He Is

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

I am Alex.

I am a wife. A mother. A daughter. A sister.

Beloved.

I am a writer. A teacher. A dreamer.

I am a poet.

A fierce heart and an unbreakable spirit.

I am a reader.

Living wildly in my head.

I am me.

 

The Eternal One to Moses: I AM WHO I AM. This is what you should tell the people of Israel: “I AM has sent me to rescue you.” Exodus 3:14

How I define myself also relates to how I define God. I box Him in and confine Him with my labels.

But God cannot be defined. Will not be confined. He is the breaker of shackles, the destroyer of chains.

Not even death stood a chance. Against Him.

He is.

There is no name, but His. No other name under heaven. He is the bringer of rescue, wearing my deliverance as a priestly robe.

He is compassion. And mercy.

He is slow to anger.

Abundant in loyal love and truth.

He is forgiveness. And justice.

He is matchless.

Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams.

And His name?

His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—
    He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
    Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

And He is coming.

Coming back.

He is.

 

I Do Yoga

Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power, Uncategorized, Writing, Yoga

I do yoga. It used to be just another thing that I was moderately “good” at. And I wanted to be better. I wanted to handstand. For my Instagram. Because what’s the point of doing anything if you can’t do it well?

But now I do yoga because it’s good for me.

When it comes to life, there is mind, there is body, and there is spirit. But when we talk about ourselves and our hopes and dreams, trials and triumphs, we leave everything up to our brains and our hearts.

Yet so much of life is physical, carnal. And our physicality does not make us sinful. Our sin makes us sinful. My physical body remains part of who I am while I walk this earth. I can’t fully appreciate life and living if I’m not fully accepting of the physicality of being alive, read: my body.

Breath in, breath out.

The heady sweet musk of the forest after the rain. Heart pounding in my ears on the hike up. Her small hand in mine. A quiet I love you whispered in the dark. All just as much part of my life as my thoughts, my feelings.

And in my physical body, there are limitations. Since when did limits become bad? My knees don’t like running and my shoulders don’t like handstands anymore. This does not require pushing through, but listening. To MY body.

I am an anorexic. Even in recovery, anorexia loves to spin her lies. And after years of punishments and pain and carrots over cake, I am finally learning to listen to the voice of truth.

Because perfection does not exist. At my most fit, I was also miserable. Sore and tired and so stinkin’ hangry. There was always going to be someone smaller, faster, better, stronger. Nothing I did was enough; it would never be enough.

But as my eldest loves to inform me, “We’re all world record holders once. When we’re born. Because at that moment (and that moment only) you’re the youngest person on earth.” And since she knows pretty much everything, it’s clear my ship has sailed.

Which is why I love yoga. Because yoga is a journey of appreciation for my physical body as the house for my beautiful soul. No one sucks at yoga, because what is unlovely and unworthy about another’s soul? The effort it takes to be present and accept yourself at any given moment, rejoicing in our made in God’s image-ness. Not only did God breathe the breath of life into humans, giving us spirit, but we were formed. He gave us physicality, bodies.

And it is my charge to feed and move and appreciate the body I’ve been given.

In this body, I have sang loudly and laughed really hard and eaten lots of pizza and drank too much wine. I have danced with my favorite people, walked on mountains, and swam in oceans. I have carried and delivered two precious and uniquely beautiful human beings. I have tasted and seen and heard and felt and lived and loved well. All in this body. My body.

The physical, although temporary, is real. And in this time I have, I plan to use everything He gave me, mind, body, and spirit.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him. Psalm 34:8

Beside Me

Devotionals, Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power

I struggle with next steps. I like the writing to be on the wall, but sometimes my path remains dark. Lately I’m learning to just keep taking small tentative steps, remembering, “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

For a while now I haven’t been able to shake my excitement over a certain undertaking. I see things about it and I feel the familiar trill in my spirit. I think about how awesome an experience it would be, for me, personally, and as a tool to draw others near to Christ. Even writing about it now gets me giddy.

And is so often the case, I am locked in the battle between my head and my heart. Obviously this undertaking comes at a price, as much of life does. My heart sings, “Trust,” as my head thinks of ROIs, once again caging my dreams.

When, as women, did following our hearts become not worth it?

“Follow Me” is the least sensible but most essential call we will ever receive. And I don’t think Jesus ever stops calling, but the longer I wait, the quieter that voice gets, until only my own thoughts rule the kingdom of my head and my heart again.

So much of my growth spiritually has been a result of strong women of faith planted around me. My mother, my sisters, good friends, all who take the commission of nurturing, encouraging, carrying, and just being with seriously. And as I work through this struggle of inaction with them, I see the same struggles in their lives, in their hearts.

We just want to follow that call. But sometimes, the call isn’t crystal clear, it doesn’t always come like we think. I believe God’s directing in our lives comes in three ways.

You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5

  1. God behind me: This happens when God closes doors, directing my steps away from. He is behind me, protecting me and urging me forward.
  2. God before me: These are situations where I feel God calling me to something. He is out in front of me, beckoning me, come.
  3. God beside me: Now, this is the trickiest call in my own life, because it requires not only more trust, but more initiative on my part as well! We are walking, His hand upon me, as I cultivate what He’s planted in my heart.

The older I get and the longer I’ve walked with Jesus, unless I am deliberately going against Him, I’ve realized I cannot move beyond His will. His Spirit dwells within me.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

Maybe as you read this you instantly thought of your very own one thing. The one thing you can’t stop thinking about, dreaming about, the thing that sets your very soul ablaze. You’ve prayed and prayed about it, and your Spirit still sings. At this point, I would encourage you to feel the comfort of your Heavenly Father’s hand on you, and take a step forward.

Father God, in light of all of Your mercies, I offer up this body as a living and holy sacrifice, a sacred offering to bring You pleasure. May my life be my worship, standing apart, not molded to the world, but transformed from the inside out. May You continue to renew my mind, so I can discern what You will and whatever You find good, pleasing, and complete. 

Help me to be a good steward of this gift you’ve given me. May I move forward boldly and courageously. And in this one thing, may I do it well and honorably, loving others and living authentically. May I despise evil more and more, pursuing what is good, for my life depends on it. 

In Your most holy name, Amen. 

The Love of God

Devotionals, Faith & Spirituality

I wish that you loved me for me,
Not what I do
Or how I make you feel
But for my heart
Who I am.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in who I am to everyone else and how well I play those roles, living and loving in each small niche carved out of my being. The cloak of Mother requiring self-sacrifice and nurturing, occasionally clashing with the support required of Wife. Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Niece, Granddaughter, Friend. Each part detracting from my wholeness.

I even used to approach God with similar intentions. God, what can I give You? How can I serve You? What do You want from me?

But God, in His infinite goodness, loves me for me. Not what I can do for Him, but who I am. He is the God who sees, El Roi. Now, my question for God has changed. Instead of asking, What do you want me to be for You? I ask, Who am I in You? And that changes everything. Because in Him, I am uniquely created. I am loved. I am held.

The Eternal your God is standing right here among you,
    and He is the champion who will rescue you.
He will joyfully celebrate over you;
    He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you. Zephaniah 3:17

And just as God created me, with all of my unique quirks and passions, He created you. He is your champion and He longs to joyfully celebrate you, not for what you’ve done for Him, but because of who you are.

Do you need a break today? A break from all of the doing? From all of those roles you feel you need to play? If so, I encourage you to wear this label deep within your being: beloved child. Come and sit at your Father’s feet as He sings.

The more we recognize our beloved child status, the more we see our other roles as a patchwork quilt, a blanket of being. Experiences stitched together in love, these gifts of self no longer suffocating and required, but comforting and freely offered.

And those desires God gave you, planted in the fertile soil of your beautiful heart, they are not wrong. Chasing God-planted dreams does not have to come at the expense of others, but ignoring them can wither your soul. If you feel God leading, then go. There is nowhere you can go that will separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, nowhere.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;

And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord. 
(There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy 
by Fred­er­ick W. Fa­ber, 1854)

Sisters, may we never tire of chasing the sweet sunshine found in the presence of our Lord.

Walking

Faith & Spirituality, Random Musings, Writing

“You seem kinda sad lately.”

I guess I am, but not in a sad, sad sort of way. More of a brooding, a contemplation of sorts.

I miss my younger self, raison d’être blazing, a badge across my heart. I spend much more time waiting now. For what? Something? Anything? What I do doesn’t define who I am except when doing is all that gets done.

Deep within my soul, kindling waits for courage. Each individual spark of promise drowned in a slow steady drizzle of fear and rationality. I know He carries burdens, but their weight is such a familiar comfort in my arms.

I must find the sacred in the everyday, but some days are decidedly less sacred. The promise whispers still, “There is something more. You are something more. This is something more.”

Something more but a glimpse, heaven meeting earth in a sink of dirty dishes. Rejoicing in the enough of my Heavenly Father’s provision demands not settling, but embracing.

I can’t give my life away if I never embrace it for the gift it is. For me, for the Kingdom, all at once. This beautiful and holy existence, both in spite of and because.

The time has come to walk, each step strengthening my stride, flint striking steel.

Just Give Me a Sign

Faith & Spirituality, Random Musings

“Why did you move to Oregon?”

This week, I’m not really sure.

If you would have asked me a few weeks ago, before we left, I would have told you we were chasing down a God-planted dream. We felt led out west, I’d say confidently. Anything, anywhere, we told God. And He answered. There must be some reason.

The money was less, but it offered so much more. He will provide.

We accepted. But then I lost my contract, a decent chunk of our income. It was too late to recant.

He will provide.

We drove seven states in three days. Over mountains and through some of the prettiest country this land has to offer. I was so excited.

We actually did it. This thing we’d be thinking about, praying about, dreaming about, happened. We were here.

Then, that was it. We were just here.

And it doesn’t look anything like I had imagined.

We left family, friends, our neighborhood and church all to follow, to obey. So where was the spark, this illumination where God lined everything up to be just like it was, only here?

In this perceived silence, doubt sings her hopeless song.

 

We made it to church yesterday. After deliberating since we got here about where to even go (introversion and less than desirous decision-making skills + no lightbulb moments), we decided to just go back to the church we had tried on our house hunting trip.

It wasn’t our church. It didn’t feel like home. I like everything to fit, make sense. So while my brain tried to get everything to line up, I simply prayed for a sign. Any sign. Just let me know you hear me.

The sermon was on Peter getting out of the boat to follow Jesus. “Where did we get the idea that for things to be God’s will, it should be easy, with everything working out just so?” The pastor continued, “What if we started thinking and truly believing this, ‘I am exactly where God wants me to be right now,’ to shape and mold and develop me.”

What if instead of trying to figure out what’s next, I accept right now. Instead of ceaseless striving, I say, enough. Maybe instead of operating from a position of trying to help God, I become low, allowing Him to rescue me.

My youngest runs out, hugging me, “I love it here! They sang all of my favorite VBS songs! Can we come back next week?”

And so I’m realizing that perhaps it was not a sending, but the going that God had planned all along.

And through it all, He will provide.

My Daily Prayer

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

Lord, help me as I stumble.

Lead me through this valley of

Exhaustion,

Sadness,

Defeat.

 —

Reignite my purpose and passion in you.

Put my feet on the rock,

So I may stand firm

On solid ground.

 —

Give me the courage and strength

To cry out for help

In humility

When life is more than I can bear.

 —

Make my heart open to your leading,

The seeds planted

The way I should go,

Trusting you,

Knowing you’re all I need.

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