By the Water

Absolutely LOVING these verses in the Message version. With all of your passion AND intelligence, not by brute strength. 
“Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’” Matthew 22:37
because 
“Cursed is the strong on who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.” Jeremiah 17:5
but the man who trusts in the Lord 
“will be a like a tree planted by the water, and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

The photo of me above is during a drought season. A life-drought: a tough string of years. A time where I tried to stand by the water but I think my roots were only nourished by my tears. One Sunday afternoon, my parents and I went down by the River. The wind was blowing something fierce (can you tell by my hair?). It was a little too late in the day to be down there without a sweater. But I love this photo in front of the giant tree down by the water and the fact that somehow, somehow there is light in my eyes. 
Looking at it reminds me: 

Let’s go to the water, my dears.
If we are in a year of drought, perhaps its time to think, am I loving God with my passion, prayer, and intelligence? Or am I setting him aside and using my own strength? 

xo
Natalie

Resist It

Lately there’s a song that’s just been playing over and over in my head. Jason Reeve’s “Old-Fashioned Letters” (it’s sad so don’t say I didn’t warn you!) and there is one line…
“I want to run, but I resist it.”

Ugh, goodness gracious this line. I want to run, but I resist it. You know it takes a lot of effort to run, but it seems to take MORE effort to stay. 
Staying is hard. 
Waiting is hard. 
Being in a difficult transition, with no direction, and a whole lot of anxiety–yeah, staying there is hard.

When the big things are out of whack, I need to learn to be better at leaning into them. Leaning into HIM, leaning into the Word, and leaning into the waiting. 
Because waiting?

It’s actually refinement.

And I always wanted to a refined lady, polished and graceful in the waiting.

😉

xo
Natalie

Grace

{new dress that was on crazy-clearance at TJ Maxx. It was a size medium so I sewed it up to a small 🙂 The lace on the top has gold threads through it!)
I’ve been thinking about grace lately. 
I’ve been having some hard thoughts about grace lately. 
We talk a lot about seeking grace (an unmerited pardoning of our transgression or shortcoming).
But we seem to think that grace just IS and it’s always there and it’s free and we can take as much as we need for every little thing. 
{Who needs a wind machine when you’ve got the real thing?!}
Which is mostly true. Grace is free and available to us. But I don’t want us to forget that it was not free for God. God? Yeah, He PAID that price. He sent His only son to DIE on the cross for us. 
And to rise again. 
That is the reason we have grace. 
Grace is powerful. 
Grace should be transformative in our lives. 
So here’s what I propose: instead of shouting “grace” over ourselves, let’s not claim grace without going to the GIVER of GRACE and being on our knees before Him for a moment. 
Isn’t that the point of grace?

To point us back to God?

To be grace-filled by the giver of all good things, so that we, too, may go out into the world and give grace to others. 
{now I’ve got the doxology in my head. anyone else? #praiseGodfromwhomallblessingsflow}
Your thoughts on grace?
xo
Natalie

Hello Mornings

This post was supposed to be part of a series I meant to start on the blog this week—bah humbug, then I got sick. So we’re starting that NEXT week!

BUT I had to post this one today because Today is the LAST day to sign up for HelloMornings!

HelloMornings are online (twitter, facebook, or instagram linked) maximizing-mornings, scripture-reading, exercising, planning, and living Godly lives accountability groups. And these ladies? So legit. Each group has one or two “Accountability Captains” and we check in in the mornings, read our scripture for the day, and discuss and pray together. I started with the summer session and it has been life-changing. Truly I can’t think of a much better way to start my day!

There are a few spots left in several groups, so I highly encourage you to sign up and join us! Click here to find a group! And if you need help, feel free to email me 🙂 I’m not leading a group right now, just a participant, but I’m happy to help and point you in the right direction.

He is Fighting For Us

I just needed to share this song with you this morning. Because I’m having a tough morning. You know? I miss my family, I miss my old life, I am second-guessing everything, and honestly trying not to cry so I don’t ruin my makeup before work. Oh right—work. Gotta go do that thing all day. 
“Mighty is the One, who is strong to save, He will make a way….
Our God is fighting for us always, our God is fighting for us all…Our God is fighting for us always, we are not alone, we are not alone.
So I guess I just wanted to tell you, that if you’re having a morning, or week, or month like my morning, that you are not alone. You are not the only one there. God surrounds us with His light, and He is fighting for us. 
ALWAYS. 
Even when we don’t see it, feel it, or really even want to believe it.
Rest in that truth today, my dear friends. 

Except for Brokenness

Hello lovelies! Just had to pop in this morning because I’m sitting here, listening to this song on repeat, nearly in tears, getting ready for the day. These lyrics are so my heart right now.

“When I have nothing to offer You except for brokenness, You lift me up.” 
So I guess that means we have to offer Him our brokenness, much as I want to keep schlepping it around, heavy on my back, head down, steam-rolling my way through the woods to the nearest hermit cabin I can find. 
“My God, I’ll trust You. I’ll find you on my knees.” 

Oh, Sisters, Let’s Pray

My heart is heavy with the news of this school shooting in my beloved New England. The violence in our world can feel overwhelming. The sadness and hurt that we encounter in this fallen world can feel impossibly weighty. In light of this, I was thinking of the above words to the old, old song, “Down to the River to Pray“. And while my heart has been in prayer for the families of all involved, these words encouraged me to write to you. Sisters, let’s get on our knees, and be a nation and a generation crying out to God. He has overcome, He will overcome, and we shall see Him again. In the meantime, I pray that the message of Christmas, the meaning of this time of year, might fill the hearts of those so desperately in need this Christmastide. I pray that it might be louder than any message of hate or anger in their hearts, and that they might know that You, Lord, keep all of our tears, and listen to the cries of your people. You are ever-near, even in times of tragedy.
Let’s pray.

Empty Hands

Here I am, in Minnesota. It started snowing as we unloaded my car 🙂 An appropriate welcome.

Here I am, with empty hands.

Empty hands because I am beginning again, and beginning again means opening hands that held so many good things and memories to make room for new things. I have no idea what those new things are….no idea at all.

And then I got to thinking, what if my hands are empty, not to receive again, but so that I can have two empty hands for serving. For helping. For literally digging in to community.

What if my hands were filled with goodness, love, friendship, growth, and all of those good things, filled to overflowing for awhile to give me the strength and courage to live with empty hands for awhile. It isn’t easy to keep hands open and empty. We are always wanting, always reaching and grasping and taking. It is human nature. I am no exception. But God showed me the image in my head: a beautiful and lovely image of hands reached to the sky, touched with grace, mercy, and strength… held up day after day in front of God, on bended knee, offered to Him for His use and good purposes.

Maybe “empty” hands aren’t empty at all.
Not empty at all.

Hot Pink 4EVR

Hot pink + Natalie = Best Friends 4EVR

Also, you can tell I was having a wonderful time at a picnic party, because my belt is totally askew and I had no idea.
Yes, belt askew = obviously Natalie had a great time at a picnic party. 
It just SCREAMS that, don’t you think? 😉

In all honesty, though, it was such a wonderful picnic with people I love. And while I’m not technically family, I’m totally family. Y’know? The best thing ever.  I will miss these people dearly. For the past 6 1/2 years, we have built into each other’s lives, seen triumphs and trials together, seen boyfriends/girlfriends/marriages/children/deaths…we’ve been doing life together. That’s the family of God at work. We are created for such community, and being involved in it fills a deep need in our lives, I believe. I am so thankful for that. 
xo!

Thursday Brights


Good Morning!

I hope you have a beautiful, bright Thursday, friends.
One that refreshes you with detailed love from God’s heart, shown to you through friends, family, and even strangers. I just love when God uses strangers in my life for a very specific purpose. Do you know what I mean? When you’re feeling sorry for yourself and you go to get a coffee on your lunch break, and you have the best conversation with the barista, who gives you your coffee for free? Or you can’t think of ANYONE to take over your nursery shift on Friday, but then a friend calls and asks if she can take your shift that day if you’ll cover hers on Sunday morning? Or your boss happened to stay late last night and leave a nice note on your desk? I think all of those details are love that God brings into our lives, to show us how much he cares. To lift our hearts and spirits. Oh, how much he loves us, through and through. 
And in light of that, I just have to throw my hands with hot pink and silver fingernails in the air. 
Blessings back to praise, 
ALWAYS. 
{Linen Pants: waaaaay old Libertine for Target, Sequin Tank: Talbots, Ikat Cardi: Target, Bangles: J.Crew, Sunnies: Local Store, Earrings: F21, Silver Mocs: London Sole, thrifted}
Have a great day!
xo!