New Writing Endeavor- THRIVE & DIME!

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I’m so excited to tell… ANY of you who may still be reading along with this ol’ blog of mine…. I’ve started writing again over at MetroFamily Magazine! It’s been a great experience, and it has been so good for me to be getting the words out again. Hope you’ll read along with me!  I post my latest links on my Facebook and Instagram (@emeryjo) accounts, so follow along! Cheers to what lies ahead!

Blooming.

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I haven’t sat down at this keyboard with the intention of writing anything for a very long time. It baffles me and frustrates me that the words that used to pour out daily with ease have all gathered up together like a flock and billowed away from me. I know there are seasons for things, and this season may not be one of writing for me, but I’m trying to figure out how to live now without getting all tangled up inside- writing is my de-tangler. It combs me through and gets out all the knots.

Life marches on, words or no words, and here I am. The two older boys are in school, and Truman is my all day, everyday 3-year-old sidekick. He hasn’t taken off his batman costume in 9 days. Myer’s training wheels sit recently abandoned in the garage, and the math work Ezra is bringing home looks like blueprints for a spaceship to me. What is supposed to be me ‘checking his work’ ends up being a 30 minute math lesson for mom. He’s a patient and gentle teacher. haha.

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We’ve been church planters for eight months now, my husband and I. It is gut-wrenchingly terrifyingly wonderfully AMAZING work. I had no idea. My husband is stepping into some new skin, some fresh authority that I could always see just below the surface- waiting for the chance to exist.  He is a pastor through and through from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, and seeing the way he cares for and leads this church body in worship with such humble joy is… well, beyond description for the wife’s heart within me. All those years of physical labor – for him as a contractor, for me as a mother of small children – they’ve all been working towards this new birth in him and none of it would have been possible apart from the toil & the longing. It gives everything I do with my days, from the washing of dishes to the checking of math homework, great weight. He serves the church and I serve him.  When I fold the laundry, it is for the church. For the kingdom! Not that you have to be a pastor’s wife to live in these realities, because you don’t. It is reality for all of those who live in God’s kingdom and serve God Himself, but this new season has really brought a lot of this truth home for me in a unique way. I don’t necessarily have to be championing committees to serve my church body, I can serve a warm meal and match up a pair of clean socks. It is a humbling thing, and my flesh often fights against it… my enemy often tells me it’s not enough, but I fight on to believe and embrace it more and more.

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The church is blooming, and it is a work that never sleeps. You can’t leave it behind at the office. We are a mobile church, which means we build up & tear down the thing every week. Far from being burdensome, this working alongside one another to build a place for people to come and worship & hear God’s Word together has been an honor and a privilege. Church can become just another thing to consume in this culture of ours. Coming week after week and taking, taking, ingesting… without ever giving back. Abundant joy is found in rolled up sleeves and sweat on the brow- rolling in cases or teaching children or setting up coffee or signs or check-in computers or chairs! The joy of the Lord can overpower a heart in such moments. I know it does mine. Jesus came to serve and pour out His life. Not pour into His own. His sleeves were ROLLED UP, y’all.  Again and again, you can find so much of Him in the least expected of places- a food trough in Bethlehem, a tax collector’s house, a school gymnasium on a Sunday morning. He continues to surprise me. He knows just what we need before we have any inkling of it ourselves, and I am so grateful to follow a God who is control of all things and has my GOOD set before Him at all times.

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A couple of days ago, as I watched Myer pedal his bike away from me without the security of those training wheels for the first time, something clicked inside of me. Is there any better picture of faith than that? Is there any better picture of church planting or pastoring or stay-at-home momming, or ANYTHING that we do with these lives of ours? It’s always scary. It’s always wobbly. We’ll probably skin a knee. But it is always worth the risk- to take off the training wheels and pedal forward out of our comfort zones. If I could encourage you all in anything, it would be just that, with every last breath that I have: pedal forward through the unknowns! Step out in faith! If you feel God tugging you towards something uncomfortable, know that He will provide all you need if you will just trust. And know this too: After you step out in faith, things might look grim. No, they most definitely WILL look grim. And then, even grimmer. (totally a word.) But if you’ll just keep moving your feet and trusting He is holding you, you’ll regret nothing, and you’ll find things you didn’t even know you were missing.

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Psalm 37:5 – “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.”

Where Was God?

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 10.43.15 AMMy wonderful husband has worked SO hard on writing the music for a hope-filled film due to release this weekend called “Where Was God?”.  It follows the lives of several families affected by the tornado that plowed right through Moore, Oklahoma almost one year ago.

This movie is a gut-wrenching look at what the aftermath of an event like this is truly like, and the stories of hope that arise from the rubble.  A city brought low rises up again with stories to tell – stories that will build & strengthen your faith in whatever storms of life you might face. It shows how the winds intertwined more than just branches & debris – it also intertwined hearts and journeys of healing in breathtakingly beautiful and unexpected ways. It’s a story you’ll never forget.

It will release locally at the Warren Theatre in Moore first, but screenings may be requested elsewhere at wherewasgod.com.  Please check out the trailer below, and help spread the word in any way you can!

 

 

the mess & the crash.

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To truly know the Father’s love for me.  To somehow smoosh down all of the knowledge of His love that is built up in my head into the deepest depths of my heart. To break up the clog. To clear the line. The more days I live, the more days I see- it’s what I desperately need. It’s all I desperately need. Every other thing is swept away in it.

I know God loves me. I’ve been singing it since I was three. Jesus loves me this I know. This I know. This I know!

But what happens when the weight of the knowing never crushes the heart and splays it wide open? Never wrecks it? Never presses the knowledge down into a tangible affection that trumps every other hard circumstance or blatant devil lie?

I have walked for so long within the walls of church, that I fear I somehow long ago stopped truly examining myself, stopped asking these questions.  I’m a christian and I love God, so all’s well that ends well! Right? Meanwhile, I wake up angry most mornings and consider a ‘good day’ to be one in which I don’t totally erupt on my children and have to beg forgiveness moments later… after the doors have already been slammed.  You can’t unslam a door, did you know? No matter how much I beg their forgiveness and explain that mommy needs Jesus to heal the rough patches in her heart, the abrupt and hollow sound still lingers. It echoes on and on and on and on inside me for days and months and years.

roastingHow do I find freedom from all the hollow echoes bouncing off my insides? The bad choices? The wrong decisions? The shame upon shame upon shame? The things I’ve done? The things I’ve said? The hurt I’ve caused? The things I’ve chosen to see? The things I’ve pretended not to see? All of these things are noise in my soul, and I can barely hear myself or God above the racket.  My head feels so loud all day everyday and I can hardly make myself sit still in one place for too long because it’s all screaming and if the house is perfectly tidy all the time maybe no one else will hear this mess in me…

The love of the Father.

All things go still when He steps on the scene. A holy hush, and everything drops to the knee. This is the only balm for my frazzled nerves, the peace that my roaring soul so desperately needs.  The old reverberations are swept away and it’s suddenly so quiet it almost hurts. He is so very close. He is so very love. And I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off all this time- trying to avoid this gaze so piercing. His love is the only thing that will silence all the noise, but how do I embrace it?  How do I surrender all of this inward chaos and open my arms to it?  It’s one thing to know about it. It’s another thing entirely to allow the Spirit inside of me to cry out “Daddy!” and wrap its arms around His neck- to live truly believing that the past mistakes are not what He sees when He looks at me.

The walls of this heart here are so high, so strong. They’ve defied all love-inspired attacks raised against them. I so desperately want the love of the Father to ring out loud and bring these walls rumbling down, brick after brick, all dust and smoke, but maybe it looks more like peeling one brick away at a time? Chiseling it off and walking it to a far off place to bury it? Oh, Lord, I want the mess & the crash! Is it okay to admit that? One way is tidy and the other looks more like a war zone, but I am so very tired of tidy. My life is so… tidy! I’m asking for the wrecking ball. I am asking for the mess. I am asking to be ruined by Your all-consuming love… for the ‘knowing about‘ to become a complete and total surrender– where insurmountable walls are turned to settling dust and white flags are flying bold & brave up high in the wind.

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