Freedom

(Disclaimer: Firstly, I am grateful to live in a country where I have the freedom of speech, expression, and creativity – to share my thoughts and opinions in a public(ish) forum without fear.  Secondly, this post may read unpatriotic, but that is not my intention, just happens to be where my heart is.)

In the words of my friends Shane and Shane:

For freedom you’ve set me free,

And yes, I am free indeed.

You rewrote my name,

unshackled my shame,

You opened my eyes to see

that I am free.

So this song has nothing to do with Benjamin Franklin or George Washington or any of those other fellas who wore weird hair. It’s not about the promise of forefathers or any current or historic politicians for world peace or a better economy or an increase in national employment or security. The writing (or rewriting) isn’t referencing any bills, amendments, laws, etc. that outline the do’s and don’ts of society.

No, this freedom is much… freer. And, it is for everyone.

Because the price, the biggest sacrifice the world has ever seen, has already happened. And it can’t be renegotiated or voted on or changed to include or leave out any group or individual.

What a relief.

I’ve been in an intense season of spiritual pruning over the past several months (I guess almost two years now – wow!) and have come to realize that our only true freedom is love. That big, abundant, all-encompassing love that sets you so free that no matter the state of this country, our society, your very own heart – you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Free.

A free that lets you breathe. A free that lets you love.  A free that lets you extend grace. A free that lets you receive grace. A free that lets you forgive. A free that lets you find things new every morning. A free that lets you restore and reconcile yourself to him. A free that lets you take leaps of faith.

Leaps that take you places you never knew you would go, could go. Leaps that cross state lines…

When we ventured back to North Carolina in February we came with big, vulnerable hearts – opening ourselves wide for whatever God laid out for us. When not but a year before we felt so broken and dejected that some days I wasn’t even sure which way was up, I never could have imagined how bountiful the promises would pour out.

First, there’s this place:

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And these people who feel like family:942253_10103067246959353_1913024684_nAnd these folks who have stolen my heart:

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And these loves who have prayed and loved us through every leap, big and small:

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And people who encourage me to create and pursue small business dreams:

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And the miles and miles of possibilities of new-found freedom:

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For freedom has set me free.  And yes, I am free indeed. He rewrote my name, unshackled my shame. He opened my eyes to see, that I am free.

Free.

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Pay It Forward

I made the acquaintance of a woman today at the post office. She stood behind me in line and saw what I was packaging up to send to a “friend” for a fundraiser of sorts. I unwrapped it to show her – it feels nice to have something you’ve made adored by a stranger – and told her that I made this little dress from a recycled pillowcase. She told me it was beautiful and that a little girl somewhere was “just going to love it”.  I blushed and quietly thanked her for her kind words.

As I was neatly placing the dress in a “Flat Rate Shipping for $4.90” box, my new friend asked me how much it would cost to overnight it. I told her I wasn’t sure – and knew it was more than I could spend on sending the dress – and that this box would get to her in a couple of days.

She said, “Well, let’s ask the man at the counter and I want to help you send it.”

“That’s very sweet, thank you. But you don’t have to do that.”

“Well, see, I have these Express stamps that I’ve had for a while and they are worth $13 each and I want to try to trade them in, but I don’t think they will let me. And if they won’t then I will give you one. And if they will, I still want to help you. Even though it’s more than what you need for that box. So let’s see about overnight shipping.”

In my mind I hoped that they would let her exchange her stamps – accepting kindness is harder than giving it, for me.

She couldn’t exchange them as they were outdated – Express stamps now cost $18, hers were at least five years too old for exchange. She called me to stand next to her at the counter and told the man that she wanted to help me and what would overnight cost.

“$18.95.”

She tore off two of her stamps and handed them to me, smiled, and walked away. I thanked her and hugged her as she walked away, hoping she would still be there when I got done at the counter. By the time I finished sending my package, she was gone.

She didn’t ask my name or my story or my need, nor did I ask hers.

But I know she is called Grace.

Prayer Bear

Friends, today is the day for the greatest of jubileessweet Clara is home with her mama and daddy after several weeks of roller coastering challenges and triumphs from the very day she was born.  She is certainly a dainty fighter and has proven time and time again that she will do great things in her life with God by her side.

When I first learned about R0bert & Chrissy’s little love and that she would face big, big trials early on, I started to pray (like thousands of others) for her daily. Then several times a day. Then the prayers turned into a quiet meditation over Clara and her God that made her, knitted her in her mother’s womb, knows the hairs on her head, and cares for her so and will heal her and make her tiny body whole again. Before I knew it I was spending several minutes, several times a day in this quiet meditation – more than I have in years. Years.

Many times this coincided while needle felting (what would turn out to be this bear) a small gift for Clara:

With each stitch and intertwining of the fibers I was reminded at how delicately we are put together, how careful and intentional our loving God is in our creation, and how he is so faithful – not just in times of need and desperation, but all the time. Every day. Each moment.

Praying over Clara and handcrafting this bear will likely mean more to me than the bear itself will ever mean to her. I hope that she can one day know and realize the multitude of people who have loved and prayed for her since before she was born – and that those praying were as changed by the praying as she has been and continues to be.