I Speak for the Turkeys

Last fall I had the amazing opportunity to share my heart over on Delight and Be. As the calendar rolled over to the 1st of November this morning I found myself urged to share these same thoughts as we dive into the holidays once more. 

It was the day after Halloween and I found myself standing squarely in the middle of my living room letting out a silent scream. A Christmas commercial. Amidst the discarded hulk mask and superhero cape and the crinkled up wrappers from last nights snicker bar binge it was all I could do not to pull out my own hair and curse all things merry and bright. A Christmas commercial – heralding all that was snowy and shiny and on sale for only $19.99.

Im one of THOSE people, you know the type – we are the grinches who complain about the stores decorating too early or who gripe about Starbucks bringing out the red cups in November. Im the Scrooge who loudly declares a moratorium on any Christmas music while any of the leaves are clinging red and orange to their branches; the one who scares her children with threats of bad reports to Santa if they so much as think of starting their wish lists before the turkey and cranberry sauce have been reduced to leftover sandwiches. If you met me in November you’d be convinced that I had experienced some sort of horridly traumatic Christmas past that converted me into an avid rejecter of all things remotely yuletide.

Im going to steal a page from my children’s Dr. Seuss obsession and appropriate the catchphrase of the Lorax for a minute. Except instead of the trees? I speak for the turkeys. Now before you roll your eyes and click that little red x in the corner of this screen, let me clarify that Im not speaking for the turkeys in the picketing for PETA and buying a tofurkey sense. By all means, when it comes to turkeys go ahead and shoot ‘em, pluck ‘em, and roast ‘em up nice and juicy. Im allll for turkeys… when they are covered in gravy that is. Lots and lots of gravy. No, I speak for the turkeys as the adopted mascots of Thanksgiving, which in my humble opinion is the single most important holiday of the year – and also the most under appreciated.

I will go so far as to say that without a Thanksgiving we absolutely unequivocally wouldn’t have any Christmas at all. Aaannnd I know what you’re thinking: she’s gone and lost it now. The baby Jesus couldn’t be laid in His manger and the shepherds wouldn’t hear the angels sing unless… the pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and had a feast with the Indians?

Yep.

Well, sort of.

Ok not at all. But there IS a point to my madness, I swear.

Image Credit: Grace & Salt

You see Thanksgiving is a holiday that boils down to only one thing: gratitude. Underneath the turkeys and the pilgrims and the bundles of wheat on our perfect Pinterest mantles, Thanksgiving is in its simplest form is an entire season wholly dedicated to stepping back from a culture that’s saturated with discontentment and an all out pursuit of more for the sake of more, and calls us instead to look at the abundance we have already been blessed with and utter a prayer of gratitude for having more than we could possibly deserve. Thanksgiving is a season of “thank you’s” in a world of “but I want more’s.” It’s the epitome of counterculture at its finest.

And when the final bite of stuffing is consumed and the last piece of turkey has been placed in the final leftovers sandwich, a new season emerges: Christmas, the season of joy to the earth and goodwill to all men. And its here that we find the thread that seamlessly pulls us from one holiday into the next: because the root of our joy? It has to be gratitude. Without the fertile fall season of gratitude we can never reap our Christmas’ joy. For Christmas depends on Thanksgiving the same way the crops in the fields depend on nutrient rich soil and abundant rains to bring them to life for the harvest. It is only in a heart of gratitude that the seeds of joy can take root, and its only by watering them regularly with prayers of thanksgiving that joy can thrive and grow bring forth something new and beautiful in our lives.

To truly receive the joy of Christmas it is essential to dive in fully and embrace the season of Thanksgiving with our whole hearts. To begin to make room for the presents the yuletide season brings, we must first spend time emptying ourselves onto the altar of gratitude, recognizing the overabundance we’ve already been given. For it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without Thanksgiving. The world around us may try to hurry us along, beckoning us across its ramshackle bridge straight from the halloween candy right into a Christmas tree farm and long lists to Santa. Don’t go my friends. Take the long way – under the falling leaves of red and orange, through the fields of golden wheat being brought in for the harvest, and by the long table of abundance shared with those we hold most dear as we remember the incredible blessing of even having these people to walk life’s journey with. Take a stand against the “Christmas Creep” and build up those boundaries around a season increasingly taken for granted. Speak for the turkeys.

And don’t forget the gravy.

I Stopped Praying for Things, and It Strengthened My Faith

11001935_10152843388074818_2261632969863150391_nFollow me for long enough and you’ll know that I certainly didn’t get my tattoo on a whim. The concept of immeasurably more has been something I talk about pretty constantly.

The phrase comes from Ephesian 3:20 which says “And to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” In our family the phrase has been adopted into something we say whenever things aren’t seemingly going our way. You’ll hear “well, this must just be another immeasurably more thing.” What we mean is that we are so incredibly small in our humanity, that we simply cant even begin to imagine big enough to really ask for God’s very best – so when things aren’t going the way we want, we simply aren’t able to imagine or ask big enough to see the whole picture. We have learned to trust that God’s best will always come through in the end, and it will always be immeasurably more than the things we thought we originally wanted. We’ve seen this truth play out time and time again in our lives in very tangible and memorable ways, so it’s become the truth we come back to time and again when times are hard.

And right now? Times are hard. My husband is still unemployed despite so many seemingly promising leads and opportunities. Unemployment still hasn’t made a single payment to us even though they owe us thousands of dollars at this point. We recently experienced a surprise pregnancy only to endure our 7th miscarriage to date. Its been a stream of situations that seem unfair and disappointing. But it’s in a time like this, clinging to the truth of immeasurably more becomes all the more essential to getting through. Having this truth tattooed permanently across my wrist ensures that I have no choice to remember it daily and meditate on it often. Recently my study of this phrase has lead me to a whole new understanding, and a deepening of my faith. You see, this past month believing in this truth has lead me to practice a new discipline in my prayers: I have stopped praying for the things I want. I know this sounds absolutely bizarre, but let me explain – and you might just come to understand your own faith in a whole new way too.

I haven’t stopped praying this past month, quite the opposite. I find myself in a near constant state of prayer: crying out to God both silently and out loud through my day to day tasks. Rather its the content of these prayers that have so radically changed. It started when my husband began to take promising interviews for possible job opportunities. The natural inclination in a situation like that is to pray desperately for the interview to go well and for it to ultimately end in a restoration of employment. But we are no stranger to this whole situation, and I’ve seen how that can end in the past. We would get our hopes up about a particular position, start to pray constantly for it to materialize, and then when it didn’t go our way we would feel heartbroken and let down – sometimes even resentful that God would seemingly lead us towards and opportunity only to take it away. Yet the more I meditate and studied this concept of immeasurably more, the more a new truth became increasingly clear. If I truly believe He has my best in mind, and I truly believe His best is all too often better than what I can even imagine to ask for? Then praying for specifics is the very antithesis of acting in that truth. When I pray for specifics, I open my heart to potential letdown and bitterness if things don’t go my way, and its too easy to ask for things that turn out to be less than God’s very best.

idontprayspecificsSo what is the alternative? This past month I have spent a lot of time studying that very question and applying the truths it’s brought me to. Instead of praying for any particular job or seemingly ideal solution to our situation, I have begun praying for my heart and mind to be more deeply rooted in His will and His truths. I pray for God to sustain our faith. I pray that His will be done, no matter the specifics. I pray that he adjust my attitude and align my heart closer to His own, that I will be led to seek after His very best and be open to receive whatever He has in store for us. I pray that our testimony be visible to others in this time. I pray that He teach me to recognize and receive all His good and perfect gifts, and that He give me the faith to see even the things that seem like disappointments as His loving act of sparing us from less than his best. I have stopped focusing on the things I think I want, and started focusing on who I know God to be. Rather than asking for specific circumstances, I’m asking for the wisdom to see His truths and the faith to openly accept His timing.

And the results? It’s been incredible – not just in the specifics of how He has been providing for us in this time, but in the deepening of my faith and my relationship with Him. Immeasurably more has become even more true to me, and the truths I’m able to glean from it’s application have only grown. Does this mean I believe that no one should pray for ANY specifics? Not at all. There is no shame in bringing your hearts deepest desires to the Lord in the intimacy of prayer. I’m finding though that it’s a truly faith strengthening discipline to set aside a certain time period, or specific situation , and admit that our human hearts all to often deceive us and the things we want most may ultimately be less than God’s best. By actively choosing to surrender ourselves to His will in such a specific way, we not only deepen our dependence on Him, but we begin to focus more on who God is and less on what He can do for us.

The truth of immeasurably more continues to play out in our life and each and every day right now, and the more I lean into it the more I find myself excited about seeing how God’s best ends up unfolding in our situation. I don’t know what His plan for us is, but I do know who He is, and for right now that’s more than enough – it’s immeasurably more than enough.

*I’ve started creating some Immeasurably More items for sale on my Zazzle, both to help bring some much needed income in for my family but also to spread a little hope and inspiration.  

Guest Contributor: Christene Logesky

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Grace. Oh, this word grace. I always thought I knew what it meant. Grace is the whole message of Jesus and the price He paid! How could I not know what grace means? I look back to one year ago and I see the shift. It was like the Lord grabbed my hand and said, “I want to take you on a journey. This journey may be painful and it may be uncomfortable, but I want to reveal what grace REALLY is.” Sometimes I think if God would actually tell us what He is going to do, we would just run! I think He knew I would run in this case. I would have said, “Never. Not for me. I can’t. I won’t.”

AndrewChrissy_Port_0141Last year Andrew and I took a huge leap of faith and decided to take a trip to California to train together for our business. We knew this would be crucial for our future and the investment would be more than worth it. It also meant we would have to leave our one year old daughter for an entire week. That alone was a huge leap for me! Our finances were short every month and Andrew had just received news of a pay cut. Though everything seemed to be screaming “no” to us, we knew that this was something we just had to do. We had peace that God would provide and He did (that is for another story though)! While attending the conference, I learned about another conference in Georgia. I also found out the PRICE and immediately thought “absolutely not!” We just took this HUGE leap of faith to get to California and now I am thinking about going to another conference? I remember saying to Andrew, “Earth to reality! Yes we are in California right now, but life is not always paradise. We can’t afford it!” I also remember telling myself, “You don’t even like women! Why would you go to a women’s conference?” Women gatherings have always made me feel uncomfortable and I have never been able to relate to them. I have always been the girl who had a million guy friends and enjoyed football over fashion and beauty. So why would I want to attend this conference?

The day we get home we find out my car was broken down and needed several hundred dollars of repairs. We received Andrew’s first check with the pay cut and life came crashing back down as we walked back in the door from our trip to paradise. My husband persisted that I enroll for the conference. He kept saying, “You should go!” Usually he is the one that is saying, “Heck no sister. We have no money!” This time, faith was rising in him and he believed deeply. So I put Emlyn down for a nap and after his persistence I agreed to go look at the website and figure out the bottom dollar. I remember plopping down on my chair and slamming the mouse down. I was mad. I was angry that I had to feel guilty. How could I spend money on a conference when we needed to fix our car? We need to put food on the table! What will our life look like with a pay cut now? I felt so selfish! And lastly I thought maybe this is my way out of it. Maybe I shouldn’t go because I wont have fun anyways! After all, this is a women’s conference! I remember thinking, “I am awful. Get it together! You need to get over this and go! Lack of money is one thing to worry about but get over being uncomfortable!” My computer started to load and all of the emails started popping up one by one. The last email came up on my screen and paused. It was like time had stopped. I felt like that little notification window was up for 2 minutes straight. My mouth dropped! Why was the founder of the conference messaging me? How did she get my e-mail? I just heard about this conference a few days ago! I hurry to open the email and my eyes immediately swelled with tears! Someone had paid my way to the conference! That’s right. Here I am arguing with God and He says, “No, you should go!”

Walk Through November Headshots-Walk Through November Headshots-0087Fast forward to September and I am in absolute awe! I am at this conference for free, soaking up the Georgia sun and sipping on sweet tea. At this point I realize have traveled to California and Georgia all in the same year and it was all by God’s grace! While I am there, I hear a message from Mary Marantz about the lies we believe about ourselves. I wrote down my lies. The same lies I have told myself since my eighth grade teacher blurted them out to me: “I am dumb, I will be rejected, and no one will listen.” For the first time in my life I started to tell myself the truth. I started to tell myself what GOD said about me instead of that quiet, but nagging voice. It wasn’t but a few months later that I was riding in the car to capture a wedding and I told Andrew, “I think I love to write. Like, I actually would like to start a blog.” I don’t know where it came from. It shocked me even when I said it! I said to Andrew “WHO AM I?” and laughed it off. What shocked me more was his response. “You should do it!” Ok, again I am always an idea machine and he usually gives me the crazy eye roll with a “Here we go again!” and instead I get a, “You should do it!” I started to process this thought more and I realized that because I believed lies about myself……then my mind could never travel farther than these lies. If I thought for a minute about writing anything, my mind would quickly travel to, “You are too dumb! This is not for you!” and then move on. When I focused on the truth, the mental road blocks in the way of my dreams came crashing down. I realized that previously I had always thought my brokenness was my only reality. I thought those roadblocks were as far as I would ever travel. I thought I was living in grace before. I always thought I don’t have to like women or work with women. I don’t have to ever write. I just will stick with this right here and skip the rejection. Can you believe I thought that was grace in my life?

The Lord quickly showed me that instead of muttering my frustrations to Him about women, I needed to realize that the reason they rub me the wrong way is because I know there is grace for their brokenness. I have always had the attitude towards women like, “Suck it up! It is not that big of a deal! Why do you complain so much?” This made me think that I was just not cohesive with other women. Instead, in this moment, I realized that what I was so frustrated with was a lack of understanding His grace in their lives. I KNOW that they don’t HAVE to walk in the lies they believe. I know that they CAN be brave! HE quickly revealed to me: “Chrissy, I want you to write. I want you to make a place that will reveal to women MY grace. I want you to get over yourself and realize that I have revealed something to you FOR MY GLORY and not for you to get angry about. I want you to create a place that will show them WHO I say they really are just like I am doing with you now.” That night we drove home and as I looked up at the stars in awe of this revelation, it came to me  -“Gracefully You.” I cried as I looked at the beauty of the sky. How is it that the God who just poured grace on me like a giant waterfall was already calling me to walk out His grace? That night was the first time in my life I believed I was more because of grace.

As I look back over this last year, I realize He had taken me all over the country on a journey. One year ago I was clueless to grace! I didn’t know that grace would set me free from never feeling “enough.” I didn’t realize that my disconnection with women actually stemmed from my own brokenness. I didn’t realize that the things that rub me the wrong way are actually the things that God has given me the grace to do. Not only that, but they are the things He has made me to do! The Gracefully You Project was birthed out of His grace. It is the easiest thing I have ever done because I have allowed grace to FILL me. I no longer apply grace like a Band-Aid but instead I let it be the very thing that overflows from within me.

I encourage you to rest in the fact that Jesus loves you right where you are! He listens to your muttering and complaints…. and He sheds grace. Don’t let the lies you believe hold you back any more. Are you struggling to find purpose in your life? Ask yourself: “What are the lies I believe about myself?” Don’t stop there; find out what God says instead. Find out the truth – that is His grace in your life. He knows who you really are and His grace loves you WHERE you are. More importantly, His grace is so good that it promises not to leave you the way you are. It overflows in you and silences your deepest inner critic. You are worth it. Your dreams are worth it. Go remove those roadblocks and travel further than you ever have because of grace.

Gracefully Yours,

Chrissy Logesky

Christene Logesky is one-half of Andrew and Chrissy Photography. Her and her husband Andrew are full-time youth pastors in Greensburg, PA as well. She is also a mommy, blogger, and public speaker. Her newest venture is The Gracefully You Project. She plans to reach and empower women by sharing women’s stories of honest struggles with “BUT there was grace” moments. She hopes to create a community full of grace for women to come be themselves and to be equipped with bravery to fight for what they were made to do!