Receiving Grace: Friendship that Points to Jesus

Things have been a little quieter around here, in large part because I’m back to teaching. But they’re also quieter because I’ve intentionally pulled back a bit. I’ve realized, over the last month, that my heart simply needs more time away from the screen, and even from the words that I love so much. More time to rest, more time to think, more time to journal, more time to pray. I need more time with my husband, I need more time with my little girl, I need more time with the women who hold up my arms as a new mom and are in these beautiful and difficult trenches with me.

Ann Swindell + Life with a Toddler

I have been feeling soul-tired lately, and when that happens its time to get back to the basics: Jesus, family, friends, sleep. As a chronic over-achiever, I would like to think that I can push through anything, but that’s not the case.

And, so, I am slowing in the ways that I can. And I am opening up these soul-tired places in me to my friends. I am sharing my life with them so that they can speak truth, offer encouragement, and point me to Jesus. These are the things we have been doing for each other for years; lately, though, I find I am more on the receiving end than usual. And that’s ok. We all have seasons where we need others to offer their strength to us. I’m grateful.

My real-life friends are central in this journey I am living. But next week, I am also thankful that I get to go and make some new friends–and turn online friends into real-life friends. I’m headed to the Influence Conference, which focuses on keeping Jesus at the center of our online lives–something so beautiful and so necessary.

For those women who I will meet there, we are sharing a link-up. So here’s a bit about me: I’m a wife, mom, pastor’s wife, and college instructor. I was in school for most of my life as a student, and now I’m still in school–but on the other side of the classroom. I teach creative writing and creative nonfiction courses to college students, and I love it. I also write for multiple publications and love speaking to groups of women. My husband is my best friend and February will mark 10 years of dating (we’ve been married for 8+ of those years). I hope we have a good 60+ years left together! Our daughter, Ella, was born on our seventh anniversary and she is a delight!

I’m very much looking forward to the Strategy classes, and you’ll rarely find me without a cardigan (I get cold easily…and I’m a teacher. Ha!).

I’d love to meet you online as we prepare for #influenceconf, and I’m so looking forward to giving you a hug in person next week! Here’s to making much of Jesus!

He is Our Brave

I do not think of myself as a naturally brave person. I’ve never been bungee jumping or sky diving—and I have zero desire to do so. I like knowing what’s coming at me, and I prefer having a life that’s fairly scheduled. I’m not a big fan of change. I’ve never done anything particularly heroic or courageous that anyone else would have noticed.

 

You are a Brave Mom

But in this past week, I have been drawn to this song, entitled “You Make Me Brave.” Here are some of the lyrics:

As Your love,
in wave after wave

Crashes over me,
crashes over me

For You are for us

You are not against us

Champion of Heaven

You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You call my name

I have heard the song of love that You sing

So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore

Into Your grace

Into Your grace

You make me brave

You make me brave

You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave

You make me brave

No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

Those words remind me of the words of the One who called Joshua to be “strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:9), the words of the One who says that His “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18) and the One whose words tell me that I am like the matriarch Sarah, if I “do good and do not fear anything that is frightening” (1 Peter 3:6). So much of Scripture is filled with the call to let go of fear and to grasp onto the love of God—the only unfailing love that fills us with courage even as He calls us into new and challenging things.

And as I’ve been thinking about bravery, I feel like God has gently shown me that I have been brave during this last year. Not in ways that anyone else would notice—I have not run into any burning houses or jumped from any helicopters. But I have realized that these last fifteen months of my life—becoming a mama—have required me to be braver than I ever thought I could be. I’ve written before, but the transition into motherhood wasn’t easy for me. I had no idea how it would change everything in my life all at once–and remember, change isn’t easy for me. But, the love of God upheld me. And mothering Ella is simultaneously the most wonderful and the most crazy thing I’ve ever done.

Every day I realize, afresh, that no one else can be her mother. And that requires great bravery from me—to keep saying yes.

Every day, even when I feel like I have very little in my own tank, I say yes to Jesus. And He—He is the one who makes me brave. He is the one who enables me to say yes again to the responsibility and yes to the joy and yes to the exhaustion and yes to the love and yes to the consistency and yes to the laughter and yes to the constant reality is life as a mom. It is costing much of me to be a present, loving mother. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But some days, it is a brave choice for me to show up and love and serve and giggle and clothe and bathe and feed again, one day at a time.

So, to my fellow mamas: you might not be saving the world today, but you are brave. You are raising and loving and serving a little life—or several little lives—and Jesus knows the bravery that requires. He knows the cost. What may not look like much to the outside world—making meals, wiping bottoms, changing clothes, cleaning up Cheerios—looks like bravery from Heaven’s perspective. You are brave for showing up again today, for not pulling your heart out of this beautiful and costly work of mothering. You can be strong and courageous, and you can let His love cast out your fear—because Christ is with you and in you.

He is our brave.

It’s OK to Want to Be Famous: An Article at RELEVANT Magazine

It's OK to Want to Be Famous at Relevant Magazine by Ann Swindell

Do you ever feel the desire to be famous? I do. Honestly, I think it's a desire that is inside all of us at some point or another--and I think it's a desire that comes from God. How we use that ache for fame, though--that's a different … [Continue reading]

The Timeliness of Fall

Ann and Michael.Fall

I love summer. A Midwesterner my entire life, summer has always been an elusive prize, a questionable gamble between the winters that are always just around the corner. But the freedom to wear sandals and shorts and the opportunity to leave the house … [Continue reading]

An Empty Classroom: Holy Ground

empty classroom

This is the week that school starts at the college where I teach. As a college prof I get to claim most of the month of August for the summer--but this last week is decidedly Fall for me. It may still be 90 degrees outside, and the trees may still be … [Continue reading]

Complaining is a Spiritual Problem: An Article for RELEVANT Magazine

Relevant Complaining is a Spritual Problem

I wrote about the truth behind complaining for RELEVANT this week--and even the process of writing about complaining convicted me! Click here or on the image below to read the article! … [Continue reading]