Monday, August 31, 2015

Why I'm Thankful for Dirty Fingernails

This might be one of my most glamorous blog header shots ever, friends. =)

In reality, it is maybe one of my most realistic header shots ever.

This is Life 101 on a working farm. The dirt you see this time is mud. But it could be a number of other things...

This picture came from a rainy Saturday morning spent weeding + hoeing in one of our flower beds. I was soaked + filthy by the time I was finished. But let me tell you-it was the best feeling ever.

Accomplishment. Fulfillment. Satisfaction of a job done well.

There's nothing quite like that feeling of knowing that your hard work has paid off in a beautiful finished product. It didn't take the flip of a switch, or the click of a mouse, to accomplish this. It took getting out of bed, getting out there Saturday morning, in the mud, in the rain, and working hard. I was worn out when I was done, but it was such a good feeling.

As I was cleaning up later on to leave the house, I had to laugh at my hands. I may now have been dressed up, and had my hair + makeup done, but my fingernails were a dead-giveaway for my lifestyle. There were purple/red stains all around and under my nails from the red beets I had canned prior in the week. There were dirt stains, still visible even though I had washed/scrubbed. If tomato juice stained then I would have had a good coating of that from the pizza sauce I had canned earlier that week as well. (Sorry, Jamberry's...there's not a chance you would last on these fingers!)

I would have it no other way. Dirty fingernails=hard work here. Just thinking about this all made me reflect on how thankful I am to have grown up in a home where it wasn't a disgrace to have dirty hands. It was an honor.

Dirty hands, dirty clothes, dirty shoes...those things meant mud + manure + weeds + briars. Calloused hands meant hands that knew the blessing + satisfaction of manual labor. Blisters were not a shame. They were a badge that said "hard work produced this".

Life is not all about work. I understand that. I know that there can be a downfall to the "hard work=success" mentality, and there is, and it's something that I have had to fight against, because there can be a tendency to find your ultimate fulfillment + acceptance in how hard you work, in how much you accomplish, instead of in the things that matter most.

However, that is how it is with most good things in life---taken out of context, they can be a problem. One day I might do a post about that.

But for today? I'm thankful for the dirty nails, and the tough hands, because for me today they mean the ability to work, the love of work, and the joy in work. They also mean food on the table, and provision in so many practical ways.

And I'm really grateful for that.
This quote is so good. (and the picture is hilarious, ha!)  I couldn't agree more. 

Y'all have a wonderful evening!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On My Heart

{Disclaimer: I don't do posts like this very often. This post is just one where I'm just sitting down and dumping in total honesty...and its a blog post, not my journal! 
I do try to be honest every time I post, I just don't very often spill like this time. 
But sometimes, its the right time to let it all out. I feel that right now.}

So last week was just one of those weeks. The kind we've all had....

It started out so well, with a phenomenal young women's retreat that my sister hosted. I was at a wedding in Tennessee for the first day of the retreat, but after I got home I jumped right in and had such a wonderful time helping with food, details, + also sharing one of the sessions. It was a marvelous time.

The thing is, though, that every single time one of us or our whole family together does a big event or ministry project like this, there always seems to be this "crash" phase afterwards. If you've done any type of ministry project you know what I mean---its like this spiritual "high" during the event, and then afterwards the dust settles and you're left feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and like your cup is completely dried out.

That's how I was feeling by Tuesday afternoon. On top of all of that I was years behind on sleep + had a splitting headache that lasted (more or less) for the next three days, and all that definitely didn't help things. There was so much clean up to do from the retreat and I had moments wondering if our house was EVER going to look clean again. We also had a big concert we were frantically trying to prepare for on Friday night. Everyone's schedules were crazy with work + company + all sorts of things going on, and trying to find a time when we could all practice together was basically impossible. One morning as I left for town the guys reminded me that we had family practice at 1pm. They even had me repeat the time back to them to make sure I had heard it. And you guessed it, 1pm rolled around and I was at the checkout counter at a store when my phone rang. "Chels, we are all here in the living room with our instruments waiting...where are you?" I could've cried, I felt so irresponsible. I was thirty minutes away and here they were all waiting on me, just because I had forgotten. It may not sound like a big deal but on top of everything else it just seemed huge and I felt so FRIED.

A couple other big, hard things happened Thursday/Friday. I can't even go into it all here but suffice to say I just felt so discouraged. Life felt so dark. Honestly, it was just such a hard week, specifically weekend, and I felt like I had no energy left. I felt surrounded by darkness, and difficult circumstances, and pain, and discouragement.

But Jesus knew. He saw. He cared. And He gave me some of the most precious promises that weekend, in the way of encouragement through several messages I heard at a rally Friday night, and at my church's missions conference on Sunday. And He also sent a special encouragement to me through three songs. One He just brought to my heart randomly one day and I will be posting about that soon. The other two I heard on the radio on Sunday as I was driving back from church. The one in particular I've heard so many times before, but isn't it amazing how sometimes God can use something that is totally familiar to you, to come alive, just when you need it? It was the song WHOM SHALL I FEAR, and these lyrics just ministered to my heart so much:

You hear my when I call, You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night, It cannot hide the light
You crush the enemy underneath my feet, You are my sword and shield
 Though troubles linger still, Whom shall I fear 
I know Who goes before me, I know Who stands behind 
The God of angel armies is always by my side 
The One Who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine 
The God of angel armies is always by my side. 
My strength is in Your name, for You alone can save 
You will deliver me, Yours is the victory 
Whom shall I fear, Whom shall I fear 
And nothing formed against me shall stand, You hold the whole world in Your hands 
I'm holding on to Your promises, You are faithful, You are faithful.

I can't even begin to explain how these words were just what I needed. What a promise. The God of angel armies. ANGEL ARMIES. And this God is my FRIEND. The One who goes before me. Who stands behind. 
What a promise!

Go listen to the song here. I infinitely prefer this clip to the regular version of the song. 
(sorry, Chris Tomlin fans everywhere-his voice just isn't my fav) 
But this guy, David Wesley? I could listen to him ALL DAY. I've always been a sucker for good four-part harmony. There's just nothing like it.

"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, 
that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."
Philippians 2:16

This verse. And just thinking about how all things work together. The running, the labouring, the trials...none of this is in vain if we can learn the lessons needed and grow through these experiences. God has a plan in everything and He is with us through everything. 

And that's just a little on my heart right now. Like I said, I don't often do "dump posts", but today it was what I felt I needed to write. Maybe there's someone else out there who needs a little encouragement, and if the promises Jesus gave me can bless you, than I am thankful.

And never forget. He loves YOU, He cares, and He is by your side. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sweetest Home + Upcoming Blogging

This is the view from my front window Monday morning. 

When I see that silo it just says HOME to me. And the golden top of that gorgeous field of corn? #IOWABEAUTY

So yes, I'm back to the land of cornfields + hog barns. 
I'm back to my own bed + a dinner table that holds still.
 I'm back to the wonders of a cookstove/oven + a regular sized wardrobe. 
I'm back to the real Chels who never wears shoes (well barely) + would be happy if we all could just live outside + forgo houses period. =)

As far as the blogging goes, I've been thinking + reevaluating this blog lately. Trying to figure out:
1) if I'm ready to move to the next stage
2) what the next stage is
3) if I have time for it
4) if its worth the time
5) how to find the time
6) how to schedule the time
7) all those questions we bloggers ask ourselves 

I feel like blogging is a platform that the Lord has given me, and that I need to continue, but I have no need to be posting content just for the mere purpose of hitting "publish" and getting comments. I've always desired to make a difference with my blog, but lately I've just been realizing more and more that life is short, and I don't want to be doing/writing anything unless it is making a big impact. I want the Holy Spirit to be active + present in every single post. And that comes through prayer, and seeking the face of Jesus, and writing what He places on my heart, in HIS perfect timing.

All that said, I'm working on establishing a blogging schedule of sorts. I've always fought against this idea, mentally, because I like to be spontaneous and post things as they come to my mind and heart.

But I am realizing that there is a place for planning posts. For choosing topics that the Lord has laid upon my heart, and then taking time to pray over them and think through them for a significant time before actually doing the official writing and publishing. So to do this I am scheduling in time each week to write + create, and then throughout the rest of the week to be in prayer about the upcoming posts + also to take notes (in a notebook-old fashioned is best!) 
as I think of ideas or other things I might forget. 

I would appreciate y'alls prayers in this new venture. I'm excited to share with you what the Lord continues to give me for this blog!

In complete randomness to end out, I must say that I'm so excited for my evening tonight, because its been eight weeks since I've been at my church + I just can't wait to be back there again! =)

Have a beautiful evening!