Monday, April 30, 2012

Duped and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

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I opened the bag of fresh, new strawberries.  Ruby red and smelling delicious, I took the knife to cut off the top and as soon as knife met strawberry I knew something was wrong.

What should have felt firm felt mushy.  I slice through and the ugly truth reveals itself:

This strawberry had rotted from the inside out.  I had been duped.
How many things in our lives look good from the outside, but when we dig beyond that thin outer layer, all you find is rottenness?
Do you have something red that is really brown?
Do you have something that looks like life, but it's really death in disguise?

I do.

A few days ago, Abby was home sick after a night of throwing up every 15 minutes for about 7 hours straight.  The day was spent frantically trying to serve, clean, play, and finish up loose ends everywhere.

This frantic is the color brown.  From the outside, it looked red.  I was doing what any good mama would do, but the whole time, trying to do so many things at once, trying to live into so many roles, trying to fill so many expectations (especially the ones I hold for myself), I felt rotten to the core.

There was no joy.

The frantic life filled with lots of obligations, nurturings, and adventure may look red on the outside, but for this girl, it only leads to decay.  It's not how I'm built.  It's not how God made me to operate.  For me, the frantic life leads to pride, self-reliance, and a self-worth that is built on the opinions of other people.

If that's not rotten brown, I don't know what is.
I've gotten better at cutting back, saving my energy and nutrients for the prize fruits, but I still have a hard time being fully present in whatever the moment may hold, looking for the little gifts that sustain, that serve to be love notes dropped down from Heaven.  I tend to see what wasn't accomplished instead of what was.

To live into red, it's the daily habit of choosing to engage in what He gives me, whether I like it at first sight or not.  It's savoring the moment and not wasting the second.  It's about being intentional in relationships, in writing, in rest.

And so I pray that what is rotten will be cast out and that red will overtake, that life would flourish and flourish abundantly.  I pray that we would have eyes to see, really see, what births life and what leads to demise.  And I pray that we would cling to the Life Giver every second of every day.  

My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty,
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.
Psalm 131: 1-3

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  1. I walked in tension between brown and red most of today--it truly felt like a battle. You know that old hymn,"I Need Thee Every Hour?" Some days, it's minute by minute.

  2. Once someone brought a whole crate of strawberries to my husband at work. He brought them home. I was going to make jelly from some of them, going to eat the rest. One of the kids took a bite and there was a worm in the very middle. The great majority of the crate was wormy!!! I have been like those berries. I know I have let things eat at me from the inside out at times.

    Made 48 jars of jam this year. No worms :)

  3. Oh yes...receive what is given whether I like it or not...learning to live in each moment we have. Ann says...the remedy is in the retina...may we have new eyes to see sweet sister. Blessings to you Jen.

  4. Ugh ... don't like it when that happens! Even today, as I checked on our FIRST garden patch, I was so excited, I noticed some pretty squash growing and then ... then I realized that on the inside there worms!

    don't be so hard on yourself :)

    However, I can see the spritual relation here. The friut has beauty, but beauty isn't really about what is on the outside, for if it isn't good on the inside then it's not good at all.

    Hope your daughter is feeling all better :)

    Thanks for the SDG Community link up. I enjoy 'meeting' other women who love the Lord in blogshere.


  5. I could so identify with this, and some days there is much more brown than red, but He is faithful to help me through each moment, to help me learn even in the brown.

  6. "It's savoring the moment and not wasting the second."
    I so get this, Jen. Sigh. I want to do this much better.

  7. so....everywhere i read tonight has been challenging. think i will go to bed so i can wake up red!

  8. I'm praying this with you...for eyes to see what births life...

  9. i'm liking up for the first time and interested in the community.

  10. *linking, it would help to proofread before i publish...

  11. "I pray that we would have eyes to see, really see, what births life and what leads to demise." What a beautiful prayer. Thank you so much!

  12. Be sure your little one has some Gater-aid or something like it to keep her from being dehydrated. We all get pukey at times, and when I get that way, rest is what I need. Hope all is well with you and your babies.

  13. Beautiful words. May I too be happy with what He gives me today and each day.

  14. Oh friend -- yes. I know this. I have been this.
    Trying to be too many things, and doing none of the ones that truly, forever matter, well. *sigh*

    Insightful, and painful. *hugs*

  15. "To live into red, it's the daily habit of choosing to engage in what He gives me, whether I like it at first sight or not." Nicely said, Jen!

  16. This is a great message, with a great analogy to go with it! How many things look good from the outside, but are rotten on the inside? Wonderful words to ponder, Jen!

  17. Yes. Exactly how I've been feeling lately.

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  19. (oops, I made a booboo. needed to edit it)
    Jen, this is SO good! Wonderful post, with a SO IMPORTANT key insight: how false the idea that the frantic life is the fruitful life. This may be the destructive lie that has duped more of us well-meaning women of today than any other one. May God bless you richly with freedom and rest in His love, and your little one with renewed health.

  20. Pray...being quiet and still...being intentional and living in the moments that GOD gives, oh how I need to keep reigning in my wandering thoughts back to this truth.

  21. HI Jen - here's to digging out the brown and letting the red of life flourish. Great post :)
    God bless

  22. I have run (is there any other way?) down the road of frantic too. It leads me to the exact same location. I suffer with brown. Praying for beautiful balance, God's timing and plans and really living every moment. Fully present. All red and shiny. :) And I love strawberries! I think I will gather the sons and go strawberry picking very soon after reading this post! :)

  23. Definitely suffer with the brown.... good motivation to go for the shiny red goodness! :)

  24. You've exposed a big lie we tell ourselves, Jen!

    The lie that to be frantic means I am being very fruitful and feeling very important, indeed. We kid ourselves when we note that we are the only ones who can take of so very much.

    You reminded me that just this December I had to take a couple of days to concentrate on my daughter because she had all four very impacted wisdom teeth out, and was staying with us. It has been years since I have tended to a sick child (she's 24). Initially, I was thrilled to know I was now free to tend to her, since I work from home. However, I found myself trying to multitask, not paying the attention to her she needed, and feeling irritated at having to be taken from my to-do's.

    Ow. I color that dark brown.

    Fortunately, God poked me hard and reminded me to be grateful for the circumstances that allowed me to minister to her, and for a daughter who looked to me for help and comfort and a super-sized portion of good old fashioned mom love.

    Bright red shiny, happy goodness. :-)

  25. One of the items on my "list" today is to go to the farmers' market and buy strawberries. I'm going to be looking at the differently now. Thank you, my friend :)

  26. Wonderful post Jen as always I am blessed by you!

  27. A post that touches my heart, because I know I struggle with the brown, when I desire the red.

  28. What a great analogy! Man can be like whited sepulchers on the outside, but rotting within. Thankfully, believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit, if we would only yield to Him.
    God bless,

  29. Expectations smother me more than I'd like to admit. So sorry about the sick child! Hope all is well now and you are living in the red again.

  30. Living in the red.. I love that thought. When I was little, my mom used to say, "Make it a red-letter day,"- our code for stick next to Jesus today- because in the Bible I grew up with all of HIS WORDS were in red :) Hope everyone is healthy again at your house today.

  31. I'm hoping your girl feels better! Those days are so hard. When the unexpected takes us to a place of slowing, the world just doesn't get it. It keeps on its spinning :). Lovely analogy, Jen. I'm waiting for the good juicy strawberries of summer.

  32. I totally get this, Jen - we struggle with such similar issues: balance, doing, living in the moment. And yeah, I think I am *better* but nowhere near where I'd like to be. I love what Alicia says above, "Make it a red letter day!" I think I may need to adopt that as my mantra!

  33. Such a great post, Jen. I love your use of the strawberry. Hope your sweet girl is feeling better. Blessings!

  34. Beautiful metaphor, Jen! I love the passage you ended with. "I have stilled and quieted my soul." That just sounds so, so wonderful.

  35. I understand so well, Jen. I am no good in the frantic spaces either, and I am notorious for getting stuck on all I didn't accomplish at the end of a day. Praying your girl is feeling better, and that all your strawberries come up firm and ripe and red all the way through! =)

  36. And I pray that we would cling to the Life Giver every second of every day.....this is my prayer too! Thanks for sharing! Patsy from

  37. I'm praying these things with you. To start looking at what I've accomplished instead of what's left to do. Grace, enough for each day.


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