the tearful, messy, magnificent now

Full disclosure?

I’m sitting down to write this because it’s hard to focus on the research I’m doing for my new book.

It’s hard to focus because I feel like I’m perpetually waiting on something.

And, sorta, I am.

I shouldn’t feel that way (because it’s totally unproductive), but I’m honest to a fault. So I’ll be honest: right now I check my email more times a day than should be socially acceptable.

A great literary agent has my full manuscript. I started the initial process with her in October, and in the publishing world, October to February is basically a blink of an eye. Really. It’s hardly any time at all.

And she’s been awesome this whole time.

Yet, still…I find myself wandering through the desert of doubtful waiting just like the Israelites did. You know, the people who doubted God after like a day or two of not knowing what’s ahead? The people who were given a dry path clear across a huge sea and a few days later decided the same God who’d parted the waters must have forgotten them?

Yeah. I’m like them.

I’ll own it.

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Stephanie Leight

And it was in this moment of owning it, of telling God that He’s taking too long and I wouldn’t do it this way…in this raw pouring out to God that I felt the gentle tug at my heart to look around.

So I did.

I saw two cats sleeping, a drippy sink, a warm lamp, well-lived-on couches, chocolate for days, a knee bandaged with physical therapy tape, silence and a ticking clock, and still the dream of sharing my words beat deep inside.

But I closed my eyes and simply stilled in the faith that my God is here.

Right now. Right now is a gift.

Right now – when I don’t have everything I want – is a gift.

The sink is dripping and I love its familiar rhythm. I won’t always have this cozy starter home, I found myself realizing.

Thank You God, for right now.

Bandaged though I am, I won’t always have my health.

Thank You God, for right now.

I won’t always have this glorious silence which lends itself perfectly to writing.

Thank You God, for right now.

I don’t have a published book yet. I don’t even have my agent yet.

Maybe the best things take time.

Thank You God, for right now.

The dishes are messy and the washer is full and the day might come when I’m older and brittle and can’t unload it by myself.

Thank You God, for right now.

And yet…tears well up in my eyes as I write this because…publishing my stories is such a desire. And it hasn’t happened in my timing.

And like the Israelites, when things didn’t go just as they wanted…

…I find myself doubting in a puddle of honest tearsdoes God really have the best plans for me?

You do, don’t You? I ask.

I look around again.

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Stephanie Leight

And I soak it in. The sunlight through the windowpane and the dust on the floor and the coffee in the pot.

The magnificent now. The messy, beautiful, wildly merciful gift of right now.

Gratefulness to God is a balm to my doubting soul.

And the desire of my heart still beats strong…yet through the tears, through the fear of the unknown, through the impatience, I know Who holds my heartbeat.

I know Who holds my now.

And there is this:

“This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.” Exodus 12:11

Here, the Israelites hadn’t been freed from the Egyptians yet. But they were instructed to eat this meal in haste, which demonstrated faith and readiness for the deliverance the Lord had promised but had not yet been seen.

Amazing.

So I’ll write my books and wait hopefully for that email, all the while with my cloak tucked in and with my sandals on my feet.

And if I don’t get the email I want?

Mmm. That will hurt. More than I’d care to admit. But I pray to let gratefulness be a balm to my soul, music to my heart, and a fragrant offering to Perfect Love Himself.

And I pray for the faith to keep going.

Blessings to you and peace to your own precious heart,

 Robyn

the thing about hope

What are you hoping for right now, dear heart?

What are you praying for?

Please don’t stop.

Don’t stop believing the best.

Don’t let fear bully you into shrinking back from your hope.

And this is not the “prosperity gospel.”

This is the freedom-giving, life-breathing, hope-multiplying command from our Savior, our Hope Anchor.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…so now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:7,13 emphasis mine).

My knee has been injured for over a year. 

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After months of trying-procedures-and-them-not-working, after all the money poured into this part of my body that was preventing me from even just playing hopscotch with my favorite littles, I finally had knee surgery to fix the problem.

After surgery, I was afraid to hope for a bright outcome. My fearful knee-jerk reaction (see what I did there?!) was to wait for the other shoe to drop and…my doctor – my doctortotally called me out on it.

“Robyn,” he said.

“Yes?” I squeaked. (His authoritative, tough-love presence makes me talk in squeaks for some reason. Maybe that’s why he always leaves the room laughing.)

“You HAVE to get out of your own head. You know, worrying can actually hinder healing. It’s proven. You’ve got to believe me when I say This. Is. Working.”

My doctor even knows! Medical practices even know the truth that God has already so lovingly clued us in on:

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” (Proverbs 17:22).

Why do we accept worry and cynicism as normal? Why? When the Author of our very own hearts has given us a better, life-breathing way?

For me, it’s simply fear. Fear of the unknown, I suppose.

But by God’s grace, I will not be bullied by fear anymore.

No.

And it’s true: I don’t know the outcome of what my knee will look like a year from now. A month from now. Tomorrow.

I don’t know.

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But faith hopes for the things not seen and I know my God has told me, “Pray to Me honestly. Tell Me the desires of your heart. After all, I know them already. Don’t hide from Me.”

Father, I want to run again. I want to skip and hop and bound down the stairs, Lord. It’s what I want. I want to be hopeful and unashamed. Please heal my knee. Please fill me with Your hope and Your peace and Your Perfect Love, which casts out all my fear.

And suddenly, Jehovah Shalom comforts and quiets and yet at the same time, makes my heart fill with hope like a deer prancing upon the heights (Ps 18:33).

I don’t know what my knee will look like tomorrow. I’m not saying the lie that you can “Just picture it and it will happen!” Because that’s a big, fat lie.

But God tells us, He commands us, to hope. Not because we always get everything we want, but because hope is truly the language, the thought-pattern, the heart medicine from the Lover of our hearts Himself that balms over fear, transforming it into trust.

I will choose a cheerful heart: the heart that stares uncertainty in the face and says “My God is able. My God is Healer. And He loves me. I will not be afraid. I am in His hands.”

“Now may the God of hope fill [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in Him, so that [we] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).

Grace, peace, and hope you, beloved hearts,

Robyn

dear twenty-somethings

Dear twenty-somethings: it’s okay to live in your apartment.

And it’s okay to buy a home.

It’s okay to pay rent

It’s okay to pay a mortgage.

It’s great if you’re married.

It’s great if you’re not.

It’s okay if you want to have a baby.

It’s okay if you’re still trying to keep the front door plants alive (me).

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It’s okay if you can’t go on a big vacation this year.

It’s okay to splurge on a big vacation this year.

It’s okay if you still drive your car from high school.

It’s okay if your beloved SUV from high school named Sally broke on the way to Auburn and so you were forced to buy a new car. (But hey, Bruno Marzda is a pretty cool replacement).

It’s okay to go to bed at 8.

It’s okay to stay up way too late because you’re enjoying the people you’re with.

It’s okay if you want to go out to eat on a Friday night with a bunch of people.

It’s okay to spend Friday night in eating easy mac and watching Full House reruns.

It’s okay to actually stop working at 5.

It’s okay if you have NO PLANS for the weekend.

It’s okay if you don’t have your dream job yet.

It’s okay if your home is one big (or small) IKEA showcase.

You’re still valued even if you weren’t invited to that thing.

And you’re a real champ for attending the 3 wedding showers you had in one weekend.

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Wedding shower champs

It’s okay if your friend makes more money than you do.

And you should totally celebrate your bonus!

It’s okay if the person in the next office over doesn’t seem to like you very much.

And it’s okay to be nice to the person in the other office whose lunch stinks up the break room.

It’s okay if nothing big is happening.

And it’s okay if you’re dealing with something really big.

It’s okay if you lost touch with that friend. It doesn’t mean you love each other any less.

It’s okay if you stay at home with your baby every day.

It’s okay if you don’t.

It’s okay if you work odd hours and weekends.

It’s okay if you feel like a mombie every day because Baby. Doesn’t. Sleep.

It’s okay if you’re totally over first dates.

It’s okay if sometimes you wonder if you’re keeping up. Because social media makes it nearly impossible not to wonder.

On that note, it’s okay if you get 3 likes.

It’s okay if you get 300 likes.

(Who came up with “likes” anyway?! Facebook? Congress? The Goonies? I can’t remember.)

It’s okay to slow down.

It’s okay to relax.

You know, recently I’ve noticed it’s so easy to compare myself to other twenty-somethings without even realizing it….

…other accomplishments, other homes, other vacations, other adorable baby pictures, other really fun-looking parties

Maybe it’s just me. But goodness. In the age of social media, I suppose it’s a part of life: this navigating the emotions of celebrating with our peers while somehow thanking God for the reality of our own here and now.

So….twenty-somethings? Thirty-somethings? Sixty-somethings?

I think we’re doing great.

And I feel like if Jesus could say something to us about comparison, it’d sound a lot like what He told Adam and Eve when they first discovered they were naked and became ashamed, or what He told his disciples when they noticed the crazy huge waves all around them instead of looking at the Creator of the waves right in front of them:

 

Dear one, who told you you weren’t good enough? Who told you you were naked? Unworthy? Oh you of little faith, let Me build you up. Look to me and I’ll tell you who you really are: valued by Me, a royal heir, perfectly glorious in My image. I love you. More than every grain of sand on the earth I love you. You don’t need to look at other people’s waves; look to Me, simply hold my outreached hand, and I’ll guide you through each of your days which are unfolding into the most perfect story I’ve written especially for you. I’m more than excited about your own special story. I’m so joyful about you and your story that I sing over you every moment, hoping you take the time to hear my song just for you! Take heart, child. Friend. I’m with you. Always. And forever. Into eternity, I am with you.”

-(Gen 1:27, Gen 3:11, Matt: 8:26, Matt:28:20, Psalm 139:16, 18, Rom 8:17, Ephesians 1, Zeph 3:17, Isaiah 41:10).

Blessings to you and your tiny apartment or to you and your 5-bedroom house, blessings to you and your spouse or to you and your roommates, blessings to you in your cubicle or to you and the baby in your lap,  

Robyn

when you just want a fast-forward button

Happy Wednesday!

Here’s a recap of my past couple weeks:

[  Writer’s Blocksee: organizing pens in rainbow order; playing fetch with the cat; coming dangerously close to cleaning the oven; playing fetch with the cat a second time.  ]

But I’ve heard that writer’s block happens to the best of us. That it’s all part of the process.

The process.

Oh, good gracious.

It took a teary-eyed and quivery-lipped me looking over at Michael and informing him that maybe I’ve been wrong about this whole book endeavor because “it just doesn’t feel right at the moment and do we still have that box of thin mints and I’m going to Target to buy some new Essie polish and a candle and maybe a throw pillow” for me to face the truth: the best processes, the very best ones, take time.

Mainly the [[process = time]] thought hit me when Michael cocked his head and furrowed his brow in response to my teary-eyed statement and then matter-of-factly asked me,Rob. Are you working on your book pitch right now? Or your synopsis?”

*Sniffled. Took a bite of three thin mints at once. Nodded.*

And so Michael laughed and sat down next to me on the couch and gave me a hug.

Then he reminded me that I said those exact same words the last time I had to work on a book pitch.

Oh.

Right.

See, the pitch and the synopsis come toward the end of the book writing process.

They’re like…mile 7 of a 10 mile run, where mile 7 consists of running a straight shot up a mountain the whole time. And also maybe being simultaneously shot at with nerf guns. (Just kidding about the nerf guns. But we played with them yesterday and they’re awesome.)

And so by this point in the book process I’M SO READY TO SEND THIS PUPPY OUT.

So ready.

But it’s not time to send it out yet. Not quite.

Because it’s worth doing right. And it’s worth doing right because I treasure my work greatly.

Like us, I think.

God treasures us greatly. And so He takes His precious time with us.

And so then I thought about LOTS of processes that take time and are treasured and are so worth it.

Forming a baby takes 9 months.

Adopting a baby can take years.

Education takes 13 years. At least.

Physical therapy to heal the muscles so you can run free again takes at least 2 months. (Hey there, IT band!)

A good night’s sleep takes 8 hours.

Deep friendships take years to form.

Standing in line for the new Harry Potter ride took 45 minutes (TOTALLY worth it).

Re—heating leftovers in the oven for 30 minutes is way better than heating them in the microwave for 1 minute.

God used 7 days to create the earth.

Jesus waited until He was in His thirties to start His ministry that led to our full redemption.

And completing His good work in us will take our lifetimes (Phil 1:6).

You know, it seems like the best things in life don’t happen instantly. Not at all. 

And maybe it drives us a little crazy sometimes because we can’t see the end result of the process like He can.

And so maybe that’s why He tells us to “Relax! Be silent and stop your striving, and you will see that I am God” (psalm 46:10 passion version).

Because we’re His workmanship, and our hearts are His good work. We’re worth the time to Him. We’re worth the process.

Plus, I feel like if He wanted us to hurry all the time, He’d say so. But He says the opposite. Be still.

I’d love to give my heart permission to be still.

So, It’s not that He’s ignoring us or dropped the ball because something’s taking too long.

It’s that we’re worth the painstaking and beautiful process to Him (Isaiah 43:4).

Even better, through all these processes in our lives, in whatever process we find ourselves, the heavy lifting isn’t ours.

We lift our eyes upward, trusting Him to hold every detail of every process of ours in His hands (John 3:35), because He is faithful to complete His good work in us (Phil 1:6) because His plans for us are good (Jeremiah 29:11) and because He works all things for our good (Romans 8:28).

So the next time we get impatient or discouraged because why is it taking so long?…let’s remember this, dear friends:

We’re too precious to the Father to be the instant kraft mac and cheese. We’re that delicious and totally-worth-it stovetop kind. [[ Disclaimer: writer’s block may induce these types of analogies. ]]

So let’s relax & give thanks for the process we’re in today. Because it’s beautiful grace.

Blessings & laughs & beautiful stillness to you,

Robyn

but, how can we really laugh at the future?

This past week was one of those weeks where it was just a little harder to feel God’s love.

You know, where it’s just a little harder to believe in the depths of my heart how He does love me.

How He doesn’t love what I do or accomplish or what I don’t do or fail at, but how He loves…me.

So when I came across this verse, I jumped on it.

My heart was hungry for it.

And so I had to share.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” Ephesians 5:1-2.

Dearly Loved Child jumped out at me. That’s my name.

Dearly Loved Child.

That’s our name, friends. Dearly Loved Children.

Loved, of course, by our parents if we’re lucky…

but also, who doesn’t want to be named Dearly Loved? Especially by Someone who created such beautiful things as laughter and stars and spring and a million different snowflakes and He’s perfect all together and He still loves us dearly.

I like the word dearly, so I looked up its definition.

Then I loved it.

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Dearly means, “very much; with affection; fondly; with much loss or suffering, at great cost; heartily; earnestly.”

Being loved dearly is beautiful. But it’s not a fluffy kind of love. It’s a hearty and earnest and affectionate and fond love and it comes at a price.

Oh…it’s Jesus! The Price! It makes sense! We are literally dearly loved by God because He fulfilled every angle of the word.

It’s almost like the writer of the dictionary knew something I only just found out.

Being dearly loved isn’t a light thing. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s our lifeblood. It’s who we are as Jesus followers.

If we never accomplish anything else, we are still Dearly Loved Children.

Nothing can take that away from us. No slow-moving Monday, no mistake made, no accomplish so great, no weeks flying by, no getting older, no getting fired, no getting hired, no getting married, no staying single, no having a baby, no loss, can change our name & place in Christ’s family.

Dearly Loved Children.

Dearly Loved Child.

Jesus followers are members of God’s very own family.

With that in mind, how so very compelling is it then, to love other people without fear of rejection? To step out without fear of looking foolish? To laugh without fear of the future (prov 31:25)?

It really is true. His Perfect Love does cast out fear (1 John).

Because…we’re secure. When we walk through the day with our banners held high proclaiming our real names, Dearly Loved Child of God, any false name the world tries to throw our way will simply pale and disappear into the all-encompassing folds of our Perfect Love banners.

I’m literally daring myself to enjoy who I am today. Not what I do. Because I don’t do things right all the time. Heck, a whole lot of the time. But I’m daring myself…or maybe it’s the Father daring me, inviting me, to enjoy Who I am in Christ.

We think about our weaknesses, our sin, a lot. And we need to. It’s sanctification and I’m so glad I don’t do the things today I did 10 years ago.

But let’s take a minute, a long minute, a lifetime, to claim His perfect love that covers our sin and to relish in our true names.

Dearly Loved Children of the King.

Praise Him and blessings to you,

Robyn

When you’re tired of performing for God

…because we weren’t made to perform for God. We aren’t wired for performance at all.

We’re made to enjoy God. To worship Him. To love Him.

To walk leisurely with Him in the garden in the cool of evening.

And yet, we find ourselves so often running hard in the opposite direction.

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Instead of enjoying God’s love, we easily fall into the trap of earning God’s love.

Or doing the right thingperforming…to show Him how much we love Him.

Or to show Him…how good we are.

But…

we just…

…can’t.

We keep trying, but…

…we mess up…

…we won’t ever live up to our own standards

…or to the imagined standards we think God holds us to.

And then, we feel…guilty.

Because we just…can’t…do it.

Because…how can you live up to standards that don’t really exist, anyway?

Let’s not be deceived, dear hearts.

There’s only one standard God holds us to.

Jesus.

My heart breathes and exhales and I close my eyes, and…Jesus.

What we could not do…what we cannot do…He did for us once and for all

…for every day…of our whole lives…we can’t mess up what He has done

…and Jesus has freed us from a life of failed performance and delivered us into a life of God With Us.

Forever.

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Since Jesus so freely gifted us with communion with God, who are we not to take it?

I’ve written a few words to help myself meander back into that garden place with God.

I have these words written on an index card to take with me anywhere and remind myself of my right standing before God, and I pray these words might help you find your way back to that garden place, too.

I will not feel guilty today. I am already perfect in God’s eyes. (2 Cor 5:21, Psalm 139:14) God leads with powerful love – not with guilt. I have nothing to fear, because God’s perfect love casts out all fear.(1 John 4:18) I will enjoy today as a gift from God, not as a maze I have to figure out. (1 Thes 5:18) God’s goodness and mercy follow me wherever I go (psalm 23:6), and I walk through this day under the banner of God’s perfect love & with the shield of faith, believing God’s Word. (Eph 6:16-17, Psalm 136, Romans 8:38-39, Psalm 103: 4,8,17, Romans 5:8, John 3:16, John 15:13)

Blessings to you, and may you enjoy Him & rest in His abundant love for you today!

Robyn

Peace in the Waiting

I suppose when I’d set out to publish my children’s book, I expected it to get picked up over night.

It didn’t.

It’s actually only been 2 months. In robyn-is-waiting-for-something-time, that’s like the equivalent of about 100 million years. In getting-a-book-published-time, that’s like, half a second.

And just because my book hasn’t been picked up in my timing, I subconsciously started questioning, “Well, but, didn’t God lead me here? Isn’t this the desire of my heart? Didn’t I follow Him into a risk and didn’t He promise to provide? Wait…did I hear Him correctly when I decided to make this my career? Was this a bad idea?”

And the questions continued until this weekend when they finally came to a head and exploded in a volcano of ALL THE FEELINGS. (Plus, you know, being in the middle of a move takes emotions like 10 notches higher than normal anyway).

Tears streamed down my face and my sweet husband pulled over and gently asked me what was wrong.

“Um.”

I furrowed my brow and honestly couldn’t name it because there were lots of trivial SUPER important things wrong. You know, like, the armoir that’s been sitting in our new living room, will someone PLEASE take it so I can paint the walls and I haven’t had chocolate cookie quarry ice cream in like two weeks and and Tucker doesn’t like the new spot of his cat tree but my coffee bar has to go SOMEwhere and which moving box are my t-shirts in, again?

But, no. Those weren’t what was really bothering me.

“I just….sniff…I just want….”

I felt myself pout a little. Because I knew what was really bothering me.

(And I thought I was going to be mature about this whole waiting-for-my-book-to-be-picked-up thing).

Alas.

So I let it out.

I just WANT my book published! Like, NOW! I mean, I thought it would have been picked up already!!! I thought since God lead me here that He would do it super fast, and did I do something wrong? Did I make a mistake and that’s why this is taking longer than I thought it would?

Michael’s gentle voice brought me back from the rabbit trail of questions. “I don’t think God works that way.”

Of course, he’s right.

But I wanted to keep pouting. Because, you know, that’s very mature of me.

So I did.

And Michael continued. “You know, do you think this is the best time for your book to be picked up? I mean, we don’t even have our office set up because we’re in the middle of a move. Do you think maybe God knows better than you when it’s the right time?”

Well, the man had a point.

“And don’t you ever have to say ‘not yet’ or ‘no’ to your kids when they want something, because you know what’s best? Even if they don’t understand?”

I nodded.

Oh.

And then I sat back in that passenger seat and thought about my nanny littles.

I say ‘no’ to them lots of times; when my adventurers want to be more adventurous than I think is good or safe, I have to say no. Or if they want dessert before lunch, I have to say “not yet. Just wait a little longer for it.”

And they don’t always understand or agree, but I do what’s best for them.

Because I love them.

So I sat and thought about just how much I care about those littles, and how I say ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ because I love them and want the best for them…and then I thought….

how much more does God, our Father, love us? Love me?

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” Galatians 3:26.

And since He’s our perfectly loving Father, He has to say ‘no’ or ‘not yet,’ to us, too.

Because He loves us.

And all of a sudden I became His little, wanting what I want right now, wanting that publishing deal, and begging for it with tears.

And I know He doesn’t mind my contending with Him.

I also know He knows what’s best.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:9.

You know what’s hard? Worshiping a God whom you’re afraid has forgotten you.

But you know what’s strengthening? Trusting that God is who He says He is. Taking His Word for truth.

And living it.

Even in the waiting.

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He bends down to paint His love for us each day

Blessings to you,

Robyn