Brighter Days And A Giveaway!


Like violets, primroses, or other shade thriving flowers I too prefer the shade to the full sun. I am not one to take on the fullness of any spotlight. Actually, I prefer to shrink back and allow others to bear the breath and beauty of it. I am happy to cheer others on from the shade.

The irony that I blog about our lives and yet prefer a small, shaded life to a loud and bright one does not escape my attention but such is my reality.

Recently I felt the sun shining too much on me and I was fully prepared to walk away from it. Matter of fact, I had said out loud “I don’t want to write anymore” And it wasn’t because I have a massive following or anything like that but because I felt a myself being pulled from the shade and into the sun. I’m not a full sun kind of flower.

Shortly after making my statement about not wanting to write anymore I told three people. The first listened calmly and gave the advice to pray about it. The second listened less calmly, told me that yes I need to pray about it, but I also need to face my fear rather than hiding. The third (does this feel like Goldilocks to anyone else?) agreed with the other two but also told me if I was going to be stupid I was not allowed to talk. Mixed with aggravation they found enough grace to offer that people read my words and even if I don’t think so, my words matter to others.

But it’s bright and a little scary out in the sun!

I know we are all afraid of something. Being seen, being fully known, being misunderstood, being helpless, being too much, being not enough. My fear of stepping out and being seen hinders me on a regular basis. I push back and give in to the lie that there is someone better for the job. Surely I am not what the world needs, but then I remember what Jim asked me a few days ago when we were talking about how I felt like not enough. He said “If a friend said that to you, what would you say back?” A million things came flooding out because I see everyone else’s value and enough-ness miles and miles away but I cannot see my own. Because my own is in the shadows.

So if I see your enough-ness and you can see mine then I propose we take small steps into the sun together. Sunglasses and hats on and ready to walk out of the shadow of fears and lies and into the glory of the sun.

Now, for a fun giveaway!

A precious friend decided she wanted to sponsor a giveaway on the blog. So, that’s what we’re going to do!

One winner will receive this beautiful wood framed signboard from Smallwood Home (size 26×26).


So, how do you enter to win? It’s super easy! Go to this post on Grace and Giggle’s Facebook page, this post, and tag three friends in this post’s comments. That’s it. The winner will be selected next Sunday and announced here on the blog.

Afraid


I am afraid.

I’m afraid that if I open my hands too far then I won’t be able to close them again.

I’m afraid that if I share too much then I will anger someone.

I’m afraid that I will be criticized.

I’m afraid that if I show up the way my heart longs to that too much will be seen.

I can’t live that way though because if I do then the best of me is never seen or experienced.

About 2 weeks or so ago Jim and I were having our weekly date and rather than our usual random talks of kids, work, plans, and books (gosh, I love books!) we talked about me. Just me. He likes to talk about me, even to me, but I really am not like a huge fan of that either. Despite what many would think I am more of a fly under the radar kind of girl because under the radar is safe and there are few expectations. Under the radar means I can be a shallow pool with little to offer to the world and even less confidence that I have the ability to do so. It’s a haven. But, the thing about a thriving, strong marriage (or a great friend) is that they seldom let you hang out under the radar when they see potential. Jim did what he does best, he followed the prompting of the Lord and his love for me and called me on my garbage. Okay, really it was more like in love he called me out on my writing. He told me I am withholding the gift God gave me. Keeping it close to myself and not sharing what is meant to be shared.

Sigh. I hate when Jim is right!

I’ve been sitting, so to speak, in our conversation since then. Plagued by the truth of his words and equally so of my fears. I do hold back. I don’t release with wide open hands my gifts into the world. I clinch my fists and hold firm because control is ideal when confidence is lacking.

It may come as a shock or not but several people that are the closest to me are the ones that read this blog the least. I have to beg, prod, constantly mention it…you get the idea. They say knowledge is power. And it can be, but sometimes at a very great cost. Because in this sense I used that knowledge to create in my head what I didn’t see as a lie, but it is: if those that should love you the most don’t see you as enough to invest the whole 10 minutes each time you post to read it, then maybe (gasp) share it or encourage you, then why oh why would you want to give more to the world? I know it’s crap, but it’s my crap and I believed it.

Despite Jim’s record of being wise and discerning of the ways in which God leads him I refused to fully allow Jim’s words and the truths he spoke over me to move me. I didn’t want to act.

If you look in the dictionary I am pretty sure my picture is under stubborn, disobedient, and flakey.

Our Heavenly Father knows us. He knows how completely stubborn I am so he upped the ante and landed a bomb on my head. A podcast. At first I was utterly smitten with Annie F. Downs’ “That Sounds Fun” but then it happened…I turned on a segment from last Christmas with Ann Voskamp. Can I just tell you that I should have listened to my regular music library where it was safe? Did I do that? Nope. I was hooked like when my uncle would hang me by my overalls from a door knob as a little girl, I couldn’t go anywhere. I had to stay and let there sweet chit chat about the differences between the holidays in America (Annie) and Canada (Ann) and weather captivate me. So unsuspecting of  what was to come as I settled in and wished I was with them talking though in reality I felt unworthy of barely listening to their wisdom. I wish I knew what uncorked the bottle but I don’t. All I know is I felt a stirring and then Jim called and asked how I was. I said fine and told him I was listening to this podcast…and I started crying (y’all pray for my husband the struggle to be married to me is real).

Why?

Possibly because I am an emotional being or because in the midst of Ann talking about living with your hands wide open I realized my hands are not closed but definitely not wide open. Open means unprotected and I don’t want to be unprotected. Open says “Bring it in, Lord” and I don’t know if I can handle THAT either. Open means I have to give more than I want to be willing to give.

Close. I like close and safe. However, close and safe will unlikely always have me feeling tethered to fear. Hinged to my plans and my abilities rather than allowing God to move in me and through me. Plus, for added biblical truth close is disobedient to what God is clearly pointing me towards. There not NOT one scenario in the Word that suggests disobedience is a good idea. Granted I may not turn into a pillar of salt or end up in a whales belly but I have long ago decided He is mighty and can do whatever it is He wants to do so staying as obedient as I can is wisdom I struggle but try to adhere to. Plus, He’s God and I’m not (nor do I want to be).

I can’t really be a Jesus girl if I am not capable of opening my arms so wide, as wide as He did. Limits aren’t really His thing, I just try futilely to make Him stay within my almost touching hands otherwise I am confident that He’s going want me to go further, reach wider, swim deeper, scale higher, and run longer a race that I haven’t even trained for! As I have experienced before He’ll get me to the place He wants me to be but it may be far more unpleasant then if I just go willingly. Fighting God is really one of the most idiotic things I can do. He’ll win, He always win and I like it that way.

So where do I go from here?

Well, first I need to say something: James, you were right, thank you for speaking life and Godly wisdom over me even when you know I am trying with all I can to ignore you. I appreciate your perseverance and pray you don’t get too frustrated with me.

I’m seeking God on this. I am choosing obedience. My instinct is I need some still time with Him. At one point this evening I actually wished we had the funding for me to go away to the beach for a few days alone just to be with Him and to write.

One thing I do know for sure is that whatever is coming my way I’ll hold my arms out wide and be expectant.

The Unseen

There is always beauty to be seen. Even on rainy, nasty days you can find something lovely that makes you smile. Granted you might have to find it indoors, or inside another person but the beauty is there to be seen and experienced. So often a rough morning, an unkind word, or even a rainy day causes us to forget that there is still beauty both within us and around us.

A few months ago Jim and I took a walk from the beach back to our apartment, 5+ miles. Why? Because Jim thought it’d be a good idea and I am so completely in love with spending time with him that i agreed.

Only a few blocks into our walk we came upon a sign that said “park closes at sundown.” We were on a main road with no park around us, but the sign was nestled in some trees with a path in front of it going left and right. I turned and asked Jim if we could PLEASE take a detour… I love parks and because I’m nosey.

I wasn’t prepared for the beauty we found hidden right off Granada. Just a few feet within the park, or well, really it’s a garden. It’s lovely! A few more feet in and you forget that Ormond Beach is just on the other side of the trees. Beauty was hidden from those traveling to and from the beach.

I was captivated by this secret garden.

I’ve been told since then that people who have lived here for awhile know of this place well and weddings are often held there and I can see why!

Hidden in Ormond

That day I realized I want to be like that park. I want beauty to be hidden within me for others to find much more than I want it seen on my face. There is nothing wrong with outward beauty but it’s just that… outward. It doesn’t tell others who I am. It doesn’t show my love for Jim and the boys or Jesus. It doesn’t allow you in to the deepest part of me, the part where hope, love, and joy find their home. Inside is where faith and love create beauty.

Sure I love to look beautiful on the outside. I loved looking beautiful on my wedding day but it wasn’t long after my gown came off that Cinderella turned back into a wife and Mama with messy hair and flip flops, because flip flops are just who I am on the outside.

In the morning as we prepare our outer beauty lets consider what we might do to help our inner beauty shine through. Who can we help today? Who can we serve, even in the smallest of ways? Who needs encouragement or a little extra love? Shine and share the love that is deep within you!