The Launch of Letters to Little!

The Launch of Letters to Little!

I am thrilled to announce the launch of Letters to Little!

The What: Letters to Little is a series of devotions and life lessons written by this first time mom as I learn to both be parented by God the Father and shepherd the little one He has entrusted to me.

The Why: My hope is that adults and littles alike can be encouraged, challenged and amused in these candid letters.

The When: Every Monday you will receive the latest Letter to Little delivered directly to your inbox!

The How: Sign Up here to get our weekly update from Farm Table Thoughts AND receive our unpublished, brand new Letters to Little: A Persistent Heart in your inbox!!

We look forward to having you around the table!

-a

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A Manifesto to Embrace the Beauty & the Power of Your Exquisite Story

A Manifesto to Embrace the Beauty & the Power of Your Exquisite Story

I decided to branch out a bit and take Jeff Goins up on his “7 Day Blogging Challenge.” The first challenge of the week: writing a manifesto.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write. Friends used to receive annual birthday poems from me because I was too broke to give gifts in middle and high school. Even when I had money they would still request a birthday poem. Journal after journal, full of emotional teenage monologues and humorous scenes of social awkwardness are in boxes somewhere in my parents’ attic, just waiting to be discovered and used for blackmail. I never dreamed of writing for others outside of school assignments until an English assignment to start a blog my freshmen year of college morphed into something I find quite beautiful today– a collection of altars. Metaphorical stone monuments that I can look back and remember God’s faithfulness; His personal faithfulness to me.

I write because I believe in the power of story. I believe that the Living God, as the Author of Life, continues to write my story and the stories of those around me to reveal the beauty, depth, and sufficiency of the Gospel. I write not because I think I am an expert, or someone worthy of fame or attention, but because I am an ordinary woman with an extraordinary Savior who daily invites me to adventure with Him. I write because we need authenticity in the world of staged reality TV shows and filtered social media.

Steven Furtick once defined comparison as observing everyone else’s composed highlight reel and holding it up to your own bloopers and behind the scene shots. I have spent years of my life as an anxiety-ridden perfectionist, viewing the highlight reels of those around me and rejoicing for their successes while harboring a twinge of jealousy or fear of lack. Marriage and motherhood have been eye opening to say the least. I realize daily just how little I have myself together and I think it is vital that we talk about those moments. Not to glory in our shortcomings and failures, but to find the humor, to rest from striving, and to revel in the glory of a gracious Heavenly Father. I have realized that chronicling my story, sharing the lessons the Holy Spirit has been inscribing on my heart, and detailing those real life moments in their unfiltered exquisiteness has lead me, and hopefully others, to a place of greater freedom and deeper worship of God Himself.

Friend, you reflect the image of God in a way that no one else ever has nor ever will. Your story matters. It matters because without it, the world misses out on a facet of the Living God that we desperately need to witness. Every moment of your life has been anointed with divine purpose and destiny, and nothing, no season, success, or shortcoming, is ever wasted. Perhaps writing isn’t your thing, but you do have a thing. Explore it. Embrace it. Share it with the world.

There is always an open seat for you at the table at the Father’s table.

-a 

A Sacred Worth

A Sacred Worth

I love quiet mornings; those moments of sacred stillness that will soon be interrupted by the chirping of birds, the buzzing of an alarm clock, or the cry of a little human requesting his first breakfast. That’s right: his first breakfast. While I find it very unfortunate that these mornings often start at 5am, there is almost a giddy anticipation when I naturally wake up before everyone else in the house. It’s as though only God Himself is awake. As though He has invited me to join Him before the start of the day to sit and watch it all unfold at the sound of His voice.

These moments are so very sweet for many reasons, but I will focus on two for now. The first is that the chance of finishing my cup of coffee while it is still hot increases dramatically when I can enjoy it without a little one competing for my attention. The second, and most important reason, is that it underscores the heart of God for me. He knows me. He knows that His introverted daughter needs quality alone time in which she can process, breathe, unwind, and refuel so that she can love and exist from a place of overflow rather than an empty tank. He knows that His daughter thrives when she has a quiet place in which to meet with Him, rifling through delicate pages of well-worn, crookedly underlined, living and breathing promises that give her something to hope in, something to repent of, something to challenge her worldview. It is in these moments, this sacred place, where I am fully aware that the Living God of the Universe is completely conscious of me.

I realize as I write that this sounds incredibly self-centered and egotistical, as though I am the sole recipient of Holy God’s undivided attention. Generally, the idea that I am in a room alone with God scares the hell out of me. I suppose it has something to do with my addiction to perfectionism and the pervasive struggle to believe the totality of the Gospel. Regardless of how it sounds, the truth that God is ever present with me remains. I have done nothing to deserve His affection or attention, and yet it is mine because of who He is as perfect Father and who I am as His daughter.

Most days I struggle to accept the above statement, but let’s not mistake that for humility. Admittedly, I have a problem with insecurity. I struggle with consistent thoughts and fears of inadequacies as a woman, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother. It is true that I have done nothing to deserve the love of Christ, nothing to merit His invitation for relationship with Him. However, when I allow the focus of my flawed nature to eclipse the glory of God and the depths of His grace towards me then I’ve crossed from humility into idolatry.  I have gone from worshipping the power of the Gospel and the beauty of its Author to worshiping myself and the depths of my depravity.

Friends, it is no small thing to look Jesus in the eye and argue with Him over your worth. So often I have attempted to justify and diminish this struggle, yet normalizing it does not make it any less dangerous. When we walk in the fullness of our God-given identity, we inspire others to do the same. I don’t know about you, but I want those around me, especially my own children, to courageously walk in the truth of who God has called them to be. Furthermore, if Jesus is not altogether trustworthy, He is not trustworthy at all. We must choose to believe that He is who He says He is and that we are who He says we are if we claim to believe Him at all.

You are worth the death of Christ. The power of the Gospel is greater than any stronghold. The depth of the grace of God is far deeper than any fall you could experience. The attentive and affectionate presence of the Father for you, His child, is always wholly and completely directed towards you. His ability to be fully engaged and conscious of you does not diminish His ability to be fully engaged and conscious of me. He is that great of a Father, that capable of a God, and that sufficient of a Savior.Where there is denial of these truths, there cannot be the fullness of life He longs to give us this side of eternity.

The heart of the Father is for you, for those moments in which He can speak into the very depths of your being, “I see you, child. I love you so. Come away with me for a little while.”

-a

The Sweetest Little Sinner

The Sweetest Little Sinner

I have yet to figure out what possesses my seven month old to wake up screaming in the early hours of the morning.  Dramatic screams of varying tone and intensity were mixed intermittently with purposeful pauses to see if we were paying him any attention. I was convinced the entire apartment complex would arrive at any moment to excommunicate us. Perhaps our neighbors below us may report us for torturing our kid. Perhaps they suffered from deafness secondary to the obscenely loud and repetitive baseline they listen to each weekend. One could only hope the latter were true. I suppose I should choose to be thankful for the rare moments of alone time it provides after he falls asleep again, leaving me quite awake, but sleeping through the night would be nice as well. Sweet boy has every ounce of his parents’ stubbornness combined, leaving this Mama equally amused and terrified by the developmental stages to come and our task to shepherd his cute, strong willed butt.

Really, less than a month ago I was gushing about his near perfection, completely aware that Ray and I had nothing to do with it. Then we learned some things. We learned electrical cords and outlets are baby sirens.  The blanket filled with scattered toys cannot contain our little explorer’s heart nor entertain his attention span.  He is a quick study of effective ways to get our attention, with his favorite choices being the defiant scream and the fake cough (always followed by a charming smile). The changing table cannot contain him, knocking things off of surfaces amuses him, Mama saying, “No” draws a humored grin, and at 4am when he is losing his ish all he wants to do is hold my hand. I am aware of my bias as his mother, but I am now more convinced than ever before that I am the parent of the cutest little sinner in the world.

It amazes me that no one taught Sam how to sin. He is inherently drawn to that which he cannot have, to that which is not safe for him to touch, and the boundaries that are established for his good are not always received well. He does not look up at me with those beautiful blue eyes and thank me when I redirect him or take something from him that is not for his good. He does not say, “Thanks Mom for saving me from electrocution.” or “Thanks Mom for not letting me eat that magazine I pulled off the coffee table.” Or “Thanks Mom for setting out all of these fun toys that are safe for me to play with.” Rather, he makes a beeline for that which is off-limits every time. He does not care that the entire house is trying to sleep, he wants to snuggle and he wants to snuggle now! {Honestly, I cannot help but laugh at the fact that my son’s temper tantrums are over wanting to snuggle. Seriously, how sweet is that? Sweet and twisty.} No one teaches them how to manipulate, or attempt to manipulate…no one teaches them how to sin.

I cannot help but think of the Father’s patient love for me as I attempt to patiently love Sam at the most ungodly hours of the day. Parenting has been flat out annoying at times; like this morning when my selfishness and Sam’s selfishness clashed before dawn. As I gave Sam a few minute intervals to see if he would choose to self-soothe, I did this with the knowledge that he knows how to soothe himself back to sleep and he is aware of our presence with him in a safe place. I was not withholding from him because I do not love him; I was attempting to serve him well in the long run by encouraging his confidence and independence. {Ask me how well that lesson went and who caved to whom first later!} As I nursed him after an hour long battle, I thought about all of the times that I have assumed God to be uncaring or unkind as He has not rescued me from my version of “baby jail” in the ways that I have wanted or preferred. In reality, He has never ceased to be present, caring, kind nor loving. There have been moments where I, too, in varying degrees, have cried and protested dramatically and persistently when God the Father has redirected me or removed some unsafe things from my life. Admittedly, the direction or the thing occupying my attention in those moments was unsafe, though I did not realize it at the time. Even as an adult, I confess I am not much more evolved than Sam in this area. How quickly I am to choose that which is neither good nor safe for me; to be drawn towards that which is not life-giving! How many times have I looked at the unholy, then looked knowingly at the Father, before crawling right back to that which he has set me free from?

As I grow in mothering Sam, I am learning to be parented by God the Father more readily. I need Him to shepherd me, instruct me, train me and stretch me for the sake of His glory, for the sake of my heart, and for the sake of my family. I need communion with the Father and fellowship with Jesus. I need to be reminded of God’s Father-heart towards me, of the presence of the Holy Spirit with me, and of the living Gospel of Christ at work within me. That God the Father does not grow weary with me is inspiration to parent Sam with renewed energy and further encouragement to draw near to the throne of grace in both repentance and anticipation.

Cheers to late nights, early mornings, and sufficient daily doses of grace.

-a