Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Satisfied?

I had expected to be pleased with the progress all along.
I had asked Him to help me, to guide my hand, to create something 
she would think beautiful.
But at seemingly every stroke, I was just never fully
satisfied.
Until...
the last word graced the wooden canvas,
until my initials were tucked into the corner.
With the last gentle nudge of the paint brush,
I sat back.
It is complete.
It is finished.
And I think,
What if I had thought it complete so many strokes ago?
What if I had been satisfied from the beginning, in the  middle, or any time before the end?
What would be missing?
The restless tweaking, refining, urging, kept me hunting
for a state of perfection, 
for the fullness of completion.
And it gives me hope for the day-to-day living,
when I look in the mirror and see this imperfect creation,
with lots of flaws,
errant strokes.
But if I was satisfied with me now,
I wouldn't be willing to continue working,
growing, 
really,
living.
For He who has started a good work in me,
will continue it through to completion.
Beholding Glory



Monday, August 29, 2011

Casting Idols & Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria.  This is a place to share what is on your mind.  It is a place where vulnerability is accepted, where heart cries are honored, where struggles are heard.  It is a place where we are unconcerned with the quality of your words, but about the state of your heart.  We are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  There is laughter.  There are tears.  There is everything in between.  No matter where you are, who you are, where you have been, I want you to know that you are in the fold and that as you leave your link, you are prayed for.  Desire more information?  Please click here for the full scoop.  

This is a growing community (Thank you, Jesus!), so please don't feel that you have to visit every single person that links up.  We are all on a time budget.  That being said, I do invite you to pray and ask God which blogs to visit simply because there may be words for you left in that place or words that God has given you to share to those specific people.  And, while you are there, as you write in the comments of another's blog, would you offer up a prayer for them?  (If you would like to be on the email list for reminders and the occasional prayer request, please let me know in the comments.)
photo source
Last week was hard.

Hannah went to kindergarten.  She had a great transition, but for me, I spent several days feeling quite aimless.
My friend's husband died.
My other friend's grandmother died.
Steve Jobs resigned from Apple and so I started to fear some instability in my husband's workplace.
We are still without rain and are continually bombarded by triple-digit heat.
My best friend is trapped in the Bahamas with the after-math of Hurricane Irene.  (update:  She and her family are back safe and sound -- praise God!!)

I'm done complaining now.  I simply tell you these things so that you know the circumstances that surround my most recent revelation:

I've been casting idols.

As I have seen health and security falter and (from my viewpoint) a lack of provision with the rain, I have started to unravel a bit.  And through a conversation with my ever-loving, gentle husband, I realize that all of the above events have shaken me so because I had been putting my hope, trust, and faith in something other than God in different areas of my life.

Who do I trust will provide for me ultimately?  Apple, Inc... or God?
Who do I trust will always be there for me, no matter what I need?  My husband and friends... or God?
Who do I trust to carry out the most perfect, redeeming plans?  Me... or God?

I have much clasped tight in these fists of mine.  I am desperately holding onto the things that seemingly make my life complete, and so, when confronted with loss or the potential of loss, I bury my head in fear and my grip tightens even more so.  My heart starts to sink.  I wander aimlessly, without purpose. Or, at other times, I start clinging to tangible things that give me temporary buoyancy in a sea of uncertainty.  And when they no longer satisfy, I sink deeper still.

I'm entering in a hard, but needed process of casting down my idols.  I am examining all of them up on the shelf and asking God how I get them down so that they never get back up there again.  I'm venturing on a another road in my faith journey and am so glad you are with me to share it...

Blessings to you, my friends.

"Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings."  ~ Victor Hugo

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A New Definition of Desert

Whenever I've heard people talk about being in a spiritual desert, my interpretation of their words led me to believe that this meant they were in a continual state of thirst.  Parched and unable to find the water needed to soothe their souls, their words sent me the message that this was no place where I ever wanted to be.  To be in a spiritual desert meant a period of life away from God and away from sustenance.  I equated it almost to being thrown to the wolves, a place where God sends us to see if we can survive.

At church today, though, God corrected my theology of what it means to be in the desert.  I have come to the realization that while the desert may not always be pleasant, it is not a place to fear.  In the desert, God is still there, as we see Jesus fortified by God's Word and by the angels sent to tend to Him when he was there for forty days.  In my Sunday school class, we are learning about desert spirituality and the practices of people who left behind all they had and headed to the desert to find God.

Just to clarify, I am not selling everything I own.  I am not forsaking my life here with my family and heading westward.  But, I do feel God calling me to a process of emptying.  When Anthony (who became one of the most well-known Desert Fathers) was in the desert, he wrestled with the temptations of the flesh, of the world.  At the end of his time there, it is said that he came back with peace and was able to be as Christ was to the world.  Just to clarify, Anthony didn't believe he was the Christ, but that he was a vessel used by God to speak to those who came to him.  One cannot be a vessel if one is full of oneself.

And this is where it all comes to a head for me -- I want to be emptied.  I want to be flushed out and detoxified.  In this process of visualizing what these early monks must have gone through in the desert, part of me has yearned for same (in a modern-day setting that includes air conditioning).  As much as I am hesitant to yield some of what is in my heart (because, let's face it, even bad habits can become comfortable), my end-all-be-all desire is to be Christ-like to the world every single day.  I cannot do this if I am full of self.  I must be emptied so that I might be refilled.

After Sunday school, I went to church, and it was there that I began the emptying process.  As we
sang Chris Tomlin's How Great Is Our God, my heart was full of conviction:

Lord, I am sorry that I have viewed life from only my perspective.
Lord, You did not promise us a life free from suffering and pain, but You promised to be with us always. I am sorry that I accused You for not upholding a promise that You never made in the first place.
Lord, I am sorry that I have made my praise conditional, that I have let my feelings of sadness trump the joy that You have placed in my heart.
Lord, I am sorry for all the things that I have held, clutched tight in my fist.  I open my hands to You.


As I confessed, I let go of the guilt and in turn, God filled me with forgiveness.  I let go of expectations that are contrary to His character and received a peace that no matter what the storm, there He will be there -- in the desert, in the blizzard, on a stormy sea, in a valley, or on a mountain top.  Wherever I go, there He is.


Linking with Michelle at Graceful and Laura at The Wellspring.  And, I would love for you to link up Monday night-Wednesday night with Soli Deo Gloria here at Finding Heaven, a place to share your heart and where you are always welcome and always prayed for...

Also, my Sunday school teacher rocks, so you can visit Annie here.








Photo source

Friday, August 26, 2011

5 Minute Friday: Older


5 Minute Friday Rules:
    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Get a little crazy with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes for the prompt:

Older…

photo source

Go.

I almost just closed the computer.  Something about "old" makes me do that.  I'm not sure why I have such a problem with the continual years that creep up on me.  I've been so used to being the "baby" of my group of friends that perhaps I just enjoyed that space and time in my life a little too much.

But the truth is, maybe the number is catching up with who I really am, who I have always been.  I've never really just acted my age, even as a little girl.  I've pretty much built my life around being the grown-up, trying to be really wise, trying to manage everything that comes my way.

And so this week, even though I had pledged to allow myself sometime to play while the children were back at school, I have been stuck in "older."  I have been stuck acting my age -- responsible, mature, taking care of business.  Even when there wasn't work, I made some.  Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed rearranging my pantry and tupperware cabinet, but was there rest in that?

In my 33 years, I still don't know what it means to rest, even after a year of God talking to me about it.  Sure, I think I have more head knowledge, but it hasn't settled into the recesses of my heart and so I am not compelled to take part in it.

I want to get to the place where it's not work to rest, where it's not work to play.  I still have much to learn as I grow older, but learn to live younger.

Stop.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On Providing Nourishment

Have you ever just craved nourishment?  How do you get it physically, emotionally, spiritually?  Because I have these questions and I want answers, I've asked a series of people to come in and share how they find nourishment.  Will you come along for the journey?  We will meet here every Thursday until the posts  run out.  Have something to share about nourishment?  Contact me and we will set a date!

Meet Theresa.  Every single time I go to her blog, I am fed.  She is one, filled with the Holy Spirit, that touches me gracefully. I pray that her words about nourishment would touch your soul as well...

It’s mid-morning and all four children are playing together – the kind of play you just want to leave alone because you don’t see it often enough. 

All too often I feel like I’m fighting for my time while my children are demanding it. Most mornings, I wake up before the rest of the house and take time for myself with prayer and devotion. Then, I’ll get started on one of my projects, such as, writing, photo editing, digital scrap booking, etc. yet, I haven’t given myself that distinct stopping point. I shamefully cringe at the sound of a waking child, quietly begging, "Not yet, I'm not ready!" There are times I, admittedly, attend to the basic needs of the children all the while stealing time away to continue that project throughout the day. In this case, my children are not my first priority and as a result, before too long, I have needy, whiny, nagging chaos.
  
Recently, my husband gave me a day for myself. It was a nice break! When I returned, everyone was content. My husband said the kids did great – and that we would be having company over for dinner.

My attention went quickly from, “hello,” to scoping out a messy house, to unloading bags, to what we were preparing for dinner, and then on to our company – and without thinking, I had pushed my children off the rest of the evening. Need I mention, they were off the wall loud, whiny, needy…you name it! My husband commented, at one point, on their behavior. I thought for a moment then concluded, "Our children are simply reflecting our parenting tonight."

When I see behavioral issues with my children, I need to take a good look at myself first and ask, “Have I attended to their needs properly?”

We don't give birth to crazy, off the wall, misbehaved children. We birth children who were simply created with a need for love and attention, whether it is encouraging attention or disciplinary. When we don't show them proper attention, they cry out for it by acting out, nagging, whining, and arguing.

I think sometimes we forget that because we feel entitled to our adult time or simply our time.

But, here is what I have learned over the years:

When we start our day, event, whatever it may be; when we intentionally attend to our children first, they will generally give us more time than we need. We don't have to fight for our time when they feel loved and attended to. I am amazed how they will play together, color, or work contently on a project once I have taken time out for their morning routine and they have fully and presently been attended to.

For us this means seeing the world through their eyes, being in-tune to their hearts, and parenting them like they really matter – more than our friends, our hobbies, our careers, our opportunities; they matter. 

Monte Swan, author of Romancing Your Child’s Heart says,

“Too often we rush in, caught up in the busyness and complexity of life, expecting our children to follow the timetable of our particular romance agenda. It’s like planting seeds out of season in soil that’s untilled and not fertile. Whether we like it or not, there’s a window of opportunity for romance that’s open for a specific time – and then it closes.”

Even when it appears that we, as parents, are doing all the right things, it can be draining and frustrating still to battle misbehavior. Yet, when it comes to our children, let us be determined to win their hearts. It may take a moment with one, and yet a whole day with another. In other circumstances it may take more time and more drastic measures, but to reach their heart is where nourishment takes root. And when they feel nourished, they feel loved. When they feel loved, they’ll take off and soar full of healthy energy, rather than depleting ours.

 We have a key to parenting, right in our back pocket, and if we choose to use it, it works.

That key is labeled nourishment.

This morning I simply closed my project in enough time to prepare for waking children. I was fully present to each one; we went on a morning walk around the neighborhood and home again for a snack. And then they disappeared into glorious cooperative, imaginative play – and isn’t that what every mama dreams of?

What other ways do you provide nourishment for your child/children?

Is there anything in your life causing you to steal time away from giving your child/children the proper daily nourishment they need?

How will you be intentional about giving them nourishment now that school is starting and schedules are changing?

Other great links I hope you’ll check out:


Want to know Theresa better?  Click here... to subscribe to and/or follow her blog, Heavenly Glimpses.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Channelling My Inner Bob Ross

Bob Ross, the happy cloud painter,
always making it look so easy.
And yet, for me, it's not.
A constant struggle, me and this paintbrush,
The vision in my head, perfect,
and yet, my hand fails me.
My mind starts whispering...

How could you even think...?

My wish is to automatically behold
a finished piece of perfection.
I cannot bear to understand this in between stage of
building.
growing.
the painting, in the process of perfecting...we have a long way to go
embellishing.
Perhaps to not be able to produce
instantaneous perfection just elicits
my feelings of continual
inadequacy, a deep fear of
FAILURE.
Because if I don't get it right the first time,
will I ever get it right at all?

And yet, in painting, in life,
Isn't it the process of perfectING,
not the process of perfectED?

It is just like me.
I cry out,
can't we be done yet?
must we keep with this
building?
growing?
embellishing?
Must my flesh continue to fail me,
even though my heart yearns
for obedience to One?

No matter how much I strive
to open my eyes and be
everything that I always have imagined,
the process must be more important
than whatever goal I have envisioned,
this perfectING process
that pulls me closer to the Savior that is the
embodiment of all I ache for.

And so, I lift up my paintbrush,
I lift up my flesh,
as an offering,
a promise,
to continue on this journey of
building.
growing.
embellishing,
for if I choose to abandon hope,
for if I choose to lay down the paintbrush,
for if I choose to crouch down in fear,
I will be choosing death,
the antithesis of what He has planned.

May I honor Life.





And 

StudioJRU

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happiness vs. Joy

I'm over at Blissfully Domestic again.  Will you join me over there to discuss happiness vs. joy?  Here's a little teaser to lure you over that way...


Just like Ren and Stimpy’s “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy” song, we often figure that these two words go hand in hand (and after I looked up the lyrics to the verses, I don’trecommend YouTubing the song).  Even the dictionary names the words “happy” and “joy” as synonyms for each other.  And yet, the Bible seems to focus much more on joy than it does happiness.  According to Biblegateway, in the New International Version of the Bible, the word joy (or some form of it) is mentioned 244 times.  The word “happy?”  A mere 20.

To continue reading, please click here...

Comments turned off here so we can all converse together over there.

Photo source here

Monday, August 22, 2011

Big Enough and Soli Deo Gloria

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria.  This is a place to share what is on your mind.  It is a place where vulnerability is accepted, where heart cries are honored, where struggles are heard.  It is a place where we are unconcerned with the quality of your words, but about the state of your heart.  We are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  There is laughter.  There are tears.  There is everything in between.  No matter where you are, who you are, where you have been, I want you to know that you are in the fold and that as you leave your link, you are prayed for.  Desire more information?  Please click here for the full scoop.  

This is a growing community (Thank you, Jesus!), so please don't feel that you have to visit every single person that links up.  We are all on a time budget.  That being said, I do invite you to pray and ask God which blogs to visit simply because there may be words for you left in that place or words that God has given you to share to those specific people.  And, while you are there, as you write in the comments of another's blog, would you offer up a prayer for them?  (If you would like to be on the email list for reminders and the occasional prayer request, please let me know in the comments.)
The  morning began with excitement, curiosity, and a dose of nervousness.  But we were doing good.  We were moving along.  It's the first day of school and Hannah was ready for kindergarten.

And then...

Putting on our backpacks, heading out the door, I hear her say softly:

I wish Grannie was here to see me go to Kindergarten.

And I wonder, did I let something slip?  Or does she just intrinsically feel my grief?  Or is she really just that bonded to the great-grandmother that held her close at every chance she had?

And we go to school and there are no tears, just a hand clasped tightly to her daddy's.  She puts on a brave face, finds her cubby, and sits down in her chair, ready to color the happy frog laid out on her desk.

I make it home, go for a run. I absorb the silence of the empty house upon my return, but I'm not as happy as I thought I would be.  There's a hole, an emptiness that I'm not yet certain how to fill.  I'm locked into this place of unknown identity and I find myself grasping at all things tangible just so I can hold it together.

As I sit outside with my bowl of cereal, my phone begins to ring and in the span of 30 minutes, my world is crashed by new waves of grief.  My friend's husband, who was a mere 49 years old, has died of a massive heart attack.  And, my other friend calls.  Her grandmother has just slipped into a coma and she knows the end is near.

It's almost so much that my heart swells with the enormity of their grief and of my own and I compile it with the state of our nation, the dryness of our land, and I cannot even cry because I'm just too
overwhelmed by it all.

Where are You?

I go to the bathroom in which I am about to start cleaning and there is the bracelet that I received only a week or so ago.  It's the bracelet that reads, "God is Big Enough."

And in that flesh, broken-down moment, I whisper,

Are You?

And I feel so guilty for questioning, but the reality of my thoughts just escaped.  And I suppose He would know them anyway, had I not said it out loud.  And it's just one of those things that in the moment, my fears and my heartache seem so big that I let them dwarf my faith.  I let them dwarf my God.

And I whisper, I'm sorry, but in the same breath, like a little child, I whisper...

Will You show me just how big You are?  I need desperately to see You, to feel You, because I am weak and You, yes You, are strong.

And my brokenness is all I have to offer today, my friends.  But it is a brokenness with hope that, yes, God is big enough.

Also linking with Shanda today...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Caught Unaware

She's going to miss her first day of Kindergarten.

I laid in bed Saturday night, lamenting that my grandmother isn't going to be here to see Hannah go to kindergarten.  Well, honestly, if she was alive, she still wouldn't see Hannah arrive in her new classroom, being that she lived in Florida and we are in Texas.  But, regardless of our distance, she would hear me talking about it.  And, perhaps what I crave most, I will be denied, for what I desperately want is to hear her sweet, scratchy voice tell me that it is all just going to be okay.

Because sometimes, I just need a grannie to tell me everything's going to be alright.

And then, fast forward to this morning:

I'm in a new church,
invited here by my sweet sister-in-law and her husband,
we go to pass the peace and behind us is my husband's old boss and his family.
I think of all the churches, of all the services at this church, of all the rows, of all the seats,
they are right here behind us.
Are you doing something, Lord?
Is there more forgiveness to be spoken or a friendship to be rekindled?
And the next song comes on and my thoughts instantly break from this
and I am reduced nearly to a puddle because what the band is playing,
in the true hymn form --
How Great Thou Art.
And this, my friends, is one of my grandmother's very favorite songs.
The same grandmother whose absence I am lamenting, mourning, missing so deeply.
I am awash in grief, wanting to burst from the room and let my anguish explode,
but instead my legs just start to shake because I am only letting the tears creep out
one by one.
And yet, as I pull myself together, I hear the words that she would say to me, albeit a different form, but the meaning still the same:

How great Thou art.


When I consider everything that You are, O Lord, when I consider every promise You have made to me and to my family, when I look at the losses and how your redeeming power has overcome, I stand back and say...

You are great.
You are mighty.
In everything, I can see Your hand moving, protecting, creating, if I would just look,
if I would just surrender,
if I would get outside myself,
I could see that I can trust You in Your entirety.
I can trust You with life plans, with my heartbreaks.
I can trust You in sending my little baby into the halls of her new school.
How great You are that I can live without fear.
How great You are that I can walk in assurance of unconditional love.
How great You are that I can lose someone so vital to my existence and still stand to praise You for all things.
How great You are.
How great Thou art.
Linking with Michelle at Graceful...
And Laura at The Wellspring...




Don't forget...I would love for you to share your heart with us at
Soli Deo Gloria, starting Monday night at 8pm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

5 Minute Friday: New

Meet the Teacher Night
New...


This newness could make me a blubbering mess because, even though I've put on a brave face, the truth is that part of me is dreading this new transition.  And, really, it's not much to dread.  I mean, it's...

Kindergarten.

But not just kindergarten.  It's kindergarten for...

my youngest child.

Which means, no kids left at home between the hours of 7:15 and 2:45.

And what is a mama to do when the youngest goes?  Do I mourn?  Do I feel anxious?  Do I wonder how this new phase of life might shift my identity?

Yes.

There is a lot of new for her.

There is a lot of new for me.

And I must admit, I think we both have a case of butterflies in our tummies.  Because although new can be exciting and fresh and a whole new adventure, for those of us who are not so adventurous, new can be scary, a little nerve-wracking, a whole lot of intimidating.

It's time to embrace the new -- whatever it holds for us out there.  But lucky for us "new" is not in charge.

Jesus is.

And since He is King about  making all things new, I think we'll both be okay.


Want to learn more about this link-up and the fun set of rules we follow?
Click here.

And linking up for the first time at Beholding Glory
  Beholding Glory
Also linking to Caffeinated Randomness and  Home Sanctuary!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Kick-Off: Nourishment

Have you ever just craved nourishment?  How do you get it physically, emotionally, spiritually?  Because I have these questions and I want answers, I've asked a series of people to come in and share how they find nourishment.  Will you come along for the journey?  We will meet here every Thursday until the posts  run out.  Have something to share about nourishment?  Contact me and we will set a date!


Meet Shanda.  This is a Godly women how has been all over the world.  She is a writer and a speaker who has such an amazingly tender heart for God and His Word. Here are her words...


You know the feeling when you are at your limit.  You cannot put one foot in front of another and all you want to do is go home to an empty house, take a bath and sleep?  The exhaustion is so physical and mental that it has become spiritual?


It is like mile twenty of a marathon when you hit the wall.  Your body is depleted of all energy and you are at the point of passing out.  All the carbohydrates you consumed the pre-race week have been used up. At that point, it is only your determination that keeps you going. 

How fitting it is that Jen should ask me to begin her series of nourishment when I am at the point of malnourishment.  It didn’t take long to get here.  With missing only a few days of my quiet time with God, the stress of seeing my family off to places around the world and committing to a bit more than normal on my plate, I am starving. I am not craving the corporate worship form attending church tomorrow, but craving time alone with God, away from all personal interaction, to just dwell in his presence; to lie down in green pastures and drink from the streams of living water.

Too often we rely on a good Sunday worship service or our weekly bible study to keep us going. Yet, if we want to flourish, we need to come daily to drink from the streams of living water.  Observing the flow is not enough, we need to partake of it. If we truly hunger and thirst for righteousness we will come daily into his presence.

Just as it only takes a runner about three hours to become depleted of nourishment, so it is with our spiritual lives.  We need a continual source of God and His Word to keep growing in our faith and our walk with God.

Not only do runners hit the wall at times, but they can also suffer from dehydration and this can be dangerous. I have felt my spiritual life seriously dehydrated.

So, to begin the series on nourishment, I speak, to myself as much as anyone else, of the need to daily come before the throne of God and spend time in his presence.  Only then, can we be sufficiently nourished so as to not grow weary or our have leaves wither.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.  Psalm 1:1-3

Let us do whatever it takes to run the race well and to finish strong.

You can visit Shanda at A Pause on the Path for more inspiring, heartfelt words...
Isn't she beautiful??
Want to know Shanda better?  Click here to visit her blog, A Pause on the Path, to subscribe to and/or follow her blog.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Word: Fire


I lay in my bed.
Convicted.
I don't pray enough for my husband.
How can I pray for him beyond...
keep him healthy.
keep him safe.
draw him to You, O Lord.

And in the darkness, the Lord whispers to me:

fire

And my belly grows warm,
my heart begins to flutter.

fire

fire for my husband,
an undiminished flame
that will not be snuffed out,
blown out,
extinguished,
living in him,
burning in him

so that

he would be
a light for the world
but also
a light for himself,
not constantly squelching
his own flame
with self-doubt,
a fear of failure,
remorse or regret.

fire

a flame that starts and ends with You,
O Lord,
that can be nurtured and fanned
by your Holy Spirit
unending,
unceasing,
because You are the giver of good gifts,
because You take up residence in him,
because You who started a good work in him
will continue it to the end.

fire

who says you can't pray in poetry?

linking with emily at imperfect prose


and Dayle with Simple Pleasures because praying for my husband IS a simple pleasure!
Project Simple Pleasures2
Photo source

Monday, August 15, 2011

Emptiness & Soli Deo Gloria Gathering

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria.  This is a place to share what is on your mind.  It is a place where vulnerability is accepted, where heart cries are honored, where struggles are heard.  It is a place where we are unconcerned with the quality of your words, but about the state of your heart.  We are a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  There is laughter.  There are tears.  There is everything in between.  No matter where you are, who you are, where you have been, I want you to know that you are in the fold and that as you leave your link, you are prayed for.  Desire more information?  Please click here for the full scoop.  

This is a growing community (Thank you, Jesus!), so please don't feel that you have to visit every single person that links up.  We are all on a time budget.  That being said, I do invite you to pray and ask God which blogs to visit simply because there may be words for you left in that place or words that God has given you to share to those specific people.  And, while you are there, as you write in the comments of another's blog, would you offer up a prayer for them?  (If you would like to be on the email list for reminders and the occasional prayer request, please let me know in the comments.)


It's the end of summer.

Are any of you running on empty?

This morning (I'm writing this on Sunday), I found myself a wee bit...grumpy.  My husband returned home from his business trip on Saturday afternoon (I feel strongly that business travel should be banned the last month of summer) and I just kept waiting.  Waiting to be magically refilled?  Waiting to waited on?  Waiting to step into replenishment and out of this dry desert?

Whatever I was waiting for didn't materialize, hence the grumpiness on Sunday morning.

As I got ready for church, I thought about the possibility of receiving nourishment in that space, in that time with Jesus.  And then I thought to myself, But church is a time to worship God, a time to give back to Him.  It's not all about what I need.

And then I thought, What if in my worship of Him, I find myself refilled?  

What if in the giving, I receive?  What if the act of focusing on something other than my own feelings, breeds something that will soothe my soul?  For when I worship the Author of my salvation, the Restorer of hope, the Giver of everlasting life and love, does He not shower me back with all of those things in that moment of offering?

The song, I Will Give You All My Worship, began to play as I stood in that church pew and I was literally compelled to raise my hands.  My smile spread bigger than my face could contain.  And as I lavished love on Him, offering every single bit of myself, I felt filled with His love at the same time. Living into the fullness of what I was created to do -- there was fulfillment.  

The fulfillment that my heart longed for could not be satisfied with food.  It wasn't in acts of service by my husband.  It wasn't even a break from my kids.  The fulfillment was simply found in the act of raising my hands, lifting my voice, and the offering of praise.

Photo source here

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saying Thanks on an Ordinary Day

It was just the two of us.

A rare moment alone, when we could speak in full sentences (paragraphs, even!) without interruption.  A time when we could pause to ponder and not lose the train of thought.  Two hours when we could really see each other.

As the kids played on The Plaza with my cousins, my husband and I sat on a rooftop deck, drinks in hand, relishing every tick of the clock.  And it was in those moments, moments that he heard me, moments that he spoke to my heart, moments when loved rushed through me just by looking into his eyes, that I experienced a sense of gratitude that I had not felt in a very long time.

Kids posing for photos for my cousins.
We have been married for eleven years, but it was this time, sitting on the deck, peering out through the green, leafy trees, that I felt as though we had just met.  I was transported to that time of new wonder, of butterfly excitement, of an intentionality that just seems to fade sometimes as the years pass on.

The gratitude welled inside me like an undiscovered spring, thanking God that He knew what was best, that He is a sustainer, that He is alive and well in our union.



I love him.
I love Him.
He loves Him.

Something majestic in this triangle of love.  Something so honorable and so pleasing.  While there is not perfection, there is a love that passes all understanding.  We daily have to work on this 1 Corinthians 13 type of love, but in the moments when I see the fruit of all this hard work, when I can sit back and revel in mystery of it, when I can let it wash over me like a refreshing wave, I am buoyed beyond measure.

A simple thank you to my husband, on this ordinary day, weeks after this precious date.  Thank you for all that you are and all that you do.

Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for loving our children.
Thank you for loving Him.

Linking with Michelle at Graceful.


Don't forget!  Soli Deo Gloria link up goes live Monday night at 8pm CST.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

How Do You Leave A Faith Legacy?

My newest Blissfully Domestic article is up and I am really craving some new ways in which you share your faith and leave a faith legacy with your children.  If you have a moment, would you please share with us over at Blissfully Domestic.

Here's a teaser:


What is the legacy of faith that you wish to impart to your children?  Did you realize that the handing down of your faith to your children is a gift?  As with any gift, there is a level of effort involved in the act of giving.  The effort you extend in bequeathing this gift can be directly relational to how much of it your child truly cherishes and internalizes it.

The last few weeks I’ve been reading through 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Old Testament of the Bible.  Each new king of Judah is introduced with either “He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight” or “He did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight.”  Before I come upon a new king’s name, I automatically tense:  Will this be a good king or a bad king?

What pierces my soul over and over again is how some of the sons of the kings that follow God wholeheartedly are the ones that do the most evil in the LORD’s sight.  I think to myself, “How can this be?”  What does it take to impart our faith into the hearts of our children?

To finish reading, please click here.

Comments turned off here so you can leave one over there if you have a second or two...

Friday, August 12, 2011

5 Minute Friday: Beauty


From the Gypsy Mama:
Want to take five minutes with me and share what you found? Want to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. Here’s how we do it:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my right side bar}
3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes for the prompt:

Beauty…

GO.

I saw the word and immediately my heart started to flutter.  Maybe flutter isn't even the right word...it grew heavy, tight.  What is it about the word beauty that sends me into a tizzy?

I can talk all day about the beauty of the soul, about creation, about how the face alights when the Holy Spirit shines through with grace and love.  I can see beauty in my kids and I can honestly look in the mirror on some days, when the hair is right, when the make-up is on, when my clothes fit just so, and declare that there is a form of beauty there...

But it always seems so fleeting.  Even the beauty of the inside-kind.  My heart grows dark, my spirit grows weary, my bad habits and sinful tendencies seem to be able to wash beauty away in an instantaneous moment....when I'm not even aware that is going to happen.

Perhaps I have always equated beauty with perfection...moments in time when all the world seems right, when things are smooth, when hope and joy are in abundance.

But maybe beauty can live in chaos.  Maybe beauty can live in pain.  Maybe beauty can live in me, despite me.

STOP.

My beautiful grandmother I just got back from visiting...
Linking with the Gypsy Mama.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Surrender Me

It's starting to seep into my bones.
Weariness?
Fatigue?
Longing for a moment, or maybe more than just
one.

But it's not this feeling,
that I am at the end of myself,
the notion that at any minute,
bitterness and short-tempered reactions
will consume me and explode outwardly.
It's not that I feel broken,
or even that I need to escape.

No, here in my heart,
a result of a recent conviction that perhaps
I can do better,
I can be better,
for my children,
for my husband,
this striving not from a place that longs
for perfection,
but that yearns for love,
that yearns to love,
that yearns to depend on the God
that first loved me.

It is the surrender that seeps,
into my bones, into my heart, into my mind,
that yes. Yes.
This is the way,
to walk in love.
To be cognizant of my tone,
of the state of my heart,
to forgive, to build up, to look forward with hope.
Not counting the days left,
or looking forward to the future because of the promises
hidden there.
No, it is being content in the present,
gratitude for the moment,
looking up instead of in.

Linking with the beautiful Emily at Imperfect Prose.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Breaking Down Walls, Opening Doors, and Soli Deo Gloria

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria.  Really, welcome.

I pray as you enter here, you feel overwhelmingly invited.  Soli Deo Gloria is a community of women that seek to encourage, support, love each other with our words.  There is laughter.  There are tears.  There is everything in between.  No matter where you are, who you are, where you have been, I want you to know that you are in the fold.  For more information about this community, please click here.  

This is a growing community (Thank you, Jesus!), so please don't feel that you have to visit every single person that links up.  We are all on a time budget.  That being said, I do invite you to pray and ask God which blogs to visit simply because there may be words for you left in that place or words that God has given you to share to those specific people.  Also, if you would like to be on the email list for reminders and the occasional prayer request, please let me know in the comments.  There have been so amazing ways that God has been working through prayer through these precious ladies.  Blessings to you.

Photo source
Clearly last week, I needed to vent.  This week, as I write my post, I am sequestered in a Starbucks and the only person for whom I am responsible is moi.  Sometimes a girl just needs to be alone, even if it's alone in a crowded place.

On Sunday at She Speaks, we met back together with our speaker eval groups.  Our Proverbs 31 facilitator was LuAnn Prater (who is just filled with infinite amounts of awesomeness).  As she handed back Saturday afternoon's evaluation forms, she spoke words from the Holy Spirit over each one of us.

Of course, when she came to me, tears had already filled me eyes.  What would she say?  My heart on the line, my ears carefully attuned, my eyes flitting between her mouth and her eyes, I prayed that I would receive her words.  Of all that she said, these three things rooted in my heart:

(Paraphrasing, of course)

1. Your talk yesterday penetrated my soul.  (Because who doesn't love a compliment?)
2.  Your ministry is about tearing down walls.
3.  God is going to open doors you didn't even know existed.

Walls.

Doors.

For the past two weeks, these words have been floating in and out of my mind.  I think about the passion that God has given me to create a community of women where we are not afraid to open the door to vulnerability with God and with each other.  I've been thinking about how opening doors and tearing down walls are both about eliminating barriers between us and God, and/or allowing Him to remove barriers that exist in our relationships here on this earth.

Hence, the new tagline.  Finding Heaven...opening doors to grace.  

Finding God, finding sanctuary, finding sabbath, finding heaven requires us to open the doors of our hearts.  Doors we have kept closed and locked and hidden.  And yet, they are doors that lead to grace.  So often, we keep the walls in place and the doors closed because if they fall, if they open, we might lose control.  We might be confronted with things that we do not want to see.  But if we come to the realization that on the other side, we will fall on the sweet relief of the grace of Jesus, perhaps opening the door or tearing down the wall isn't as scary as we thought it would be.

The walls don't have to protect us.  Jesus does.
We don't have to be in control at every turn.  Jesus is.
We don't have to shut out, shut down, or hide away that which we don't want anyone to see. Jesus is bigger than the biggest secret.  He's stronger than the strongest stronghold.  He's more merciful than you can imagine.

Will you fall through the door that leads to grace?