Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It Will Be Over Before You Know It & Soli Deo Gloria Link-up

I'm so glad you are back.  All through the week, I so look forward to this day, to catching up with you and seeing your sweet faces on my blog!  If you are new to Soli Deo Gloria, please click "here" to read about the heart behind this meme and to get the guidelines.   Don't forget to grab the button so that people who visit your blog will know where to find us in case they would like to share their hearts, too.

Treasure every minute.
Take in every milestone.
Don't think about the future, but enjoy the present, for it will be fleeting.
It will be over before you know it, so don't wish the time away.

I've heard these and similar phrases for over six years now.  They usually come after I have been complaining about my children -- their demands, their behavior, the playing, the cleaning, the whole Mommy kit-and-kaboodle.  Upon the words falling on my ears, I usually politely nod, or give a cursory Oh, I know and I DO enjoy every  moment so that to whomever I am speaking does not doubt my motherly love, my devotion to my children, or my sanity.  But the truth is that what I really wanted to hear was that IT'S OKAY TO HAVE MOMENTS WHEN YOU DON'T LIKE BEING A MOTHER.

Frankly, I'm not a little kid person.  I mean, I know HOW to interact with children.  I can teach them, I can play with them, but to be completely honest, it's not my favorite thing in the world.  It takes effort sometimes for me to want to play Barbies or Polly Pockets or Littlest Pet Shop.  I have a hard time keeping my cool when my daughter walks in from school and immediately starts picking on her younger sister.  I often neglect to pray for them everyday.  Sometimes I let them watch a little too much TV on a day when I just. need. some. time. alone.

This season of young child rearing has challenges.  Truthfully, I cannot wait for the day when I can spend hours talking to my daughters about what is really going on in their lives.  Meaty stuff.  Spiritual stuff.  Boy stuff (yikes!).  Because I am the queen of serious conversations.  I know how to have them and I know how to have them well.  So of course, I am going to look forward to the time when I might be able to do more things right than wrong in the rearing of my children.  (By the way, if you have older kids and feel the need to tell me that my teenagers will have nothing to do with me at that time in their lives, please don't.  I need my coping mechanisms.)

All of this is spewing from my fingertips because of the revelation that I had yesterday.  Hannah turned five.  We were finishing up hanging the Christmas decorations.  There was some loud clamoring over whether Hannah should have to share her brand new birthday toys.  And then, this thought popped into my head:

It will be over before you know it, so don't wish the time away.

All of the sudden, there I was in my old(er) age.  The house was quiet.  The girls were away at college.  There was no one to clamor about toys or Santa.  There were no red and green glass balls crashing to the floor.  There was no discussion of who was going to hang "Leon," the prized Christmas tree ornament.

The Empty Nest.

I realized at that moment how much I love being a mom.  Honestly, I cannot treasure every minute because some of them, well, stink.  But I think that this was God's little way of slowing me down and reminding me that maybe I'm not as bad at this gig as I thought I was.  So, especially during this Christmas season, I am going to try not yearn so much for the day when I can be master of my own scheduleTo not want to retreat as often into total silence.  To just live and let the days come as they may.  To cherish the good times and not lament the bad. To not feel guilty during those times when I just don't want to be "mom" at the moment.  So, to you, I say, it's okay to not treasure every moment.  It's okay to not love being a mom at every turn.  You are doing the best you can and God fills in the gaps with grace.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Numbers Game & Soli Deo Gloria Link-up

I'm so glad you are back.  All through the week, I so look forward to this day, to catching up with you and seeing your sweet faces on my blog!  If you are new to Soli Deo Gloria, please click "here" to read about the heart behind this meme and to get the guidelines.   Don't forget to grab the button so that people who visit your blog will know where to find us in case they would like to share their hearts, too.

My life.  Seems it is ruled by numbers and has been for a very long time.

Numbers on the scale.
Numbers in the checkbook.
Numbers on my report cards.
Numbers on my jeans.
Numbers of followers.
Numbers on my watch, telling how fast I've run.
Numbers on the clock, telling me how little time I have left.
Numbers on my paycheck.
Numbers of comments.
Numbers of children.
Numbers on the mortgage statement.
Numbers of birthdays.
Numbers of kids who attended the Sunday school class.

I've used them to decide if I've done a good job, if I've shown restraint, if I've pushed myself, if I'm competent, if I'm an athlete, if I'm balanced, if I'm fruitful, if I'm...worthy.

There should have been a commandment:  Thou shalt not live thy life by numbers.  

I cannot live life by these figures anymore.  Simply put, if I go by them, I will never fully measure up. I will never live up to my own expectations because there is always a number higher or a number lower.  As long as I can push the envelope, as long as I can strive, as long as I can achieve more, place higher, go lower, I will.  That is, if I continue to live by sums, paces, pounds, stats.

There is more to life than this.  There is something so much better than measuring, than comparing, than achieving.  All of those things make life about me.

Life is not about me.

So, maybe there is a commandment about this.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12: 1-2

The world is all about numbers.  I cannot live by the numbers while trying to live a life of sacrifice.  Numbers make me hungry, not for the spiritual fruits, but the poisoned ones.  I don't think worship entails trying to be the best, to achieve the most, to sit on top of the world.  Being pleasing to God often means taking the "other" path, the one that is not about my glory, but His.

I'm making a concerted effort to lay down these numbers, to stop playing the game, and to just live.  Some numbers are harder to surrender than others, honestly. Even as I ponder which ones to consider, I get a little knot in my stomach.  Tangibly, this is what I am going to do right now so to lessen my focus on the numbers and sharpen my focus on Him:

1.  I'm banning myself from the "Stats" tab on Blogger.  Because I write for Him.  Because I don't need glory.  Because the site-o-meter makes me think about me and I don't want to think about me so much.

2.  When my daughter comes home from school and tells me that there is a pajama drive at school for the needy children, I will not tell her that I have to check the balance of the "Giving envelope" before we head to Target.  I will tell her that we might have to sacrifice in some other areas but giving to people who have a real need is more important than us eating out at a restaurant, getting our car washed, or buying a new pair of shoes when clearly we have enough already.

3.  I'm going to spend less time trying to micro-manage my time and allow God to direct my day.  I'm going to be open to plan-changes instead of getting my panties in a wad.  I'm going to have faith that if He needs me here, whatever is happening over there will be good until I can make it.

What numbers control you?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Car in the Driveway

My brother came over last night to deliver the free turkey he got from the grocery store where he works.  I had run upstairs and happened to glance out the front window and I saw his car.  My grandmother's car.  In my driveway.

Does it still smell like her?  If I close my eyes, could I still see her sitting behind the wheel?

Due to the time it takes to get a title transferred from another state and an estate to finally close, my brother had not been able to actually drive the car until recently, even though he's had it since April.  So, really, it was quite the shock to see it sitting there even though I knew he'd been driving it.

What would it be like to run my hands over the steering wheel?  To touch the radio dial, to find some classical music that would have been pleasure upon her ears?  To look in the rear-view mirror and see...myself?

Today, I saw yesterday's mail laying on the table.  So busy and tired last night, I had not even noticed that Craig had brought it in.  A letter lay atop the magazines and other junk.  A small envelope with a stamp.  Hand-addressed with a return address label.  A real letter!

I took it to the couch and opened it.  It was from my Aunt Inez,  my grandmother's older sister, the one that loves to write letters and talk on the phone.  The one that I should have been better about writing, about calling, but haven't been.  Guilt.  She filled me on the latest news, some which I had heard and some which I hadn't.  I realized I would have known all of it if my grandmother was still alive.  So easy to keep up with the family when she was here. I took it for granted.

Her parting words to me, Still miss my little sister, and I know you miss your Grannie.  Find it so hard to believe that she's not down the street.

Me, too.
Grannie, Aunt Dint, Aunt Inez (Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil) 

Friday, November 19, 2010

How Do You See You?

Today, my Blissfully Domestic post went live.  Instead of requiring an extra click (because it's Friday and we are all tired), I'm just posting the whole thing here.  I write for the health section had have been doing a series about food addiction.  However, this month, I struck out on another path and wanted to share it with you.  A lot of this came from the responses from my Simple Pleasures link-up about my legs.  Hope you enjoy it!

How Do You See You?

Pimples.  Cellulite.  Flab.  Wrinkles.  A gray hair.  What do you see when you first look in the mirror?  Do the negative attributes jump out first?  Do you rush to lament the extra five pounds you gained?  Do you stress about the number of lines that appear on your forehead or the gray hairs that seemed to have eluded the last root touch-up?  Do you throw up your hands in frustration because no matter how much you exercise or how little you weigh, those little dimples never go away?

Choose to See What’s Right
Recently, it occurred to me that every time I looked in the mirror, what came to my mind first was the bad and the ugly, never the good.  It is ever so easy to find my flaws and to strategize on how I might be able to fix them.  With all the negativity taking up precious brain matter, it doesn’t leave much room for appreciation of what is good, of what is lovely.  The fuss over the “fixing” crowds out the opportunity to take pleasure in the imperfect. When I look at the mirror, I can choose to focus on the cellulite that appears on the fronts of my thighs.  I can turn around, view my backside, and tremor at the sight of jiggles.  Or, at the onset of these fixations, I can choose to see what is right with my body.  I can flex my calves and see the muscular curvature.  I can lean in close to the mirror and admire the golden flecks that sparkle from eyes.  I can be grateful because my heart still beats, my lungs still take in air without a struggle, and my legs still enable me to run far distances.

Media vs. Reality
When we look in the mirror, we need not to juxtapose ourselves with media images of perfection.  We can come to a mental place where we no longer use it as our measuring stick.  We do this by choosing to find joy in what we like about ourselves. When I learn to see the pleasurable and lovely things in the mirror, my self-talk changes.  When my self-talk changes, I have the power to project a positive self-image, which is good for me and for my daughters, who constantly absorb my words and actions.  I’m sure my daughters would agree that I am no super model. However, the fact that I don’t complain about my weight or my pimples or the wrinkles that grace my face, shows them that it is quite acceptable to not be a super model.  There is something lovely about each of us.  There is something of beauty to celebrate in everyone.  Teaching ourselves, and the generations that follow us, to recognize this allows us to shirk the media images, to live healthy lives, and to live out who we are created to be.

I'm linking up with Rachel Anne's Home Sanctuary and Michelle at Lost in the Prairies!  Come see all the wonderful women there.

To view this article at Blissfully Domestic, please click "here."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simple Pleasures: The Squeegee

photo source
Today's chore, among other things, was to clean the bathrooms.

I hate cleaning the bathrooms.  Unfortunately, so does my  husband and since I am afraid of little girls mixing with chemicals, the task falls to me.

Recently we had to replace our shower and since we were already spending money, we thought we would spend a little more to do away with the mildewy shower curtain and replace it with some pretty glass doors.

Did you know that glass shower doors just add work to the bathroom routine?  Before, with the shower curtain, if I was feeling particularly industrious, I would spray on some Tilex and walk away.  Shower doors require infinitely more elbow grease, unless of course, you use the squeegee after every shower.  It's so easy and fast even my husband will do it.  Miraculous.

As I squeegeed this morning after my shower, I had a revelation.  I had both doors parallel to each other, so one side was fully open.  I squeegeed the door on the inside of the shower.  Away went the water droplets.  Away went the soap splatters.  As I stood up, I thought to myself how it looked like I had cleaned nary a drop.  The second door, the one slid behind the clean one, which had not been touched, made the first door look like it had not been squeegeed at all.

Then, I thought -- Jesus is like a squeegee. I ask Him to forgive me.  He does.  He washes me clean.  Not a speck of dirt left.  I am pure (for that moment anyway).  But there are many times that I cannot fully comprehend the fullness of His forgiveness because I still see the sin.  I still see my mistakes just as I see the water and soap scum on the other shower door.  There is the me that Jesus sees -- forgiven, grace-filled, washed clean.  Then there is the me that I see, one that never has her past too far from her, that still carries the memory of her sins in her heart, that is still speckled with soap scum and hard-water stains.

I wonder how my life would change if I saw myself as Jesus does, without that second door that still holds my sin and shame?  I wonder what I waste.  I wonder what I might be.  I wonder what chains might be broken.

I'm linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood

I'm so glad you are back.  All through the week, I so look forward to this day, to catching up with you and seeing your sweet faces on my blog!  If you are new to Soli Deo Gloria, please click "here" to read about the heart behind this meme and to get the guidelines.   Don't forget to grab the button so that people who visit your blog will know where to find us in case they would like to share their hearts, too.

It seems like the past few days, God has been doing a little house-cleaning in my heart.  I've been convicted daily about various things, but the sweet part about it is that I recognized it for what it is -- God just trying to shore up my heart -- and didn't spend days lamenting my erroneous ways and diving into the pool of guilt.

The first thing that God and I worked on last week was my drinking habits.  I'm not a lush by any means, but I realized I had gotten to a point where at the end of the day I would readily look forward to a glass (or two) of wine.  Two weeks ago, I started thinking about a fast and if God was calling me to do one (and if so, for what purpose).  Then, last week, I read one of the devotionals in Heart of My Heart by Kristin Armstrong.  She writes, "A fast from anything removes its ownership over you and places it in the context of being owned by God.  It is a way to gain mastery over the things we struggle with."  The point is that I caught myself in this line of thinking that I needed a glass of wine to get through the rest of the night -- the fixing dinner, the bathing of children, the reading of books, getting them to stay in bed, etc.  What I needed, though, instead was to rely on God to help me to engage myself more fully in the process instead of hiding out from it.  What I needed was His strength, His energy, His love and not a worldly indulgence that can numb my senses and take the edge off.  The fast served the purpose of making sure that the wine was still subject to me and that I was not subject to it.  Being that alcoholism runs in both sides of my family, well, it's just a good test to take sometimes.

The second thing that has just wrung my heart was brought to my attention by Armstrong's devotional entry for yesterday.  The Bible verse is Proverbs 12:18, which says "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."  In her words, she states, "Even when we are frustrated, we must be mindful to choose words that are life-giving and that build a child's identity, not strip it down."  Immediately, the image of my oldest daughter's face popped into my mind -- the look upon it when I know that I have hurt her with my short temper, my exasperated voice.  It crushed my heart, that image.  I am so guilty of getting caught up in my moment, of living in my world where I must get things done, I must finish this, I must, I must, I must.  I become a whirlwind and when someone gets in my path, I leave disaster in my wake.  Even when I am frustrated -- even when I have heard the word "Mommy" fifteen times in fifteen seconds.  Even when I have gotten this, made that. Even when I have shuttled this person here and that person thereEven when this is the fourth time I've tried to sit down to work.  Even when...I must choose words that are life-giving.  I must use the opportunity to love.  After praying through this for much of the day, I realized that it doesn't mean that I need to meet their demands with a sugary-sweet Well, of course, my darlings!  It doesn't even mean that I must meet their demands at all if that is not warranted.  I think it just means having enough self-control so that I don't completely lose it and risk tearing them down.  Soooo glad there is grace and forgiveness in these relationships or I'd be in trouble!  Perhaps I should put aside the college-tuition account and instead focus on the therapy account.

Can't wait to read about what's going on with you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Return to Sabbath

To those of you who don't know me very well, I can be a bit, um, high strung.  I like to be efficient.  I like to get things done.  I have a hard time taking a break.

Yesterday, though, I gave myself a day off.  Actually, it was a morning to mid-afternoon off, but still, I'll take what I can give myself.

I started with my normal quiet time.  I got dressed for my run.  Eleven miles later (I'm back in training for the January half-marathon) I was enjoying a hot shower, my belly full of warm bagel smothered in cream cheese and strawberry jam.  I got dressed, nixed the makeup, and ran a brush through my hair.  And then, I did the unthinkable.

I got back in bed.

You see, I don't just lie down in the middle of the day.  I may sometimes look longingly at my bed as I pass by it on the way to the study, but I never stop, unless it's to make it.  But today, back into bed I fell, my muscles tired and weary.  The open windows let a cool breeze waft in.  I pulled up the covers.  I opened my book. I read until it was finished.  When a "to-do" thought popped in, I dismissed it.  When the email dinged on my phone, I didn't rush to check it.  When my Words with Friends dinged, I played (because that's relaxing, right?).

The book ended and I picked up my sketch pad.  Remember that sabbath calling?  Somehow, it seemed to go out the window because I thought having a daily quiet time replaced it.  But no.  I remembered what God had told me my sabbath was about -- doing something that had no real purpose, that was for pure pleasure, pure fun.  So, I picked up my pencils.  I grabbed my sketch book that had been gathering dust for a few weeks and I drew.  For fun. I ignored mistakes.  I didn't sigh in frustration.  I let my mind wander. I let my doodles float across the page. I didn't over-think the significance of my drawing (because, you know, I have a bad habit of doing that).  I think I actually smiled while I sketched.  Joy.  Peace.  Quiet.  Sabbath in my bed. In the middle of the day.  A slice of heaven for the weary.

Here's my drawing -- imperfections and no explanations!

I'm linking up with Home Sanctuary, Studio JRU, and Caffeinated Randomness today.  See you over there!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Simple Pleasures

In many things, I have been satisfied only when they meet a certain level of perfection.  If it is imperfect, even mildly, such as a stray line on a drawing, improper grammar in a belabored sentence, dust in a deep crevice, I have difficulty finding joy in the finished work.  I am compelled to erase, rework, dig deeper, even if I have been mildly rebuked to simply let it go.

God has been working in me to find the beauty in these imperfections, though.  He teaches me, slowly but surely, how to move on after He has forgiven me of my sin.  He teaches me that the blue painted mug with a few mis-strokes of paint that I created still has the capacity to hold my hot tea and that the blemishes hold no baring on its purpose.  But perhaps what speaks most loudly to me is finding joy in my imperfect legs.

It is easy to me to find joy in my legs.  They are strong.  They are useful.  They daily help me to achieve my goal, not just in getting  from place to place, but being able to experience the freedom of running.  I would not trade them for anyone else's.  They are the ones that carried me 26.2 miles.  They are the ones that not only put up with my abuse of training day in and day out, but they got stronger because of it.  They did not melt under pressure.  They did not feign injury.  They simply took the challenge...and ran.

But  my legs are far from perfect.  They have parts that are too fleshy.  They like to store fat in places I really wish they would not.  Cellulite, yes, they have allowed it to reside in that place just below the skin, and right on the front of my thighs for everyone else to see.  The beginnings of spider veins begin to spread their tentacles over my muscular calves.  But although they are far from perfect, I cannot reject them.  I cannot lament their short-comings, for they have proven themselves worthy of the task.  Their devotion is fierce.  Their strength is tried, tested, resilient.

I have come to the conclusion that perhaps if I, of all people, can learn to love something like my cellulite-ridden legs, God can love me despite my own character flaws.  Because although I am far from perfect, He has promised not to reject me.  He does not stand by and scoff at  my short-comings, but rather He fills me with His grace and makes perfect my weakness.  He knows that I am surrendered to Him, that my allegiance is with Him alone.  He knows I have been tried.  I have been tested.  I am fighting the good fight and together, we will win the race.

I'm linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood: Grace for Me; Grace for You

Welcome, Soli Deo Gloria Sisters!  I was so blessed last week to see all of your sweet faces in the Linky and even  more blessed by the words written on your page.  If you are new here, I am so glad that you've joined us.  Please click "here" to read about the heart behind this meme and so that you know the guidelines.   Don't forget to grab the button so that people who visit your blog will know where to find us.

Here's my entry for the week:

On Monday, I decided that all 70 of you that are "following" me are crazy (don't worry, it's me, not you).  Who would listen to someone like me?  Don't you know that I struggle with things like anger, PRIDE, selfishness, self-righteousness, pettiness?  Don't know you know that I can be quick to accuse, quick to defend, and slow to wait?  Do you know there are times that I AM THE EXACT OPPOSITE of who Jesus wants me to be?

A battle raged on Monday.  I struggled as I watched the war between my flesh and my spirit wage.  I felt like Paul, as he wrote in Romans 7, I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  In The Message, Roman 7 begins the conclusion with this:  I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? 

There are days I feel immobilized, harnessed by chains that deliberately try to mask themselves as things that will bring me joy, sustenance, justice.

I need a glass of wine so I can unwind from this hectic, crazy day.
I need to vent about this situation to my friend so she can see what I have to put up with.
I need plant some seeds of guilt so she'll know she hurt me.
I need to act "put-upon" so he'll know how much work I REALLY do.

Lovely, eh?
Here's the truth:

I don't ever want to need something to get me through a situation.  Chain.

I don't ever want to discredit someone else just because I feel the need to be vindicated, nor do I want to be be about sowing anything that the devil can twist and turn as easily as guilt.  Not only am I putting myself in the chains here, but possibly someone else.

I don't ever need to act.  I can be real.  Life is not about putting on a show. It's not about working the longest, the hardest.  It's not about measuring up, balancing scales, or checking out time cards.  It's really not about appearances at all and putting up a facade is really just another...chain.

I could be despondent right now.  I've tried for so long.  I've tried so hard.  But these chains, even if they seem to loosen at times, they still remain.  It seems as though one part of me knows what to do.  This part knows how to glorify Jesus with my actions.  It recognizes temptations.  It sees the deliberate intention to lure me away from walking the right way.  And yet, my flesh is weak.

Instead, though, I will choose not to despair.  For Paul receives an answer to his  question, Is there no one who can do anything for me?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (verse 25)

Jesus.  Grace.  Grace for me.  Grace for you.  Jesus for me.  Jesus for you.  The grace of Jesus breaks chains, restores relationships, eases anger, and defeats pride, all in spite of myself.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Worthy Woman and Words with Friends

Photo credit: Pattako
I have a very real fear of things not getting done.  If I can think of more than two things that are crucial that need to be done in an imminent time period, I start to freak out.  Literally, the tasks could take me no longer than 10 minutes each, but because they must be done NOW in my mind, my stress level begins to shoot through the roof.  I'm always afraid something might come up, more tasks will be added on, that somehow time will slip away into oblivion and I will be left with  my pants down, figuratively speaking of course.  I begin to fear that I will  never have time to rest, to quiet myself, to enjoy myself.

The fear seems to be rooted in the fact that I continue, and yes, I believe I have confessed this before, that my worth is rooted in my works.  If I drop the ball, I will look like a bad person, someone who is unorganized, someone who does NOT have it together, someone who is incapable, incomplete, and frazzled.  If I don't do something that exceeds everyone's expectations, if I don't successfully leap over every task, if I am not there to meet someone's realistic need, I have failed.  It took me awhile to get over the fact that someone else was better than me at Words with Friends on the iPhone.  Just because I didn't score two 50+ words in a row does not mean that I am not smart, worthless, or easily defeated.

Oh, how silly are you, getting riled up over a Scrabble game!  Yes, I hear you. It is silly.  It's the competitive side of me, the one with the loud voice that urges me to strive, to be the best, to not let anyone or anything stand in my way to achieving all that I think I need to achieve.  But, if you see that I can get a bit messed up in the head over a game on my iPhone, you can see how actual important things might just send me over the edge.

I am actually quite proud of myself for recognizing the destructive thought patterns that I had when  my friend kept beating me at this game.  And I realized that perhaps because I was so afraid of looking less than I am, I forgot about who I am created to be.  Truth be told, there are parts of life that I am incapable of handling on my own, but if there wasn't, I wouldn't have great friends like you to support me.  Truth be told, I am incomplete with my Savior, who rescues me from the burdens of my sins and who covers me with a love that makes me whole again.  Truth be told, if I continue on this path where my works add up to the sum of my worth, I will life live as a frazzled, run-down person.

Today, I decide that is not the life for me.

I'm linking up with Rachel Anne's Home Sanctuary and Michelle at Lost in the Prairies!  Come see all the wonderful women there.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bittersweet Simple Pleasures

It's cold here today and so I wore the scarf you see in the picture around my neck for most of the day.  To the common observer, this is an ordinary scarf, wonderfully knitted, ice-blue in color.  What makes this scarf special, however, is that it belonged to my grandmother.  It was given to her by another fallen soldier, who lost the battle with cancer.

As the girls quietly colored in the backseat on the way home from gymnastics, I drew up my shoulders, bringing the scarf as close to me as humanly possible, soaking in my grandmother's presence, and feeling grateful that I possess tangible items that she once donned herself. I have also, this hat, that she wore during some of her last days when her head was completely bald, and she wanted to forgo her wig for something easier.  On chilly evenings, I slip on her house shoes, comfortable blue and khaki slippers that she only was able to wear once or twice before she was bedridden.  As I pad around the house, I think about the walk of her life and how I aspire to take some of the same paths that she traveled as well.

While I love having these things of hers to snuggle with, to keep me warm, and while it truly is a simple pleasure to remember her and all she was, it is still bittersweet.  For as much as I love her hat, her scarf, the rings that she passed down to me, I love her more.  I yearn for her presence, for her sweet breath upon my neck, for her tender hands to caress my back and ease my burdens.  I long for the smell of her house, the sound of her voice, her arms, which no matter how frail they became physically, always had the strength to empower me, to uphold me, to support me.  In essence, I simply want her, but must make do with her earthly things until the glorious day when we are reunited again.

I'm linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures.
Project Simple Pleasures2

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood

It kinda feels like a race day today.  I have lots of anticipation -- I am so excited to see what God does here on the pages of our computers, out in the wide expanses of the Internet, gathering sisters in Christ together to encourage and love one another, all the while bringing glory to the Savior.

And that is why the name of this meme is the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.  Soli Deo Gloriais Latin for God's Glory Alone.  Really, at the heart, this isn't about the quality of our words, but about the living out of those words and finding hope and faith in Jesus.

All this to say, I'm so glad you're here.

A few housekeeping notes:

{1}  The linky tool will be open from Tuesday at 12:01 AM (Central time) to Tuesday at 11:59 PM.  Please make sure that you have linked up with the permalink and not just with your blog address (if you have questions about this, email me at jenfergie (at) me (dot) com).  This means you need to have your blog post written on your blog before you link up.  Also, if you would please grab my button and post it at the beginning or end of your post, I think (hope) it will provide an easy way for others that read your blog to join us.

{2}  The content can really be about whatever you want, but the goal is to share about something meaningful that is happening in your life.  This is designed to be a safe place where you can ask hard questions. 

{3}  I would love it if you would join with me in praying for this sisterhood -- that God would guard it fiercely, shower us with His love as we journey with Him, and open our hearts to what He would have us learn from each other.  Please try to visit as many sisters as possible so that we all know each other is reading and supporting us in our walk.

{4}  Oh!  One last thing:  If you are here and you don't have a blog or do not wish to post your heart on your blog, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.  If you would like, you can leave your email address there, too, so that we might shower you with encouragement and love that way.

Okay -- now, here is my heart (I'm going to keep this short just today since I've already kept you here with the above notes).

As some of you know, God is in the process of pruning activities from my life.  I've given up leading the women's Bible study at my church.  I have recently decided to resign from LeTourneau University as an adjunct professor.  I now delete PTA volunteer emails before reading them (shh, don't tell).  I think all of this is an effort to get as many nutrients as possible to the prize fruit that God is trying to cultivate in my heart and in my life.

I have no idea what the "prize fruit" is, really.  In reality, it could just be having the time to be a better mom.  And I know that saying "just could be" signifies that perhaps I'm not truly satisfied with that path.  Unfortunately, it may be the truth right now, not because I don't love my children, but because I have other desires in my heart as well that I would love to see come to fruition.  And perhaps there is the reason He is doing all this...

My whole life as been about what I want to be and never about who I am.  I've always been a visionary, I've always been a striver, I've always set out to prove.  It's been about me and my work and doing His work on the side.  God was my part-time job instead of my full-time focus.  This, I have found, does not work out too well for me, or my family, for that matter.

I can relate to this passage in Haggai (not in a condemning way, but a gentle convicting way):   “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house." (Haggai 1:9)

I want to start working on God's house, in His Kingdom, with no distractions of my own will and pride.  I don't want to be so busy that I miss out on His delicious plans.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

{1}  This is my first link up with Carissa at lowercase letters because I am usually not on the ball enough to get a post out early Monday morning.  However, I have bribed sweetly explained to the children that they must take a nap in order to have enough energy for trick-or-treating.  I'm sure there might be a few of you out there that used that same ploy.  Come on -- time to fess up!

{2}   I just finished making my youngest daughter's crown out of glittery scrapbook paper.  She is Glinda, the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz.  She was supposed to be a bee, but when she saw that her older sister would be wearing a sparkly blue and white gingham dress AND ruby red glitter shoes (obviously, she's Dorothy, but it is Monday so I won't make you figure it out all by yourself), it was no longer meant to bee.  (ha, ha.)

{3}  Have you ever seen a picture of yourself and thought, That's me??  That doesn't look like me!  I'm blaming the sun.  It was in my eyes and it almost took toothpicks for me to keep them open for this picture.  Here I am with my college roommates, or rather, lest you think I just look old for my age, my former college roommates.  One is still in town, but the other just moved to Wisconsin.  She's hoping that it's going to be a warm winter, being that she has lived in Texas most of her life.  Warm winter?  In Wisconsin?  I'm betting...no.  Here's the pic.  I'm in the middle.  I'm always in the middle, not because they just both want to be next to me all the time, but because, you guessed it! I'm short.
{4}  I'm starting my first meme tomorrow and I'm really very excited.  It's all about community -- a positive place for women to gather to be supported, encouraged, and loved.  If you are interested, you can read more about it here.  I even made my very own blog button All. By. Myself.  I realized that I am a very impatient person who doesn't like to follow a long list of directions.  However, when dealing with HTML code, You. Must. Follow. Directions.  Here's my new button.  Do you like?

In case you didn't take Latin, Soli Deo Gloria means For God's Glory Alone.  My sweet sister-in-law inspired the title and really, that's all  I want my life to be -- for His glory alone.  I've struggled with pride for way too long and I'm just kinda over it, ya know?

{5}  The children are up from their nap now (the oldest slept, the youngest didn't, but she did stay in her bed the whole time, so I figure that's good enough to go Trick-or Treating.  I mean, what kind of mom would I be if I made her stay home and just hand out candy??)  I'm off but I can't wait to come see what your Monday holds!  Leave a comment and I'll be sure to visit you back.