What You Make It – live a full life, right where you are

Looking back at this, it can fall under the category of legalism – doing the right thing like a checklist, without heart behind it. Sometimes it is that way for me. Other times it’s more like the fears and cares of my heart keep me from really opening up, which takes me back to auto-pilot, because it’s safe. It might be naive to say, but it feels differently to me. Maybe it needs more digging. Is it just me? Or does anyone else…

Mark 12:33 (NIV) says (from the teacher of the law to Jesus, after Jesus tells him the two greatest commandments), “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Jesus goes on to tell him he is not far from the Kingdom of God.)

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) says, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

For me, it means being honest with God and others about what I’m really thinking and feeling. Sometimes what I’m feeling is dead-on, and needs to be addressed. Other times, often times, my heart needs to catch up with what is actually going on. But God can grow me so gently and patiently through my vulnerability and brokenness than when I’m stubborn and inauthentic. That’s when he brings things to my attention more abruptly. Keep in mind

People don’t always get it right. In a perfect world, authority would never be abused, people would do things out of intention and not routine, and we wouldn’t fall back into legalism. But we’re in a fallen world. And even in a church setting, sometimes the wrong things are emphasized or peer pressure happens. We can get down about it, we can be bitter – or we can bring it all into the light and talk about it. I think our church communities do so much better dealing with the mess, rather than try to act like we have it all together. It’s almost always okay to…

LUNA Rica Bar in Salted Caramel Nut (value $1.99) – I was thrilled that LUNA added in one of their new Rica bars as a surprise element to the box this season. I’m a huge LUNA fan. This bar is like a soft granola bar with mostly organic and all recognizable ingredients. It tastes like gooey caramel deliciousness. I can’t wait to try other flavors.

BUT if you’re a subscriber, you get some options where you get to decide what goes into your box. For example, this brush set vs. a Vince Camuto Luck Tote. Since I’m not an annual subscriber, I did not get to choose which, and got this brush set. Which, honestly, is not that disappointing: it’s a quality brush set that I know will get put to good use. But if I’d had a choice? Tote for sure.

Alfred French Press (value $22) – If you know me or have followed me for any length of time, you know I am most definitely a coffee girl. This box includes either a teapot or a coffee press from LA-based shop Alfred, and mine included what I would have picked for myself: the press. I haven’t put it to use yet, but even just the fact that it says, “But First, Coffee” on it makes it a winner in my book.

Cylo Cobra Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds (value $40) – This is another area in which I probably would have opted for the other product – the Catherine Malandrino Umbrella in a floral print. BUT instead I got the earbuds in black and rose gold, and another thing to know about me – I’m a sucker for rose gold. Plus, who can’t use a pair of earbuds? These have a control right on the cord, so it’s easy to maneuver.

Grown Alchemist Polishing Facial Exfoliant (value $67) – I am now #obsessed with this brand. Grown Alchemist is an Australian brand that doesn’t contain any questionable ingredients – just effective naturals. It’s gentle exfoliator that has a lovely citrus scent. And it worked almost as well as a facial peel, leaving my skin tight but not dry, glowing, and soft, with smaller pores. This brand wins.

• Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst – When I read this book, I went around convincing everyone else to read it too. It spoke right to my heart, with experiences that I could completely relate to. I didn’t realize it was such a universal thing to feel rejected and left out. I thought it was just me. Encourage my soul: it isn’t just me, and you can fight those battles you have with yourself. Know that even when you are rejected by others, you are chosen and worthy to God.

• The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst – Yep, I’m a Lysa fan! She is refreshingly real. This isn’t a book that lists confidence on the back as one of the main points. But it speaks to the slightly more subtle insecurity behind people pleasing. The wondering what happens if you say no. The putting your ambition on hold to take care of everyone else first. It teaches you how to have a mindset of making wise choices that honor God first.

• Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker – Jen is one of those authors that makes me literally snort out loud, causing my husband to ask what’s so funny. She is hilarious. I love that she puts her mess out there, and displays the moxie that comes from the courage to go after God’s heart and his will. It’s like having a conversation with a friend, one who lives a wild and courageous life and wants to bring you along for the ride, too.

• When God Says Go by Elizabeth Laing Thompson – I was able to get a copy of this book early from Elizabeth as part of her street team. And low and behold, it seemed to perfectly fit what I was going through at the moment. Whether you are embarking on a huge transition in life, questioning a change, pursuing something big, or feeling stuck, God calls us to go. I love her personal narratives, her takes on classic Bible stories, and her gentle biblical instruction to go after that call.

• Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown – First of all, if you haven’t watched Brené’s TED Talk on vulnerability, go watch it! (It’s less than ten minutes, and it’s awesome.) This book goes along with her research on how vulnerability truly connects us to each other. She shares the importance of both being part of society, and standing alone. She shares personally on being able to be brave and be who you truly are, even if you do it alone.

My one-year-old, however, does not find the situation amusing. As the overwhelm of the noise and water everywhere kicks in, he simply starts screaming. He opts to wander around the pool deck and observe everyone else, but won’t go near the water without letting us hear it. I even walk him into the oh-so-lovely warm therapy pool, in which he goes maybe thirty seconds without wailing. Twenty minutes go by, then forty.

He giggles because it feels like a game, and he loves a good game. I ask him if he wants to touch the water too, and he shakes his head and lets out a firm, “no!” This happens a few times. But after fifteen minutes or so, he leans forward and just barely puts his fingers in, too, laughing at his own cleverness for figuring out the game. Finally, a victory!

Fifteen minutes of me splashing my feet in the water trying to make it look fun, and his little chunky feet are in, too. Fifteen minutes after that, he is in the water splashing, giggling, and enjoying it. He even goes down the alligator slide. Now we’re all enjoying the pool. This is one of the most beautiful moments of parenthood so far for me.

And it’s frustrating. There’s stubbornness involved on both sides, plus a million other factors. Like whether or not they can find the shoes you told them to put on. Or if you’re in a time crunch. Or if the moon is full, or you’re on your period, or they’re teething, or if school is or isn’t in session, or if they miss bedtime… There is so much to be said for getting on their level.