I'm working on a new blog layout. Nothing fancy. I'm just tweaking a few things here and there that you can change with a basic Blogger account. I was weary of the brown background. It was just so...brown. Like my wardrobe, Aaron just snickered. I do wear a lot of brown. But! No more on the blog.
I'm also adding labels to all the posts so it will be easier to go back and read certain posts.
But these things take time, so bear with me in transition.
It is early. It is Christmas Eve morning. In a rare move, Aaron awoke earlier than me. I found him reading on the couch at 7:30. I was sleepy and felt like going back to bed for a long winter's nap. But the sight of my husband, grinning on this unprecedented morning, kept me up. I headed for the coffee pot.
Somewhere between my coffee and the first putterings about the house, the fire proved to be too much for the man. I returned to this:
He so dearly loves being warm while he sleeps.
The dining room table looks like this.
I stayed up too late working on a scrapbook for Aaron's grandma. We are going to my parents' house tonight and then to Aaron's family tomorrow, meaning any gift we want to give must be done and wrapped by 5 o'clock today. Even though she recently fell through for me, I somehow decided I wanted to be just like Martha and make most of the gifts we are giving this year. Which means that today I will be baking 5 loaves of bread, mixing 5 cinnamon butters, finishing 3 cookie platters, creating 1 calendar, and a partridge in a pear tree.
But this morning, I sit. I brush aside all the Martha ambitions and realize I am that Martha from long ago, the one whom Jesus chastised. "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one."
The room is quiet and cozy. The Christmas tree sparkles from the corner, and I wonder how much of the mystery I have missed for mayhem instead. All my good intentions might just obscure the miracle of the One who came, the One who first wants not my service but my adoration.
I return to familiar words and beg for the veil to fall. To see anew with Spirit's help. "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel--which means, God with us."
God with us. The one thing that is needed. It is indeed a miracle of the most grand proportions. The King Most High stepped down to His people, the harassed and helpless, the wounded and weeping, the broken and confused, the self-righteous and pious.
This post was supposed to be about baking. And I thought I would throw in how I have undertaken substitute teaching again. But mostly, baking. Five minutes ago, I tasted one of the cookies that I spent a very long time baking, and it tasted like CARDBOARD. I am pondering giving up the post and giving up baking. I have consoled myself that they are for my family, who won't judge me, and the snowflake design still looks pretty, but, dang it Martha Stewart, I thought your cookie recipe would be a good one. You are Martha, after all.
When I bake, my kitchen looks like this. Messy Bessy. That should be my kitchen code-name. I like to blame it on the severe lack of counter space. I have been known to use the top of the fridge as a surface to set things when the space gets sparse...you can imagine how that ends when I jerk open the freezer a little later.
Aaron sat on the floor and played me ballads. Which reminds me, today when I was subbing, a kindergarten boy told a kindergarten girl that she looked sexy. Why does a five-year-old know how to use the word sexy? Oh gracious. Now may he call her cute? Yes, please. But not sexy, unless he wants to make his sub cry. Which, now that I think about it, he probably did want that.
In addition to the Cookies Made Of Cardboard, I made these buckeyes, which turned out tasty. The baking night was not a complete loss. It was hard to make them look as beautiful as the food blogger did, but I direct you to my mantra for the night: they are for family.
And if the family don't like 'em, well, gosh, they've got the gingerbread. Oh wait...
Here, in Exhibit A, please note the hunk of gingerbread dough that was destined for disaster.
Here, in Exhibit B, please note the cookie it became, which does look quite charming. So if you could imagine a flavor other than cardboard as you gaze upon it, that would be nice.
About subbing. Here are some of the best nuggets:
"Are you Justin Bieber's mom?" - 2nd grade girl
Hmm...Weaver and Bieber...I can see how the mistake was made...
"You should shave your hair. You have really dark hair on your arm. Girls aren't supposed to have dark hair." - Kindergarten boy
Tonight is still. The dryer downstairs sings its soothing tune while Lara does her creative thing. She's been sick the past 5 days or so, and it is great seeing her get back to her normal self. I think she's trying to make up for all that lost time.
To inform you of what has gone on the past few weeks, the most important is:
We bought a real Christmas tree. If we ever get a fake one, I will not celebrate Christmas. I know, it's not about me, it's about Jesus. But, come on, it's like having your wedding, and your best man, maid of honor, and all the guests are not real but gnomes.
Second, we ended up house sitting and broke the cardinal rule of real Christmas tree caring: watering. Yes, we neglected our fine friend. We ended up house sitting for an amazing family and thus forgot about our tree.
So, Nathan, Rachel, Lara, and I, at 10:30pm, attempted to take the tree out of its stand and saw it with the dullest, flimsiest hack saw. I think a butter knife would have done better.
Not to mention, we kept the decorations on.
But after much labor, we decided to get the big guns out and take it out with a circular saw. Did I tell ya there were two sleeping kids in the house? When all we done, to say the least, we redecorated the tree. Got to change the things we didn't like the first time, right?!
She's asking me to help. I think I will. So much for blogging! Hope this was both informational and entertaining.
5 minutes later...
I've been decommissioned from my duties due to lack of artistic ability.
So one more thing. Lara and I come from two different and distinct camps when it comes to toothpaste etiquette. Lara enjoys squeezing the tube wherever her hand may land (usually the middle of the tube). I, however, enjoy squeezing from the bottom, thus pushing all toothpaste upward getting maximum usage out of an entire tube. All that to say, whether she's a middle of the tube squeezer or not, I still love her.
Where do you squeeze?
Lara made this ginger cookie for me with the great Mary Grace Harris. Gotta love it!
I've been reading several books lately that are tearing up my heart, in the very best way. The other week I wrote about dreams that were stirring in me after a long, dry few years. The Lord has been using these books to stir and churn me. If I am honest about my spiritual state the last few years, it often has been me just doing the best I can, knowing Christ is real and victorious, but not often living it. Knowing that He is the treasure in a field for which a man sells all his possessions, yet attempting to buy the field and keep my treasures. Um, maybe I could take out a loan?
When I got back from India in 2007, my heart was broken. In many ways, my faith in the God of my fathers was shaken. Was God good? Were His redemption and transformation realities to bank on in the darkest depths of this Earth? Did He have any purpose for my life?
So I came home to Missouri, and I think part of the way I chose to handle all that hurt was by just hiding it away and returning to normal. Normal doesn't peel scabs off tender skin. Normal doesn't grapple with faith in a dirty, sweaty boxing ring. Normal finds a niche in mainstream culture and just does its thing. But the devastating truth is, normal doesn't follow Jesus like He calls us to follow.
God is graciously bringing me to a place where I can see this. A place where I ache to really know Him and make Him known. A place where I am willing to load everything that I have filled my heart with since India and put it on the garbage barge and send it out to sea. Anything that is not Him, I want to go.
Here are the books. I tell you about them because they have encouraged/and are encouraging me greatly. Nothing can replace the power of God's Word, and if you only have so much time to read, read the Word first! But if you can fit a little extra reading material in, I recommend these.
#1 - Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. I resisted reading this book at first, because it seemed like everyone in Christendom was reading it. Aaron's friend gave it to him, and for a few months I saw it every now and then on Aaron's nightstand, and I would hide it under some other books or knock it behind the bed or you get the picture. I just really did not want to read it. I knew enough about the book's premise to know that if I read it, I would have to change some things in my life. Finally, I picked it up. And it is rockin' me, friends.
"I found myself faced with two questions. The first was simple. Was I going to believe Jesus? Was I going to embrace Jesus even though He said radical things that drove the crowds away? The seccond question was even more challenging. Was I going to obey Jesus? My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him...You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed Him and really obeyed Him."
#2 - The Triumph of John and Betty Stam by Mrs. Howard Taylor. I bought this biography of John and Betty Stam, missionaries to China in the 1930s, at a book sale in college. I think I read pieces of it in college, but I read the whole thing through in about two hours last week. John and Betty were martyred by Communists and after their death, their little baby girl was found by friends in their village. The witnesses of their death testified that they went to the execution without fear or sorrow. That is not the product of a moment's decision! That is the result of years of trusting Jesus and finding Him to be faithful! I want to know Christ in such depth that when death arrives, it is but a page turn to the sweetest chapter.
As a student at Moody in the middle of the Depression, John wrote the following, which I found to be prophetic to our age too:
"This bewildered age needs to know that only 'the foundation of God standeth sure.' Many a man is being torn loose, these days, from the things to which the heart has clung. It is ours to show the incorruptible riches which bank failures and economic conditions cannot touch. It is ours to show, in the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in personal communion with Him, a joy unspeakable and full of glory that cannot be affected by outside circumstances."
#3- They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edman. My mom told me about this book, and she even lent it to me. Well, I was busy, and so I gave it back a few months later without cracking it open. Then, I found it at a garage sale not too long after. I figured it was a sign. :) It's a compilation of 20 short biographies of men and women who "found the promise of life more abundant to be true."
From the chapter on Hudson Taylor:
"It is the abiding life that is fruitful...the life that is Christ is abiding and abounding, it is satisfying and overflowing. How then shall a Christian bear fruit? ...There must be
a full concentration of the thoughts and affections on Christ
a complete surrender of the whole being to Him
a constant looking to Him for grace."
#4 - A Chance to Die by Elizabeth Elliot. I haven't read this book lately, but it is one of my top 5 favorite books. It is a biography of Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India in the late 1800s. The title sums up Amy's heart: she saw her whole life as a chance to die for Christ, whether that was in her life work of saving girls from temple prostitution or in her later bedridden years when all she could do was write. How many Christians do you know today whose life theme is "a chance to die"? How odd that is to our culture, where success and comfort are top pursuits and everybody wants to live as long as they can.
To sum up what these books are collectively speaking to me, it is that "Jesus it the treasure." Jesus and His glory made known are what matters. He is enough. He is more than enough, He is life spilling over. Following Him hard matters. It is obedience to Him and His life revealed to the world.
I awake and the morning is November-crisp new. Pockets of sunlight are patched to the floors, sewn to this first scene of day by a low-slung sun.
I am content, rested, in the peace of untouched glory, for this is glory, His fragrence in me and a sweet chance to spread it anew. I will open this package soon, and the box will spill on its side, top-heavy with the weight of laughter and conversations and scooped-up servings of warm soup around a hefty table. But, for now, the day is a baby, and it is not yet time.
I look around at this still-life. Quiet, and nothing to trumpet in but the steady tick of our wedding clock and my sneeze. The first winter cold has come. There is a mug and acucer and a love note on the corner of the table. I read the note and smile back to him, still sprawled on the bed, claiming over the empty lot my body has left.
Finger slips through the mug's circle handle; I pad to the kitchen and pour in the coffee and a scootch of whipping cream. Joy and gratitude lap their warm waves to my edges, and I stand in the undulating calm. Gifts all round. I am unexpectedly overwhelmed by the kitchen appliances of all things. There is a fridge, and it runs and keeps our food cold, and there is a dishwasher, and though it croaks a scary rumble some nights, it works! And a stove! In the space of 9 feet by 13 feet, how much there is to sing for! Glass jars of flour and oatmeal and brown sugar.
Green plants that stretch over lips of clay pots.
Windows of free light and a lemon apron on a single hook.
The symphony is in concert, and oddly, in the quiet, I hear it best.
I want to see the Conductor in every moment.
The man in the other room, the one whom my heart loves for reasons told and untold, asks me now and then how I am remembering Him. "Do you abide in Him all day, not just in that morning hour? Do you lay upon your bed at night and recount what He has done?"
This sacred space is where I start, but I pray it is not where I end. I yearn for this wonder and praise to last, to see the Unseen Hand behind all the hours that I tred.
So it's late. As many of you know, Lara is not a late night kind of gal. She'd prefer waking up as the sky starts to blush in the morning (do you like how I am trying to be poetic?). I, however, enjoy a long evening and ease into the mid morning. We've come to a consensus that we both do better if I go to bed with her, even when I'm not tired, and she gives me some space in the morning. Tonight's a different night.
Fondue Date with the Hamann's & Eilert's
Tonight, I played a round of Cities & Knights (Settlers of Catan on steroids... ok, a nerd game but I'm fine with that) with some guys. Lara graciously made some koolaid which was quickly named red drink (we work with high school kids, that should explain most things), and baked some cookies. While the guys devour most of it, Lara finishes up a load of dishes and slips behind us to bed. Our lives are not glamorous. A lot of dirty work, behind the scenes. There couldn't be a better woman than Lara who I would want to live this kind of life with.
Date Night in Springfield
Lara has supported and served me in so many ways. From putting up with a house of guys most evenings, to encouraging me and pushing me toward the cross, to being on her knees for me and with me, to her visionary eyes for decorating and for loving people. She has been a woman who has respected and honored me while I feebly try to lead our home in Christ. I truly am way out of my league.
I have been overwhelmed by her beauty, her grace, her love. I adore you Lara Elise. May God grace us with His divine love for many more days that we may bring His kingdom into this world together.
At the beginning of our married life, I decided that to be a good housewife I was going to have to get a few things straight. I wanted to be a good housewife; I still do. I don't find it degrading, nor boring, nor restricting. I guess I am not a liberated 21st century woman. I am not only a housewife, and Aaron does not insist that I be one. Yet, I like my home, and I like keeping it well. It is a challenge to me. But that can be another post.
Back to the beginning, when I decided to divide my days up by task. Monday would be my baking and laundry day, Tuesday my cleaning day, and after those two days I can't recall what I designated the rest of the week for. I think I wrote it down somewhere? Monday and Tuesday, though. I have been really, really good about keeping my Monday and Tuesday tasks.
Today is Wednesday. And we cleaned. I know! I know! Today is not Tuesday! We had a lot of great people time yesterday, and I am glad for it. I can't say that I didn't have the itch to sweep the floor when we were sitting down to dinner with our friends, but I didn't. I didn't sweep in the middle of dinner. With company.
Today, (Wednesday, remember?), being that I am married to The Most Incredible Man, he helped me clean. He did the dishes while I dusted and swept. Then he vacuumed.
It was rainy and cold outside, but our little house was warm, the heat buzzing out the vents and an autumn candle burning its last few inches. When the dustrag and I got to the living room corner, I recognized how beautiful it all was. There was frost in-between the inner and outer panes of glass, and the trees stood naked, which I do like better than full coats of summer. There was Pandora playing from the computer, a perfect playlist of mellow, lyrical music, JJ Heller and Sufjan and Jon Foreman. My husband gets to work from home, and we get to work together, whether that be in the lives of teenagers or in piles of dishes and dustbunnies.My heart was full.
P.S. I completely endorse the use of Method Wood for Good cleaner. It's natural, and it smells nice.
It is the quiet night that I dread but so desperately need. Aaron off to watch some KU basketball, and I, invited but certain it will not be the salve that this scraped up heart calls for, stay behind.
Set Copco the Kettle on the burner and wait for the whistle. Lock the back door, lock the front, try to not listen to the irrational fears that beg a hearing when there's a bump and thump. "Is that the house settling or the crazy guy that lives a street over?"
A wafting-steam cup of spearmint tea, and I am here, on the couch. In the solitude. In the quiet. In the space where miracles happen, where God's voice is heard when other sounds are not. My pastor said on Sunday that we are afraid to be alone. Am I?
After dinner I went to a concert at the college here in town. A girl with a low, beautiful voice sang songs of light and dark and coming home to hope. I felt like I could see the sky, and my insides were like preserves of stored-up dreams, canned in Ball jars on damp basement shelves. Things long forgotten. "Can I open them up again?" I thought. "What do I have to clear the table of to make room for those potent dreams and visions?
All day today I have been wondering if I picked the right color for my dining room buffet. It was a four dollar garage sale find, gifted to us by my parents, and I have been wanting to paint it for months. The fall was warm, uncannily so, and I took the weather as a sign that the time was ripe to paint that darn buffet. I picked green. Dry Basil, and as soon as that basil was dry, I told Aaron, "I think this is not what I envisioned."
Was it wrong to paint my buffet? I hope not. Is it wrong to buy new oil-rubbed bronze drawer pulls to snaz it up a bit? Maybe. Is there a problem when items of this small magnitude overwhelm my energy and devotion in a day? I think so. There are a finite number of thoughts I can think in a day, a finite number of minutes that I can fill with thoughts. I think I used to fill them with more substance. Those sealed up jars.
Tonight, in a dim room, I ask again. God, give me your heart. Fill me with your dreams and visions. Pour out your Spirit. Show me the things that matter, the things You want me to give my life to, the things that will advance Your Kingdom and make You famous.
I can only do this life-gift once. And I won't be taking the buffet into the next one...
As I write this, Aaron is asleep on the couch next to me. It's almost midnight in Central Standard Time, and this scenario is an odd one for us. I'm usually the one begging to go to bed. At 9:30. But tonight I had a project to work on, and now I'm on a staying-awake roll, so why not just capitalize on a very rare feeling and churn out a blog post?
Life has been full of many small treasures lately. Perhaps I am rounding a corner on the contentment path, finding a new leveling-out after jaunting off to Colorado and returning to normal life. It is good. I am filled with joy at the simplest things. Praise God who has put this joy in my heart and given me a growth-spurt of the thanksgiving list.
In no certain order, a few of the treasures of this season:
Packing this many people (and a few more you can't see behind me) into our dining room for a pumpkin-carving extravaganza. The fun night happened to correspond nicely with our timing to strip, sand, and refinish our dining room furniture. See, hon? There is a silver lining. So much empty space for pumpkin guts and seeds to fly and for creative minds to let loose.
A selection of the great pumpkin faces that came out of that creative shell of a dining room.
Playing in the leaves with this beautiful girl. I believe she told Aaron that she would hide under the leaves, and he would sit on her because she was an egg. Aaron (gender disregarded), would be the hen that would bring her cracking out. To which Aaron replied, "I think that would hurt you." To which she scrunched up her nose and said, "Yeah, but I'm berry brave."
Don't forget playing in the leaves with this little booger. Who does not quite claim the bravery of his older sis yet and finds being thrown in the pile a little disconcerting. But you wouldn't know it from this face.
Mini pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins. Is one allowed to eat these for breakfast? Just call it a muffin and it's got to be okay. And I'm 26, so I should be able to decide what I'm going to eat for breakfast. I want these. They taste amazing. They taste like fall. How does a muffin exceeding no more than 1 1/4" in diameter encapsulate all of fall, you ask? I don't know. But believe me, and then go google a recipe and make some of your own.
Gerbera daisies that are STILL blooming! Thank you, mild fall. I like this arrangement we have. Warm enough that my flowers don't freeze and I can run in shorts, but chilly in the mornings and nippy at night.
Dates with this blue-eyed cutie. We are okay with most of our dates ending up at Chick-fil-a. We always try to explore our other options, but the waffle fries and tender chicken patties lure us back every time. The Chick-fil-a sauce is a draw too. And the nice cashiers that always say, "My pleasure." Makes me feel good about eating so many waffle fries. Yes, you're right, Mr. Cashier Man. It is a pleasure!
The image of light and dark as a metaphor for life has always intrigued me. My mind's illustration of this metaphor never fails to thrill me: a dark, dark, dark room. Black in the blackest way possible, so that you cannot find your way to the door. Perhaps there is a door, but you do not know. There is no way to know. You have been in the dark for so long, and it is familiar. Comfortable, even, because you have grown used to the maddening shroud. But for all its comfort and familiarity, it is not right. And you feel in your heart that there is something more than all the dark. Suddenly light! Blazing is this light, and all the corners that you knew only from bumping around are clear. The light has overcome the darkness, and there is no cranny left blind.
Jesus loved this metaphor too. He was and is and will forever bethe metaphor, the light that makes sense of all the insensible darkness. Nicodemus came to Jesus during night, in curiosity muffled by secrecy, and Jesus told him:
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light..." -John 3:19-21
There it is. The wrestle that will endure til world's end. Light has come, yet the shadows are comfortable. Light illuminates. Darkness hides. Light means change. Darkness means we can do whatever we well please.
How desperately I want the light for those I love. I am not a saint. I do not live in the light every moment of every day. The struggle rears and thrashes in me too -- retreat to the dark or come out into the light. But I have seen the light. Caught the heart-rending glimpse of the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Christ, the image of the invisible One, the radiance of God's glory.
He is the only Light I have found as Hope for the darkest hollows of this Earth.
In the slums of Kolkata, where women must sell their bodies and children beg for pennies.
In the anguish of a wife whose husband has left her for another.
In the slumped shoulders of a sixth-grade boy, whose heart is a chocked-full pot of hurt and rejection and bitterness.
And now, in the life of my young friend, who was born into a poverty I have never known, whose daily rhythm is the beat of fighting and discord and anger and lies.
I ache for her to find the Light. I pray that she will grow sick of the Dark. That she will realize she can move out of that neighborhood and into the place of Christ's presence. I do not know the depth of the dark wells she inhabits, but I imagine from the patchwork pieces of her story she spreads out before me. I want that blaze to break over her black room, and I want her to never be the same.
There is so much darkness, it is true. But oh! Is there not so much light, more than we have dared to believe?
1. As a rule, I don't like doing laundry. Who really likes to do laundry except Martha Stewart and that is probably because she has one of those amazing rotary ironers and if I had one of those I might like it too. Laundry does rank above sweeping. Dishes will beat both anytime. One thing about laundry that I love is folding dishtowels and dishcloths. I do a separate load of kitchen related laundry: the towels, and napkins, and rags we are always using to clean up Aaron's my spills, and the occasional tablecloth when we are feeling fancy. Actually, we never use tablecloths. I just threw that in there to make my list more interesting. I like folding kitchen linens because they fold so uniformly, nicely, and politely. And they look pretty when they are all stacked up. There's no lone ranger socks, no holey t-shirts, and no bulky sweaters that I can't decide whether to fold or hang. Very satisfying.
2. About dishes: I like washing them especially in the fall, because I am cold and the water is warm. It's a nice feeling, and I almost think I could stand there all night, washing dishes.
3. My husband thinks this post is boring. I just read it to him, and he said, "Huh." I said, "You think it is boring, don't you?" He said, "I just would never write about that." And lest ye think he never does the laundry, he does. He just wouldn't write about it.
4. I recently realized a new pet peeve of mine. I usually don't collect pet peeves. I think they are a rather grumpy thing to collect. But I have a few. And the latest one is when people don't run/walk on the left side of the road. I always thought that was a universally acknowledged guideline. By universally, I mean in America where we drive on the right side of the road. Pedestrians on the left, so as to face cars, so as they don't smoosh you right over from behind while you are jamming to your iPod. I run on the left, and when I meet people coming toward me (on their right), then I always feel obligated to move over to my right. Oh my goodness, I know. I have to move a few dozen feet over. See? Pet peeves are grumpy.
5. I have a tendency to drool when I'm bending over. I guess my mouth's resting position is open, and when I bend over, out comes the drool. Once, I did this while reaching into the freezer case to pull out a box of Blue Bunny ice-cream. I thought the lady down the aisle saw me, and so I quickly covered the drool with my foot. All better.
6. Does anyone else with a Mac take pictures of themselves with Photo Booth? (Photo Booth is an app that takes pictures from a camera inside the computer screen.) I do this when Aaron's not in the room, and it is very vain. I try out different poses and different facial expressions and pretend that I am a model for Anthropologie. Then I delete them so he doesn't know I took a million pictures of myself.
I think that's all. This started out as simple pleasures and took a swerve to pet peeves and ended up at embarrassing habits. Maybe I should have stuck with the first theme???
Ministry as a job. There are a lot of facets of that which Aaron and I wrestle with. While we love being able to spend time with people and get paid while doing it, a certain pressure comes along too. Do more. Do more. Do more. And then the question arises, "Am I doing (fill-in-the-blank) out of love and a leading from the Holy Spirit or out of a sense of obligation because it's my job?"
Sigh. The layers of my heart regarding our job are many and messy. There's the joy pulsing in my chest when a girl sees God in a new and truer way. There's the deep bond of community and family when leaders stay after meetings to play games and drink chai. There's listening to my husband teach the Bible and realizing again that God speaks through the ready, humble heart.
There's the defeat of not being able to change someone's choices. Watching a girl we deeply care for trapped in the cycle of poverty and abuse. We invite her over, we take her to church, we love against the hate and tension she receives on nearly every side, but there is only so much we can choose for her. There's the ugly competition I feel with a good friend who helps us with K-Life. "She does things so much better," I think. "She's always hanging out with girls. Why am I even trying?" There's the bone-tiredness and emotional spent-nesss at the end of a week when we have been with people much and the mustering up of grace to be with them some more.
I love this! We have purpose here! Thank you, Lord!
I hate this! Nothing we are doing matters! Why are we here, Lord?
I tend to live in extremes...can you tell? :)
God keeps bringing me back to the place of Him. The place of Him, where the only things able to stay are those done for Him and through His power. It doesn't matter what people think of us. It doesn't matter how they think we're doing our job. It doesn't matter how many "people-hours" I log in a week. It doesn't matter if I'm doing better than so and so. What matters is HIM, and if I am following His voice. This job may not always look successful to the world. That is okay. Our numbers may go down. That is okay. The question we must ask: Are we abiding in Him and are our good works flowing out of that relationship?
Paul's words encouraged me this morning:
"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:
in great endurance;
in troubles, hardships, and distresses;
in beatings, imprisonments and riots;
in purity, understanding, patience and kindness;
in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
in truthful speech and the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report;
genuine, yet regarded as imposters;
known, yet regarded as unknown;
dying, and yet we live on;
beaten, and yet not killed;
sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
poor, yet making many rich;
having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you."
-2 Corinthians 6:4-11
I am reminded of the presence of God in hills and valleys. Of my purpose in both. It doesn't change based on the scenery. I am guided by a transcendent purpose. To know God, to love Him, to serve Him out of that love.
Normal is tough to put on again. Adventure is a flashy coat, and when I wear it, life feels exciting and fresh. It's a light layer, not cumbersome, and I can flit from here to there.
I love airports. I love that feeling of going somewhere, it doesn't matter where. I love seeing new things and watching people, imagining their stories full of love and pain and regret and hope. Where are they going?
Home is hard today. Oh, it is wonderful to be back with my husband. That is a deep joy. But the physical place, my little address of siding and stone, feels tight. Returning to the pot-holed pocked streets of my Mayberry is hard. There doesn't seem to be much spice here, and I want curry and cinnamon and turmeric and tarragon and sage and nutmeg, and gee golly, just throw the whole dang spice rack my way.
This, though, is where the life of Christ intersects my story. In the sink full of dirty dishes. In the voicemails I need to return. In the returning question of "what am I called to be and do here?" Bending down to furrow the soil and dig the hole and place the seed is not glamorous. I strain to recognize the lie that I am believing: over there, somewhere else, the soil would be better, my purpose would be clearer, the joy would be deeper, the reward greater.
Is that lie not just a fist shaken in the face of a Sovereign God? A "what You have given me is not enough" flung at the One who alone gives good things? So I ask for His eye-glasses and peer at these streets again. What life is here that I am quick to miss? His life is here. His contentment is here. His "triumphal procession" that leads me in grace and gives me the chance to "spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him."
"Be faithful in the little things, for in them our strength lies. To the good God nothing is little, because He is so great and we are so small. That is why He stoops down and takes the trouble to make those little things for us -- to give us a chance to prove our love for Him. Because He makes them, they are very great. He cannot make anything small; they are infinite."
No, this life is not the stuff of movies and memoirs. It will not be making history any time soon. But it is the life of faithfulness, and it is that to which I have been called.
It was beautiful. The scenery was coffee-table-book worthy. Her face was radiant, peace and joy dancing in the little lines around her eyes. Dannon held her arm and led her down the aspen leafed aisle. The anticipation of months swelled and was met by a lovely bride and a good man.
I was blessed to be there. Blessed by the witness of the best picture we have of Christ's love for His church. Blessed by the change of pace, a break in the mountains from busy Missouri life. Blessed by the nearness of my three dearest friends, who are flung far out across this country, making reunions triple-thick sweet.
Life keeps changing, but these girls are forever friends. We've been across the hall from each other and across the ocean. We've been through seasons where we tripped over a misunderstanding every five feet and seasons where we couldn't go to bed for all the laughter. We've argued over boys and cried together when the breakups came. We've prayed our way through hard classes, family troubles, post-college decisions, and the big question of "how do I know he's the one?"
Three of us our married. We've been there. Two of us are getting ready to go overseas as long-term missionaries. We're still praying. Babies will come someday, and I hope I'm in those waiting rooms. I love these girls to no end, and thank Jesus for His life which links us together with more longevity than we could ever create on our own.
when I am down and need to cry till morning I know just where I am going when I'm in need of sweet commiseration to speak out loud
raise a glass to friendship and to knowing
you don't have to go alone
we'll raise our hearts to share each others burdens
on this road
with every burden I have carried with every joy it's understood life with you is half as hard and twice as good
with my good news you're dancing on the table babies born to celebration the joy of life oh what a sweet communion shared with you
I know we're growing older can you imagine what that will bring it's all a mystery to me now but this one thing