Category Archives: Walk with Him Wednesdays

When You Miss Him & Fear of Religious Forms {Day 6}

My pen stalls and it’s stuck to the page, doesn’t want to let any words go. That pen, so stubborn, tattle-telling on my heart.

How does one write about how to have joy in the everyday when joy is so obviously elusive?

Maybe it’s been my heart that has been neglectful of what’s important–resentful of that “great secret” of Christians?

It is easy to avoid the truth and resent reality and so hard to face the stark consequences of every second, every minute, every day. My sin flavors every moment that ticks on that clock, mocking me. 

All I see on those hands are chains that bind, moments wasted, fretted away, moments squelched by my yelling, or my complacency, my apathy, my selfishness, my ingratitude. And there are more ways than one to quench the Holy Spirit.

I always wondered as a child, what does “quenching” mean? What am I doing to the Holy Spirit when I argue with my sister, disobey my parents, talk in church, don’t raise my hands and worship? Not take Him seriously enough? Am I ringing Him out, squeezing Him, hurting Him, making him sad?

As an adult, I get more curious and less assuming that what others tell me is correct.

I look up the meaning, and I find out that “quench” means to put out the light or fire of, to cool suddenly by immersion, to bring to an end, to decrease.

I ponder on this as I wipe tables, and I tell girls to make home clean and good-smelling for Daddy and then when he walks in the door, suddenly I am this sinful wretch, and I disrespect him with my tone when I don’t like his words.

In an unexpected turn, my blind eyes are opened, and I know no home that holds the heavy stench of hateful words can be made good-smelling by candles. 

No amount of Better Home will change this fact, either.

And when children’s hearts nurture their mother’s bad habits of disrespecting their father, in tone, in words, or just in a look– their bodies having been nourished with only healthy, organic foods holds no water.

And when a heart is tarnished with rebellion, no home can shine joy no matter how back-breakingly polished the old floors. 

Really–what good does it do for me to tell my children to make home cheerful and comfortable for Daddy when they see me tear down my home? 

What good is all my polishing, all my scrubbing, all my generosity for guests–if the smile is weakly and fragilely affixed, the one Anchor not holding me, because my gaze is not affixed on Him.

A smile can break so easily and a moment of laughter in this home can be fine china in the pounding wake of my destructive ingratitude. 

And I want to cup it so carefully, and the tighter I try to grasp at it, hoping to save it, it crumbles there like ashes in an unquenchable fire of negativity.

And I’ve learned that quenching the Holy Spirit of God has less to do with whether or not I raise my hands in worship, whether that man steps outside the service for a cigarette, that woman taps on her cell during preaching, or whether I can bring myself to the altar.

It has much less to do with religious forms and much, more to do with the everyday, more with my heart moment by moment.

I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is doing his work in that man’s heart who is holding the cigarette, and He is speaking to the woman’s heart who is holding the cell, though I can’t hear the holy conversation, and I bear more fruit when I am quiet in worship than when I am distracted by a form. 

One thing I’ve learned through a life-time of being in church, is that it’s possible the man who steps outside the service? It’s possible he has more humility than the man inside, praying ’til he’s the last in the building.

It’s why Jesus said it’s hard for the rich to enter heaven–they have no need of it. And when we rely on religious forms, and we think we have it all together, and we believe our prayers inside are better than the man’s outside, well, we are like the rich man who doesn’t need God. 

We think we know God, but we’re working with a hologram, a phantom, and don’t even realize it.

And I’ve come to resent religious forms, “how-to” books, 10 step devotionals–I want only real, only face-plant, I can’t do this without you God, I don’t need 10 steps–

I just need you, a holy God to come near.

And in my resenting, hard-heart ways? God has brought me full-circle.

Quenching the Holy Spirit is about every second, every minute, every hour and every day in the small things. It’s when I make this hallowed ground hell for my family. It’s when I yell at them and then smile for the guests driving up in the yard. It’s when I neglect the sacred moments of snuggling and reading in the dark for the computer. It’s when I isolate, fetal-position curled-up, and I lock myself away, and my family is begging me to come out, chubby hands reaching up, just needing so much love.

And it’s hard to let go of this fear of religious forms, and make this sacred time with God–learn how to get back to joy– but when I learn to reach out, how to let go of all my fears of being used-up and slain, and I lie down and read that book with them instead of something I want to do and it’s when I let go of my fear of religious forms and sing worship, hands in warms suds, it’s when I have gratitude for this moment and I break free in laughter about the baby climbing up and chomping down half a bag of marsh-mellows, that I let the Holy Spirit blaze ’round here.

And when I don’t let worship be tainted–worship I’ve witnessed being made profane–this freedom of me and God walking, Him whispering to me that I’m Beloved, it takes over in absolute joy.

I watch her, little feet pounding across pine floors, so much sunshine in her hair, and through this lens of gratitude, who couldn’t see joy?

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Also linking with: Ann , Jennifer, & Duane

Do you struggle with fear of religious forms, friend? Does it hold you hostage–keep you from an intimate relationship with Him? What’s your story? How has God redeemed it? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…



This is Day 6 of 31 days of Fear. Since I started my Day 1 a little late, my “31 Days” will not have 31 posts. I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far. Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me? You can find the entire 31 Day collective here 









Friends, meet my friend, Jennifer. She is so lovely and down-to-earth, a farmer’s wife in Iowa. I just love her, and you will too. If you would so kindly click here and go over to Jennifer’s site for a giveaway–her sweet daughter, Lydia, is having a jewelry party to raise money for a school playground for children in Haiti. We know these children and families have been affected by much suffering after the earthquake. This jewelry is hand-made by our sisters in Haiti–Jennifer has been there, met them, hung out with them in their homes–and this is Jennifer’s project. By buying one of these beautiful necklaces, you will be helping a Haitian woman work to feed her family, AND you will be helping raise money for children to have a place to play! She is also giving away some jewelry, so hurry on over and share on facebook, twitter, etc for your spot in the giveaway! I’m definitely buying one–I hope you do, too!

When All the Shoulds Threaten To Choke Out Life {And 9 Ways to Cultivate Healthy Habits}

She wanders out to her chair in the dappled light, warmth filtered through the leaves of a shade tree above, and she just sits, defeated. All the needs weighing, all the ‘you should do more’s’ pressing in, threatening to choke. The thoughts come furious. “You should text that person a thank you; you should finish those gifts and send them; you should write those birthday thank you’s with the girls; you should be getting up earlier, spending more time with them; you should be teaching piano to them; you should be a better wife; you should be more committed to being a better writer, artist, pianist, and you know you should get more sleep, and you should get in there and get today’s stuff done or the clock is going to leave you right behind or drag you down with it” and on and on the kaleidoscope turns, mixing all the colors ‘til she feels sick.
She tells God she is at the end of her rope, that she needs him to take over. She prays he will calm her beating-through-her-throat-heart. And she tells him that all the hard work she’s been doing to teach the girls better, more godly habits—all the scriptures copied and quoted—all the toiling and it’s really her that needs correction and discipline.
I’m the one who needs teaching, Father,” she whispers.
“I’m the one with the bad habits and the hard heart.”
And right there, there it is. What she knew was coming and didn’t want to face. She breaks and weeps. It comes out in a child-like sob. And the glory of Him arrests her and captivates for a moment, and she knows what must be done—a throwing off, a putting off of that heavy cloak of bondage she’s been wearing, and a putting on of the royal robe He’s offered her.
She knows that it’s all too fleeting, that her heart isn’t so consistently pliable, and she wonders if the prayer is all in vain, if this moment of intimacy between her and her God will be forgotten in the forward, furious momentum of life.
Her thoughts are scattered by a child yelling out the door to the backyard, calling her name, the one given that means “I need you”.
She thinks to herself how she is always so easily distracted, so many voices calling her name.
So she makes a feeble attempt.
“God don’t let me get so distracted by all the work, all I try so hard at, that I forget you.
Please give me peace, more than that—be peace through me—reign in me.”
She lifts her face up to the dappled light, and closes her eyes, tries to breathe. And God’s breath is breathed upon her, a lover’s kiss. She hears the birds’ chorus song all around, the beautiful lilting and descending of beautiful melodies, and she can imagine weathered fingers playfully, oh-so-lightly touching keys side by side, the notes in and out, in and out.
She opens her eyes and goes to mother the little one calling.
 
How to nurture good habits…. {What God is teaching me…for the sake of the children and my sanity…}:

1.       The healthy habit of prayer–Pray and ask for help—He will give it. Asking him to give creative ideas.

2.       The healthy habit of time-outs–Moms need time-outs. When everything is overwhelming, and the clock is ticking and the world spinning with all that needs to get done, sitting the kids down with a book, some sentences to write, or a movie and going outside to breathe, close eyes.

3.       The healthy habit of community–Being open to the ideas of others, not hesitating to put new things into practice, new changes that bring healing, wholeness, and healthy rhythms.

4.       The healthy habit of safe rhythms–Creating safe rhythms—supper, bath time and bedtime at approximately the same time every day. Not adding so much to the schedule that you feel your head is going to pop off—if we can’t keep up, the kids sure can’t and we are a better mom when we are at peace.

5.       The healthy habit of sleep—{this should have been first!}–Everyone in this home needs proper rest—else we can’t function as a godly, loving family! Doing whatever it takes to get everyone in bed—if that means a warm, lavender bath for me or for everyone, melantonin and sleepytime tea for me and sometimes for the oldest girls too {insomnia is a common problem in the tween years and beyond}….

6.       The healthy habit of proper nutrition—When we are all getting raw, natural foods that contain vitamins and nutrients that we need, we feel better physically and mentally, we cope with stress better, and there are less melt-downs and more productivity and godly attitudes and we don’t hit those depressing, severe lows that sugar and nutrition-void foods bring.  

7.       The healthy habit of correcting in love—I am learning that “Yelling at a flower doesn’t make it bloom”—Oh, how true that quote is. Cultivating the habit of patience with children and husband. Having the children to copy down scripture and house rules and referring to these scriptures and house rules often when they need discipline—this makes Mama calm and peaceful, offering a go-to alternative to yelling out of frustration, and it comforts me to know that I’m instilling something lasting and eternal in them that will nurture maturity in godliness far beyond this moment of mis-deeds.

8.       The healthy habit of work and rising early—Around here, we have a famous Mr. Simmons saying that goes “If you want to play hard, you have to work hard.” I can’t say enough about rising early in the am, and its positive effects on mental clarity, attitude, energy, positive outlook, productivity—I could go on and on… As a person who dealt with deep depression in the past, I can vouch that the simple habits of going to bed early and rising early make or break our mental state.

9.       The healthy habit of exercise—exercise is important around here. I run several times a week, and the girls and I do videos at home together—they enjoy it and little one tries to copy-cat and do headstands while we are doing Downward Dog. Did you know exercise creates endorphins and releases them in your brain, causing natural happiness?—God gave this to us—He created exercise to do this. His word says it is good for us to be productive. Again, when dealing with depression or a good/bad frame of mind, exercise is key.

My prayer as I share this is that it will encourage you and spur you on toward love and good deeds. –Hebrews 10:34
 
 
Linking up today at A Holy Experience with Ann for Walk With Him Wednesdays….{the WWHW graphic isn’t working}

holy experience

In Which I’m Real, Tell Why I Quietly Write {& Plead for Grace}

I settle a little one down whose cries awakened Husband, and I sob to him at 2 am that I feel like I’m being crushed. Panic racing through my mind–all the buzzing screens, clicks, words, conversations–play and re-play in blazing fast-forward like a bad trip.

When I lay my head on his chest, and he wraps arm ’round, it feels like being rocked.

I rock out the sobbing cry, snubbing and stammering out the fury of emotions held inside for weeks and months. I can’t breathe, I tell him, can’t sleep, and how I thought as I lie there that it would be better if all this was ended. It comes out in rythmic force. I constantly feel. as if the bottom. is about to. fall out. from beneath me. Hands flail in the dark and hot lava pours down flaming red, puffy cheeks. The Shadows don’t let him see, but Husband, he knows me. He asks if I always feel this way. I nod, murmur a quiet yes, the waves of terror all starting to subside as his understanding and caring begin to sweep over.

The social anxiety, insomnia, and depression here since Lilly was born, I google agorophobia and, yeah, I bashfully admit to myself, the symptoms are there. I didn’t know there was possibly a name for the feeling I get when I can’t keep up with the world.

I don’t know if this is the right name, but for me, learning that there is a name out there for this sort of thing? This helps explains the innate, powerful urge for quiet, why I run from social media in an age when “everyone” is constantly engaged, why entering the grocery store and going to church feels like I’m lying on a bed of nails. It explains the blurring mind-racing and sobbing at 2 am. My mind, my body just can’t keep up.

But maybe I’m not supposed to keep up. Maybe I’m not built that way–all this tweeting and sharing comments with the world? I’d like to softly whisper it, and send it out on the summer breeze: I don’t know that I’m God-built to be in constant contact, with distractions too many for me to keep my head from spinning.

Maybe that’s the good news here? That God already knows what we can handle? He did create the Sabbath–so He intelligently calculated rest into the equation of time, apart of our daily routine. He worked and rested–so I should work and rest. And rest–that can take on quite a different face for all of us. For some, this means never entering the full force of social circles that overpower and leave us weak.

Lying in his arms, I tell him I’m weak, that there are so many things I want to do–grow a garden with my girls, learn to knit with that kit my Mama bought me four years ago, read that stack of books, be a loving mama to these four kids, educate these four kids, just go out in the sunshine with them–and not enough physical strength to man-up to all the work everyday.

How many things do I have to pare back, pull away so there is room to breathe?

I serve on no committees, run no charities, bake no fresh bread. I’m just a mom who has a huge pile of laundry, a grocery list I’m afraid to go to the store with, and everything where it shouldn’t be–a few apple cores lying around in laundry baskets and books lying with their white-paged corners pushed just far enough, yes, smudged right there in the grape jelly on the kitchen counter.

And admist the chaos, I’m just a simple girl with a love for simple things: running, flowers, sunshine in my children’s hair.

I really want to say this out loud: I need these simple things–these God-gifts–to feel connected, to feel that I belong, to feel that I’m okay in this whole wide universe. 

When all around me and underneath me feels like it’s falling apart, I just want to know that I’m simply held, that it’s enough for me to just be and that God gets glory through that.

So maybe this really is the important thing to know: there are just seasons of simple. Seasons when all God is calling us to do is the very basic. And in some seasons the tasks of sleeping, eating, getting exercise and taking care of our families can even be a challenge. Every. single. day.

I’m not built to do it all. None of us are. Sometimes I just have to scale back on expectations, peel back committments so I can scale up these mountain walls and peel back these shadows to see–peel back this thick, dark cloud of burden, behind which lies the stage where real life is played out. Where food and Word is enjoyed by the whole family at mealtime, water satisfies children’s parched throats, and I look on lovingly, every bone in my body that cries out for heaven satiated in this small moment of God’s glory felt as I rock my child, yellow silky whisps brushing my cheek in these shadows. And it’s right here in these fleeting heartbeats that I know that I can’t be everything to everyone, but I can do this, right now, here in the quiet where no one sees.

It’s like Husband so wisely keeps telling me: “You aren’t a writer who happens to be a mother. You are a mother who just happens to be a writer.”

I will scale up that mountain, ask God to help me peel back that cloud, and shout out from it’s very top: God has made me free in His gospel of grace, and though these weary bones cry out for Heaven in this worldly tug-of-war, He has made me the way I am to cause me to turn to Him in praise! He makes me see His excellence in making me and I turn to His arms for comfort and rest. There I am free, really, really free, in His understanding Father-arms.

And in the shadows, God, He knows me.

Just a few of my Grace-Gifts from the past month, counting in thankfulness to God still:

one lone bright yellow maple leaf on the ground of the woods

hiatus leaving me refreshed and healed from so much anxiety

girls’ giggles

Husband working hard on schoolroom

messes in floors made by baby girls, all of us having work and a purpose, and buckets and mops making floors shiny

a weekend alone at home–just the two of us–and a day out of town having fun together

Husband grilling salmon and eating outside in the middle of the week

jumping up spontaneously on the trampoline to enjoy being with my girls and getting a workout at the same time!

kitchen table top gleaming beautifully

the way a wash rag feels in my hand as I make beautiful

a surprise visit from a dear friend

time to sit and write a letter to a close friend

time alone to run free in the woods

how he needs me, how I need him

**Please read–Friends, I write this post with a trembling heart, not knowing how it will be received. Because of what I expressed here, I will not be able to answer comments and visit very many blogs–although I would love for you to feel a sense of community when you are here, and I hope you do feel right at home–I just think–though we all search for so much interaction and approval from others, that sometimes, maybe in some seasons, sometimes very long seasons, just a quiet place with God is what we truly need. Just a place to reflect, pray, dream. I thought of taking the comment section off completely, but I would like to give you the opportunity to share if you like. I cherish your words, and the beautiful soul God made you. You all really do add such depth to the journey here…Also, I’d like you to know that when I see you here, my heart just leaps out of my chest to connect with you–to let you know I hear you! Oh friend, I’m so glad you understand, and thank you for so much grace! I am nodding my head, teary-eyed, as I read your hearts here.  

joining with Ann for counting gifts….. and also for Walk With Him Wednesday… Shared with Emily…

Fumbling Toward Destruction {Edited Edition}

You can go here to get the beginning to this story….which will help you understand the second part better….

So I began stumbling down this dark path, numb and despondent me, groping along as if blind. And somewhere around the age of 12 or 13, I began to have an aversion to eating. Greasy hamburgers made my stomach turn, and when placed in front of me, I begrudgingly ate a few small bites, and then threw it up.

I was so dislocated from everyone else. They were all enjoying the meal together and talking and laughing but it was like I was on the outside of a dark glass, looking in, unable to join in, this depressed bubble impermeable. I did not like mealtime–I spent my time closed off in the bathroom–isolated, all alone. Paranoia consumed me. When anyone made a comment about how little or how much I ate, the paranoia wrestled me to the ground and strangled me. I suffocated under the weight of this monster. I couldn’t breathe.

The only comfort to me was the only thing familiar–me–just the way I’d always been. The little girl me was scared and didn’t want to change, didn’t want hips, extra fat, things I didn’t recognize–I was losing me. Maybe I was trying to control a life that felt a little like it was on a runaway train. Maybe this was the way I reacted to the negative things said about me–I self-inflicted pain.

I scratched at the wounds and let them bleed out.

{I’m over at Chasing Silhouettes, Emily’s (of Imperfect Prose) eating disorder blog, if you would like to follow me there for the rest of the story? Just hover and click on the link there. I’ll be there, waiting with a warm smile, ready to continue the conversation, friends. I can’t promise tea and hors d’oeuvres, but you are welcome to bring along chocolate, or coffee, or vise of your choice…..Sharing with trembling, friends…}

WAIT! Just one more thing before you go? I am excited about this free ebook, Giving Up Normal: Surburban Girl Meets the Streets from my friend, Alene–not because I’ve read it already–it’s only recently been made available–but because I just love her heart and I know the message and reading her heart is going to be awesome! PLUS–It’s FREE! Who couldn’t be excited about that?! Please follow the link just above to get your free copy–or just show some love to this sweet, God-adventurous, generous woman!

Shared with precious Emily and others in community at….

sweet Ann in community at…
L.L…. On In Around button Laura… and Jen…

Jennifer…

Shanda…

and Michelle…

Embracing Plucked Daffodils {And Resurrection Life}

I am cold, hurting, sad and despondent and he says, “get dressed and come outside with me–it’s such a nice, warm day”. Something inside me jumps at the thought of being in the sunshine after so much grey cloudiness and rain in my life. It has been a long time coming–this spring rejuvenating joyousness–this resurrection!

As I throw my clothes on, not caring if my hair hasn’t been washed {i’m going to the sunlight}, girls all dressed and I step outside, this change is hard. Hard because my emotions don’t feel it. But I’ve been here before, and I know that the emotions are not always in sync with what my heart and soul {God’s Spirit speaking?} are saying is vital, purposeful, helpful, and joy-creating. Human emotions don’t so easily give way to the joy-creating and peace-creating moments. My emotions stand hard and stubborn as brick, and they are not easily destroyed and replaced with God’s love, gentleness, patience, and hope.

Hope is a funny thing….it’s like stepping outside to the sun’s blinding when I’ve been hibernating inside my comfort place, my isolation for too long. It all feels raw, open, it hurts and blinds and in the same breath feels like warmth to the soul, the soul slowly waking, and the Son telling me time to get up.

He turns on the radio, and says, “You ARE ready–wow! Let’s go!” And my heart is so easily led because it craves it and needs it. My heart craves, this heart that is only for him. And it is this that God is trying to show me–yes, my heart craves, and it is truly HIM that i crave, that my heart yearns to follow.

In the sunlight, always the blinding light, I am so thankful that He gives spring….and I see it. I see that the leaves, the brown, black and grey, the dead things must come for life to come forth. All of the wretched things, the things I hate the most, the things that seem so evil to me–cloudy days that offer no hope, rain that never gives any light or warmth, no life or beauty to be found, all of the loneliness and disappointment, the anguish, the desperate pleas for help, and the trudging through of the feet–all of these must be so that HOPE can come.

So that LIFE can push really hard, can push hard and long against the surface, so hard until it seems I will give way, and when I think that my weary heart and soul can take no more, there it is!
Life to be felt, touched, all warmth and sun and the SON comes in strong, like a team of wild stallions beating back ocean waves, and He calms me with His steady hand, touches me, ME who doesn’t deserve anything, feeling like a silly child for asking, for reaching out, and He gently cradles me like summer sun, blinding the eyes and letting lids drift off asleep.

And then I see, I see the brown leaves, {so happy to be picking up those brown leaves, everyone pitching in, the warm sun our helper}, and I know what they have covered up this whole time–it has been life growing underneath.

It was life cocooned up in an earthen grave, like that catepillar the girls placed in the grace garden, just like that Resurrection Man whose body was wrapped and laid in a cold tomb.

In the front yard, where he is raking strong and ferocious, we meander and follow him, walking and looking, taking in beauty, holding hands, snapping our happy day in freeze-frames.
 Then it happens: I hear him say, “No, Bella, you know Mama doesn’t want you to do that”. It is always Mama that doesn’t want the children to run and frollick and make mischief, always Mama that has a hard time with letting go and living fully the resurrection. And in an instant I see that Bella has plucked all my lovely daffodils from the front garden, the only sign of life in this deadness, the only beauty that I loved, and before I think, I say sternly, “NO, Bella!” and now her tiny shoulders droop, her joyous flower-possessing countenance falls, and straightaway, she is a mess, and so am I.

 I go to her, drawn like the pull of heartache, and kneel down beside her. I say, “It is okay, Bella. You can have Mama’s flowers“. And these words are hard for me to say, and they are pulled out like weeds stuck in the hard winter ground, that cold earthen grave where my heart is wrapped up. I hurt, I am torn, and my anger dissolving, I know that I must let go. I know that this is good for me and for her–to learn grace. I hug her and keep saying it over and over, and of course, in Bella’s usual style, she has to punish me just a bit. She can’t move past it right away, and oh, she is MY child; she definitely came from my womb, this child that has it hard letting go.
And suddenly I realize that it is not I that is supposed to be teaching her in this moment, but it is she that is teaching me, and she is teaching me well–oh, the lessons I learn from her about how to live out this life that springs forth from painful grave, me just dust returning to dust one day.
I am a broken Mama, throwing myself against the stubborness of this child, and breaking over and over and over.

God knows that this is what this sinful, hard heart of mine needs. WHY is my first reaction– when they are {mischeviously}, blithely having carefree, airy and sun-happy fun–to sternly correct and break littles’ spirits?

Couldn’t I, being fully aware of her possessing my prize, just have let my laugh carry on the wind, reaching her with a warm enveloping smile and letting her know that I will always give her what is mine?

In putting away Easter and Lent, and seeing the sin that so easily creeps back in–the exhaustion and the anxiety that tries to take over like a dark cloak–maybe what I’m really seeing clearly is that to live this resurrection–to carry Easter with me I must not hold tight, but let go.

Is it really things that bring beauty, like flowers, or is it the God-breathed moments with my daughter,  The Word Himself gently shooting shafts of light through the darkness of our hearts together?

For aren’t we all just groping along, bling, trying to find the way? Aren’t we weary sojourners looking for home? Isn’t this earth full of so much darkness and death, threatening to swallow us up, taking us down to the depths of the grave?

If that is true, then aren’t these God-given moments of truth all we really have–to behold with awe and let our breath be taken with beauty, to just stand on holy ground speechless?

This letting go and living fully the resurrection life is apart of grace, a reflection of the Father’s love. This is how He meant it to be. He never meant for me to give anything or live anything that He hasn’t already lived and freely given me.

This is grace:–not only mercy and pardon, but a beautiful gift laid at my feet for the taking, laid at the feet of the undeserving, a beautiful gift paid for with His life.

I don’t do this life so gracefully–more like a child with fist clenched tight, really, but this grace part He is so generously and gently teaching.

I’m opening fist and learning and accepting His grace, all the gifts laid at my feet, and my daughter–I let her pluck the daffodil from my open hand, and she and I, we are dancing–sometimes quiet and stilled, sometimes blasting out the stereo–just dancing like crazy in this God-breathed life of grace.

*an edited post from archives

Shared with Ann in community at…

Resurrection People In The Face of Death and Brokenness

Bella calls to me in her four year old lisp, “Mama, look! I found a wasthp nesth!”

“Bella, just stop, not right now,” I shoo her away with my words, having barely glanced her way. I’m intensely focused on helping one of her older sisters with schoolwork.

But something stops me this time: this is my moment to not repeat yesterday’s failings.

Dust yourself off. Try again. Repeat.

And they grow the fastest while I’m standing at the drier folding towels.

I know I do this too often, shoo them away when I’m doing something that I deem more important than their story, or question, or just their wanting to be with me–to have my full attention.

I ask her again to show me what she found. She holds out her hand and shows me the dormant wasp nest. I tell her how neat it is. A few minutes later when she comes running, exclaiming she caught a butterfly, my interest is definitely peaked.

“Wait! Don’t move! I’m going to grab my camera.” I gazelle-sprint for the camera, and dive back to the front yard, just in time to capture her holding the butterfly.

How do I capture time? Can I really put it in a bottle, make it stop just for me? How do we live out our days best now with joy and love all around us here, right now, not when she is 18, but right where she is, growing beauty?

They grow so fast. I only have such a short time to show them. How can I be sure that I’m not carried away with daily demands so much that I’m ignoring the most glorious command–investing in these precious lives that God has given me?

How do we make faith strong here inside these walls, a firm foundation, and rise up happy in God, overflowing with the grace of His resurrection? How do we continue to be Easter people after the death is long over and we have mourned in the season of Lent and rejoiced in the bursting forth of Jesus from the tomb? How do I tap into that power for everyday, for each moment lived in this body of death?

I want to know what to do now that all the Easter decorations are being packed away and stores have moved bunnies and chocolate crosses to the clearance aisle, forgotten and alone, their symbolism powerless there on the shelf.

I need some of that power to keep on living, because Jesus wasn’t broken or ravaged in death when he came up out of the tomb–he was glorious in power from on high.

But our little guy here, in my child’s hand, he is broken. And the brokenness of this world whispers it’s death in my ear.

They look up at me, light in their eyes as they hold the butterfly with broken wing, and I shoot the moment away, shutter clicking.

We go inside and eldest daughter and I google search how to fix a broken Monarch butterfly’s wing. Our butterfly prances around on our hands, drinking from a coca-cola bottle cap. It takes a while, but I find instructions and courage enough to fix the little guy.

Lorna and Bella watch intently as I feed the winged creature by gently putting a needle dipped in sugar water up to his curled tongue, and it rolls out straight–long, thin, and straw-like. We watch in amazement. We are quiet in the moment–really present with one another.

Then I tell Lorna that her Father will be home soon, so we need to put him away and begin supper–I tell her to put the little guy–who she says is Albert if it’s a boy, and Flutter Shy if it’s a girl–into a jar with lots of large holes in the lid.

And my mind starts doing that spinning thing again–how to do it all? Pour into four little ones, clean messes, serve Husband, take the time to share a broken-butterfly-wing-moment with my daughter?

Isn’t a clean, peaceful home part of living holistically, living a whole life, sacred unto God? Isn’t that part of my job description? And time with my Lord went out the window today–how did that
happen? Isn’t that part of the recipe for joy also, for living the Resurrection life?

How can I have the power I seek without going to the One who gives it?

I look over and see the butterfly, Albert, in his jar, lying on his side. I dash over and rip the hole pricked lid off, and pull him out. The holes weren’t large enough and he is dying. Eldest daughter is really, really sad. So am I.

I know that all the messes will not be gotten up and the supper will not be nearly done when he walks in the door–things don’t feel so holistic–but I let it go. It doesn’t matter as much as this moment with this precious one and her broken butterfly, this little guy that we hoped would fly away in resurrection, but succumbed to death.

This is the sacrifice for spending time with them, investing in them, being interested in what they’re interested in: everything will not be perfect.

I cannot capture time and imprison it in a bottle, and it does not wait just for me, just for little me. I begin to see, and the glass that I see through darkly gets a little brighter and I see that this is the theme of living holistically, to putting my faith to action–yes, everyday there will be messes, none of it will ever be perfect, and time will never slow down for me.

The most important thing is that these precious ones have their rightful place in my heart–coming only after God and Husband.

I will pursue a whole, one-piece beautiful life offered to God as sacred, offered up as a sacrifice. But to live this resurrection power, I will sometimes have to let the cornbread burn while I run to get a child that has fallen and skinned their knee.

In that moment, I may not feel so powerful, I may not feel whole, things may feel like chaos, but when I am bending and I am hugging and when I am praying with them, and when I am offering our time to God in reading His word, then we are really becoming Easter people.

And nothing–nothing–comes before. Not laundry, not supper strictly held to the clock, not writing or blogging, not answering emails, not sweeping floors. At the end of my life, I will not wish that I had folded more laundry or answered more blinking lights and buzzing screens or administered more math drills or baked more perfect meals.

I will want more broken butterfly wing days.

I look at my daughter’s sad eyes, and I look around at all the things to be done–all the demands–and death whispers in my ear and stares me in the face–but I stare right back and I courageously choose the right thing.

I let the rhythm of them carry me, these precious ones, their smiles, their sweet dimples that beg to be kissed, their inquisitive, trusting eyes asking questions, needing me and I let this safe rhythm carry me into the night until I sigh a contented sigh of having given all and lay head on pillow.

And in my heart, I silently pray God would make us all these people of His resurrection–people who don’t forget or slink away into the shadow in embarrassment at His death and life–but that having seen, and having tasted, and having known, that we would throw ourselves wildy, whole-heartedly into inviting Him in, to letting Him walk among us, and love and serve and spread His resurrection gospel through us.

an edited post from archives….

Tracy…

and Jen…

A Mama Makes Attempts At Holy Week {Preparing for Easter}

To celebrate Easter, I do something this year I have never done before. I do Lent.

For Lent, I throw off, disentangle, make lighter. I throw off writing, emails, twitter and television–because that’s what Lent is–a quiet time of reflection, of giving up things that get in the way, of turning to the Saviour and looking Him full in the face, only to fully be reminded of our sin and just how much we need him–how much we really need Easter.

I have to ask myself–can Easter really be celebrated any other way? Can we really pack and cram all of the reflection, revelation, soul-enriching, awareness of our sin and need for a Saviour, thanksgiving and rejoicing for His life, death and resurrection into just one day? Really? Because that’s how I was raised to celebrate it–the church I grew up in never encouraged families to take more time than Easter Sunday to reflect and celebrate.

So here I am, doing Lent, leading my family quietly {maybe not so quietly?}, Husband so thankful that I have found the resources and made the effort for everyone, teaching them what I have learned.

But while I try to do Lent, while I teach children God’s ways, I utterly fail.

He comes home and finds me in the kitchen, spewing words, trying to prepare a special Christian passover meal for all of us. I am the most disorganized person I know–even though I read the ideas and recipes days before, and marinated the lamb overnight, I had taken on too much for such a huge feast in one evening–my accursed genes follow me forever.

It is the worst feeling in the world–as things begin to fall apart, it feels as if the girl that had it all together left my body and some other girl took over–some of our worst flaws we are so helpless over. As Paul said, “What I don’t want to do, I do, and what I want to do, I dont do.”

Candles lit, worship music playing, I talk through gritted teeth and tell children to just cooperate as we all prepare together. Even the best of Christian activities and the most quiet, stilling music cannot save us.

Only God–only Him on that cross can do that for me and only His presence here will save us.

Husband reminds me to instruct them politely. I nod that he’s right, and tell him that he doesn’t know what I went through with children today who wouldn’t obey and do their work and I feel like a failing Mama.

When I get all wound tight inside I can’t seem to stop, and I keep going–I tell him that I figured out why it’s so hard for me to instruct, teach, have conversations–why it wears me out so much–I’m an introvert, and my natural bent is to let someone learn on their own, without my input. I want to be alone, doing my own thing. Eldest daughter pipes up with, “Then why in the world did you decide to homeschool us?”

Oh, I wish I had stopped. This tongue of death–sometimes I wish I could cut it off. At this moment, my emotions couldn’t be any worse–I have hit rock bottom.

Here I am, consumed with the sins of discontentment, strife, impatience and ingratitude, and I see exactly why I need Easter–why I need His resurrection life so desperately.

Here I am, feeling like a failure, feeling like a victim, and I forget to have a grateful heart for what God has done.

I forget that just a few nights before, during our Lent devotion, Lorna had said she had a question. She was worried about dying and going to heaven, for an infinite amount of time, not know what would happen or what her life would be like there.

And Husband says, “Lorna, you’re right–it is a little scary, because heaven is a place we don’t know much of, it’s a place we’ve never been to and don’t understand the way there, what the journey will be like…

“You know when you were born, you were just a little baby, and you came into this big world, and you were crying and it was scary, but it was great and you were here in this new place, just looking around in wonder?” She nods.

“That’s what heaven is like–it is going to be amazing and wonderful. It is something that we don’t understand on this side of it–but this side is only one part of life–when you get there, you will have a whole new life and then you will understand.”

She told her daddy she gets it now, him at the head of the table, all of us listening to one another and learning.

How could I forget such beauty? How does my heart so easily fester and callous up?

It is late when the feast is finally ready, and we all take our seats.

In preparing the meal in such haste and fury, I am not prepared for what it will do to my heart when my youngest in angel voice shyly asks the first question: “Why are we eating unleavened bread?”

I answer, “We eat Matzah to remind us that the Israelites did not have time for yeast to rise because they had to be ready to move when God said. For us as Christians, it reminds us to live lightly, always ready to go when the call comes…like a thief in the night, Jesus is going to return and we will all go home. We eat matzah because tonight we remember Jesus…bread without yeast, to remember Jesus who was without sin.”

Eldest looks straight into my eyes as I talk, and I feel the weight of God’s glory all around us–her eyes so alive with His resurrection.

When Husband takes the bread, tears it right into, and I tell the girls, say it in unison and they do: “Because He was broken for us,” something just tears my heart wide open.

My second oldest asks her question, and I didn’t tell her to, but she addresses her Dad–“Daddy, why are we eating bitter herbs?” –her voice so reverent, reminding me that I don’t know as much as I think I do. He explains about the bitterness of sins and my heart begins to bleed out.

When eldest daughter asks her question, “Why tonight do we dip our herbs twice?” Husband explains that our fathers wept salty tears {he dips the herb into the salty water}they dipped hyssop branches into the blood of the Passover lamb and marked their doorposts that the Angel of Death would pass over.

For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.

I watch Husband’s hands dipping the herbs into hope, telling us that we can wipe our tears because now we have new life in Christ–He has rebirthed us–and after all the whirlwind of my sin, my desires and my passions, my heart is finally stilled.

But it is really after the last question has been asked that it fully sinks in.

It is when he serves the lamb that my heart slows, the blood stops racing, and I close eyes and just listen as he reads:

“As the Jews needed the blood of the lamb on their doorpost for the angel of death to pass over them, so we need the blood of the lamb on our hearts for the angel of death to pass over our souls. And we have a lamb…as John the Baptist proclaimed, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). And he was a voluntary sacrificial lamb for Jesus said, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:17-18)

“What does that mean? It means that Jesus planned His own sacrifice. It means that Jesus intentionally planted the tree from which His cross would be carved…willingly placed the iron ore in the heart of the earth from which the nails would be cast…voluntarily placed his Judas in the womb of a woman…set in motion the political machinery that would send Pilate to Jerusalem…the ropes used to tie His hands and the soldiers used to lead Him were unnecessary. Had they not been there, had there been no trial, no Pilate, no crowd, the very same crucifixion would have occurred. Had Jesus been forced to nail Himself to the Cross, He would have done it. For it was not the soldiers who killed Him, nor the screams of the mob. It was His devotion to us.” (~Max Lucado, God Came Near, pg. 79-81)

I just nod, eyes closed, it’s all I can do. I just relent and let Him completely take over.

Little Lilly lifts her glass to clink it against our’s as we toast the celebration of His new life, a shy, excited little smile on her face. Husband and I look at one another, the twinkle of hope in our eye.

I wonder why we don’t do Lent–this thing that was so hard starting out–all year long.

{For dessert: “New Life”}

John Piper, a man I believe to be doctrinally sound, on Lent: ““Lent” means spring. But it’s more like winter—the last blast of cold before the warm green is here to stay. It reminds us of the flint-faced Christ moving to Jerusalem. O how we need the discipline of Lent!! Break a bad habit before Good Friday! Life is too short to coast. Brake! Stand on the hood. Look! Over there! Don’t say you can’t. We don’t allow that word at our house (Matthew 19:26).”

“Lent or no Lent, not doing some things you feel like doing is the daily pattern for the disciples of Jesus. Yes, daily. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).”

From the Desiring God blog: So, How Was Your Easter?–“How can we be Easter people–24/7, 365 days of the year?”…

**A few ideas we are creating around here and some ramblings this week for Easter…thank you in advance, friends, for grace…

{I’m always conservative with Easter baskets and lean more toward Christian celebration than American tradition–if you would like to do this, too–} this year, a Christian book on Easter–one for the little ones and HERE is one for older ones. and for teens?  this study by Adam Hamilton has excellent reviews or this book by Strobel— {or you can order their own copy of Devotions for Lent–my girls love theirs–a small devotion booklet–go here to order–w/ Amazon 1-day or 2-day shipping, you could have it by Fri.–I’m also lightly sprinkling in some pastel chocolate eggs, a chocolate cross, a stuffed bunny or lamb with ribbon and hand-written bible verse around the neck. You may also place some plastic eggs filled with scripture or you may opt for natural brown hen’s eggs with ribbon and a hole-punched scripture attached {this could be a treasure hunt–you could put the scripture reference only and have your little one look them up and read together}? You could also use a filler and place moss found in your yard on top and tuck in some Lilly of the Valley here and there… A sterling silver cross necklace would make a wonderful gift for a tween or teen. The main thing is keeping it simple and centered on Who we are celebrating…

We have made our Grace Garden {go HERE to see Ann’s ideas}, and it turned out beautiful–I would like to encourage you to make your own–we had so much fun!–on Friday night, the girls will make catepillars out of wax, wrap in a leaf and tuck under the moss atop our stone tomb and then we will make our butterfly and it will sit atop our Grace Garden on Sunday morning! The girls are so intrigued with a caterpillar’s transformation right now, so this works perfect for us!

You can go HERE, Desiring God blog, to read Noel Piper {John Piper’s wife} on Lent and Holy Week–for further inspiration

You can go HERE, to Ann Voskamp’s site to get ideas and free printouts for your own Christian Passover meal…

You can go HERE if you are interested in Lent devotions for the rest of this holy week–in preparation for Easter–maybe you would like to print it out to be ready for next year?

Shared with sweet Ann and others at….

Jennifer….

kd…

”JourneyTowardsEpiphany”

Tracy…

and Shanda…

Maybe An Epic Fast Fail Is Really Doing It’s Most Important Work? {What To Do When We Fall Short}

I don’t eat anything at lunch except a pulsed, whirled-together berry and banana juice–nothing added. I speak a couple prayers out loud to God for friends sick and in need. The afternoon stetches out long, and as I’m getting ready to go run, the stomach churns.

I raise my voice at my daughter, exasperated at all that needs to be done and what little time and I can’t even eat anything. My head pounds and I go to the cupboard–medicine? But knowing what the headache craves I head toward the fridge, pull out a yogurt, and leave it sitting on the counter and decide on nothing for the slamming pain.

Maybe fasting is not doing it’s job–it is so obvious to me that I’m not very holy.

Quickly brushing Husband’s lips when he walks in the door, my kiss half lands on air and half lands on him in my great rush. He leans towards me for a hug and I dart in and back out, and dash into the laundry for my shirt.

I cannot be late.

As I run around the house, throwing on tennis shoes, flinging on a hoodie, words snap harsh at Husband and the air weighs heavy. “Love you!” I call, but the words seem to fall dead. I run to the door with a quick, “Bye!”

Then Ivy jumps up off the couch and runs over to me, “Mama!” She lands into me with one of her special hugs, so soft, slowing me down.

I tilt her chin, look into her eyes, and tell her, “Mama is sorry for fussing at you, ok? I’m sorry I got angry. But I need you to obey me, alright?”

She nods, her face full of emotion, and it strikes me that she looks up at me with full submission, her body leaning into me vulnerable, the way I should look to God. “I love you, baby.” I squeeze her again.

I jump in my husband’s red car, and as I pull out the drive and head down the road, then make the right onto the highway, and whir past the brick houses, past the daffodils happily fencing in yards, I feel a little like I’m trying to catch up with myself–a little dizzy.

It’s not until I pull onto the interstate that I realize the need to phone Husband to say I’m sorry.

On his end, it’s obvious in his voice, he is tired, having come home from work, our little ones hanging on him. He says he’s sorry too. But I can feel the weight in his voice, the weight of what I’ve done.

My friend and I run and she talks to me and I tell her I will pray, that I’m by her side. We run in the night and I tell her that I’m not going anywhere, no matter what she decides. In the darkness we hug. I feel like a hypocrite. I yearn to get home to them.

In the dark, I walk up the concrete side-door steps and let out a coming home exhale. Opening the door after a grueling 4 mile run on hilly terrain, the smell of roast and vegetables that I cooked in the crockpot earlier in the afternoon hits my senses full and my stomach lurches, my mouth winces sour.

I know what the articles on running say: always eat protein right away so that the muscles can repair themselves and have full functionality.

But I choose the spiritual benefits–at least for now. I let Husband fix the plates and stay away. He laughs at my pained expression, my determination. He shoos me away so I’m not tempted.

I allow myself an apple and hot tea at bedtime and I still get in bed with stomach aching and body shaky. I lie there thinking I know how I messed up today, not eating any protein, being snappy and yelling at my family.

I ache in so many ways, a hollow ache not just from lack of real sustenance, but this is a different kind of dulling pain–the pang of feeling deeply all I lack, how I create waves of throbbing hurt in the wake of my thrashing.

The deprivation of physical food is glaring at me my need for spiritual food. I didn’t realize I was starving.

I cuddle up to Husband and I tell him I’m sorry I was so awful, that I love him, and he exhales and sleepily says “I love you,” and this calms me. I try to settle my body and go to sleep, but my sugar level does loopy things, the body rattles head to toe, and the mind races and as the clock silently ticks closer and closer to midnight, I finally decide that sleep is more important than anything at this point, {my children need their Mama to get sleep, trust me!}.

In the kitchen, where I give into my flesh and satisfy it, I feel guilty–guilty for needing food so badly.

So, I have failed at fasting–completely and utterly failed.

In the dark, always the dark, I lie there, stomach satisfied and wonder if God can help me, sin-filled me, craving-this world-me.

I ask myself which I crave more, the physical things that satisfy or God.

Ashamedly, I come to Him, face lifted up, submissive, my body wholly leaning into Him vulnerable. I can’t do any of it without You. 

The next morning I wake and have a text from my friend reminding me that she needs prayer. This makes me smile–maybe all is not lost.

Tuned a little more acutely to God now, my heart asks how I can follow Him today, how I can worship best today, serve my family ’til the edges are worn soft, pray for friends and family with sincerity as if it were me going through their trial.

I give all my guilt and shame and failure to Him. He accepts me with open arms, and I fall into His grace, the only thing that rescues.

Maybe, just maybe, the most important work has truly been done.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to your from the forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. ” 1 Peter 1:13-19, emphasis added

“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgement followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:15-17, emphasis added

A few quotes by Piper on grace and our need to drink in God…

“Grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God.”

― John Piper

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

― John Piper, A Hunger For God

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.”

― John Piper, Hunger for God

 “The only answer in these modern times, as in all other times, is the blood of Christ. When our conscience rises up and condemns us, where will we turn? We turn to Christ. We turn to the suffering and death of Christ—the blood of Christ. This is the only cleansing agent in the universe that can give the conscience relief in life and peace in death.”

 ― John Piper, Passion of Jesus Christ 

Very convicting and nourishing to my soul, friends. What about you? Do you struggle with spiritual disciplines? Have you ever fasted and if so, what was your experience? I’d like to hear your thoughts!
 
 

A song that captivates me, reminds me of God’s love…maybe you need reminding, too?…

If you enjoyed this post at all, and think someone else might as well, would you consider sharing in one of the ways below? {two ways to do this–at the top of the comment section and here:}

Pin It     

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

Join me at Ann’s for more reflections on fasting, what it looks like and how it moves us toward God?….

Cultivating Time With The Father {31 Days to Holistic Christ-Centered Living Day#16}

When I was a very young mother with two small ones, I went through a season of illness. My baby was only months old when postpartum depression took me under with the sucking force of it’s quick sand.

There were so many days that I was a ball of a mess of emotions, I couldn’t get out of bed or get dressed, I got angry with my two small children, I couldn’t handle the baby’s cries, and one time I even put the baby in her crib and walked next door to my mom’s to call my Pastor’s wife for help in a moment of pure desperation.

When Husband came home in the evening, I didn’t know what to do with the hormonal chaos that threatened to overtake me, and I blurted out too many words, making the air thick and heavy and it left us rotting and sagging, everything crumbling under the weight, our footing and our course unsure.


I was a woman lost and empty
.


I had nothing to give my family because I was void inside. I was depleted, depraved and hopeless on my own.

I was rotting in my own sin-stink, and I self-loathed and I was flailing and sinking in my attempt for a way out, an escape.

And maybe if I just whisper this, or if I shout it, maybe it really is true–

the miraculous wonder of God is that He is mighty to save and He offers a way out for us.

“Now I know that the Lord saves his annointed; he will answer him from holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call.” Psalm 20:6-9


My Pastor’s wife encouraged me in everyday liturgy, not in legalistic, religious forms, but in habits that would benefit me, that would bring me closer to God, that would make me whole and bring peace to my family’s days.

I began meeting with God in the quiet every morning with just my bible and my restless heart.

As I came to God in the stillness, He met me there and quieted my soul, melted my resistance, and He hushed my angry, weary, frustrated spirit.

It was this liturgy, this rhythm of habits, a consistent gathering with God that would illuminate my path and cause me to blossom in the rich depths of the soil of His word and worship and prayer.

It was in this revolving back to God, this daily habitual clinging, that I came up out of the depression, out of the mighty quick sand’s grasp, and I was able to give to my family, to be patient with my children and begin teaching them about God, and I found truest joy.

I still huddle quiet with God in the stillness and beauty of softest morning light every day.

And on days that I don’t do so well, I don’t let it beat me into the ground. I just start over the next day and come to Him who is waiting there for me, my Beloved.

“Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Songs 2:13

And I know that it is this beautiful liturgy, this constant turning to God, these revolutions over and over again back to Him that are my lifeline, my true north.

This is part of a series, 4 Ways To Radically Change Your Life In the New Year–An Unresolution…you can go here to read the original post that started it all.

I hope you will join me as I try to explore the rest of the 4 Ways this week…

Join me at Ann’s for more reflections on the practice of habits?…

And at Emily’s…

4 Ways to Radically Change Your Life In the New Year–An Unresolution {31 Days To Holistic Christ-Centered Living, Day #15}

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, Per se.

I have always shied away from them. I am the type of girl who doesn’t make resolutions, those harsh rules that hold me to a schedule or date to start or complete something. I just decide I want to change or accomplish a category of my life, whether it’s January, July, or November, and I do it. I simply make up my mind. If I want to start up a new exercise routine, I transform my desires into reality and make it happen.

But even the most tenacious of us can have all our resolve to falter in the face of a giant mountain called fear of failure.

I think maybe this is the real reason I’m so hesitant, so rebellious about making resolutions–

because I know that I’m not able to carry this weight, once it’s strapped to my back and weighing me down, I know I will trudge and I will break under the pressure.

Strict schedules and rigid routines broke me before. They caused insomnia and anxiety so severe that the quaking damage still haunts me today.

I fear the repeated cycles and mantras will grow the head of a monster and consume me.

I know I like things light. I must have things light to survive.

This seeming confidence of tenacious resolve on my own terms and my own spontaneous schedule is really a masked fear of failure.

I woke up on New Year’s Day knowing that the year splays open before me like a stretching, yawning mile-wide gully, waiting to engulf me, waiting for me to mess up.

I woke up knowing that this year needs to be different, and knowing that changes need to be made and I have no idea how I’m going to do it and I see the failures of the past and I am afraid.

What really calms this wildly beating, rebellious heart down is to have not resolutions, but revolutions, as Ann so cleverly pens and plays with the words.

I just can’t get her words out of my head–revolutions. Not strict, set schedules and regimens that I will commit to, because I will not be able to live up to it. Not hard food and exercise lines because I won’t be able to walk the hard suspended lines without fear of looking down and falling if I have no support to hold me up, no strong muscle sinews grasping my frail wrists.

It is not so much about resolving to do, but more of a revolving, a turning back to God over and over, every time I am in need and every time that change must come and I stand at the brink of eternity and look out and I know in the deepest parts of my soul that the only way that I can carry out His calling to raise and educate four girls, to be a godly wife and daughter and sister and sister to my family in Christ–the only way I can do all of it–all of the things that only matter in eternity–is if I am turning and falling into Him every minute, every hour, every day.

I know that this intentional, habitual clinging, this intentional revolving back to God, is the only way I will survive.

This clinging to Him is the only thing that will absolve the fear and cause me to continue to revolve back to Him in grace over and over again.

So how do I keep revolving back to Him? My Revolutions for this year…
4 Ways To Radically Change A Life:

Cultivating Time With The Father–When I was a young mother, armed with not much correct theology but a passionate heart for Him, I began to cultivate a habit of meeting with Him in the quiet with my bible every morning, and it changed me, my marriage, the way I mothered. It was the one thing missing. The one necessary thing.

Cultivating A Cross-Centered Life Instead of a ME-Centered Life–Keeping His glorious gospel front and center, singing old hymns or choruses of the cross and the blood throughout the day. The suffering and victory of the cross illuminates everything. Everything!! This gives us strength!

Cultivating Humility–In God’s words to us, humility is so many times coupled with action. Serving at home, bending low to wipe mouths and noses and floors, baking a batch of cookies or pumpkin or banana bread and taking it to the neighbors, taking some food to someone down the street who has lost their job or is in need in some way. When humility is found in this type of serving, we find JOY!

Cultivating A Love For Context–whether it’s at home, with all the children, or juggling a job with crabby co-workers and coming home to children, or dealing with barrenness or loss, or failure…whatever the context…God calls us to just hush and be still and know Him and know that He has everything under control and this means that we are already right where He wants us, learning what needs to be learned, doing the next good thing.

This is going to be, hopefully, my last really long piece. I will be writing more in depth about the 4 Ways To Radically Change Your Life in 4 short posts next week. We will see how it goes. I hope you join me?

Join me at Ann’s for more thoughts on habits…

and at Emily’s…