After breakfast and worship, Saturday started with Shauna Niequist aka our main reason for coming to Hope Spoken. I've loved her book "Cold Tangerines" since I first discovered it in 2007. The pages of that book are highlighted, yellowed and well worn. It's the book I read from at Young Life camp and Tecumseh, the book I tell all of my girls to read, the chapters that I go back to over and over again. I'm also such a fan of Bittersweet and Bread & Wine. I was lucky enough to meet Shauna once before and hear her speak at Hope College years ago when she signed my books and encouraged me to keep blogging.
I spotted her in the hallway at the end of breakfast and ran back to get Sar. "Can we please go be fan girls and get our picture with her?!" I asked. Shauna was wonderful and happily obliged to taking a picture with each of us. We love her.
I love listening to Shauna speak--she delivers her stories just like when you're reading her books. She's equally funny and wise, tells personal stories and bible verses, and even though she's famous in our eyes still feels like someone we could be best friends with. I attempted to write down every word while she spoke this morning because she's just that wonderful.
I'm going to tell you a love story. Because all the best stories are love stories. 1 Corinthians 13, "If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love."
God help us to be courageous and brave and wise. Help us to be gutsy and honest. Help us to live a love story.
I think I've been in a hurry for the past 7 years. They say being a writer is like having homework every day for the rest of your life. Along the way I signed up for a super fun schedule but didn't take into account that kind of pace would have on me. I gulped down so much life that I couldn't even take it anymore. Efficiency and multi-tasking went off the rails.
Many of us are really tired. The only next thing is to find a a new way. To go back to love. These words are guiding me this year, "More love, less hustle." I'm silencing the voice in my head that says, "Go, go go." The voice that tells me, "I can do 76 things in the next 10 minutes."
The good news is this new way, this way of love, is making me a better person. I'm starting to dance in the kitchen again. I love this season in our lives. I'm thankful to be in it more. I thought if I walked away from so many things I would rediscover myself. And it's working.
Now what's required is love. Time. Laughter. Presence. Connection. The answer to everything these days is, "More love, less hustle." It's changing everything.
Sometimes you have to trust that life is long for most of us. There will be more opportunities. My house can be messy for awhile. I want love to be the best thing I offer people, not my efficiency. The first step for Moses and me is realizing I am not the only one God can use.
I gauge myself too often by what everyone else is doing and what they can handle. I had to give up my need to be known as an extremely capable person. How much can I really do? It doesn't matter what someone else can do. I don't care. I don't care if it makes me look weak or frail or not special in someone else's eyes.
I went back to the beginning and started with prayer. "Here I am. What do you want to occupy my days and my time?" Then rest and self-care. I hate that term "self-care" but it's something only I can do.
When you talk about "being capable" that's kind of a warning sign. "Should" is a warning sign. I think I might not be alone. I think other people might feel the way I did. I want to tell you happiness is possible. Contentment is possible. Peace is possible.
I have limitations. I'm not strong. I wanted a way of living that felt more like living. "What good is it to gain the whole world but lose your soul?" Mark 38:6 At the end of the day, the soul is what powers everything else.
When I told my small group all of this one of the men looked at me and said, "We're not impressed with you. We love you. And that's a totally different thing." I think God surrounds us with people who will tell us the truth about our lives.
"Busy" for me is both a drug and a defense-- and I want to lay both of those things down. I'm addicted to feeling capable and not being bored. Busy keeps me numb and safe. And I don't want to aspire to being numb and safe. I don't want to wear exhaustion as a badge of honor.
My least favorite parable of all time is the one of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Jesus tells Martha that she shouldn't worry about running around and making everything perfect, she should be present like Mary. What you want Jesus to say is, "Thank you for bustin it. You're so awesome and capable and I'm impressed by you. Blessed are those who are really busy." But Jesus is telling her, "You're missing it. The dreams and hopes I've placed in you, you're missing them."
I want to invite you to be the kind of person who can be irresponsible and warm and silly and whimsical and fun. The kind of person who will throw candy.
I love it all. Every word. My schedule is packed and full of people and events and adventures. I've got to keep myself in check for the motivation behind all of that. I want to be doing it because I'm sharing love with people, because it's bringing me life and joy and it's good for my soul. I don't want to say "yes" to things just because people ask me to or because I think it'll make me look like a more accomplished teacher/leader/counselor/person. I don't want to miss what God's putting in front of me for right now. I want to keep being the kind of person who will throw candy and climb trees and dance and laugh.
The rest of our day was filled with mini session speakers, small group time, worship, meals with new friends and another key note speaker. So many great thoughts and moments.
A person who forgives is not someone who is weak but someone who is free. Forgiveness is a choice. Sometimes it's one you have to make several times a day. It's a way of life. God gave me peace about the past and hope for the future.
Isaiah 55, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
We might never see the big picture. He just asks us to trust Him one step at a time. You never know who is going to speak truth into your life. God totally wrecked my plans and what I wanted for my life. God is good and he is for us.
"God is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine." Ephesians
Who am I? Who is God? He says, "I see what you love and what you're chasing after. And I still love you and I'll still chase you."
The bible is a story of robbers and screw ups and murderers all having a place at the table with Jesus. It's a story of redemption. Our stories must be pointing to something greater than ourselves. It's not about us because our identity is in him.
Right now everyone's house has all of those cute signs with "Our Family Rules." Here's the truth, we cannot follow all of those rules. The only one that never did is Jesus. We need to speak that truth. God did all the work so we don't have to work for his love. We need to point people to the cross.
The good news of the gospel is that it interacts with every single part of your story.
God didn't bring Robert into our life when we were ready and when it would've been easy. God brought it all together when we were barely making it.
Both Matthew and Mark tell the story of feeding the 4,000, I think that's important. They had just a little bit of fish and bread. God joined with them and made it more than enough. God wants us to walk towards the brokenness. These are our neighbors.
The world says it's foolish to do what God is calling us to. Ephesians 4:1 "Therefore I beg you to live a life worthy of your calling because you have been called by God." We are not all so different from one another.
Your best in life might mean you never do anything great or special. You can do this. Be courageously foolish. Let him use the little you have for His glory.