Let Go and Let Him Hold You

Gina Butz faith 4 Comments

let the redeemer redeem

These last few months have been tough. I’ve ventured in to new areas that make me uncomfortable and scared and bone-weary, and the result has been a lot of anxiety, and at times, depression. Being the get ‘er done girl that I am, my gut reaction to seasons like this is, “Ok, so what do I need to DO, God?” 

Give me the formula to get back to awesome. Show me what scriptures to dwell on, what truth to grasp, what prayers to pray. Show me my error and I’ll fix it. Tell me what to think and do and I’ll do it.

But maybe instead of doing, we’re supposed to stop trying to save ourselves and just let go. 

I was reminded last night of a poem I read years ago, back when I first started to realize what a winding road faith can be. I read it like God is speaking to me.

First Lesson
by Philip Booth

let go and let God

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

Have you spent much time floating on water? Can you picture yourself like this child, trusting her father to hold her as she’s learning to swim, when she’s scared and tired? There’s something so freeing and relaxing about it, if you can let go of trying to keep yourself afloat and just let the water hold you. He reminds her to look to that which is bigger than her. It’s the definition of “Be still and know.”

Know that He is there.

Know that nothing is wasted, every tear is caught, every sigh is heard.

Know that He knows what He’s doing with you.

Know that He knows the way out of your wilderness, and He will lead you in His timing and His ways.

Know that the places that seem the most stagnant are often the places where He is preparing you for something you cannot see.

Know that His love will hold you, when you let go.

 

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Related posts:

I Don’t Need Rescuing (Except I D0) 

Get Quiet Enough to Listen

The Battle Belongs to Him 

Grace for the Less Than Ideal Days

Gina Butz grace 2 Comments

Grace for the less than ideal days

Some days, you end up eating dinner with a My Little Pony fork. And that’s ok.

It’s the time of year when a lot of activities start up again and with them, adjustment of schedules and coordination of details. It’s who’s driving who, and when will we eat, and oh right, we have a dog-did anyone feed the dog today? (answer: probably not. That could explain why she’s staring at me so hard).

Strategic is one of my Strengths Finder top 5, so when I must make many pieces fit together, I tackle them like I’m playing a game of Tetris. Sometimes, I’m just not fast enough to make them fit right.

Like Wednesday. It started out well, but when I got home at 4:30 and realized all that needed to occur before taking the kids to youth group by 7, I thought, “not gonna happen.”

In my ideal world, I would have had dinner planned and ready by 6. My husband would have been home to eat it with us, at the table, with real plates and silverware, and engaging conversation. Someone would have taken the dog for a walk and the sheets would have been out of the dryer and back on our bed. The dishwasher would have already washed our dishes and been unloaded. Homework done and checked.

Instead, dinner was eaten in the car out of plastic bowls on the way to youth group, so our car smelled like onions the rest of the night. My husband had to walk in the door, change, help with two pre-calc questions, and walk back out the door. The neighbor had to walk the dog. The sheets stayed in the dryer. There was still homework to be done. The last half hour before leaving I bordered on Tasmanian Devil mode. Which brings me to the My Little Pony fork-it was the only one left.

We all have pictures of our ideal life. We know how we want our relationships to be, how we want to conduct ourselves, run our homes, succeed at work and parenting and ministry and whatever fills our space.

But some days reality doesn’t match our ideals. For those days, there’s grace.

It’s tempting to stress when my ideals crumble to pieces. But as Anne Lamott says, “Perfectionism will keep you insane your whole life.” So it’s life-giving to remember that especially when our lives take a different shape, there’s grace. We need lower expectations. We need to breathe and laugh and know that it will work itself out eventually. We need to pick up the My Little Pony fork and call it good.

 

I’m a journey of finding more grace, and I’d love for you to join me! Please subscribe to get my weekly posts straight to your inbox by entering your email in the box on the right. You’ll receive my free 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you, plus I’ll think the world of you too. 

Related posts:

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We Need to Stop Hitting Ourselves

 

Having Hope in a New Season

Gina Butz transition 4 Comments

Having hope in a new season of life

It’s September. The pumpkin spice lattes are back, and the Halloween candy is out, which is how I know it’s autumn (Orlando weather doesn’t really give me any clues). Can I just point out that if you’re buying Halloween candy now, you’re either a great planner AND highly disciplined, or let’s face it-it’s never going to last until October 31. Just sayin’.

It’s exciting to see the fall décor, the warm colors of sweaters and pants hanging on the racks, the everything scented cinnamon. It’s a new season.

New seasons bring exciting new possibilities, but they can also bring the unknown. They can bring “I’m not sure how to do this” and “what will happen?” and most of, “will this be good?”

Last Friday marked 4 years since we moved back to the U.S. from 13 years overseas. We came back to many familiars, but also so many unknowns. We left a place where we were deeply known, deeply rooted, deeply seen. We had yet to see how God would provide in this new place.

Now, I scroll through my text messages and I see name after name of people I did not know then. I have my favorite places, my favorite things (the library delivers, friends. To. My. House). I, the nobody-would-guess-introvert, linger after church because there are so many people I love and want to see. Our roots are not as deep as they were in the last season, but they are sinking. We are claiming ground here.

And He saw it all before it ever came to be.

A year or so into our time in Singapore years ago, God gave me this same kind of awareness of what He had done there. I realized that if I could have had a conversation with Him when I was hesitant to leave our home and move there, He would have said,

“Oh but Gina, you’re going to meet Wendy, and Krisi, and Fiona, and so many others. You’re going to have great memories with your kids at the wobbly train park and the zoo and the children’s library. They’re going to talk for years about the Nutella waffles you get at the market. It’s going to be so good!”

Friend, maybe you are in a new season that looms much larger than new latte flavors and décor. Maybe it’s a new location, a new stage of life, a new role. You can’t see much through the fog right now. You’re wondering if it’s going to be good, if you’ll be known, if you’ll find your place. Remember this:

Every season that is unknown to you is known to God.  

God’s got good in store for you. He has people for you. He has moments of laughter and joy. He has valleys and mountains of growth. Just like I told my kids when we first moved here, “You might just meet your new best friend.”  You might be entering a season of amazing blessing, or it might be your greatest place of transformation. Either way, He knows it. He’s got you.

Friday night we went out as a family and celebrated these four years. It was a time to pile the Ebenezer stones, to claim the goodness of God in this season He’s given us, to look back and see all that He knew He was going to give us here.

It’s a new season. There’s good to come. He goes ahead, preparing it for you.

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” –Jeremiah 29:11 The Message

 

If you’re in a new season, I’d love to walk with you. Join me by subscribing to my blog! Subscribers will receive my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you, as well as other good stuff along the way. I’d love to connect with you on social media too-join me at your platform of choice. 

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Focusing on the Right Goal (I’m talking to you, sideline parents)

Gina Butz kids, parenting 0 Comments

It’s that time again, when we parents get to drag our camp chairs to the sidelines and cheer on our future professional hopefuls in various sports. A few weeks ago I got a taste of this again when I spent 2 hours in the rain with a 104 heat index (thanks Orlando) watched our daughter play an end-of-soccer-camp scrimmage. Based on the reactions of people around me, though, I might have thought I was at the World Cup finals and there were endorsement deals riding on the outcome of the game.

Friends, we have got to take it down a notch.

As we enter another season of sports, can we all just keep a little perspective?

We were not put on this earth to play sports. We are here to learn how to navigate the world with confidence, grace, and character. We are meant to learn how to live as loved people, and to love others well.

The vast majority of kids will not play sports beyond high school, even middle school. They are going to be doctors and salespeople and teachers and baristas and parents and a host of other roles. They are meant to discover their gifts and talents, most of which will not be sports related, and to use them to His glory.

Our job as parents is to help them become these loved, confident, grace-filled, gift-sharing people of character. 

So the one question we should be asking ourselves is:

Do my actions and words in watching this game reflect that goal?

If that’s our goal, then we will celebrate who they are more than what they do. We will praise teamwork and good efforts. We will point out how we are proud of their attitude more than their skills. We will build them up with our words. We will refrain from blame and criticism. We will catch them with grace when they fail. We will help them see how what they are learning through playing this sport translates to living bravely in the world. We will remind them, afterward, that is it just a game, and there’s a whole big other world out there.

Let’s keep the big picture in mind, fellow sideline parents. There’s a goal we’re aiming for and it’s not the one on the field.

 

I’m just trying to keep it real here, friends. Join me on the journey by subscribing to get posts by email. I have a bonus 8 day devotional called It Is Well with My Soul that I’d love to send you as a thank you when you sign up! Just enter your email in the box on the right. 

Related posts:

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When You’re Starting the Week Weary

Gina Butz faith 2 Comments

when you're starting the week weary

A friend of mine texted last night to see if I had any time this week to get together. Everything in me wanted to say yes, but the reality was that looking at my schedule this week was already making me tired. No margin. No white space. Mostly self-imposed, but it all feels necessary (feel being the operative word there).

Anybody else staring down a week of “I’m not sure when I’ll sit down” or “so much for cleaning the house?” (I say that like I actually would have cleaned the house if I had time. Ha).

Maybe it’s not that your schedule is too full, but that the activities that fill it ask so much of you. You’re trying to balance home and work and relationships and goals, and it’s enough to wear down the soul.

I opened my email this morning and saw this great post about walking away the Monday blues. What encouraged me most from it was this version of Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I want those unforced rhythms of grace. Too often I live try too hard, doing too much, one more task, one more activity squeezed in until there’s no space left. No grace. If it’s heavy or ill-fitting, maybe it’s not what He’s called me to do.

Whether it’s a quiet walk or 10 minutes of silence (maybe in the bathroom cause that’s the only place you can get away) or just a moment when you stop and take some deep breaths-He’s calling us to come and remember that He can show us how to walk freely and lightly in the midst of busy. He knows how to stare down a busy week-a week full of ministry and demands and conflict-and do it with a rested heart. He can teach us how to do it too.

Get away with Him. Get His perspective, His strength, His peace, His power. Keep company with Him this week.

 

If you haven’t subscribed to receive my posts by email, today’s the day! I’ll happily send you my 8-day devotional It Is Well with My Soul as a thank you. Just enter your email address in the box on the right. 

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We Need to Stop Hitting Ourselves

Gina Butz identity, personal, wholehearted 0 Comments

be kind to yourself - thoughts on how we can be our own worst enemies

If you have siblings, at some point you played the ‘game’ where you forced a family member to hit themselves with their own hands, while saying, “Why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself?” This was really only funny for one of you, am I right?

Too often, though, we play this game all by ourselves. We are the ones hitting ourselves, beating ourselves up over failure and weakness, berating ourselves for being less than. We speak harshly, demanding more, demanding better, rarely letting ourselves off the hook. I know. I’m really good at that game.

This summer, I’ve seen levels of anxiety in my soul I didn’t know were there, and my natural inclination has been to pour contempt on it, willing it away. Instead of sitting with it, I want to run to a place of condemnation for what feels like weakness, failure, a lack of faith, as if that’s where I’ll find the salvation I seek.

Recently, a friend introduced me to this song, Be Kind to Yourself, by Andrew Peterson:

The line that gets me is, “How does it end when the war that you’re in is just you against you against you?”

We can live like our own worst enemies. We speak contempt to our own souls in a way that we would never speak to another. We shut down emotions that we think are unacceptable. We tell ourselves we just need more faith. When we mess up, we are the first in line to call it out and condemn. We admonish ourselves to suck it up and deal with life, rather than listen with grace to that in us which needs a voice. Who wins in this scenario?

So what do we do? For starters, we remind ourselves that we do have an enemy, and it’s not us. 

We can chose to side with him against ourselves, or we can chose to side with the One who loves us. He never speaks harshly. He never condemns. He is patient with our weaknesses. He always speaks with compassion, grace, truth and acceptance. He expects more failure from us than we expect from ourselves, and yet it doesn’t change the fact that He’s wild about us.

So tell yourself it’s ok. You’re doing the best you can with what you have. Cut yourself some slack for your mistakes. Forgive yourself when you sin. Encourage yourself to get back up when you fall. Speak grace. Speak kindness. Speak compassion. Love yourself where you are, because He does.

He is kind to us. He invites us to be kind to ourselves. Stop hitting yourself. Lay down your weapons and rest.

 

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Why It’s Good When We See Olympians Fail

Gina Butz life lessons, truth 4 Comments

the-ball-stadion-football-the-pitch-39562

My daughter and I spent 3 hours Friday biting our nails and holding our breath, watching the US Women’s National Soccer team play Sweden in the quarter finals of the Olympics. It came down to PKs, and they lost. They. Lost.

The team favored to win the gold is out of the Olympics.

Now, honestly speaking, if it were up to me, they’d still be blazing a trail toward the top of that podium. I’m going to have to boycott IKEA for awhile (although I really need some RÄTTVIK). But as it stands, these women will go home empty handed, and I’m choosing to see the good in it.

Because here is a chance for our kids to see that you can be the best at something and still fail. Sometimes the game doesn’t go your way. Sometimes you miss the shot. Sometimes the call isn’t fair. Sometimes you work as hard as you can for your dream and it falls short. Sometimes you just can’t make it happen, no matter how amazing you are.

And if all that’s true, then our kids can see that being the best is a precarious platform on which to build your identity. It can be gone in a heartbeat. These Olympic games show us over and over that value built on achievement can slip through our fingers based on hundredths of seconds and millimeters of space.

So we remind them that as we reach high for our dreams, we also sink our roots into the solid ground of who we are in Jesus. That way, whatever the outcome, we are unfazed, because we aren’t building a home on our performance. It’s built on Him and it can’t be shaken.

Throughout these Olympics, we will see dreams rise and fall. What a great reminder to put our faith and hope in that which cannot be taken from us, to remember that what we do and how well we do it is never a reflection of our worth.

 

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As the Ride Winds Down – Thoughts on the Last Moments of Childhood

Gina Butz family, growth, kids, parenting 3 Comments

thoughts on enjoying the last years of childhood

This summer I spent a good amount of time with my niece and nephew, who have a combined age of 3 1/2, and I was taken back to those early days.

Days when it felt like time stood still. Days when I never actually finished a story in a conversation because someone was suddenly tugging on my leg (they were such good stories too). Days when I was proud that I showered or made dinner. (Who am I kidding? I’m still proud when I make dinner).

Fast forward to me now, and the seasons go by like the days used to pass. Now it’s their stories and jokes I love to hear. They’re making dinner (praise Jesus). But I’m realizing that this ride is starting to slow down.

In a few weeks, I will sit in the silence of a house void of children as they head back to school. I know that I will blink and it will be my reality every day.

I’ve only realized lately that I no longer have to buy sippy cups or crayons or children’s toothpaste. We don’t go to the library or playgrounds to pass the time. I’m staring down the last years of their childhood. Like a kid who feels the carnival ride is winding down, I want to eek out the last moments of this precious ride.

That’s why, kids, I want you to just come and sit with me in the evenings. No, not even to do anything, but just to be together.  It’s why I linger for end of the day unexpected questions at bedtime, and sneak back in after you’re asleep just to look at you (I’m creepy like that. And also because, sweet girl, you say wonderfully nonsensical things when you’re half awake).

It’s why I love that I get to drive you to school so I can be with you just a little longer and hear your voices. It’s why I look forward to seeing you every morning and I thank God that I get you one more day. It’s why those moments when you do still need me are so precious.

I want to go crazy making sure we do all those last “we said we would” activities and vacations. I want to play games and go for walks together. I want to fight for weekly family time, even if all we do is sit around together and wonder what we should do.

This is when I wonder if we’ve taught you everything, and how you’ll do without us (I’m sure you’ll be fine – it’s me I’m worried about). I want to tell you everything I think you’ll need to know for all time (I realize you’ll just be graduating though and that we will probably continue to communicate, but just in case).

I question if we’ve loved you well and if you will say you enjoyed the ride too.

It’s slowing down, but it’s not over yet. I’m sitting alone one night and she comes in to say, “I was turning on my fan and thought, ‘I just want to see my mommy.'” He’s at home alone and decides he’s bored enough to clean the whole house for me. She has a hard day of school and decides the best place is my lap, curled up just like she used to when she was just that little. He starts each day by finding me for a hug.

I’m going to cherish every last second.

 

Let’s face it, being wholehearted is tough. We need others in the journey! Join me by subscribing to get my posts via email and let’s walk this together. Just enter your email in the right column, and be sure to follow me on twitter, where I make snarky or deep comments, depending on my mood. 

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Embracing Imperfection

Gina Butz identity, life lessons, personal 4 Comments

embrace imperfection

You know that part of you that you wish wasn’t?

Maybe your hair curls too much. Or not enough. Your butt’s too flat but your stomach is too big (could you switch them?). You’ve got facial hair, but you’re a girl. Big feet. Big ears. You never moved past a “barely B” cup. Or you went way too far beyond that.

For me, it’s this:

FullSizeRender (6)The dreaded widow’s peak. Mine’s the sharpest I’ve ever seen. Like Dracula, I am. So here’s my big confession: for nigh on 20 years, I plucked it out. Not all of it – that would have given me a receding hairline. But just enough so that it wasn’t noticeable.

I envied flat hairline people. No, really, I did. I thought, “They have no idea how good they have it.” A widow’s peak messes up most hairstyles. It felt like a curse. My thorn to bear (ok, that’s maybe a little melodramatic).

Then, a few years ago, I stopped plucking it out. At first, it grew in curly. (There was a little girl, who had a little curl . . . ). Yikes! It’s since settled down. I’m still not used to seeing it peek out. I sometimes try to style my hair so you still don’t see it. The other day, Megan saw it in the rearview mirror and pointed out that I should cover it up. (She’s got one too that she doesn’t like. I think hers is awesome).

Nothing like seeing a lack of grace for yourself show up in your own kids. I have an opportunity in that moment not only to let myself off the hook, but to help her accept all of herself as well. I’m no parenting expert, but that seems like there’s a pretty clear choice here.

So I decided: no.FullSizeRender (7)

No more talking smack about the widow’s peak. Time to give it some grace. For better or worse, God decided to give me a widow’s peak. He’s also given me wide feet, freckles, and other things I wouldn’t have chosen. And that’s just the outside! But all of me, inside and out, is fearfully and wonderfully made. These imperfections remind me that my idea of beautiful and God’s idea of beautiful are different. I’m going to trust His idea and embrace my imperfections.

 

I’m a big fan of talking about imperfection, grace, letting ourselves off the hook, and other good things that lead to wholeheartedness. Join me! Subscribe to get my posts straight to your inbox so you’ll never miss one. 

 

Related:

Let’s Be the Grace Givers 

Beautiful 

 

Embracing Suffering – Guest post at Thrive Connection

Gina Butz grief, growth 0 Comments

suffering is inevitable. But will we let it be our teacher?

Suffering in this world—great or small and in one form or another—is inevitable. It is not something like jury duty that you just have to hope will not happen to you. You will not avoid it if you simply “play your cards right” or just “walk in the Spirit.” Nor is it some detour to get through quickly so you can get back to the real work of ministry.

Suffering in the Christian life is essential. It is a tool for transforming us into the kind of people God designed us to be.

Read the rest of this post at Thrive Connection.

 

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