellowship, the Me finds its joy in the We. It’s messy, believe me, very messy, but no matter what the mess, the gospel is at work to turn messy people into holy people, even if it takes a lifetime (or more).” – A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design for Life Together (P.112)

Somehow when I was younger I absorbed the idea that our little subset of Christianity was as Christian as you could get. Each belief I held from the importance of baptism, confirmation, marriage and how God actually communicates with us, to the depth which He wants to intervene in our little lives was established either by what was said or what was not even spoken about. 

When I graduated from highschool and began attending some campus ministries at my college, I met people who had different experiences of God and Christianity. I met people whose lives had been utterly changed by God. I met people who heard God’s voice and did what He said. And talked about it in a way that gives all the glory to God and inspires greater devotion in the rest of us. 

I met a bigger God. 

“That’s the full story of grace – one that invades my space, but never leaves me in my space.” – Scot Mcnight (P.44)

One day I was confronted with a story about how God works that some didn’t or wouldn’t believe because of hard and fast beliefs. and I said who am I to say exactly how God works? Naive or not, that is my stance as I am learning more about God and His kingdom here on earth. 

I need the God who is bigger than what I believe and can encompass the millions of billions of questions we humans can present to our own theology. 

I need the God who reaches down and cares. 

I need the God who loves. 

“The first thing you will see when grace takes over a person’s life is a life shaped by love.” – Scot McKnight (P.48)

I need the God who leads.

I need the God who shows up. 

And I, like Scot Mcknight, think that in our differences we can better speak of that God. If we are all the same, believe the same, look the same, talk the same, interpret the Bible the same, how can we grow and learn to know a God who is outside our comprehension? If we think we know it all because no one questions us. how will we come up with better answers? If we all have the same life experiences how will we check our blind spots? How can we learn to trust in spite of the holes in our understanding if we think there are no holes? How would we know our smallness without a God whose largeness is spoken throughout creation? 

“Getting a new mind and living in the Spirit mean we transcend our differences while remaining differrent as we live with one another. Our difference is not eliminated, for difference is the vitality of our fellowship.” – Scot McKnight (P.95)

And that is my experience with ‘differents’, as McKnight describes it in his book: A Fellowship of Differents. McKnight uses the writigs of Paul to outline how diversity should be treated in the church. Heads up: It should be normal. I grew up in (and still live in) a fairly white area, so some of his emphasis on finding a church with a more ethnically and racially diverse population seems like wishful thinking here. I felt like it overlooked the importance of differences in belief, but his emphasis was really on cultural, economical, and social differences. And that is of great importance as we live in a place where race can mean the difference between life and death. 

It’s hard, but worth it. And it is really something God does through us.

Bonus Quotes:

“Perhaps the best shorthand is to say God’s love is “unto” the kingdom.” P.60

“It is presence and advocacy that create opportunities for genuine kingdom direction. God transforms us in grace by being present as the one who is for us, and that presence of his transforms us unto God’s design of Christlikeness.” P.61

“To repeat, we are called to flourish in the life we’re given, not in the life we’re not given.” P.214

“What is joy? Joy is the inner satisfaction that comes from understanding our location in life in light of who God is and where God will eventually bring us – his kingdom.” P.233

“Joy is about sharing our lives, from the ordinary and routine to the sublime and special. Joy marks the gospel-shaped flourishing Christian.” P.236

—–

Thoughts?
—–
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from BookLookBloggers.com. 

—–

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter!
—–
Linking up with Literacy Musings Monday!