the nursery’s ready, so all that’s left is to do is…freak out

It hit me when Michael and I were at Ikea buying furniture for baby boy’s nursery. Picking out a bookshelf to hold all his baby books? Awesome. Picking out his diaper caddy? Yay! Picking out drawers to hold his pacis? Adorable!

Then we got to the bathroom section.

I literally stopped short in the middle of the toothbrush holders and nearly peed my pants which, let’s be real – isn’t that abnormal these days. The urge to pee, I mean.

Anyway, I stopped short.

Michael looked at me. “Hm?” He asked, eyeing me with concern. He was probably also afraid I might pee.

“It’s just…” my voice got quiet. I stared at the little plastic bathroom caddy I was holding. “He’s…he’s going to have his own…toiletries. And stuff.”

Michael blinked.

I raised my eyebrows and shook my head. “I mean…our kid will have his own toothbrush. And his own shampoo. And his own life. And…he’s like, he’s a real person!

He laughed. “What’d you think we were having? A cat?”

I laughed, we moved on, and I didn’t pee my pants, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the fact that my baby is his own person. Really though, he’s God’s person.

The point is, he’s mine – yes, such a gift – but mostly he’s God’s.

And so I have no control over basically anything. Like his personality, his likes or dislikes, his taste in food, his taste in music, his taste or disdain for *gasp!* books

Y’all. What is this new member of mine and Michael’s little family going to be like?

And then…even scarier… cue the urge to pee again…HOW AM I A MOM?

The fear inside yells, I can’t be a mom!!! I’m just Robyn! I still sleep with a stuffed animal at night and I still hate grapes and I’m still working on my temper PLUS I’m already a writer and a teacher and a tutor and a sister and a daughter and a wife and a friend…and so now, I add mom to the list?!

It all just feels really big.

Really big.

Like I’m five years old again, playing dress up but my feet don’t fill my mom’s high-heeled shoes – and I try them out anyway to see if they work.

I suppose this just reminds me why it’s so important that my true identity is Jesus. I’m His. I love all those other roles I get to be a part of this side of heaven, too, but I suppose even when I have little baby resting in my lap I’ll still be…Robyn. God’s Robyn. That won’t change.

Sleeping with a stuffed animal probably won’t change either.

I don’t think God will mind.

But change is scary, I think.

Which is probably why, when my freshman roommate and I were left alone for the first time after our parents dropped us off at UGA, we looked at each other like, what do we do now? and then just sat on the floor of our dorm room and ate an entire bag of dove chocolates in one sitting.

While I was telling God how afraid I am of this upcoming ginormous change (even though it’s the best change I can imagine after getting married to Michael), I felt like He was chuckling.

And He probably was. Because for some reason the fact that I’m afraid was shocking to me. 

But I suppose God knows me better than that. I don’t think I shock Him.

I was there in the moments you were joyfully excited, I felt Him whisper. I was there when I chose him for you and Michael. I’m there with him now. And I’ll be there every step of the way for you. That is the one thing, Beloved, that will never ever change. I have always loved you. No change in your life will ever surprise Me. I’m your True North – your Constant in every change.

It’s calming to think that right now, He’s there alongside me while I watch videos about breathing through labor and how to clean a pacifier, He’s there while I try on nursing clothes, and He’s there when I wake up from the dream where I accidentally feed my baby saltines rather than breastfeed him and the doctors yell at me.

When our identity as God’s children is simply and profoundly Loved By God, change will never shake us. Because then, I supppose…what’s there to shake?

So, here it goes: bring on the change!

And maybe definitely absolutely a bag of dove chocolates.

 

Blessings to you,

 

Robyn

p.s. – feel free to pray for my labor, and that everyone involved will keep saltines far away from me 😉

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

May I offer some encouragement? (And some cookie butter?)

Can I just say one thing before I say anything else?

Go to your nearest Trader Joe’s and buy some COOKIE BUTTER! (Could ever there be two words so perfectly made for each other that we should have put them together centuries ago?!) The cookie butter mixed with cocoa (YES. You heard me right. MIXED WITH COCOA.) looks like this and I can guarantee you will be dancing a happy jig with spoonfuls in your mouth!!:

Still not sure if it's a condiment or a food but it's AMAZING.

Still not sure if it’s a condiment or a food but it’s AMAZING.

Can you tell I haven’t been working for two days? 

Yeah, just me and the cookie butter.

……..

……..

…….. Just kidding. (Sort of).

So, anyway, this week I got sick.

On Monday, actually.

(And yes…I know today is only Tuesday so this post will be short because I. Will. Rest.)

But remember how I’m a fellow planner with all you fine type-A folks? Well, I had my week laid out quite nicely already.

And then I got sick.

And not the kind of sick where I could battle through and still get things done, apparently.

Because I tried.

I gallantly stubbornly went through Monday morning trying to check things off my list, mail my queries, clean the house, prep for my nanny babies, and of course play with Tuck so he wouldn’t tear up the new carpet with his colossal amounts of jungle-cat energy. (Note to self: check up on whether or not Tuck has the DNA of a wild bobcat or a panther or something).

Needless to say, Monday morning ended with me in bed and all the lights off and I couldn’t even open my eyes for Downton Abbey. Yes, I know!!!! Nuts, right?!! Lady Mary couldn’t even get me to stay awake. That’s when you know it’s serious, folks.

I was spent.

And yet, running a fever and attempting to hear noise above the ringing in my ears, I was still frustrated. I was frustrated because I didn’t want to rest.

And this morning when I woke up with my head full of bowling balls or balloons or something of that nature, I was still frustrated. I still didn’t want to rest.

Because then, this week wouldn’t be productive enough by my own standards.

Like, as if I didn’t perform and check-off all these things on my to-do list, then my week would be for naught.

But maybe the Lord has more for our weeks than checking off to-do lists. 

And He whispered something into my heart and so, by God’s grace (and above the ever-present ringing sound caused by the rather painful state of my eardrums at the moment), I turned my ear to listen.

“Will you rest in Me?”

Wait….But…

But, I can’t, see, I actually have this list of things on my agenda and they’re very important to me and…

But then…..I’m tired.

Physically, tired.

My head is throbbing.

And I have no choice.

So I rest.

And it was then, in the blessed quiet submission that I realized, no matter what I have on my schedule, I am free to always rest in Him.

It’s what we’re promised as His children: to be led beside quiet waters, to be soul-refreshed, to be led down the right paths (psalm 23:1-3) when we give Him our hearts and our trust.

No matter what else is on our agendas, there is one constant that is already filled in for us on each page: Be held.

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands” (John 3:35, emphasis mine).

“My sheep [followers of Christ] listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 11:27-30).

So my prayer is this: When I am sick, may I rest in Him. When I am well again, may I rest in Him. When I’m working, may I rest in Him. May I be led from worry to the quiet waters of His love.

Perhaps it took a physical slow-down for the Lord to remind me to trust Him. To rest in Him.

Now, I think I’ll go eat a spoonful of cookie butter and watch Lady Mary marry Matthew Crawley for the third time.

Blessings and rest to you,

Robyn

Jesus offended me. (And I’m so glad He did.)

Can I take a minute to share with you? Thanks. Extroverted me is brimming at the seams.

I used to think, “I’m not perfect, but God loves me.”

Now I think, “I’m not perfect, and God loves me.”

It might not seem like a whole lot of difference, but to me, these two statements separate moralistic religion and Jesus in my own heart.

You see, the “but” in the first statement always left room in my heart for the hope that somehow, I could really try my best to be perfect for Jesus and He would love me always, even in the times I fell short of perfect. The “but” meant that sometimes, even if hardly ever, I could actually come close to achieving perfection by thinking and doing the right things that I thought God wanted me to do.

The “and” in the second statement means that I. Will. Never. Be. Perfect. At least, not until heaven when I meet Jesus face to face and am made perfect and complete in eternal communion with Him. And that’s the me Jesus came to save – the me who realizes and accepts my serious imperfection and doesn’t try to hide it with a band-aid of well performed morality or religious rules I’ve made for myself.

IMG_3180

You might be familiar with Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son. The one where the younger brother runs away with his dad’s money, squanders it on “wild living” (prostitutes, alcohol, partying, etc) and ends up alone and eating with pigs after all his money is gone. So he returns to his dad’s house, thinking himself a fool and unworthy to be a son anymore, and his dad meets him with open arms and celebrates his son’s repentance and homecoming with the biggest celebration of the year.

Meanwhile, the older brother, who stayed with his dad, did his chores, followed the rules, and is pretty sure he’s done a lot better than his younger sibling, is absolutely furious with his dad for welcoming the younger brother back. He won’t even go into the celebration when his dad pleads with him to come and enjoy. The older brother says something to the effect of “I’ve done the right thing this whole time! You never threw me a party! And yet, my brother acted a fool and comes back when his money is gone and you throw HIM a party? That’s not fair!”

Can I admit that even though his argument annoys me, the older brother’s logic made some sense to me? And I found myself nodding and thinking, “Wait…but he did everything right…”

And that’s when Jesus gently and truthfully whispered into my heart that I’m less perfect than I ever dared imagine – no matter what rules I do follow. When you’ve idolized perfection for so long, that’s an offensive truth.

And that’s when the full impact of the gospel hits like a hurricane of unrivaled love.

If I accept how sinful I am (I know, I know. It’s heavy. It’s not fun to think about. It’s offensive, even), then how much more does Jesus mean to me?

All of a sudden, I need Jesus. I love Him even more. I am in love with the Son who loves me with reckless abandon, asking for nothing in return. Never asking for performance. Asking only for my whole heart.

Jesus says this about a sinful woman whom He allowed to anoint His feet with her best perfume, “I tell you, her sins – and they are many – have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love. Then Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ “- Luke 7:47-48.

The truth is, Jesus forgives us all much. It’s up to us to decide whether we will let Him.

If we pretend we don’t need much forgiveness (with the flawed thinking that surely we must have followed the rules better than the next guy), then I suppose we only have the ability to love little rather than love much.

One more thing.

Did you know that when Christianity first spread, right after Jesus was crucified for us, it was considered anti-religious. Yes. Christianity was considered anti-religious. According to Tim Keller, the religious people of that day asked, “Where is your temple?…Where do your priests labor?…Where are the sacrifices made to please your gods?” And Christians would have responded that they did not make sacrifices anymore. Jesus himself was the temple to end all temples, the priest to end all priests, and the sacrifice to end all sacrifices” (Keller, Prodigal God).

Keller closes with this: “The crucial point here is that, in general, religiously observant people were offended by Jesus, but those estranged from religious and moral observance were intrigued and attracted to him” (Keller, Prodigal God).

Please here this: God does give us boundaries and rules that breathe life and are pure. They show us how to live abundantly and by so doing, glorify Him.

But I pray we will be a people who admit and embrace with humble hearts our big need for Jesus, so His big forgiveness can take place in our hearts, overflowing into big love for Him and for others.

Blessings and love to you today,

Robyn

“The men at the table said among themselves, ‘Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?‘ And Jesus said to the [sinful woman who anointed His very feet] “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:49-50).

My Instagram Account isn’t Fake…but it isn’t Everything

There have been a lot of blog posts circulating about the effects of looking at Facebook and Instagram daily.

And goodness and Ben and Jerry’s both know I could write a whole post itself on how frustrating it was being on Facebook after college graduation, inundated with pictures of fellow graduates’ new desks while I had yet to land one. You know, a job. Not a desk.

And I love Instagram.

I love showing pictures of my fur baby and family and Bible verses and flowers from Michael and cookie dough freshly plopped on the pan, I love letting my friends and family know when I’ve achieved something, when I’m thinking of them, when I see a funny picture of a cat sitting on a couch like a human with a soda can and a slice of pizza.

It warms my heart to capture and share these things.

But these warm and beautiful and light-bearing things don’t happen alone.

No, these things – the Bible verses, the sunset on the beach, the selfie with Michael – they happen amid the messiness of every day life.

And I love that. God graces in ordinary life.

What I’m saying is, my social media accounts are real. Very real. But they’re not the whole picture.

You know, I read somewhere that friendship forms when someone says simply, “me too.”

I agree.

So here is my is my “me too” for you:

You’ll see my wedding pictures. I like to post them, because I love Michael with my whole entire heart and truly our wedding was one of the best days of my life so far. What you won’t see is the months of pre-marital counseling, prayer, and normal, hard work we went through go through to get there.

You’ll see a Bible verse about God’s peace. The verse wasn’t posted because I know all about God’s peace and have mastered that bit of truth. No, it was posted because I was feeling anxious and needed God’s peace.

You’ll see two beach chairs sitting perfectly in the sunlight. It was an awesome moment captured. What you won’t see is how I miss my Papaw being there. A lot. Every time I see those chairs. Because probably like you, I know how much it hurts to miss a grandpa, too.

You’ll see Tucker being all cute and fuzzy, like a giant peppered cotton ball. What you won’t see is how three seconds later he gives me a “love bite” and I yelp and fall off the couch and knock my drink over. But let’s face it. He’s still cute and fuzzy.

An accurate depiction of my crazy cat.

An accurate depiction of my crazy cat. I didn’t post this one. But you can see very nicely the spots where he’s added some torn-up flair to our couch, no? 

You’ll see a selfie with me and Michael. What you won’t see is the argument we just talked through for about 45 minutes before the selfie.

You’ll see a picture of me on Easter. What you won’t see is the really bad hair day I woke up to the day before. Know why you won’t see it? I didn’t take a picture on my bad hair day.

You’ll see a picture of freshly baked pumpkin bread. What you won’t see is how on that same day, I was stressed about the details of my changing career.

Friends, I love Instagram because it’s a way to document God’s graces in the ordinary moments of ordinary people.

Instagram shows real things (at least, on my account) – but it doesn’t show everything.

Be encouraged!

Social media has changed our culture.

But, I pray all the time to see social media as a way to enjoy and celebrate sweet and real graces amid each person’s sweet and real messiness.

Goodness, we’re all human, folks!

And Praise God! He loves us just the same.

So next time you see me post a picture, know it’s grace. And there’s a real, maybe even messy story behind it, and you know something else? That messiness is grace, too. In Jesus, all is grace.

Blessings and sweet realness to you,

Robyn

Rest Easy.

This morning I was inspired by a question from my Hebrews bible study.

The sound of birds chirping out on the porch was also especially inspiring after a week of rain, and few things make me feel instantly at peace like my vanilla cream coffee perfectly warm and a lack of Tucker bites (for now) thanks to the God-sent electronic bug zooming around our little foyer.

I’d love to be transparent with you.

The question in my study was this: What are some of the “plus” behaviors you’ve tried to add to the sufficiency of Christ? (Harper, pg.115).

Well….I mean. Oh.

I don’t need to add things? I totally forgot I don’t need to add things.

Andrew Strickland Photography (10 of 53)

I forgot I’m good enough for Him because of Jesus. I forgot I don’t need to clean up my act before I come to Him in prayer. I forgot I don’t have to pray with my eyes closed and in one certain spot to get better prayer-reception. I forgot God forgave the sins I haven’t even done yet once and for all and that’s good enough.

Gosh, it’s so easy to forget.

Following rules and religious rituals we’ve made up in our heads sometimes feels safer than living free in Christ’s love, doesn’t it?

It’s hard to wrap my mind around how my life was more valuable to Jesus than His own. Rituals and rules make more sense to the human brain, I think.

But I like Jesus better.

You know something?

I would rather be forgiven than perfect.

Because forgiven means I’m loved.

Hallelujah! I love being loved!

I can walk through this day with my permanent ID card in my back pocket:

 Robyn: Loved. Pardoned. Free to Go. A Friend of the King (John 15:13).

(so, not like, spent 30 minutes reading the Bible, so free to go until tomorrow morning).

(so, not like, didn’t do anything wrong for an hour, so pardoned until the next mistake)

(so, not like, prayed enough this week, so God will definitely listen)

No, no, no!

Praise Him, that’s not our reality as His beloved friends!

Because Jesus says the verdict is in. We can show our ID cards to that judging voice whenever it rears its ugly head with a religious to-do list:

Your Name: Loved. Pardoned. Free to Go. A Friend of the King.

One of my favorite verses is this:

“Relax! Be silent and stop your striving,

and you will see that

I am God” Psalm 46:10, passion translation.

I also like to tweak it a little for my own heart to this, referencing 1 John 4:8:

“Relax! Be silent and stop your striving,

and you will see that

I am [Love].”

So rest easy today. The result of our trial has been determined already: Jesus wins. And we win in Him.

Enjoy the walk a little more. We can stroll! Or even better, skip! We don’t have to strive and stress the whole time and power-walk anywhere checking off our list of religious to-do’s. (Although who doesn’t love a good power-walk with elbows flying all over the place? And even cooler, those professional power-walking suits and helmets? But I digress.)

All this, Friends of the King, because:

Jesus = Everything we need. 

(seen that phrase a million times? yeah, me too. and it’s amazing how many times I still need the sweet, Holy reminding.)

God’s grace and love to all us power-walkers-turned-skippers with To-Do lists turned-freedom-flags,

Robyn

3 Questions That Just Might Turn Your Day Around

Here they are, a few questions that set my heart beating a little steadier in freedom to truly enjoy Christ and live the abundant life He’s given me:

Can I accept that I am not perfect, and that God loves me anyway? (Romans 5:8)

Can I accept that I am not the world’s version of perfect, but I am God’s version of perfect? (Psalm 139: 13-16)

Can I give up my pride (a.k.a. self-protection, self-righteousness, self-doubt) to The Lord and receive unconditional love and acceptance for exactly who I am, in return? (Romans 8:38-39)

Can you feel God smiling really big about those? I can.

I’m sure He loves when we accept His gift of grace. Over and over and over. Every time we forget and need to accept it again.

Like when you buy someone the best present and it costs every penny you own and you’ve been planning this gift for the longest time, and they finally open it and squeal and smile in joy and you, you’re the giver of the gift, and you swell with joy too…I like to think that must be at least a little of what God feels every time we remember and accept His gift of grace and unfailing love.

And so then I thought, now what do we do in response?

We receive it.

We receive His Perfect Love, and we walk through this day not as those who have failed, but as those who are forgiven and loved.

Live your life like you’re exactly who Jesus thinks you are.” – Bob Goff.

Take a deep breath. God is smiling over you!

Happy Tuesday, precious hearts!

Robyn

Verses From our Questions:

Romans 5:8 (ESV, emphasis mine) – “…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Psalm 139: 13-16 (MSG version, additions mine) – “Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You High God – You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship [You] in adoration – what a creation [You’ve made me to be]! You know me inside and out, every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the pages of my life were spread out before You, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV) – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”