Is God Just?

Like many of you, I was so saddened by the terrorist attack that took place in Manchester last week. As I've been thinking of and praying for the people and families who have been affected, I've been returning to the thoughts that many of us deal with when tragedies happen. Is God just? Why does He allow things like this to happen?

I've written before about living in Greece and how I encountered the refugee crisis firsthand. I met people whose family members had been killed or drowned, saw horrible suffering and grief up close, and witnessed how evil humans can be to one another. I was talking to a Greek friend of mine once about the crisis, and she said to me, "I know you are close to God. Why do you think He allows this?" I remember driving away from the border on certain nights feeling such heaviness and wondering if there was a clear answer to these issues.

Thousands of years ago, Habakkuk dealt with those same questions. He saw injustice happening all around him in Israel and evil going unpunished, and asked God, "why are you idle?" God's response was not what Habakkuk wanted to hear. He told Habakkuk that He was preparing to bring judgment upon Israel by allowing the Babylonians to take them captive.

Can you imagine asking God, "why do you allow injustice?" And him responding, "Actually, I am about to use a dictatorship to bring judgment on your country." Habakkuk discovered that God's justice would come, but it would not be in the way he wanted. God will bring about justice on earth, but it may not be in the way we expect or the timing that we prefer.

God went on to tell Habakkuk that one day, "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God has and is making all things new. He will fill the earth with His glory. And he invites us to join with Him in seeking His kingdom and accomplishing His mission on earth. We are called by God to bring Him glory through making Him known and working to bring His kingdom on earth. A big part of that is working for justice on the earth.

We can be encouraged knowing that God's aim will be accomplished. The earth will be filled with His glory. He will bring justice and renew all things.

And no matter what suffering or hardships we are encountering, we can hope in God. Habakkuk 3:17-18 says,

All of the things mentioned in these verses describe what would have been Habakkuk and his community's livelihood. They were farmers, shepherds and harvesters. He's saying, even if all I have is taken from me, even if I have nothing to live on or no hope for the future, I will rejoice in God. I get more of God.

Even if everything is going wrong and it may seem as if there is no justice or hope in sight, we can rejoice in God. We can put our faith in Him and press into Him, knowing that He is good and that He will bring justice.

Being Still

I’ve been staring at the computer screen for a while now. I keep trying to find the perfect topic to write about, but I just can’t find the words. I have nothing.

During this time of nothing, I am reminded of a verse in the Bible—a verse that has become foundational for me. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know I am God…” It’s quite ironic that I love this verse so much. I’m the furthest thing from “still.” My mind is always going a hundred miles an hour. I can literally be thinking about one thing and jump 100 places to the next thing. My husband often jokes that he can’t keep up with me. I joke back by telling him I cannot keep up with myself (which is mostly true). The problem with thinking so much is sometimes it can get you into trouble. I don’t just think about all the things I need to get done in a day, week or a month or two (yes, even months ahead). I think about the what-ifs, how comes, why nots, and oh-no’s. In fact, I can draw a scenario up in my head faster than I can speak it. I can literally stress about stressing. On the days, I just cannot settle my thoughts, fears and overwhelming tasks I go back to Psalm 46:10 and I remind myself to “be still and know He is God.” This is hard for me. Not in a way of knowing He is God in my head, because I know He is. But, in a way of connecting my head with my heart. Trusting that no matter what is going on in my life or what the future looks like from my perspective that He is God and because He is God I’m going to be okay.

Recently, my life has been filled with a lot of uncertainties that have thrown me into a whirlwind of emotion, stress and fear. One of these uncertainties has been my husband’s back surgery. In a matter of a week’s time we found out what we thought was an old injury that usually healed with several trips a year to the chiropractor was now going to be surgery that would affect my husband’s abilities permantely. My husband, who is 27 went from being the person in our family to lift all the heavy stuff, carry our boys around, take the trash out, and many more things to not being able to drive (for a few weeks at least), lift anything over 5lbs and not being able to even tie his own shoes. I went from depending on my husband (way more than I realized I did) to having him depend on me. During the chaos and uncertainty right now, I have found myself at a crossroads. One part of me wants to scream, kick, throw a fit and run away screaming “what in the world are you doing, Lord?! Why now?!” But the other part of me feels this quieting of my soul, this inner strength from the Lord, this still small voice telling me, “be still, my Child, and trust me.”

And so, I fight the emotions every day until finally I’m tired of fighting and I give in to the trust part. To some this may sound crazy but for me, it works. I fight my fears, insecurities, doubts, and emotions until I’m so tired that I have no choice but to trust God. I get to the end of myself where I find only God. You see, this season of my life is crazy, but it has also been a time of great surrender. I’m not saying it’s pretty, because there are days that it most definitely is not. There are so many different things going on in our lives right now that I no longer can “outthink, out-resource, or out-do” my circumstances on my own. I am forced to either fall by my own strength or give up and “rest” in His.

So, as I sat and stared at an empty computer screen I felt as though I was taking a glimpse into my life. Chaos surrounding me, so much uncertainty, multiple perceived setbacks—all that becomes like a blank screen when I place it in front of God. Although I feel all these emotions, I find myself quieted not out of defeat but out of this assurance, this hope, this confidence that God in His all-knowing, all powerful self has this, us, in His hands and He knows exactly what He is doing. It’s in these times when I finally understand what it means to be still. When my mind fails me, when my physical body fails me, my heart is still able to cling to Jesus and find that place of rest. God knows me. He knows my over thinking mind and it’s here He has drawn me to a deeper place with Him and has shown me how much He can do in me with even the tiniest of faith. Oh, to have more faith. But for now, I will cling, crawl, whatever it takes to hold on to Him during the chaos. It’s in my desperation I’m finding Him in ways I never knew before. In my desperation, He reveals His strength in me. I am a conqueror in Christ. I can do all things through Him. I am victorious in Him. So, despite the circumstances in our lives right now, I will be still and know that He is God.

Because He really is.

Download here.

You Were Made | to use your gifts

God's cool-ness never ceases to amaze me. We don't have to have a lot of resources to do great things for God. We don't have to be rich. We don't have to be beautiful. We don't even have to be super talented. We just have to use what's in our hands.

I'm reminded of Moses when he asked God how he could ever be the one to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery and into the Promise Land. He basically argued with God. He gave the Infinite-Omniscient all the reasons he would never be the deliverer.

He stuttered.

He was a shepherd.

He had left Egypt.

He had even killed a man.

After listening to all Moses's doubt, God asked him, "Moses, what's in your hand?"

All Moses had was a simple staff-a shepherding staff. All Moses had was a stick...just a piece of wood.

You know, God used that staff to show Himself mighty and strong. God only asked Moses to submit his staff and his person and with those two things, and a little help with self-confidence from Aaron, God delivered the Hebrews out of 400 years of Egyptian slavery and into freedom. Though it took another 40 years for the Hebrews to understand what freedom from slavery was, Moses and his staff were the key to their freedom.
My grandmother, Sereta, is an excellent cook. Every holiday she plans and preps these fabulous meals. They are always plated just right. The dishes and table clothes always match. They are just perfect.

Recently, my grandparents found a leak under the house in the kitchen area. In order to fix the leak, her kitchen had to be tore up for months. She morned the loss of her kitchen, but on the day it was back in service we had a big, family party. After dinner, the family gathered in the kitchen. My grandma wanted us all to pray that God would bless that kitchen and use it for His glory. To most people that room is just a place where meals are made, but to my grandmother that kitchen is a tool that can be used to bring people into community with each other and into relationship with God.

Today, you may doubt that you are significant or that there is anything God could ever use you to do, but God isn't asking for you do something huge. He's really not asking for your most significant talent or all of your resources. He's just asking for what's in your hand. Submit what's in your hand to Him. He will do the rest.

Make the decision to submit what's in your hand, no matter what that is, to God. See what He will do with it. I think you'll be surprised. Who knows? Perhaps you'll look behind you to see an entire population of people following you forward out of slavery and into freedom.

We just launched our brand new Pearl Life group on Facebook and we are getting it started with a giveaway. Be sure to head on over there, join the group, make an introduction, and get entered for this awesome giveaway! Join the group and get entered here

Prize: "Work Hard Play Hard" notebook + $10 Starbucks card + $20 Sephora card + "She Will Move Mountains" Printable + and there just may be some more goodies in the pack ;)

How to enter: 

1. Join the Pearl Life group AND make an introduction.

*Extra Entries:
You receive an extra entry for each friend you add to the group and makes an introduction.

The giveaway will end on Sunday, May 28th and the winner will be announced on Monday, May 29th.

You Were Made | to be significant

Toy Story quickly became a nation wide classic. I will admit that I was in tears in every movie! Especially the third one, man that was ridiculous. But there is one part in the first movie that literally has impacted my life. Yes my life! 

There is a scene towards the end, when Buzz and Woody have been captured and taken to the evil neighbor kid's house, Sid. Buzz has been strapped to a rocket awaiting his fate, while Woody, who came to bring Buzz home, is trapped under a crate. This is a major turning point in Buzz's toy life. 

You remember Buzz's grand entrance to the story, right? He was the coolest kid on the block, or rather the coolest toy in the toy chest. He arrives in Andy's room as a birthday gift, and immediately knocks Woody out of the park with all his buttons and gagets. He doesn't see himself as a space ranger toy. He IS a space ranger. He is important. He has a destiny. He has a mission! (Can't you hear the theatrical narration?) Of course the call-it-as-you-see-it sheriff emphatically informs Buzz he is NOT a real space ranger. He is NOT from another galaxy. He does NOT have a laser beam that shoots from his arm. He can NOT fly. And He is NOT Andy's favorite toy!

So, coming back to the image of Buzz strapped to a rocket, defeated and helpless; the major turning point. Buzz comes to the realization that the awesome space ranger that he once believed that he was, was a lie. He was nothing more than a toy. With this realization he felt his "life" was meaningless. He was ready to be destroyed by the rocket on his back because being a toy was such an insignificant role to have. It would be a pretty big let down to believe you were a space ranger on a mission to save the galaxy only to find out your were an action figure. He had believed a lie! But what if being a mere action figure was the real lie? (More on this later)

Like I said, Woody is trapped under this crate and is frantically calling out to Buzz for help. Here is their exact dialogue from the movie:

And then comes my favorite part. As Buzz listens to Woody he realizes what I hope and pray you will realize today as you are reading this:

I love, love, LOVE what Buzz does next. Buzz looks under his boot and sees the name "Andy"
written in permanent marker and realizes, "I belong to someone. I was made for this." Friend, there may not be permanent marker with God's name on your foot, but I can promise you it is on your heart. It is on there, in PERMANENT ink. Whether we believe it or not, whether we accept it or not, it is there. We belong to Him. And that is not going to change. He so desires for us to stop believing the lie that we are just this or just that. We are just as He made us to be. We are just as He purposed us to be. You are no insignificant thing. You are His masterpiece. You are His daughter. Never believe the lie that your life is not significant. Never believe the lie that your life has no value or purpose. The name that is written on your heart gives you all the significance, value, and purpose in the world. 

"For we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God..." 1 Peter 5:9

Clearly this is the most profound thing in this movie. Buzz realizes who he belongs to and it changes the end of the story. He doesn't get blown up. Woody is saved. The other toys get their revenge on the evil Sid, and Buzz and Woody get back to Andy.

If we ladies can realize who we belong to I know it will change the end of our story as well.

One thing I want to pull out from what Woody says to Buzz, that maybe you can relate to is this part:

Woody: You are a cool toy. As a matter of fact, you're too cool. I mean what's the chance a toy like me has against a Buzz Lightyear action figure. All I can do is (pulls string) "there's a snake in my boot." Why would Andy ever want to play with me? I'm the one who should be strapped to that rocket, not you.

Woody's biggest struggle throughout the movie was the feeling that he was being replaced. It was this competitive... or should I say comparative, spirit that we have all experienced at one time or another. We stop thinking about about how much God loves us and start thinking about why we aren't as lovable as the next girl. We aren't as perfect. Maybe we convince ourself that we have aged out of God's favorites. But sister hear this: you will ALWAYS be your Father's favorite. Always.

No matter how old, how tired, how used, how broken, you will always be His favorite. His name will never wear off your heart. You are significant. You are valuable. You have purpose. You are His.

You were made for this.
(I hope this scene from Toy Story impacts you as much as it has impacted me. Now you will have to go watch it! It is scene 23 if you want to go straight to it.)

You Were Made | to fight with courage

People have referred to life as many different things. A journey, a process, a ride, a roller coaster, a course. So many different ways to try and adequately describe the ever-changing but constant thing we call life. It is full of so many different experiences that leave us with all kinds of impressions, which explains all of the different sentiments we are left with. Nevertheless, life is a journey. It is a process and a wild ride, often resembling that of a roller coaster. And it is definitely a course, one that we either pass or fail.

-C.S. Lewis 

In life we often find ourselves in a battle. I dare say we are always in a battle. What I mean by that is, there is always something we are, or at least we should be, fighting for. We may not be taking blows to the head, but we should be throwing some punches of our own, because our life, our future, our family is at stake and they are all worth fighting for. 

Can I be honest with you? Something I have discovered through my own personal experience is
many of the battles we feel like we are losing in life are not the result of God abandoning us, they are because we didn't start throwing punches until the third round. Too often I have not felt the need to fight for something until it was already being taken from me. Can you relate? You didn't start fighting to find joy in your life until you were feeling depressed. You didn't fight for your marriage until you felt it falling apart. You didn't fight for that friendship until it began to dissolve. I know I am guilty.

You may feel like you are operating more as a firefighter than anything else, putting out fires as they appear. I know there have been times in life when I felt like that was really all I could do. I didn't have time to deal with non-emergency issues. I didn't have energy to invest in something that wasn't going under. I didn't have the fight in me to throw punches, all I could do was hold my hands up to my face and hope the gut punches didn't do too much damage. Wow. How contradictory that is to the life God has called us to and has created for us! 

Romans 8:35, 37
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

We have to fight for love. Loving relationships take work. If we aren't fighting for them we are working against them. We have to fight for our dreams. Making dreams a reality takes hard work, it takes a fight. We have to fight for our faith. There are many opponents who will cross punch us with doubt and discouragement. We have to stay in the ring and fight back with the truth, with our complete trust in God. We fight for a lot of things. And to even get in the ring prepared to fight takes guts. But we can't wait until a fire a fully ablaze to start defusing it (you are thinking of essential oils now, aren't you? d:). I have heard it said we must be looking for smoke not fires, meaning don't wait for disaster to strike, fight to prevent disaster and to maintain healthy, growing, thriving lives.

As you may know we ladies discredit ourselves more than anyone else, and we have got to cut that out! You may not be putting up the best fight in life right now, but if you are in the fighting ring at all you clearly are brave. If you are not in the fighting ring I hope and pray you will find the courage to get in and to fight. You see, in life there is no neutral ground. If you aren't fighting for your life that doesn't mean the fight is not happening. Even if you are hiding in the dark the fight is on. If we are not intentionally working, fighting, growing, it is like taking a puzzle and dumping the pieces on the table hoping all of the pieces will fall into their appropriate place. It won't happen, friend.

Today I want to encourage you to fight with courage. Don't run from difficulty, fight it. As C.S. Lewis articulated, difficulty and hardships don't define you, they refine you. Face the hard things with courage. Fight for what is important with courage. If you feel like a fighter who is hiding in the corner of the ring, looking for someone to tag in and go a few rounds for you, have courage. Turn around and face the battle because it is yours for the winning. Have courage, because you are never in the ring alone. God is in your corner, He is by your side, He is fighting for you, and we are here to fight with you! You've got a champion on your side. You were made for this.

Fixer Upper (Round Two)

Last week we talked A Message from Magnolia, here on the blog. After a quick day trip to visit Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas, we were inspired by all of the spiritual takeaways from Chip and Joanna's show. We really only began to scratch the surface last week and it seemed totally necessary to spend another week here diving in a little deeper. Dalayna and I co-wrote last week, this week, I'll be taking us just a little further. Hoping you'll come along and take things a little deeper and make them a little more personal this week also!

Writing last week's post, the section that stuck with me the most was "Restructuring." I talked a lot about the difficulty of this part simply because it requires the most patience and waiting. Both things I really hate and am not so good at. But as much as we hate waiting and being patient, we can recognize that this is the part of the show (of life) that makes the ending so amazing. Because we can hardly recognize the house when Chip and Joanna are finished with it. They've taken this old, run down place and turned it into a beautiful space where everyone wants to be.

Mmm does that ring true in my heart. It is so incredibly painful to allow God to come in and restructure everything. To give Him the freedom to tear down what He needs to and then carefully build it all back up. To allow Him to make room for what He needs and to haul away what does not serve His purposes or fall in line with His blueprints. It feels like the process is never-ending. We just want to be done with it and start feeling at home again. We wonder how much renovation is necessary and maybe sometimes even regret handing over the process. I wonder if those homeowners ever wish somewhere along the journey that they would have just signed up for a room makeover show.

Ever been there?

I can say honestly that on many occasions that thought has crossed my mind. Geesh it would be so much easier if I just didn't have to think about this stuff. If I could just start painting already. If I would have just left it alone. If there wasn't always something that needed fixing. Essentially, living life without Christ. Living life blind to my mess and my need for restructuring and renovation. I know I can't be alone in that thought.

But at some point I come to. My thinking clears. An easier day comes and I remember what I'm doing this for.

At some point Chip and Jojo sit down with the homeowners and remind them of the end result. They look at the final plans and they pick out a few pieces of furniture or other details for the home. They keep them focused on the end result and give them the vision they need to push through the waiting.

And oh how I know that's exactly what Jesus does with me! When I'm feeling tired and defeated and like there might never be an end to the changing and restructuring on the insides of me, when the patience and the waiting is just too much to bear. There. He comes in and ever so gently reminds me of the end. The goal. The point of all of the hard work.

To look like His Son. To be a space that testifies to who He is and where people want to be.

He puts the vision in front of me again and walks by me a little closer in the process. He reminds me that quick wall patching and paint jobs will not complete in me what He needs to. That He desires more for me and my life. He wants to restructure me in a way that brings out the unique personality He's given me against the backdrop and atop the foundation of His Son.

So, why does this process take so long? Why does restructuring take months, maybe even years, while making everything pretty seems to take days or even just hours? Because we are talking about the foundation of everything here. We are dealing with things that lie below the surface. Things that define the model of the house and the way it will be used and lived in. If this stuff isn't done right, all of the finishing touches will be in vain because the ugly truth will still be living underneath, and eventually it will show itself.

If we don't take the time to deal with the little crack in the corner of the wall. If we ignore it and paint over it, eventually the crack will spread and the water will leak through and the pretty paint job will be ruined. If we don't face the fact that the porch is leaning just a little bit and we build the deck anyways and surround it with pretty flowers, eventually the deck will sink and we won't be able to sit and enjoy the lovely details anyways. You see what I'm getting at I hope...

We have got to have the foundation just right, the floor plan in perfect harmony, or else the rest is just shallow and superficial and will only cover up the structural issues for a little while. Eventually the damage and the issues underneath will show the world that we took the quick, easy way out and that what we've got going on is not of great quality. Chip and Jojo make sure to cover all of their bases when it comes to structure and foundation. They deal with every issue, even the ones that seem at first to be small or simple, even those that put a dent in the budget or elongate the process more than the owners would like. Why? Because they want to do quality work. They want to present a home that is beautiful on the surface and below. A home that checks out. A home that anyone and everyone can be proud of and a home that speaks to their character and work ethic.

I don't know about you, but that's what I desire for my life. I don't want a life that speaks of Christ superficially and on the surface but that is ridden with damage and issues waiting to destroy down below. I don't want to live constantly trying to patch up the problems peeking through or covering them up with coats of paint. I would rather let God take His time. Let Him come in and lay out the plans carefully, address ALL of the issues. Even the issues that require more of my energy and a lot more time. Allow Him to restructure my life and my heart according to His plans and purposes. I want a life that points to Christ from the paintings on the walls and the trinkets on the shelves all the way down to the foundation of me. A structure and a foundation that cannot be shaken and that speak to the quality of the builder and the designer. A life that reminds me and everyone else in it that I made a wise choice in who I handed things over to.

I know that it will take time and a lot of careful attention. Painful processes again and again. But I also have a Designer who is passionate about His work. Who is in it because He loves what He does and He cares about those who have placed themselves in His hands. A Designer who will work tirelessly through every single issue that arises to be sure that the foundation is settled and steady and strong. Who will walk me through everything that needs to be addressed until we can proudly put on those beautiful shades of paint and excitedly place the little details all around knowing that they will only serve to enhance what's below and not to cover up and ignore the things just waiting to destroy down the road.

That's what I want for my life and that's what I want for yours too.

Let's determine this week to not back down in the process. Wherever we might be in that process. Perhaps it's our first go at renovations. Perhaps we have just allowed Christ in to start looking things over and reworking the layout. Maybe we're 20 years in and in desperate need of some reevaluation and renovations. It doesn't matter really. It all requires the same patience and waiting and painful process. It all requires the same grace. Let's walk through it with each other. Remind each other of the goal, share vision, and determine to be women with solid foundations. Women whose lives speak of the character and work ethic and personality of their Designer.

A Message from Magnolia

Rachel & Dalayna here today for a special, limited time, tag team post! With Rachel visiting the States for her spring break we HAD to take advantage of the opportunity! So for today's purposes you can see Rachel's thoughts in italics. 

Can I just say that being apart for nearly TWO years is completely unacceptable and will NEVER happen again. When I did the math and realized it had been that long, this year's spring break destination was a "no brainer". I've got friends all over these days and quite a few in Texas. Texas and I have never been completely acquainted, and it seemed about time. (Considering we're neighbors now.) After some trip planning sessions and discouragement in finding flights, Dalayna and I settled on a mini Texas road trip. Which without a doubt had to include a visit to Magnolia Market. You know what we're talking about...right!? Chip? Jojo? Silos Bakery? Can I get an amen?

So, now that we are Fixer Upper pros ;) we thought that would be the perfect theme for our post today. Truly though, we are all fixer uppers aren't we? We all have places in our lives that could use a fresh coat of paint, areas that show their wear and tear more prominently, and things that are completely outdated and in need of a full overhaul. Whether it be battles in the mind, bad self-talk, grace-less judgements, or a heart that is cold and dull, we believe Chip and JoJo's principles don't merely apply to fixing up homes, but fixing up our lives.

You don't have to be a faithful viewer of the show Fixer Upper to know Chip's favorite day and favorite part of the process -- Demo day. And it is fun to watch! It's fun to watch the walls go down, rooms that seemed so small and layouts that seemed so dysfunctional are destroyed, opened up, and are set up for the perfect transformation. You see Jojo lay out her ideas and miraculous game plan for a client's house, but still as a viewer you look at this house and don't see how on earth she is going to pull it off. But as the walls go down, the old is taken out, and the dust settles, you begin to see the great potential that was lying beneath the old, the ugly, and the outdated.

In our lives we all need to have some demo days. Days when we realize the potential we each hold is not being utilized or maximized. The reasons why could be many. Lack of vision, lack of purpose, lack of love for yourself, lack of belief in God's plan, discouragement, confusion; I could go on and on. The reasons vary, but transformation begins with demo day. Step one is always destroying, tearing down, and throwing out the bad, the ugly, and the outdated. 

I'll be completely honest. This step in the process might least favorite.  I think if I were a Chip and Jojo client it would be my least favorite part, and when we're talking about this in relation to our lives it's my least favorite part. For a couple of reasons. (Reasons you might relate to.) First of all because this part takes time. LOTS of time. This part requires patience and a lot of trust. LOTS of patience. LOTS of trust. Secondly, I'm not always the biggest fan of structure. Just the word often times implies restriction, limitations, a stiff sort of vibe. Unfortunately (as it may feel sometimes) this step is essential. Without it we could not be amazed by the transformation. Think about it, what are we more impressed by? Room makeover shows, or shows when homes are completely remade? I don't think I need to answer that here. The bigger the transformation-the more drastic-the more in awe we are. The more inspired we are. 

The same goes for us. We are born messy. (Even if we don't think so.) We are all in need of a major
restructure. And when we encounter Christ, that process begins. It isn't simple, it does take a lot of time and it requires a lot of patience and trust on our end. Trust that God knows exactly what He is doing. Trust that He is the expert on life remodels in general but also on ours. Trust that He is going to handle us with great care and work until He rebuilds us into exactly what He always dreamed for us. Think about it like this, when those people come to Chip and Jojo, they literally hand them everything they have. All of the finances they can afford to invest in their home and all of their dreams for that home. They have to trust them in the process. That they will steward well what they've placed in their hands and handle their dreams with care. There may be many moments along the way when the home owners worry and doubt. When things seem to be moving slowly and when Chip and Jojo find structural issues to address that no one ever saw coming. But Chip and Jojo are there every step of the way to walk and talk them through it and to help the trust in the process and hang on for the outcome. And so it is with us when we place our lives in the hands of Christ. The ultimate transformer. 

If Chip and Jojo just remade rooms with some paint and pretty things, they would not be the sensations that they are. It's the restructuring that makes the show. The complete transformations and our knowledge. That their transformations are good and solid and thorough. We know that these people are getting the very best. That though the process is long and painful and uncertain, they will love their homes in the end. But they have to endure the restructuring to get there. 

I personally LOVE this next step in the process! And Jojo has this step DOWN. When the clients come back to see their fixer upper they don't just want to come back to a house. They want to come back to their home. They want to see that their home has pieces of them scattered throughout. They want to be able to identify with the aesthetics. They want pieces that will evoke memories or stimulate new ones. People go to Jojo because they know she will set their home up in a way that is personal and original. 

When walking through the steps of our fixer upper of a life, we can rest assured that God doesn't have a template that He expects us to all fit into perfectly. He doesn't have expectations of who you should be based on any of His other children. He made you an original, not a carbon copy. He didn't even model you after that lady you follow on Instagram with the perfect... well everything. He modeled you after His Son, with very clear distinctions that make you one of a kind. Be assured as much as God wants to do an overhaul on your life, He never one time will ask you to be someone else. It is in the overhaul that He will bring out more of YOU. More of who He created and purposed you to be. More of the passion He has put inside of you. More of the beauty that has been hiding within. More of the best of you. He works in a way that is personal and will forever maintain your originality. 

Here's where it gets good, really good. This is our favorite part of every Fixer Upper episode. It's late at night and Jojo comes over with all of the pretty things. All of the finishing touches. She lovingly places them around the house. You can see it in her eyes, in the way that she handles the things, that she cannot wait to share the home with the family. She cannot wait to reveal the final product. She moves things around until everything is just so. Her family shows up, kids and all, to bring the whole thing together and to enjoy that sweet moment of everything coming together. The moment when an old rundown house becomes a home. 

It should really be the same in our lives. Let's back up a few steps. When we allow Christ to come in and have a good old fashioned demo day, to restructure us according to His vision and then to help us find who we are in light of all that He has done, this should be our response! To take great care with the transformation. To only allow things in our space that will highlight all of the beautiful work that has been done. To think about each item we allow in and how it will compliment our surroundings, what they will say of our Designer. What will they say of us when people finally see the finished product?

And then we open up the doors! That moment when Chip and Jojo welcome the family into their brand new home for the very first time. I don't know about you, but I tear up almost every single time! Why?! Because we know what they went through to get there! We know how much time and work and sacrifice went into it. And we relate to it! Truthfully, we all want to come over too! We wish we were friends with those people so that we could come in and experience it with them! We want the cookies with the milk around the beautifully handcrafted farm table! We want to be a part of the transformation!

We're all in process. We're all on a journey. We're all growing and changing and becoming, and it's touching to us when we see the pay off-the rewards of those processes. The fruit of our labor if you will. In ourselves or each other!

And that's the whole point. I'm certain these people do not walk through this process to then isolate themselves in these beautiful homes and never invite anyone in. In fact, I'm certain it's quite the opposite! I'm sure they endure the lengthy, trying process for the sake of having a space worth sharing with others. And I don't know about you, but that's why I'm constantly allowing this process in my own life. Why I'm willing to endure the long, difficult, painful task of tearing down and rebuilding over and over again. That's why I constantly take such great care with the things I allow to fill my space and why with each passing year I find more and more who I am in the light of Christ. Because I want to have a space worth opening up. I want to have a space that demonstrates the grace and love and character of my Designer. A space where people feel invited and at home. Always. 

Fixer Upper fans and critics alike flock to share in pretty much anything Chip and Jojo put their hands to because of their success and mastery with these 5 steps. In the same way, we desire that people would be drawn to Christ in us. And we desire that for your lives also!