Wednesday, December 28, 2016

our holy God who washes feet

this holiday season God feels so big and holy to me.
the snow blanketed the mountains yell of His greatness
I hear the crescendos and see His vast light.

and I feel small.

my senses are ablaze,
reminding me of joyful moments
and precious hours.
and i feel myself shrinking in the scale of time.

I have heaviness in my heart this December.
grief and gilt walk with me,
stuck to my soul.
I see darkness and hurt around me,
I also see my big and holy God.

this doesn't make sense to me,
because God hates darkness.
He is the giver of light and life,
our healer and redemption.

 but God is holy and big?

friends, our holy God washes our feet.
He sinks to my tinny
in order to wash my feet.

He kneels to our level,
seeking us.
our hearts
our failures
our dreams
our plans.

and He has takes our souls, in order to wash away the dirt.

our Father washes our feet.
so let Him.
and I promise you,
you walk away the same.

love love love//elissa
Saturday, December 24, 2016


As exam season looms overhead and we're all looking a little worn around the eyes, I've been considering the idea of rest. When you've got a stack of index cards as high as your own expectations, the to-do list rolling endlessly on, and exam after exam screaming towards you from the end of the week... how do you find the strength to step back and take a break? I've heard it called "creating margin", the idea that you need to find some way to hollow out a little breathing room, even in the busiest of schedules, the idea that you can put down your study sheet for more than just a bathroom break and somehow it's okay.

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As exams and Christmas and a fresh new year come barreling towards us about as calmly as a freight train, I've been trying out a few things.

- Looking in the mirror a little less.
- Thinking about how to love the people around me a little bit more.
- Staring into space and letting my thoughts sprawl out. Watching where they go.
- Baking cookies and then giving them away.
- Saying yes to movie nights and coffee dates.
- Saying no, even to my friends, when I know I need quiet to get things done.
- Closing the fridge when I know I'm stress-eating.
- Eating food I enjoy when I'm hungry.
- Being honest, but not negative, about how I feel. 
- Taking fifteen minutes to do what I love - picking out chords on the piano, watching videos on YouTube, or scrolling through aesthetic boards on Pinterest.
- Buckling down and forcing my brain to retrace concepts, terms, and definitions, even when I'm tired.
- Knowing when to stop - turning out my light before midnight and not bringing my notes to the breakfast table first thing in the morning.
- Asking for help.

 I hope you have a restful exam and Christmas season - what are your favourite ways to create that little bit of "margin" in your life?

Olivia (s)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

there's room

It's in the twinkling of lights strung across houses and doorways and lamp posts and banisters and trees.

It's in the warmth of hands being held, circled 'round, gathered among food and family.

It's in the tinkling of a child's laugh or a dog's head resting on your lap.

It's that truth that your heart can be full of so many things and still ache.

Ache with the weight of the things left undone

Or the words you wish had been spoken, but lips were silent instead

How you can be in a room full of people, talking, connecting, and feel isolated

How you can leave a phone call at 1AM, hear them whisper 'I love you' a thousand times

And still hang up feeling like the loneliest soul in the world

Because somewhere amidst all of the laughter and smiles and touches and fun

There's a part of you that believes you're merely tolerated

That every failure on your part to be perfect leads to biting words

Why are you like this?”

No one could love you, not when you're such a mess.”

Maybe if you put forth more effort, it would be easier to like you.”

Doesn't matter if nobody has ever said that to you

You say enough to yourself

And you let those words tumble around in your head for so long

That any expression of love toward you brings you pause and the question

“Yeah...but do you really?”

Because somewhere along the line you decided that rejection was inevitable

And that no one could possibly love you for exactly who you are

Because who you are falls so immeasurably far from who you should be

Can I tell you something that may sound too good to be true?

There's Someone out there who not only loves you

He likes you

He cherishes you

And that mess you see when you consider all of your shortcomings?

They're part of the message that every one of us

Has a unquenchable desire to be known and loved

By the One who created us to be known and loved

And maybe you've heard that before

Maybe you sing refrains of “Jesus Loves Me”

Yet cater to the doubt that God Almighty

Could never even tolerate you

You're right.

He doesn't tolerate you

He redeems you

He adores you

He seeks you out

He takes on every sorrow, every pain, every doubt, and every fear

All of it on behalf of you

Because He loves you

So much so that He defeated Hell and Death

Just to make room for you at His table

So, maybe this holiday season has been spent among those you hold dear

Or maybe season's greetings have been you, Netflix, and a pint of ice cream

Wherever you are in the celebrations this year

Know that you are loved

Because perhaps you've felt like the lonely reject

That God begrudgingly accepts into His Kingdom

But the truth is, He's got His arms stretched out

Like the day He hung on that tree

He's got them open for you

And open for me

And He's calling out, shouting, pleading, saying,

Whosoever will may come!”

So, come.

There's plenty of room at the table.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mr. Gratitude

He's jollier than Santa Clause, laughing in little spurts and in fours, "HA HA HA HA" with a sigh at the end. The old man, potbellied, tall, gray haired, usually with a mustache but the last time I saw him he was clean-shaven. He's always putting his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his heels like a three-year old boy who's been given a compliment. The wrinkles on his face seem to be hollowed out of kindness - not sorrow or hatred like some people.

When you walk into his house which smells of potting soil and black-eyed pea soup, the rugs covering the hard wood floor, cello posing gracefully on its side, he makes sure that you know that you are welcome there.

Thank you so much for coming today!
How are you doing? 
I'm so glad you could come.
It is so good to see you. 
Tell me what's happening with you right now?

And it goes on. At times, he's so thorough in his discourse that it gets almost awkward, almost uncomfortable.
The music he plays - even though its technically a lesson for my sister - seems that it is played as a gift. Offered up. Given with joy. To anyone who will listen.

I saw this man outside the good food store, right before I left for school, and I almost didn't recognize him (clean-shaven, remember?).  When I shout after him, recognizing that gliding walk, he turns and walks towards me, and he is - well, he's thankful. He's absolutely tickled that I got his attention to say hello.

He asks about me. He always does. I tell him about going to midwifery school. His face crinkles in joy - and he tells me what a special job it is, how I'll do great - things I've heard from everyone else. They're easy things to pass off because everyone says those things.

But then I tell him about the living situation: 10 girls in a two-bedroom house for three months. I tell him about the intensity of the school: 18 months of academic training crammed into 3 months.

His face changes to concern - but not caution concern, more like encouraging concern. "You can do this, but you have to take care of yourself," he says. He gives me a list. Have consideration for yourself, be kind to yourself. Find what works for you with studying and living in general. Give yourself two months before you freak out; it takes your brain that long to figure out how to think in new ways. Go back to what you know about yourself.

Practice gratitude.

That's when it hit. This man, who had never ever been unkind or unpleasant, is overflowing with gratitude. He's grateful for you, and your presence, and your input on life. He is grateful for his every breath, for the ability he has to take his white van with the canoe on top to the lake every weekend, for the fact that he can play cello and enjoy it, that he lives in a beautiful town, that he lives. He is filled with gratitude. And he fills others because of his fullness.

Let's break down the phrase:

Gratitude: latin, meaning "thanks", "goodwill", "favor", "kindness", "devotion", "loyalty", "affection", and of course, "gratitude".

Practice: latin, meaning "use", "experience", "habit", "manner", "training", "exercise", "custom", "meditate", "contemplate", "prepare", "adjust", and "think over".

So to be able to make kindness a training, an exercise, a custom. To meditate over loyalty and affection. To make goodwill a preparation and an adjustment to life. To make favor an experience and devotion a manner...this - not just saying 'thank you' but having the presence of mind to go deeper into thought-through applied appreciation - is quite possibly the hardest challenge I will ever undertake.

With gratitude, sometimes you have to start with the little things. I got to go to the Oregon Coast for Thanksgiving. (I live in Montana, which is gloriously beautiful, but I have a deep love for the ocean.) So I am SO grateful for that. But something deeper...perhaps I could be grateful for the relationship with my sisters. Those haven't come easy over the years. We are the epitome of ups-and-downs. But I wouldn't throw those relationships (with all the good and bad times mixed in) for anything. Have I shown appreciation for that?

*insert awkward silence and cricket noises here*

How could I do that? Heartfelt notes? Baking cookies into scrolls which sing my sisters praises? Kidnapping them for coffee dates so I can shower them with good vibes and caffeine? Spamming their phones with thank you-thank you-thank you's?

This could work.

I could also simply take the time to say "Hey - I appreciate you and all you do, and I want you to know that our relationship is very important to me, and I love you a lot, despite the fact that you may have made me fear for my life on more than one occasion during my childhood." (Note: the last part of that could be omitted.)

Practice gratitude. It will not be easy. You will forget, you will fail, you will despair and think that you will never conquer the 'practice gratitude' thing. (Hello. Join the club.) But practice gets easier. It expands you. You gradually become familiar with the territory you've already covered. You know the steps, and some of them will still cause you to trip. But gradually, you'll know the path. The gratitude will come, closer to the surface, spilling over easier with every practicing step which - hopefully in a good way - jostles another person's world.

And jostling can feel forced, and fake. And you gotta press through. Its a heart issue. Let God change you, let him make you gratuitous, and thankful, and let him fill you. Let it spill. Let gratitude jostle your world, and other's worlds. Gratitude goes around. You'll never regret saying a nice thing, you'll never regret 'seeing' a person, and making sure that they are loved. Jostling another person's world might be just what they - and you - need this holiday season.

- Sami

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Out of the Deep

i’m going to be honest here
and just say it

the world is full of things
that aren’t so great
people lie
feelings change
and sometimes?

everything seems to just
c r a s h
b u r n

i can’t lie to you and say
that the world is all sunshine and roses
it isn’t

things happen that will make you feel
as though that beautiful heart of yours
your very soul
has been
s h a t t e r e d
into tiny pieces
and you don’t see
you’ll ever be able
to pick them back up

and in those moments
when you’re lying in the dark
and the thoughts are threatening
to choke you


it probably won’t be the first thought
running through that tangled up mind of yours

but let me tell you a
s e c r e t

this world that we live in?
the one that just broke your heart?

it’s full of so many beautiful things
so many beautiful moments

when you’re in the car
and the sun roof is down
and the music blares
as you pass too many trees to count

when you’re so deliriously tired
that absolutely everything is funny
and you find yourself laughing on the kitchen floor
at two a.m.
with your best friend on the other end of the phone
wondering why you’re still awake
but not minding a bit

when you wake up in the morning
and you roll over in bed
sun streaming through your windows
and you just lie there
because the day hasn’t started yet
and you’re at peace

when you turn the final page
of a book that just changed your life
and you sit in a daze
still lost in the world of those characters
that you never want to leave

when you take a bite of your favorite food
when the person you love wraps you in a big hug
when you pick a fresh flower
when a song you love starts to play

g r a t e f u l

so maybe
this world of ours
isn’t the happiest place

but those moments?
the little ones, where it feels like your heart could burst?
they come around more often than you might think

and even when you feel
like you’re drowning
those moments
can pull you out of the deep

-Grace Anne
of Totally Graced
Be sure to go check out her amazing blog and show her some tlc! she's awesome



Saturday, December 3, 2016

Whispering Thank-Yous

Thanksgiving came…and it’s passed, now.

The November gratitude is a simple focus to have – thank-yous to God for my family, for my friends, for the blessings He’s recently given me.

We make lists, we write on slips of paper, we go around the dinner table naming our thanks. We love the feeling of this joy-filled gratitude, the joy that inspires thankfulness, and the thankfulness that inspires yet more joy.

But so often – after that fourth Thursday in November – we can forget thankfulness.

We limit thanksgiving to being simply a holiday, and forget that it’s more than that. It’s a way of life.

Take a moment, whisper a thank-you. Every day, many times, even.

Whisper thank-yous to the God who gave us breath.

The God who gives us grace upon grace (John 1:16).

The God who gives us strength (Psalm 28:7).

The God who loved us so, so much – who died for us when we were stuck in our sins (Romans 5:8).

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord – for this love, Your blessed love, the love You’ve poured out so graciously and radically upon me.

It’s easy to stop talking about gratitude when November’s over, when Christmastime comes and it becomes so easily about asking for gifts and less about thanking our Father for the gifts He has so richly blessed us with. When life’s pains weigh on us and we can’t see the beauty ahead.

Let us find joy in our blessings, in the beauty, but in the pain as well.

It’s so hard sometimes, so, so hard to truly say thank you to God when life hurts so bad.

And when things seem bleak…we are still blessed.

Because God is good, even when the world is not.

Because God promises His presence with us, even when we feel the most isolated.

Because God’s love is there to envelop us, even when we feel like we’re walking this life alone, afraid.

Because God is always faithful, even in the darkest of times.

Gratitude…is an attitude.

Gratitude is finding slices of joy in the midst of everyday life.

Gratitude is a choice. A choice to trust God’s promises, even when we don’t feel like it. A choice to say thanks for the things that truly are gifts. A choice to live vividly and love wildly because we can find passion in this very life, right here, right now, in this life filled with grace and hope.

So find that joy. Trust this God who holds the reins on this world. Trust the Savior who bled and died so you could have life. Trust the Father who blesses us with all things, day after day.

And whisper thank-yous.

For He is the reason we breathe.

- amanda joy 

Be sure to check out/follow/show some love on Amanda's awesome and inspiring blog!