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God made me.

"God made the whole world", my then-four-year-old announced at breakfast. Little sister looked up mid-bite from her toasted oatmeal bread and rhubarb jam (her second breakfast, his first) and added to the conversation, nodding her head and singing her latest little tune... "God made me... God made me..."

This was last winter sometime. Sunshine was coming in the kitchen window for the first time in at least 24 hours, breaking through the gray, dreary yesterday and casting light on my only-recently-clean floor. Meanwhile, their innocent, unassuming morning thoughts cast some light on my motherhood journey. I sat there, watching them eat homemade food for breakfast and chattering securely about their identities in God... and I knew they were teaching me.

In the summer, when Grant was asked to serve in church pulpit ministry, I remember commenting to a seasoned pulpit wife that I just felt like there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with him. Likely my spiritual thoughts, things that I was learning, and daily life in general weren't going to be worthy of his time, energy, or conversation. He needed more experienced, more intellectual, more knowledgeable people around him... I wasn't going to cut it. And the church needed someone far more... something... than me. I wasn't going to cut it there either. And I already wasn't cutting it as a mom, because if I was a good mom, I'd be doing... whatever that other person is doing. Insert whatever role in your life you feel insecurity in... this is that situation. But insecurity is hard to reason with, so rather than trying to convince me of the truth or untruth of my feelings, she wisely nudged my thinking in a different direction. "But Hannah," she suggested, "What if you didn't try to keep up with him, but instead just worked to make home a place where he will always be able to come back to?" Worded differently, I realize now that she was essentially saying, "What if you didn't try to act outside of the fearful and wonderful way God has seen fit to create you, but instead pursued peace that allows your whole family to thrive and serve?"

This past weekend, I walked through the inviting yellow door of a dear cousin-in-law-turned-friend and sat in her kitchen for several hours after church. Her home, an expression and extension of herself in so many ways, was so lovely and inviting... she's taken what she has and turned it into a place that works well for their family, is easy to spend time, and feels so warm and lived-in. Homes is what we do for a living, so I loved the experience of being there, soaking up her decorating and color choices, and walked away inspired. But we spent most of our time together in her kitchen, and while her cute cabinets provided a picturesque backdrop as she pulled together a baked apple dish for the evening event we were going to, I knew instantly that it wasn't the cabinets at all that made it so easy to be there. It was that she was comfortable in her own place. Her hospitality flowed from a place of genuine love, deep passion, and sacred vulnerability. It wasn't that she's always comfortable and feels at ease with herself. There were countless words exchanged and shared between us that reflected the opposite - questions we have about our place and circumstances, questions about how to best use the resources and desires we have. But that afternoon, I felt welcome in her home because she was at ease and open, sharing freely and willingly of herself.

I happened across an Instagram reel this afternoon that God used to echo that message into my heart... "Décor doesn't set the tone in my home," she shared, "Furniture won't bring peace into a room. I determine the atmosphere of my home... I love bringing a new piece into a room to pull everything together. But sometimes I need to be reminded that the tone and atmosphere of my home is dictated much more by my mental, emotional, and spiritual health than it is by that new floor mirror I've been wanting so bad."

So still lingering on that, nap time found me restless today and I stepped over the piles of laundry on the floor, quick made a batch of scones, re-warmed coffee, and opened my Bible again. I already "did my quiet time" today, but it wasn't enough to settle me, and so I landed back in my chair, searching for answers, seeking the peace. Scripture opened to Romans 9, and the words tumbled out at me: "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth' [...] Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory -- even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, 'Those who were not my people I will call 'my people', and her who was not beloved I will call, 'beloved'. And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people', there they will be called 'sons of the living God'.

God is inherently characterized by His ability to make something from nothing, which includes His ability to re-make sinners into saints. He is converting me from unloved to loved, from not-His to His. In order to be at peace with God and to allow that peace to guide the atmosphere of our home, I have to humbly acknowledge that I am not a complete, finished work. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that I am a work - a vessel He has made for a particular use, with passions and callings. Sometimes I'm ashamed of my passion or calling, full of questions about my motives and desires, focused on the opinions of others, fearful that I'm not who I should be. But I find myself discovering again, that it's never about the passion itself, but always about the way that passion points us back to our Creator.

God made the whole world, and I am defined by my Creator. Therefore, my posture toward my Creator will always define my peace. When I am settled in who He has made me to be, what He has given me to work with, and what He is calling me to do with that, I can live at ease. And when I am at ease with my Creator, peace will flow into every relationship, within the doors of our home and beyond.

When I beg of God answers to my insecure identity, questioning the way I've been formed or the struggle in my life, I am often mistakenly asking God to teach me what to do in order to feel more "on top" and "in control" of my life. But Romans 9 closes with a number of metaphors describing how the Israelites searched for God through laws based on works and contrasts that with Truth - that we are called to search for God through faith. We are called to be rather than to do. I really like the way the Message version of the Bible summarizes the end of Romans 9 (I don't recommend the Message to get the whole story, but it does provide helpful summary sometimes).

"Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,

a stone you can’t get around.

But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,

you’ll find me on the way, not in the way."

The answer is always the same - routinely returning to God, seeking Him along the way in all that we do, to stay settled in our identity as His children, made by Him for His glory. I cannot seek to find my worth or value in my own weakly-crafted "identity", a vague list of my passions and gifts, formed from my limited vision of what I am good at, the choices I make, and how I compare to other people. There is unshakeable peace to be found that goes much deeper than my temporary feelings of accomplishment or control or self-justification when something turns out. At ease with the intentional way that God has formed me, and is still forming me, I can live and serve from a place of gratefulness and humility. Although I think our confidence will always waver when we find ourselves in certain relationships or circumstances that feel particularly threatening or difficult, we've been promised "perfect peace" when our mind and trust is stayed. (Isaiah 26:3)

Who the Son sets free Oh is free indeed I'm a child of God, Yes I am In my Father's house There's a place for me I'm a child of God, Yes I am. I am chosen not forsaken I am who You say I am (Hillsong Worship)

So I'm slowly starting to understand more of what she was saying, when she told me to focus on making our home a place to go back to. It's even a metaphor I can understand well, because I love to make home a beautiful place. Beyond being just aesthetically-pleasing, home is a place of rest and safety when I, the keeper of our home, am at ease with myself because I am at peace with my Creator. When I am settled, the doors can open and close, and people can come and go from here, and this can be a place where souls are restored and filled. It will stabilize all my relationships and it will change my parenting when I choose to lay down my insecurity and live in freedom, trusting my Maker and seeking His guidance in every moment. She was telling me to "be" instead of to "do", content with my calling, Mary not Martha. In our kitchen, I want my cabinets to be only a background for an experience that, in tone and atmosphere, is far more about His power and the proclamation of His name than it is about me.

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Hi, I'm Hannah.

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