Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Address.

I turned 33 today.  I'm not quite sure what 33 is supposed to feel like, but I definitely thought (way back when 33 sounded just like 60 to me) that I would have my act together by now.  That we would be financially secure.  That I would have made peace with my body. That marriage would feel effortless because we've done it for so long.  That my voice wouldn't ever raise an octave with my obedient, polite, and well manicured children.  I thought, by 33, that God and I would be so intimate that we would speak a secret language, and that my life would be so fruitful that I'd need to open up a produce stand.

Even writing that sounds dumb.

Because I feel more of a mess than ever.

It's a good thing.

 I don't want to be my 23 year old version of 33.  I like this messy and broken version better.  And I'm pretty sure God does too. I finally feel the confidence to be honest and truthful about where I stand in life, in love, and in Spirit.  God has allowed me, with painful undoing, to learn how to know myself and tell the truth to others.

It's hard.  It is awkward to look at a friend that I've had for years and talk, for the first time, about money issues.  It is difficult to be honest about my struggle with my weight and how I laugh about it often in public, but cry about it behind close doors.  It's not easy to talk about a disagreement Greg and I are having.  Usually because I'm wrong and he's right.  But still.  None of it is easy.

But you know what? That is where God meets me.  In the not easy.   He meets when I share a part of my story that feels so ugly, and then I look up to see a dear friends eyes tearing up with love and mercy and nothing even close to silent judgment.  That is when.  When I step out in fear, trembling, and honesty.

Those moments of honesty with God and others allow me to feel known and understood and LOVED in my state of grossness.  And that makes me want to chase after a better version of myself, the one that God has designed and purposed for me.  But. I cannot be on my way to her unless I know my address.  I cannot get Directions until I am aware of where exactly my heart resides.

Which requires honesty.

I'm more convinced than ever, at the ripe old age of 33, that the Christian life is not about the appearance of good.  It is not about pretense or pomp or reciting blanket christian phrases to convince others what I have is real.  It is not about memorizing the Romans road and yelling it over my neighbors just to hear the sound of my own voice. No. It's just not.

Oh, my sweet Jesus.  I believe the Christian life is about looking my neighbor in the eye, and saying, "I don't have it all together.  That's actually why I need Him."  It's about declaring how broken and messy and complicated I am, and how the only peace and rest I find is under the shadow of His wings.  It is about gathering strength in my quiet moments with Him so that there is honesty and peace in my words with others.

My prayer is that others notice Jesus in my mess.  Not in the absence of conflict or trials or even self-inflicted troubles.  But I want those in my life to see how I confess my imperfections, and I'm honest about my sins, and I cling to Jesus to make me whole again.   I don't want to hear, "You are a good person.  You make good choices.  Also, you are really skinny."  But maybe that last part would be nice.  Still.  I hope someday someone approaches me and says, "You are a hot mess.  How do you still hold on?"  And then I can raise a fist in the sky, and triumphantly say, "He is not done with me yet!"

So that is my address.  I am living in this scary place with dirty laundry and unmentionables just hanging out to dry.  My struggles are real.  But so is my God.  And He is right there with me, rejoicing over my mess of a life with song and quieting me with His love.  I can be honest in my inadequacies, because that's where He becomes more, and I become less.

And that, my friends, is how it is supposed to be.

So hey to you 33.   I am nowhere closer to the American dream than I was at 23.  And Greg and I fight.  Also I wear yoga pants most of the time but I probably shouldn't.  But I know that I will look back at this time in my life and know that God did work on me because I lived at this address.  And my prayer is that my home will just keep moving closer and closer to His Kingdom as He makes sense of this beautiful mess.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


October is by far my favorite month of the year.  I love everything about it.  Hey.  I'll even take the allergies and sinus infections that accompany bonfires, apple cider donuts, and hours breathing in the crisp beauty that is fall in the midwest.  I can literally feel my heart filling and my spirit being strengthened with every leaf gathered and pumpkin carved.

And then November comes.  November always feels a little ominous to me.  The skies are gray, cold, and they carry a message that winter is on the horizon.  Said message is usually accompanied by some new strand of strep throat or the stomach flu or itis of one form or another.  We gradually stay inside more and more, and by the end of the month we are bracing for a full-blown Midwest winter.

But don't you worry November.  You're not a lost cause.  Your redemption is found in pumpkin pies and mashed potatoes.  And in quiet, dark evenings.  And Christmas shopping and down blankets and good books and gigantic mugs of coffee.    November is a slow, quiet month in our little Hamann world.  I so deeply treasure white space on our calendar, so I'm always happy to walk across the chaos of Halloween into the lazy pace of November.  I have no shame in wearing my pajamas all day and organizing my spice rack just because I can.

But. I get a little carried away with the whole white space deal at times. I find myself on the computer, pinning things that I will never craft or bake or be able to afford.   I sleep in more, missing my chance to meet with God and to get rid of this baby weight that is almost six years old.  I become more discontent with my home.  Because we are inside more and we have more down time, I begin to nitpick things in my house that I hadn't had time to notice before.  Our carpet is stained. We need a fresh coat of paint. Everywhere.  The closets aren't organized enough.  And so it goes.

I know that is not how God has asked me to spend my gift of time.  Time is the only currency that I have right now.  Therefore, time is my main act of worship.  It is so easy to exchange the blessing of time for things that do not add.  An extra half hour of sleep will not fill my heart like He does.  An hour spent on Pinterest will not make me thankful for the things He has blessed me with.  Watching a whole season of Fringe in a weekend will probably not produce holy fruit in my life.  

I know that God has gifted me with white space on my calendar so that I can turn inward.  So that I can use these moments of peace to sit with Him and gather up strength and wisdom for whatever lies next.  To use my November as a threshing ground, reaping the harvest of what He has accomplished in my life.   And to account for all that is in my storehouse and sing His praises because of it.  I could stop there, with posting what I am thankful for everyday on Facebook.  And that would be a good thing.

However, if I am fully living for the God that gave me everything in my storehouse, I will give.  I will give without reserve.  Being thankful is the first step.  But. Being active in our thanksgiving is what really counts.   To call a friend and pray over her life.  To make a meal for a family that is struggling and drop it off just because.  To encourage and notice even the tiniest bit of growth in my daughters character.   To compliment my husband when he leads our family.   And to learn to thank God together for it.   

Oh November.  You are preparing my heart for the coming of the King.  Teaching me to be bowed in gratitude and humility as I enter the holy space of December.  Aligning my heart in response to All He Has Done.  Trusting that What He Has Yet To Do is better still.

So. While I still will enjoy reading a book from cover to cover in one sitting, I now understand that I am responsible to God for this white space.  I'm so confident that He can merge the meaningful with the restful and create some deeper storyline than I could ever write of.   So let's be excited when the cold winds of November blow us all indoors and under layers of down comforters. We can invest our time in allowing God to harvest His work in our lives.  We will emerge in the spring, better versions of ourselves and triumphant in His accomplishments.

 Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.  Yes,the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.

Psalms 85:11-13