Tag Archives: redemption

psalm 31 – pt. 1

psalm 31

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me; a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

v.1-5

I’ve been staring at these five verses for the last 20 minutes.

Well…staring at them, checking Instagram, staring at them, opening my email, staring at them…just…well…avoiding the work.

You see, writing is sacred space for me. It’s holy ground that God has invited me to stand on with Him, exploring who He is, who I am, and discovering how we’re going to live this life together.

And sometimes I have nothing.
No place to start.
No words to write.
No sentences to form.

And tonight has been one of those nights.

I didn’t think I had anything to offer, so I avoided the sacred arena God has invited me in to.

And underneath that, I think there’s a strange hint of shame – believing the lie that this time will be the time I have nothing to offer. This time will be the time people read and think, “Welp, she’s lost her stuff, so never gonna read that again!”
A tinge of unworthiness creeps in and starts to close the door.

But then I come back to these 5 verses I’ve been staring at, and shame gets a nice slap in the face.

It is the LORD that I take refuge in – not myself or my words or my real good sentences that have perfect structure and never run on and on without purpose.  🙂

It is God who delivers me by His righteousness, for His name’s sake, not allowing shame to take over.

The snares and traps that are hidden by the enemy, well, He plucks me up right out of them – because of His great love for me. He is my rock and my fortress – nothing can overtake me when Yahweh is the guardian of my life.

I love that the beginning of this psalm is all declaration – who God is, what He has done, and what the writer needs Him to continue to be. There is a lot of confidence in this God we believe in, the One whom all of our hope and faith relies on.

So, when I’m afraid of the sacred, holy arena God extends the invite to join Him in, I hope to take a page from this psalmist and demand the He rescue me speedily. Because He is a redemptive, faithful God, and I’d rather commit myself to no-one else.

Whatever your sacred space is, step in to it this week, knowing that the Faithful One is and will forever be your refuge and comfort, and shame has no bearing when He is the rock on which you stand.

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jealous in the best of ways

jealous blog

This summer my church is going through a series on the attributes of God. And a fun thing we’re doing along with this attributes series is sharing videos of members’ experiences with who God is to them, specific to the attribute being covered that week.

So, Tiffany talks about God as Father.
Rich talks about God’s glory.
Emily talks about God’s goodness.
Sally talks about God’s faithfulness.

And Kayla…well…Kayla talks about God’s jealousy.

When I first learned we were going to go through this series, my little heart grew 3 sizes too big.

I love love love learning and talking about the character and attributes of God.
I love discussing with my friends what God is like, who He is to them, how His character is reflected in us and how we reflect Him to the world around us. It’s one of my favorite pastimes to sit across a table or porch or living room from someone near to my heart and talk about our Creator.

But when I was asked to talk about God’s jealousy…well…my heart went back to normal person sized.

The term “jealous” doesn’t carry a very godly feeling with most of us.
I tend to think of my high school boyfriend that got upset when I wanted to spend Friday night with my gal pals.
I think of my college friend that got mad at me because I chose something else over time with her.
I think of myself when I get upset because yet another person has gotten engaged while I’m over here eating leftover shrimp fajitas for the next 1.7 weeks because I don’t know how to cook for 1.

So, as I started to look in to God’s jealousy – thinking I was going to blow the whole gig – I realized that it fits just about as perfectly into my story as Michael Jackson’s hand fit into that white glove.

You see, when we hear jealous, the emotion we mere mortals typically attach to it is actually envy. Envy, according to Webster, is: the feeling of wanting to have what someone else has; painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.

Jealousy is different.
Jealousy is: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness.

So, by definition, if you are jealous of me, you are not willing to accept or allow my unfaithfulness.

So, when God is jealous, He is really jealous for me. He will not tolerate my worship of other gods. He will not tolerate anything that rivals Him in my heart. He will not accept my chasing after other gods that never have and never will satisfy.

After really thinking on that, I started to get all weepy.

So, wait a second…you’re telling me that GOD loves me SO MUCH that He is unwilling to let my heart and my affections turn toward something other than Him?
So, you’re saying that, much like Gomer in the book of Hosea, He loves me in such a way that He is going to take me out into the wilderness where it’s just Him and me, and we’re gonna figure this crap out for as long as it takes because my very soul is worth it?
You’re saying that, because He loves me and is jealous for me, He’s not going to let me die by whoring my heart out to things that cannot save or redeem me?

YES?

YES!

Flipping YES.

Can you imagine?! What kind of God is this?! This God that sticks with His people!? This God that, instead of throwing us off to the side, He steps in and sets our hearts right again!?

You see, God isn’t envious of that which His creation has.
He is jealous for our very souls.
He is unwilling to let us die without stepping in, drawing us close, cleansing us of all unrighteousness, bearing the penalty of our sin, dying in our place, and rising again on the third day – defeating sin and satan and the grave once and for all.

His jealousy is beyond my comprehension. But man, oh man, am I’m so thankful for it.

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psalm 25

psalm 25

I recently read somewhere that one of the great gifts of the psalms are that they are not only the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but that they are also our words to Him. Through the psalms, we can learn how God not only delights in us speaking to Him, but they can guide us in how to do so.

Growing up, talking to God the way some of the psalmist talk to Him would have been SCANDALOUS. Like, Olivia Pope circa season 1 scandy.

But as I’ve grown in my relationship with Jesus, I’ve come to long for the types of conversations David had with God. I’ve come to crave the honesty that he has in his voice when speaking with the One that loves him most.

Who would’ve thought that we could ever ask of God, “Let me not be put to shame.”
“Remember Your mercy, O Lord, and Your steadfast love…” (Like God needs a reminder…)
“Pardon my guilt, for it is great.”
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”

Nope. Those aren’t the words I learned to talk to God with.

I learned, “Lord, be with SoNSo cause she’s a big sinner right now and just miserable. And help me get an A on the test I didn’t study for. Oh, and if you can, make that boy like me. And forgive this one sin I committed yesterday. In Jesus name, Amen.”

I’m so thankful that God has opened my eyes to the freedom He allows His children to have – that we can come to Him in moments of great joy and moments of great despair, humbly and honestly approaching His throne of glory. And we can do this because a baby born in Bethlehem lived the life we couldn’t live, died the death we deserve to die because of our sin and rebellion, and rose again on the 3rd day – walking out of a freaking tomb – so that we can be and are redeemed and made righteous before the Most High God.

Because of Jesus, may we approach our Loving Father with words like David, feeling the freedom to bring all of our junk and all of who we are to the One who loves us most:

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; the shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O Lordteach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lordtherefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O Lordpardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lordfor he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

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cheers to the risk

Cheers to the Risk

“Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”-Brené Brown

This past weekend I had the privilege of retreating with some ladies from my church. The whole premise of the retreat was to sit around a table, eat delicious foods, and tell stories of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we hope to go with Jesus. It was – hands down – my favorite women’s retreat I’ve ever been on.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit over the last few days about spiritual community – thoughts unfortunately spurned on by the great lack that most people seem to have. It seems as if so many of us that follow Jesus are trying to do it alone. Or, at bare minimum, we invite others into our lives to follow Him with one another, but it’s as if we’re walking on opposite sides of the road, unwilling to close the gap and truly journey together. There’s great risk in sharing our lives with people around us, and we’re too scared to take that step. So, instead, we do all the right things – Bible study, small group, women’s events, church clean-up days, dinner with a group of people once a month – we insert ourselves into all the right ‘communities’ thinking that at some point, magic will happen and we’ll be seen and known the way we desire. But here’s the catch – we won’t. We can show up and do all the right things and never get to the point where people know us – really know us.

We’re afraid of the vulnerability and risk it will take to really open our hearts up to others, trusting that the Lord has placed people in our lives to be God-with-flesh-on for us, to fill the intimate space of companionship that we all so desperately crave.

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing.”-Brené Brown

For me, the space never even came CLOSE to being filled until I came to the end of my do-ing, and let myself just be.

Be seen.
Be known.
Be open.
Be vulnerable.
Be ready for grace.
Be ready for God to show up.

Be present with Jesus and not expect anything but Him.

And then, be present with people – offering our story of where we’ve been with Jesus, where we are with Jesus, and where we hope to go with Jesus.
Opening up our lives, risking the potential rejection, hurt, and isolation that may come with the weight our stories carry.
But the other thing we risk – the beautiful thing that we risk – is actually having someone receive our story.

Because once someone receives it, they are in it with you. They are now a part of your story. And you can’t walk away from that the same person.

It. Will. Change. You.

I think we all wait around for that type of pivotal plot point, eager to step into that sacred space. But few of us are willing to open up our souls, standing naked and unashamed before one another (metaphorically naked, that is. Keep your clothes on if we’re hanging out…)

I guess that’s my point. Take the risk. Raise your glass to the unknown, to that which should scare the pants off of you (but again…keep your pants on). You’re life will be filled to the brim if you do.

“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.”-Brené Brown

 

(sorry, not sorry for all the Brené Brown quotes. now, go read all her books and have your heart ripped out a little bit – in the best ways.)

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psalm 22 (the final part)

psalm 22 pt5
From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lordand all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lordand he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
(v. 25-31)
I’m continually challenged by David’s words and posture toward the Lord. I’m amazed after all his struggle and doubt and heartache, he is able to turn back toward the Lord. He is able to remember that the afflicted shall eat and be satisfied.
Yes, we all know that David screwed some things up majorly during his time, but he is also the one known as the man after God’s own heart. We know that he is a sinner among sinners, but he is also a man who understands he is not outside of God’s sovereignty or redemption.
My natural bent is when I screw things WAY up or fall into sin and rebellion, I tend to believe the lie that God isn’t big enough to forgive me this time. That, with this one thing, I’m just too far gone.
David’s words remind me that I am never too far gone. That those who seek Him shall praise Him. That God has done a great thing and continues to do great things for His children.
I’m reminded that Kingship belongs to the Lord – that Jesus, the One they call the Christ, has lived, died, and risen again on my behalf and now rules over darkness and death. They have no power. Sin has lost its sting. Jesus is King!
May this truth be told of the Lord to the coming generation!
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psalm 22 (pt. 4)

psalm-22-pt4

But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

(v19-24)

Remember last week when David was surrounded by many bulls and had no way out? When his heart was like wax?

Well, here we are…at the turning point. Redemption and rescue on the horizon.

David is starting to remember who his God is. He’s remembering that he can call upon the name of the One who is mighty to save – and he will be rescued!

Why does he remember this? Because his God has done it before…

“You have rescued me…”

Have.
Past tense.

And David can trust that this God – the Creator of all – has not despised or recoiled from the affliction of those that are afflicted. That He has not hidden his face from his people.

No.
He has actually heard when we cry to Him.

Man, how many times have my bones felt dried up, my heart like wax, and I just sat in the crap. I’ve been so focused on myself that I’ve forgotten who my God is. I complain and commiserate about my situation and ignore the truth that Yahweh Himself has heard my cry.

I love this section of the psalm – that David has lamented, but is now moving toward praise in who his God is. It is a great reminder for me: it’s okay for me to lament and cry out; in fact, I think God welcomes it. But I also need to listen to the still, small voice saying, “Oh, my child, do you not remember who I am? Do you not remember that I have rescued you before and will do it again?”

I do remember. And praise Him indeed that He has not recoiled from my affliction, but walks with me in it – granting love and mercy all along the way.

Rescue and redemption are on the horizon.

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psalm 22 (pt. 3)

psalm-22-pt3
Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet — I can count all my bones — they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
(v. 12-18)
I don’t know if you’ve ever been encompassed by many bulls, but I have been surrounded by many chickens before and it was terrifying. Like, straight up panic-attack-sprint-back-to-the-house-scared. And I don’t sprint for many things. So I feel like I can relate to David on a deeper level here.
But for serious.
I love that David was able to put words to his distress. That he was able to be raw and honest with himself and his Creator; that he trusted God enough to come undone.
Too often I think we (at least, I do) shove all of the hard stuff down. When we start to realize that trouble is near and there is none to help (v. 11), we draw back instead of stepping forward. We say things like, “Oh, yeah, ya know, this season is a little tough right now, but I’ll be okay. It’s not that big of a deal.” Or, “Well, there are people all over the world with worse problems than me. I’ll be fine. We don’t need to talk about it.”
The danger comes when we approach God with that demeanor.
“Hey Lord, yeah, I’m doin fine. Thanks for waking me up this morning and giving us Chick-Fil-A. Everything else is fine. I just need to keep my head down and work through this season and everything will be great.”
I think we rob ourselves of redemption and restoration when we do that.
When we put on the front that life isn’t really that hard and we don’t need anyone – including God Himself – we are missing the chance to be cared for and loved by the only true Lover of our souls.
I love that David sets the tone – that we have the freedom to say, “You know what God, I am dried up and poured out. My heart feels like wax and I don’t know how to move forward. There is nothing and no one that can save me. I need You to show up or I’m going to die.”
What beauty that when we are hanging on by a thread, we are in the best position we could ever be – trusting in the One who fully saves and redeems, and always comes through.
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psalm 7

Remember that time I talked about not being very disciplined so I was going to write daily?

Yeah.

I’m not very disciplined.

But, we’re back!

Psalm 7.

I am really loving David’s writing. In this psalm, the first place he longs to go is to God.

(verse 1) O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me

The first inclination of his heart is to recognize who God is and his own posture before the Lord – taking refuge in his Maker.

And once that is settled:

(verse 3-5) O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it…

Once David knows, and reminds himself, of who he is and Who’s he is, he repents. He asks the Lord to examine his life and rightly judge him.

I am often so quick to heap shame and guilt upon myself because of my sin. My first inclination is to be wrecked by how sinful of a being I am. I don’t take the time to give God credit for Who He is and what He has already done for me through the blood of Jesus on the cross – redeeming my soul and taking the final, final punishment for all of my sin and offense toward a holy God.

When I don’t initiate my repentance with recognizing God for Who He is – a holy, righteous, just, and loving God – I am prone to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t good enough and I am irredeemable.

May it not be so!

May we know that God is a righteous judge, but because of Jesus, our redemption is final and the judgment has been settled – we are victorious because of Christ!

Now go read the rest of Psalm 7.

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seeking refuge

seeking refuge

This post is somewhat of a love letter to all people currently in my life.

I recently got to witness one of the most real, sweet, quick moments I’ve witnessed in a long time. I was around a couple of moms and one of them was just struggling. Struggling because her kid is a human. And humans are messy, sinful beings. Her kid was demonstrating sin and it was bumming her out. The other mom friend saw through the put-on smile and brush-it-off face, gave her a hug and said something to the effect of, “It’s hard. But you’re a good mom.”

She was able to look at her friend and let her know it was okay to be sad and hurt and feeling feels that were uncomfortable in a public place. She didn’t condemn, correct, or even laugh at the kid’s behavior. She comforted her friend.

I left that interaction (which, by the way, I was basically the creepy bystander eavesdropping on the whole thing…) thinking over and over again, “Man. That’s what we all want. Refuge from the mess. A safe, secure place to just be who we are.”

I think we are all in this space of seeking refuge. (Which is also appropriate in my life because that’s my church’s website, hhhaaaayyy)

We all want space where we can be – not condemned, corrected, or even joined in with the false cover of laughing away hurts and hard things.

In that moment, it was as if a hug from one friend to another let her be more human. It allowed her to feel broken, yet hopeful that she wasn’t alone.

I’m so thankful that I exist in a context of refuge seekers. Of people that allow for hard conversations, hurt hearts, and work with one another to see light pour into the darkness. I honestly don’t know how I did it for so long without them.

All I know is that we can’t seek refuge alone. Yes, our ultimate refuge is in Christ. And yes, He alone has the ability and right to satisfy.

But we still need each other. We need to lock arms and plummet head first into the heaviness of life, scratching and clawing for a bit of refuge in the pit together.

I’m tired of the mask of “Okay” and “Fine.” I’m tired of thinking that no one will ever understand, or, once they do understand they’ll want nothing to do with me.

Cause guess what, that’s exactly what the enemy wants. He wants us isolated. He wants us to believe the lie that we are incapable of love and goodness and redemption.

But once we bring people in – once we tell satan to suck it, and bring our fellow beautiful, messy, sinful, redeemed people in – the enemy has to leave. And we find refuge. We find it together.

So let’s get together a put a white-knuckle grip around one another, knowing that hard stuff is okay, unwilling to let go of each other. Let’s stop dealing with things alone. Let’s have tough conversations. Let’s listen well to those that are hurting. Let’s be just as good at grieving as we are at celebrating.

And then, let’s celebrate that the King and Mighty Refuge of our souls has indeed loved sinners such as us.

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why we all love Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper

You guys, I am in love. At least, I think that’s what this feeling is. I am head over heels about HGTV’s hit Fixer Upper. And I am even MORE over the moon about Chip & Joanna Gaines. Joanna wrote a blog recently about Chip’s breakfast and I almost started packing to go move in with them. That’s an acceptable thing to do with those you love, right?

I know I’m late to the game on the Chip & JoJo bandwagon, but I wanted to take a moment to list why I think we are all so in love with this couple in Waco, TX.

1 – They are adorable.

Seriously. Chip is just a dude’s dude and Joanna is so precious. They are a cute couple. From demo day to reveal, they are just cute. I want to watch them just to see how adorable they are going to be on the t.v. screen. AND THEIR KIDS!!! I mean, come on. No one should be allowed to produce offspring like they have. They are just too cute.

2 – They love each other.

Along with being adorable, Chip and Joanna love each other and it is evident throughout their lives. Sure, they say, “I love you!” but I’m never skeptical of it. I never think for a second that those words are simply spoken to keep appearances up. Chip supports his wife. Joanna adores her husband. They are playful and kind to one another. They encourage each other to do their best and are one another’s biggest cheerleaders. This is one of my favorite things about them. They don’t cut one another down or roll their eyes in disgust.

Now, I know they are on a television show and that reality t.v. is not reality, however, if a production company had any type of drama they could hype up, I think they would. And they don’t with Fixer Upper. There’s no need, because these two love each other. And that is good enough for us to keep watching! Because we want that! People love love, y’all!

3 – They love their kids.

Yes, they work hard. Yes, their kids have babysitters. But they are there for their kids. They cheer their kids on. They encourage the boys to be sweet to their sisters. They bring them in on their work and let them be apart of the cool things Mom and Dad are doing. Their kids aren’t some afterthought that are brought onto the screen so America can stand in awe at their perfect skin tone and adorable smiles.

4 – They redeem.

This is maybe my favorite reason why we all love Fixer Upper. If you’ve creeped long enough like I have, you know that Chip and Joanna love Jesus. You probably don’t know this just from the show, because they never come straight out and say, “Hey you guys, guess what, we love Jesus…” BUT they are doing something right under your nose, showing you they love Jesus.

They are active agents of redemption in this world.

I had a professor in college that spoke adamantly about how, as Christians, we shouldn’t work to create some random sub-par subculture. We should enter into the culture around us and redeem it. We should be agents of redemption in our respective worlds. And that’s what Chip and Jo are doing. They are redeeming.

They even say it at the beginning of their show! They take the worst house in the best neighborhood and make it their client’s dream home.

They take what is broken down and unlovely and make it beautiful to the point of tears for most of their clients.

They see beyond the surface into something that is valuable and deserving of love and turn it in to a masterpiece.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that every time I see a reveal, I think of this passage:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:12-21)

Chip & Joanna Gaines are living ambassadors of Christ, carrying out that which has been entrusted to them – the message of reconciliation and redemption.

I just really love this show and this family. Along with the rest of America.

Now, pardon me while I go search for some shiplap to build a table with.

 

*Image from hgtv.com

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