40 “Truths” at 40 Years Old

Anne Rulo 40 "Truths" at 40 Years Old

I turn 40 today. This feels like the kind of age where stuff that doesn’t matter will start to matter even less and the stuff that does matter will float to the top. Serious and silly, practical and personal, below is a list of things that feel true at this stage. And, I offer it all knowing things may will change as the journey continues. And that feels beautiful too.

  1. Hold traditions and expectations lightly. It may become beneficial to change them.
  2. A walk outside fixes many things.
  3. Satisfaction is crawling into bed with no alarm set.
  4. It will be a redemptive work of God if I ever like cooking.
  5. We all have biases. Look for them with courage.
  6. Extended, meditative prayer is fruitful. I want to spend more time doing this.
  7. Some people take to motherhood right away. Others warm to it like spring. I am the latter.
  8. Don’t try a bad habit just because it is intriguing. You might end up stuck with it.
  9. Love your children the best you can and ask God to fill in the gaps.
  10. You should have at least three self-care practices that don’t cost any money.
  11. I have always been flaky. I am recording this here so when I do goofy stuff at 80 someone will say, “Yep, she’s always been like that.”
  12. Some things do not change, even with effort. For me, it seems this is liking broccoli.
  13. I think gray hair is beautiful. It sits on the heads of some of the most incredible women in my life. I’m keeping mine.
  14. Loving your spouse is nice, but I also suggest finding one who inspires you.
  15. Tears born of beauty and whimsy come easier with age. I am glad of this.
  16. Everybody has weird stuff. My armpits itch when I’m scared.
  17. I don’t really like conflict or competition. I am also a coach’s wife. I have questions for God about this.
  18. Garlic salt and butter fix many foods. Oh, and cheese.
  19. Be present. Be gentle with yourself. My Mother taught me that.
  20. I like being around people who are the unrealized version of my ideal self — like gardeners and librarians.
  21. (Almost) no one feels super confident as a parent. Be real. Be encouraging.
  22. Learning to fold fitted sheets well is folly. No one cares about the inside of your linen closet.
  23. Jesus grows sweeter with time.
  24. My middle sister can make me laugh harder than anyone else on the planet.
  25. A rich life is full of both conventional and unconventional accomplishments.
  26. “They” are a critical, negative and unaccountable group. Don’t listen to them.
  27. Savor practices that connect you to your heritage. I feel my Grandmother every time I see a beautiful sunset. She loved them.
  28. One of my fears is living in a post-apocalyptic world without my contacts or glasses.
  29. It is essential that children are given opportunities to practice independence.
  30. Television is like sweets. It’s great at first but after too much, I feel terrible. On the contrary, books never have this effect.
  31. Every once in a while, just watch your children sleep.
  32. Learn to appreciate funerals. They are sacred spaces for reflection and you are only going to keep attending more of them.
  33. Serving people well is a great art. My youngest sister is one of the best I know.
  34. You will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. You will make mistakes.
  35. Some of the things God asks us to do seem really silly to other people. Do them anyway.
  36. When I have a nightmare I hold my Bible like a lovey to go back to sleep.
  37. Feelings are not facts.
  38. Be open to who you are becoming.
  39. Cultivate people in your life who are brave.
  40. Know that any truth at any age may change and that’s okay. Jesus is the only perfect constant.

On this day I am so very grateful for each of you who has been a part of my life and supported this funny little writing journey. I wish you peace and abundant blessings.

Anne, the 40-year-old 🙂

Photo by Deva Williamson on Unsplash

Parenting Hack: The “Knowledge Question”

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I keep it pretty simple as a parent. I do my best to love and affirm my tiny humans while keeping them fed and clothed. I make sure they get outside. We read books. Nothing special, but hopefully consistent enough to combat any less-than-stellar parenting moments. But every once in a while, a unique little gem pops into our routine that is super helpful — so I figured I would share it with the village.

Long before having children, I was an advocate for emotional intelligence. The majority of my professional work has been with adolescent young men (and some women), many of whom simply didn’t know how to identify and/or work through their feelings. Fast-forward to SAHM life and the commitment to this has only been reinforced. Little people need the safety to feel, identify and learn to cope with their big feelings to eventually become functional adult versions of themselves.

And so, as a therapist, I get it. I’ll validate their feelings all day long. However, as my children have gotten older, I have started noticing that just validating their emotions seemed to leave them floundering a bit. Sometimes their distress seemed to be simply caused by not knowing how to ask about what upsets them. And that’s how the “knowledge question” was born.

So, what is the “knowledge question”? It’s basically an add-on response that helps when kids are worried and need information, in addition to having their feelings validated. It basically goes something like this:

“It sounds like you have a question.” (A reflection of their need for information) or,
“Would you like to ask a question?”/”Is there something you’d like to ask me?”

It’s been a game-changer. Let me give you a couple “for instances”.

My oldest currently worries about natural disasters. We have researched the area to make sure our home is safe from floods and note we’ve never been directly hit by a tornado. Then, the other night he walked into the living room and asked, “Can you show me a map of the world?” When I asked why, he broke into tears, “I don’t want to die from a tsunami!”

As I sat on my couch (in Missouri) I internally rolled my eyes. But then, I remembered the knowledge question. “I see that scares you, buddy. Would you like to ask a question?” And I watched it happen. The gears started turning, the tears dried up, and the scared little boy stood and asked, “Can tsunamis get to our house?” “Nope. Tsunamis only happen near oceans. We don’t live near the ocean.” “Okay Mom, thanks.” And off to bed.

You see, part of the reason the knowledge question (or knowledge reflection) works is that it’s empowering. In addition to validating our children’s feelings, we give them the opportunity to be information gatherers. The ability to seek out resources and knowledge is a foundational skill-set for their success in the world. And, when we offer the knowledge question, we give them a safe place to practice that with us.

Here’s another example.

My youngest is into “fairness”. At breakfast, I handed her brother two gummy vitamins. As I turned to get hers she burst into tears, “But I wanted gummy bears too!” I wanted to say something harsh (“Stop being ridiculous, I’m getting them”) but instead, was able to offer the knowledge reflection, “It sounds like you have a question.” Big blue eyes and crocodile tears looked at me and said, “Mom, can I have vitamins too?” I was then able to remind her to ask questions, be patient and then we moved on without me shaming my child and with her problem-solving skills enhanced. She was given the chance to advocate for herself, rather than having me fix the problem for her.

So, if you think the knowledge question might be helpful for your kiddos, here’s a few thoughts:

  • It can take them a while to figure out how to ask a knowledge-seeking question. My four-year-old was initially frustrated, “I don’t know what the question is!” No worries, if this is the case it offers you an opportunity to work through how to form an information-seeking question as well as explore what might be bothering them. In the tsunami example, I might say, “What is it you are worried about?” His answer is going to point me toward whether he is worried about dying by a tsunami in Missouri or worried about the uncle who lives near the ocean we are planning to visit. Kids think some wild stuff and we can’t always assume why they are worried about something. This way, you get more information and then you can help them form what would have been an appropriate question afterward as practice.
  • If they are “too far gone” emotionally, they will not be able to form a question. The prefrontal cortex of our brain is the first to shut down in a panic and we need that part to have any sort of rational thought. If they can’t come up with anything because they are too upset, focus on deescalating and try again later.
  • They are not always going to like the answers we give them. However, no matter if they like it or not, remember to praise their problem-solving, resource/information-seeking efforts. If we actually lived near the ocean and needed to plan for a tsunami we would have just continued on our research journey. “Yes buddy, we could have a tsunami here but I am so proud of you for wanting to think through the options. What questions do you have about how we plan to be safe?” Or, if I had told my daughter “no” because she threw a huge fit about the vitamins I can still say, “I am so glad you asked me about having vitamins. What questions do you have to make sure you are able to get a gummy next time?”

Well, there you have it. Thanks for hanging with me. That was easily one of the longest blog posts I have ever written but this change in my parenting language has been so gosh darn effective with my worrisome, tear-prone kiddos that I really wanted to pass it along. I truly hope it may be helpful for you in growing investigative, independent, resource-obtaining little humans. The same ones who will come to us someday and say, “I had a problem and I figured out what I needed to know, all on my own!”

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Willy Wonka Faith

Anne Rulo Willy Wonka Faith

Ah, Willy Wonka, you are such a unique and quirky piece of inspiration. As a child of the ’80s, I am partial to the original film starring Gene Wilder (no offense to the modern rendering with Mr. Depp). That said, the other night I finally took the opportunity to watch this cult classic with my children. It was whimsical and silly and weird and magical. I loved all the parts I always loved and fast-forwarded through the creepy boat scene like I always did. The entire film was (mostly) delightful as always.

It warms me to watch young Charlie Bucket live with such a generous heart in the midst of having so little to give. Even if that child never found a golden ticket, his love for his family and the very patient way he waits for provision would have been a lesson all its own. But, as we know, Charlie does find a ticket. The last golden ticket. And with that, he becomes one of the lucky few to gain access to Mr. Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory.

As I watched the film with my children, I relished in the example Charlie sets. He is the character I want to be. Charlie is patient and kind, always present in the moment and hopeful, no matter how difficult a situation may seem. His integrity is intact and his heart is pure save one small indulgence with the fizzy lifting drinks, from which he quickly learns and moves on. Yes, Charlie, I want to be like you.

Instead, I kept thinking, sometimes I act like Veruca Salt.

Ugh. You know her. This child was somehow perfectly cast to play the most entitled, whiny, bratty pre-teen of all time. She is a master of manipulating her parents to give her whatever-she-wants-whenever-she-wants. She has zero patience to let life come to her, instead grabbing at it frantically with self-driven motives. She regularly forgets what she has been given, consistently acting out of impatience and a lack of gratitude. And I really, really did not like how much I resonated with her.

This connection with Veruca’s character hopefully isn’t that obvious in our daily lives. Clearly, we do not demand that people buy us geese that lay golden eggs (although that would be cool!) nor do we manipulate people to do our bidding by unwrapping thousands of chocolate bars. No, Veruca usually doesn’t show up in these outward, dramatic demonstrations. However, she can show up in our faith.

“Arghh! God, why are you doing it this way?! I don’t understand. Why haven’t You given me what I need (read: want)?! I don’t want to wait/deal with this/be in this situation one moment longer. And, I am pretty sure I know a great solution. So, would You go ahead and take care of it in that way (please), like now-ish?”

The tone above may be exaggerated a bit — but if we’re honest? There have probably been more than a few situations in our lives where we had the opportunity to wait graciously like Charlie, remembering previous faithfulness and trusting that good will come. But instead, we found ourselves stomping our mental feet and grabbing at things, trying to control the situation instead of trusting that God knows what He is doing and will bring things together in His time. In short, we Veruca’d it.

I am so very grateful that we serve a loving God who is patient with us rather than a quirky chocolatier who sends us down the “bad egg” chute, no matter how much we may deserve it. May we all be more like Charlie today, and less like Veruca. And, when we do, we may just find ourselves in the “land of pure imagination“.

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.'” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT)

Photo by naomi tamar on Unsplash

 

The Power of the Mini-Vacation

Anne Rulo The Power of the Mini-Vacation

This past Sunday, I returned from a four-day vacation. At this stage of life with littles and a busy schedule, it was certainly a rarity. My children were safely stowed with my Mom and sister, I got to spend time with my husband, friends, and attend to self-care in a way that I normally do not. It was wonderful, refreshing, and surprisingly — inefficient?

I know that may sound like a strange word to attach to a vacation, but my hope is that it will be a great encouragement. You see, sometimes we allow an elaborate idea of “vacations” to take on such a sparkle of promise that it devalues the restoration we can create through moments in our day-to-day lives. So, while you would think that a four-day vacation would be more restorative than a one-day vacation, or a half-day vacation, or even a trip to the store by myself on a Sunday afternoon, surprisingly, it wasn’t.

I am not saying this to play down the four-day vacation. On the contrary, I am playing up the value of the mini-vacation — and hoping that creates more value and accessibility for all of us.

Regarding accessibility, vacations (the ones where you get away for days at a time) are very practically tied to privilege. It takes finances, vacation time, childcare, and the mental or physical health required for a trip to have these experiences. And, for those who can, fantastic! Go and share all the pictures! But for those who can’t, I never want you to think that the restoration that happens in the Caribbean is qualitatively different from the restoration that can happen at home. It does not match God’s character to offer this gift to some and not others based on ability.

Regarding value, I think what surprised me most was the restoration I felt after a small bit of time on this vacation was not altogether different from what I have felt at times in my home or community. And, the experience of returning home was very similar to what I’ve felt when my husband took the kids to the Y for an hour or two or how I have felt after taking a shower midday, just to get ten minutes to myself to think.

In our busy worlds of work, raising children or just getting through the aisles at Walmart, we sometimes think, “If I can just push through here, just keep going then I’ll rest.” “If I can just get this dinner made, get through the homework, then I’ll rest once the kids go to bed.” Stop my friend. Stop just for a second. The God who made you knew the life and pace you would live and He made your brain to be your friend. We sometimes think that we need a certain type of break in order to be restored when, in fact, God wired our brains to restore peace in shorter time periods than we realize.

Leaving the packed food aisles at Walmart to go feel the fuzzy fabrics in crafts for a few minutes can let your soul breathe.

Asking your kids to pause the homework they “need” you for and run around outside while you finish dinner can be the difference between enjoying your food and white-knuckling your way through the meal.

Stepping away from your desk to breathe deeply at an office window communicates to your heart and your mind that you are valuable and worthy of rest.

Vacations are not one type of thing, and we are missing out on that benefit if we pigeonhole what they “have” to be. We will not always have the opportunity to get exactly the kind of rest we may want. But, we almost always have the opportunity to take the kind of rest we need through the day-to-day opportunities God allows.

Happy vacation day my friend.

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

 

God’s People Wait

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today! See the preview below…

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Winter is l-o-n-g, and we are sitting dead center in it. The hoopla of the holidays has faded, and the chirps of birds and budding of new leaves are still several weeks in the future. This is the waiting time. Waiting for spring. Waiting for warmth. Waiting for the new life that always comes, but sometimes seems to take forever.

Waiting is a skill many of us aren’t good at anymore. Even those who make an intentional effort toward “being present” and “savoring the moment” can’t help but be influenced by the reality that we live with microwaves, instant communication, and commercial-less television. It’s hard to be a person who knows how to “wait well” because, in truth, we have so little opportunity to practice.

Our modern lack of waiting leaves us vulnerable to spiritual crisis. We may find ourselves not only impatient, but also questioning God, questioning ourselves, and wanting desperately for a season of waiting to “hurry up” so we can understand and see what is on the other side. We want to know why, we want to know how long, and we want to know what we can do to “fix” a season we may perceive as broken.

Well, my sweet Jesus-following friends, rather than assuming the negative, let’s all settle into this important truth: God’s people have always been a waiting people. The Israelites waited for deliverance out of Egypt (Exodus 20:2), Noah and his crew floated around for forty days to only then wait for another seven for the dove to come back (Genesis 8:12), and Sarah got gray hair waiting for a baby (Genesis 18:10-12). Even Jesus practiced waiting (John 7:6, 11:5-6). Thematically, waiting is as strong a storyline as almost any other in the Bible. I would suggest that if we are going to be God-followers, we are also going to be God-waiters.

To read the full post go to The Glorious Table here.

Cultivating Joy in Tragedy

Anne Rulo Cultivating Joy in Tragedy

In 2018, I released a five-week study over the book of Philippians, Cultivating Joy. It is a study of how Paul worked to intentionally cultivate joy in his life even given the dire circumstances of his life in prison. After the tragic events of this week, this lesson from day four of the study seemed timely and relevant. I hope it is a blessing to you.

Cultivating Joy: Day 4, Philippians 1:12-14 (Eternal Perspective)

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

When difficult or tragic things happen in life, many of us, rightly so, cling tightly to Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It is reassuring to read these words and be reminded that we are not outside of God’s love and that He will bring good from the challenges we face. However, although far less referenced, I would suggest that the section of Philippians above runs a close second in terms of providing us support, encouragement, and perspective when faced with the “But why God?” things of life.

It is interesting to note that the focus of Romans 8:28 is ourselves. We find comfort in knowing that God is working for our good. The beauty of today’s verses in Philippians is that it takes the purpose of challenges beyond ourselves so we can rest in a different kind of comfort and purpose. I can say that there have been more than a few times in my life when I have needed more than Romans because I am trying to digest a Philippians type of situation.

As Paul sat in prison thinking of all that he could be doing and having no power to do so, he made this statement: “I want you to know…what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” A man deeply rooted in his faith, Paul may have felt secure in God’s love and purpose for him; however, I can imagine that maybe he could have begun to worry about those he was supposed to be reaching with the Gospel. Being concerned for the men and women he had taught in cities he visited on other journeys and the people he had yet to reach but had no idea whether or not he would ever get out of prison to do so. Philippians 1:12 is the kind of “booster” verse we need when we know that God loves us and has our best interest in mind, but we are worried about the larger fallout around a situation.

…when we are facing a job loss, and we know that God has our future in His hand, but we are worried about the people and the work we are leaving behind…
…when we see tragedy upon tragedy on television and wonder what good can come of it…
…when we are told that the life of one of our loved ones will end too soon when there seemed so much ahead…

When we are sure in our hearts that God is good, but we have no idea why He has allowed something, I would encourage you to pray with passion that what has happened—to you, your friend, your sister, your parent, to that devastated family on the news—has the eternal purpose of advancing the Gospel. Paul cultivated joy in his situation because he was sure that this imprisonment had a purpose beyond him, not just for him.  His tragedy served to advance the Gospel.

The God we serve does not waste.

When the Twin Towers came down, people returned to their faith. When a community member loses their home, people show up in droves to help. When life is lost too soon, the words offered by the dying inspire long after they are gone. God does not waste tragic situations for us personally and, maybe more so, He certainly does not waste the positive ripple effect a tragedy can create for the Kingdom. He weeps when we weep; He hurts when we hurt. While the enemy may bring pain, loss, and disease in our broken world, God uses it not only for our good but for the advancement of the Gospel. We cultivate joy today by believing that we serve a purposeful and resourceful God who wastes no tragedy but instead utilizes it to reach others and embolden them to “…become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” He knows how to use everything for good. May we trust Him in this.

“Lord, I pray that You would grow my trust and understanding in the sovereignty You have over all situations. While sometimes I may get the privilege of seeing how Your hand was at work, sometimes I do not, and I am left to believe that You are guiding that situation for good. Set our minds in an eternal perspective rather than the narrow perspective of humanity.  Help me today to claim my difficulties as an opportunity for You to advance the Gospel.”

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

Getting Real About the Creative Process

Anne Rulo Getting Real About the Creative Process

Well, she’s out there! The God Blanket officially launched into the world this past Tuesday and it’s been fun. And weird. And uncomfortable. And very, very vulnerable. Sometimes people imagine that creative endeavors are some sort of mystical process (kinda’ like I used to). But, when we put things in mystical categories they become unreachable and intimidating and highbrow…and ain’t nobody got time for that nonsense.

Now that this second book is out, one thing I’ve been really wanting to do is take the opportunity to tell you a few things I’ve learned about the creative process. I’m telling you this because it’s fun to relive the journey. But, mostly I’m telling you this for you, in the hopes that it would encourage even one to step out into something you may have considered for a long time. So to that end, here’s a few pieces of unfiltered truth that I hope will bless your own adventure.

  1. Creative processes are HARD. I’ve literally had years of practice along with some natural gifting with words and language. And still, almost every single time I sit down to write it takes way longer than I expect and I have at least one or two times where I think about quitting or how incompetent I am. While the easy magic of something spilling onto a page has happened a handful of times, most of the time it is a grind — and therein lies the gift.
  2. Doing hard things is a blessing. When you step into something God has called you to, it does not mean it is going to be easy. In fact, if Biblical examples teach us anything, it means it’s probably going to be really hard sometimes. That’s the gift I’m talking about. I’ve never been surer that I am living according to my design and yet, God has allowed it to be so hard sometimes that I have had to rely on nothing else than my trust and faith in Him to keep going. Diving into the unknown has transformed my faith in Christ in ways nothing else could.
  3. We create best when we mimic how God created. Even though He could have created everything at once, He didn’t. He showed us how to create from the basics (day/night, land/water) to the detailed and polished (plants, animals, people). We shouldn’t expect everything to come together right away! Even more importantly, He showed us how to enjoy the process as it goes along. In Genesis 1 He didn’t say, “It’s still awful. It’s still awful. It’s still awful.” He said, “It is good. It is good. It is good.” Until it was finally, “very good.” Don’t mentally whip yourself along the way, enjoy the process and trust in its development. Do like He did.
  4. You will feel exposed. Even if you only show your work to a couple people, it is a vulnerable thing to be creative and then open it to public opinion. When The God Blanket launched I spent the entire day vacillating somewhere between celebration and wanting to cover my head with every blanket in my house. It’s weird and uncomfortable to put your stuff out there and even weirder to promote yourself. Just ride that awkward wave as it rises and falls and trust that God is in charge of it all.
  5. Your obedience to God’s call will bless others. This is the one I didn’t see coming. Living out an unknown process gives other people permission to be vulnerable and say, “It’s okay to do scary stuff.” And while I appreciate the grown-ups who may fall in this category, you know who I ended up affecting more than anyone else? My children. (Cue unsightly Mom sobs.) I haven’t hidden the hard of this journey from them. They have heard me admit I don’t know what I’m doing but that I’m trusting God. They have seen me struggle and they have seen me celebrate. And on Tuesday, they brought me the cards you see in the picture above and my heart busted open because even if I don’t sell a single copy of a single book I have shown my children what it is like to live out in the unknown and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to do that too.

So thank you, everyone who has been part of this journey and everyone who may now start their own. I don’t know what adventure into the unknown God may be calling you to but calling you I am sure He is. Remember, creativity is not just found in the arts. God calls us to the unknown in lots of areas of our lives so that we will have to trust Him there. It won’t be comfortable but you can trust that He will give you all the love and guidance you need for that first step forward. It’s thrilling and scary and awesome out here folks. Let’s go.

(Sneak Peek!) The God Blanket

Anne Rulo Sneak Peek The God Blanket

It’s almost here! My next book study, “The God Blanket” releases next Tuesday and I’m so excited! And scared. And humbled. And grateful. And tired. I’m all the things that go along with putting hard work into a thing and then releasing it into the world. It is a beautifully vulnerable space to be. A space I’ve learned to love more and more in this journey to becoming a writer.

In next week’s blog post I am going to share more about the process of writing a book and remove some of the mystical nonsense that people sometimes put around the creative process. But, until then, I wanted to give you a little sneak peek into this study before it releases next week.

First, I want you to know I chose the book of Colossians because I am a great big chicken. I was avoiding another book that felt too theologically “heavy” and I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I assume God later found it amusing that Colossians is chock-full of really thick, challenging concepts but I was already too far in to back out. It was an immense blessing to have to wade through hard things, do some research, and come out on the other side seeing God’s love clearer than ever.

Secondly, I wanted to share that this book is very similar in structure to my first publication, “Cultivating Joy”. That first book was created in response to my sister asking if I knew of any strong studies that were also manageable for busy Moms of young children. Hear me clearly, that’s not code for “I’m too busy for God”. It’s the reality that some folks are just in a stage of life that has restricted time but they still really want to grow in their faith! It was with those parameters in mind that I set out and created a five-week, four days a week study with all the verses, reading and reflection opportunities build right in. High value, low volume.

Third, I wanted to share a few lines from the first day’s reading that summarizes the whole study well. If you pick up this book, this is what is comin’acha. I hope it is as much a blessing to you as it has been to me.

“The God Blanket” Day 1: “In the time that I have spent wandering through this book, Paul’s words have become almost like a laser for my faith. Not only do they point specifically at what really matters, but they also cut off the edges of all the things that I have tried to ‘add’ to Jesus over the years. It has been a focusing and refining experience that I didn’t know was coming. I am so delighted for you to join in during these next five weeks as we get to re-fall in love with Jesus and the community of Christ through this direct and much-needed letter.”

Available on Amazon Tuesday, January 21st!

Keep Going, Even If It Didn’t Start Well

Anne Rulo Keep Going Even If It Didn't Start Well

“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.” (Mark 1:9-13a, NIV)

As we make our transition out of Christmas and into the New Year, I am drawn to the story of Jesus’ life that makes a similar transition. The front end of the Gospels is “The Christmas Section.” But then, aside from one brief mention in Luke 2 about the boy Jesus, we don’t see Him again until He is an adult. After all the Christmas stuff, the next thing we watch is how Jesus gets started in a new thing. In this case, His formal ministry.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to wait those thirty-some-odd years before He finally got to step forward into His purpose. I suspect in His humanity there may have been some apprehension. But, there also must have been a longing to do what He came for. After all those years of waiting, He finally got to step His dusty feet into the cool Jordan where He was baptized, the heavens burst open and His father says, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” He’s finally ready to go.

But, instead of getting to move forward in His ministry, He has to go tangle with the devil for a while. Man, I would find that really frustrating.

You know, one of the most precious parts about the God we serve is that He gave us Jesus as an example (1 Peter 2:21, NIV). Rather than serving a distant, unknowable being, we get a real flesh and blood Savior who “understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NLT)

In short, we serve a God who “gets it.”

I know there are some of you who set out in 2020 with God speaking something new into your life. You felt Him call you to it, approve of it, and commission you forward. You were super excited to get started, finally stepping into the thing you were meant to do — but then you ran into the devil. And it’s been really, really frustrating.

If this has been your experience, I need you to know Jesus gets it. He knows exactly what it is like to wait years and years to finally get the chance to do something. He knows what it is like to finally feel blessed and approved to move forward. And, He knows exactly what it is like to take that first step and find yourself fighting in the desert instead. It is such a sweet gift that God let us see Jesus facing this type of challenge. But, it is an even greater gift that He also showed us how He got through it — by fighting with God’s Word. (For full verbal sparring match between Jesus and the devil see here, Matthew 4:1-11, NIV)

Scripture is the most powerful weapon you could ever wield against an enemy who seeks to destroy your calling or your progress. Just as Jesus used lines from God’s truth to combat every ridiculous arrow the devil threw at Him, we must do the same if we are to make it through our desert spaces and into the forward progress we desire. The battle will almost always be there. The defeat does not have to be.

Keep fighting desert traveler, He’s with you. He understands where you are and He has every weapon you need because He’s been there. Remember, He wrote the Book.

Used with permission, photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

 

 

Uncovering Your Adventure

Anne Rulo Uncovering Your Adventure

If you have followed my writing for any time at all, you know I don’t especially enjoy cooking. I do it out of necessity of course, but I don’t hang out in the kitchen a lot, so sometimes things escape my notice. As examples, I was in my previous house for quite a while before I realized the “drawer” at the bottom of my oven was, in fact, a second oven. And, it was only a few weeks ago when I discovered that the little rubber button on the side of my faucet changes the stream from regular to power wash. Good grief, I’ve lived here for over a year trying to scrub food from our plates like a fool with unnecessarily gentle water pressure.

And so, it should come as no surprise when this past summer, I made yet another kitchen discovery. As I walked by the sink, the late afternoon sun cast its light just perfectly above my awesome 90’s cabinets, revealing something I had not seen before. Words. Faint, pale and hard to read, but definitely words. I stood there shifting back and forth, attempting to get just the right angle, and was finally able to make it out.

“Love and cooking with reckless abandon.”

They were vinyl letters, long covered over with paint and as you can see in the picture, almost impossible to detect. It initially hit me as amusing that this specific message about “cooking with reckless abandon” was found in my rather under-utilized kitchen. However, that amusement quickly shifted into reflection as I thought, it is actually kind of sad to have a message of adventure like this “covered over.”

I know, I know. For all practical purposes, those words above my cabinets were painted over because someone just didn’t like the decoration anymore. But, in our lived experience, this type of “covering over” is exactly what we do sometimes when God speaks a call into our lives. Like the words above my cabinets, the message originally seems clear, and maybe even exciting. But then if it feels too risky, too hard, or simply like it couldn’t actually be meant for us, we cover it over, look away, and try our best just not to notice it anymore.

As we set out in these first days of 2020, I want you to consider if there are things God has called you to that you may have covered up. I know it can seem really scary to follow God’s call in our lives but remember, He sees the potential in us that we do not. He sees the future of that call and how it will bless His people. And He knows what will come of living out that faded message.

You can trust Him. Uncover that old message in your life and fill in the blank accordingly.

“I hear you, Lord. Let’s do this. Love and _____________ with reckless abandon.”