Don't Stop At Forgiveness...

It had been two years.

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Two years since we'd sat together to catch up, and this time it was different. This time, we sat together without talking about grievances, hard things, uncomfortable things - painful things even, like we had out of necessity in a tough season just a few years prior. We'd both been on deep, long, and at times, arduous, individual journeys with God, changing, transforming, wrestling, healing and growing deeper roots in Him, separately. It hadn't been easy for either of us, as it turned out, but sitting there on the couch in her Brooklyn home felt just right. God really does make all things new.

I was nervous as I walked from the subway to her front door, praying with every step I took. Would we drag up the past, or had we both healed and changed enough to have grace for one another to move forward? Would we see each other through God's eyes or through the pain of our past?

Turns out, it was through God's eyes.

One thing that rang true in our conversation was that God is all about reconciliation - the promise that we'd be reconciled to Him and to one another. There were laughter and tears (mostly on my end- I'm such a crier). The Gospel, at its core, is about reconciling the entire world to God, the Father of all life. He sent His one and only Son to redeem, restore and reconcile us to His heart. It's His plan that we would all walk in our true identity, looking to Him, the One whose image we're created in. 

As I sat on that L-shaped couch, across from this old friend, I saw the beginnings of new life, the glory of God manifesting right there in that Brooklyn home. New beginnings. New life. New hope. New horizons. NEW.

It's not always easy to get there. For Jesus, the entry point was death on a cross followed by a wrestle with all of hell for the reconciliation of humanity. But on that third day, when the world had lost hope in their human plan of what they'd thought was meant to be, Jesus took the keys that held us bound to sin, death and destruction and rose from the grave, defeating its power with complete and total authority.  He is the resurrection and the life that makes all things new. 

There is no other Gospel but death and resurrection. First Jesus' death and resurrection, and then our own as we die to ourselves and are resurrected in His life as a new creation. 

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It is for His glory that we reconcile with Him and are reconciled to one another. It is for His glory that we seek to reconcile the wrongs in this world, establishing His Kingdom of light and love in their place. Word to the wise, you're in for a fight (the right kind, though!) because it is territory that the enemy has been squatting on, and it's not his. Remember whose name is on the title and deed. That's right, it's YOUR name, because it's your inheritance as a child of God. So go ahead, child of God - place your foot on it.

I don't know what needs to be reconciled in your life today, but Jesus kicked down the door of death and defeated it completely so that you can walk in His resurrection power. You may need to die to yourself, your way, your plan, your blueprint, but just remember - there is resurrection on the other side of death.

As my friend said in a post on Facebook after we caught up,

"Don’t stop at forgiveness if reconciliation is in your grasp. Being right will never be as fulfilling as being together. Be like Elsa and #letitgo"

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 TPT

"17 Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. 18 And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 19 In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. 20 We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.” 21 For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him."

Musings From A Woman On The Verge Of 40

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When your kids start calling Ice Ice Baby and Can't Touch This "oldies" in casual dinner conversation, you've officially become your own mom and dad. When you start saying, "when I was your age..." and catch yourself, cupping your mouth in shock, then yeah... life it is a'changing.

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When your eldest son says, "Hey mom, they measured my height yesterday at school. I'm 5'4" now... officially taller than you. Also, I weigh 105." Ugh. First of all, thanks for reminding me of how short I am, when, secretly in my own mind, I'm a super model. Second of all, now my weight doesn't feel so amazing. Third of all, when did I get to the age where I have a son that is taller than me? For real, though. HOW AM I ALMOST 40?

I hear people say that they're pumped for 40, ready to turn 40, excited to step into 40, but this woman is just seeing more wrinkles (collagen, where did you go??) and lumps. And what ever happened to my metabolism, and my thick, silky hair? What. The. Heck. In case you're wondering, I'm just waiting for small lips to come back in, too. I'll be sooo on trend. And why do I cry all the time... correction, more than I already did?  Whhhhhaaaaat is happening to me????

I'm turning 40. Yes, 40. Let that sink in, Andi. 

Some of you are older than me and want me to just shut up. Others of you are like, "what? Lumps? Loss of hair? Slower metabolism? Ahhhhh! I. can't. even."

CALM DOWN. It's all going to be okay. Or at least, that's what I hope I'll be letting you know on September 4th, when I step out of my 30's and into my 40's. (Yes, I'm accepting gifts.) Also, I share a birthday with Beyonce, so that's something.

I find myself wrestling with these thoughts often, "Since when did age become something to avoid?" "When did we stop embracing the beauty of grey hair, lumps, wrinkles, a life lived with experience and wisdom?" "When did looking like I'm forever 21 become the goal?" "Why can't we all just age well?" Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we're eternal beings that still can't cope with some of the effects of the Fall in the Garden. Maybe it's comparison. Maybe it's vanity. Maybe we just like beauty products (yes, I see you). Maybe we're locked into a moment where we felt the most beautiful and want to get back there somehow...

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This is my BEAUTIFUL mom. This is her real grey hair; the hair that young people now spend crazy amounts of money to have. but hers is all natural. It's all her. Those wrinkles, sans botox; those laugh lines, sans fillers; all earned, all hers. Every. Single. One. She's beautiful. She's a tad emotional (I get it from my Momma). She's a little crazy and totally creative - a hippie to rival all hippies (you should try her homemade kombucha) - and she's aging beautifully, inside and out. And as I teeter towards 40, I thank God that she's my mom. When I start freaking out about aging, I just look at her. She's paving a way for me and so many others. 

A couple of months ago, my 5-year-old Sammy pointed out the wrinkles around my mouth and asked me, "what are those?" to which I replied, "Laugh lines! Those are earned over time, buddy. You have to laugh a lot and then you'll get your own." Deep in thought, he smiled and nodded, thinking that was quite possibly the coolest thing ever. 

Look, you do you. Botox, fillers, all the things... whatever floats your boat. I just pray that we as woman can age beautifully from the inside out. That we can be at peace with who we are, and that we find a way to genuinely love who our Creator has made us to be. Truth be told, I've shocked myself over this last year with all these conflicting feelings and fears of hitting a certain age. For the most part, I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin,  but in the times I'm not, I cry it out in my Father's lap. I let Him remind me how amazing I am, and then I get back up, dust myself off, and keep going. 

My conclusion? This short lady (who is a super model in her own mind) is going to keep walking her way down the runway of life with a little less hair, a tad slower metabolism, a few more tears than usual, and laugh lines, to boot, and she's going to be just fine. 40, I'm coming for you like a dance battle.

Because, DANCE BATTLES.

 

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Guest Post with Jamie Ivey

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Guys! I met a new friend who you're all going to love... let me introduce you to Jamie Ivey! Just last month, I flew down to Texas to meet her and record an episode for her podcast, The Happy Hour With Jamie Ivey (you can listen to the episode here). She is mother to four beautiful kids, wife to Aaron, lives outside of Austin, Texas and has just released her first book, If You Only Knew; My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming FreeI asked if she wouldn't mind me sharing some of it with you, and she said yes! She's a soul sister with a message of freedom and vulnerability that aligns so deeply with my heart. I believe you're going to love her and love her book!

Here is an excerpt:

"Remember at the end of high school when they announce the people who are “Most Likely to _________”? Then they fill in the blanks with things like, “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Most Likely to Stay Single,” “Most Likely to Become Famous.”

I never received any of those “Most Likely to . . .” awards in high school, but I can only imagine what I would have received if they’d given me one: “Most Likely to Get Married Early,” “Most Likely to Become a Teacher,” “Most Likely to Become a Mom.” Yet on the inside, my identity was in shambles. I knew I wasn’t “likely” to do any of those things. And as I worked my way through college, the predictions would only have gotten worse: “Most Likely to Get Divorced,” “Most Likely to Get a Disease,” “Most Likely to Get Pregnant.” (Well, that one actually did happen, but thankfully not the others.) 

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If we’re not careful, our whole identity can become wrapped up in what other people think we’re supposed to be or what we think we’re supposed to do. Perhaps today, for example, you’re basing your identity on something as fresh and recent as how you acted last night and what somebody said to you or accused you of. Or you’re finding your identity in the mom you want to be, or the mom you hate that you are. Maybe you’re finding your identity in the job you have, or the job you wish you had but can’t seem to get hired for. 

Maybe you find part of your identity in what you did this summer, or what you wish you’d done this summer, compared to what everybody else was doing (and bragging about doing). Maybe you find your identity in the ministries you perform at church and how people perceive your “Christian” standing because of it. Maybe you find your identity in your passions, in your body mass index, in your checkbook balance, in your home décor choices, or whatever other kinds of indicators seem to measure your worth and success as a person. We are constantly finding our identity from everything around us, from everywhere we go, and from everything, people say and think about who we are or who we should be. 

But this is not who we are. And we always need to remember that. 

A few years ago, one of my kids came home from school, super down about his day. He told me how during the day, some kids at school had been talking about all those “Most Likely to . . .” categories, and his friends announced they had voted him “Most Likely to Lose at Arm Wrestling.” My first inclination was to laugh. From my vantage point as an adult, of course, being known as the best arm wrestler in third grade doesn’t mean much. But I held back my giggles because I could see this insult had been a real blow to my son’s nine-year-old heart because his friends had made him sad . . . and “because I’m strong,” he told me.

“I know you are,” I said, pulling my sweet boy close to me, hugging him. I whispered into his ear, telling him he was a child of God whose identity was already secured, and that his identity in Christ is the only identity he ever needs to be worried about. He didn’t need to be devastated or heartbroken over what his friends were saying because that identity never matters. 

And I wonder if that’s not what our Father wants to do when we come home from another day of combat, with all those false identities screaming in our head. Can’t you just hear Him saying, “My sweet daughter, those thoughts you’re thinking are not true? Remember My promises to you? My Word is true. You know this. You are a child of Mine. You are a new creation. I have made you alive with Christ, and I have chosen you to be My daughter so that I can do great things through you.” 

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Over and over I’ve needed Him to whisper these truths to me—through His Word, through His Spirit, through my community. And if past (and current) history are any indication, I feel pretty sure I’ll be struggling to believe it until the day I take my final breath on this earth, until I’m face-to-face with Jesus. Of the numerous things in my life that I battle nearly every single day, remembering my identity is one of them.

Over time, God has revealed Himself to me in ways I’d never before been willing to accept. I finally started to learn that my identity is not skewed because of all the things I’ve done or haven’t done, but is secured by all the things Jesus has done (as well as by what He hasn’t done, like condemn and reject me). 

My identity is only what it is today—a daughter of the King—because of Jesus. It has nothing to do with me. “Most likely” has been replaced by the absolute assurance that I am loved and cherished by my heavenly Father, despite all that He knows of me. And when I finally began believing this truth—that God could use a broken, messed-up person like me for His glory—I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. 

That’s when things really started to change for me. I know it can be the same for you." 

So friend, get out there, buy Jamie's book and subscribe to her podcast. You'll find a fast friend through each page you turn and each episode you hear.

xoxo Andi

Helpful Links: 

Jamie's Book

Jamie's Website

Jamie's Podcast