Sunday, June 17, 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Spring Is Such A Maiden

Old Man Winter is not letting go without a fight this year.  Yesterday afternoon I was rejoicing to see that, except for the remains of the few largest, plowed-up heaps, the front yard snow was gone.  A couple of hours later, it was already covered in fresh white, with howling winds driving snow on what looked just like a raging winter storm.  Oh well, Spring can't be too far away.

Maiden Spring.  

People often think of "maidens" as delicate, timid, fragile. But I have known maidens who are full of energy, tenacious, strong, full of joy and unquenchable optimism, vitality.  Full of strength and gentleness.  Maidens who are forces to be reckoned with.  I was such a maiden.  

Spring is such a maiden.  

Friday, March 9, 2018

Loud

Revolutionary-feeling thought today: Christian culture so often dwells on the things we can't do freely in our society. We lament there's no prayer allowed in schools, bewail the unconscionable separation between church and state, or rail about people being too easily offended by Christianity.

What if
we stopped lamenting and bewailing and railing?
What if
we led by example, boldly starting and leading the prayer instead of waiting to be led?
What if
we participated in government as our consciences dictated, but went ahead and asked for Holy Spirit power to live out our faith with consistency across the divides?
What if
instead of railing about pansy feelings, we purposed ourselves to become unoffendable people?

Our kids have full freedom to pray in school or wherever they might want to. But we have to teach them and show them that in order for that to happen, they must initiate the praying. They can't wait for someone to tell them to do it--they must become the praying people. Our government doesn't have a beautiful track record for acting on its founding Biblical principles; if anything, those principles have been misapplied and used for evil. We have to live out the upside-down Kingdom, declaring through our integrity that His ways solve problems at their roots. We are just as easily offended by cultural issues as a wiccan witnessing kids praying around a flagpole. Except, get this: as Christians we're called to LOVE those who hate us, to PRAY FOR those who persecute us! And so our offense is uglier. Our offense has farther-reaching consequences. As ambassadors of the King of kings, we have way, way more authority than we realize--and when we use our authority wrongly, the consequences are much, much more weighty.

Test your faith. Apply it. Strengthen it. Exercise it. Live it out loud, like your faith matters.

Your faith matters.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Just Write

It is 6:05.  In the evening.  Prime time.  

And I am holed up in the guest room--Oh, look at my guest room!  In the last-published post it was the "office-guest-craft-stash it room".  We have turned a new leaf, and now I come in here sometimes just to stand in a quiet, pretty place:


Progress in the right direction.  My brain has been in a different place in the past couple of months, but I haven't really told you anything about it because, although I have had time, I haven't spent any of it on finishing and sharing my polished thoughts with you.  

So I'm holed up in the guest room, because tonight my husband came home from his day of teaching with a plan for me to write this evening, and to also write regularly.  It basically involves setting aside an evening a week to write while he takes on 3-kid duty.  To just write.  To write.

So, let me back up and tell you the earlier part of the story, because to dive right in to today's thoughts without their context is to miss the process, miss the richness.  For me it is rich.  It's okay if it isn't anything much to you.    

Through the autumn up until Christmas, I was accelerating along from about 72 to 120 miles per hour.  At one point Lincoln told me, "Mama, you're in charge of too many things."  You present a good case, kid.  His comment sank in deep, and I realized that it isn't simply a case of my not liking the pace; it is a true statement, and the pace is unsustainable and damaging to myself and the people I hold most dear.   

Andy and I called up a babysitter and walked down the road for a Reevaluation Date at our local diner. 

We came up with some changes, some redirection, and I began to sense light at the end of the tunnel.  

At New Year's, my sister-in-law gave me words for a concept, the ideas of which had already been brewing in my heart.  You've probably already heard of it: discovering your One Word.  It's enough of a concept now to generate books on a variety of contexts: your one word for the year, for life, for your business, for your lasting legacy, etc.  (I haven't read any of the books; I can't tell you whether they're any good.)  But I knew my word right away.



I painted it, because that's what I do.  I have begun applying it to all sorts of things: what I read, how many bottles of shampoo are in my shower, the ingredients in my food and how I cook it, how the laundry is sorted, how I think about social issues, how I'm pursuing Jesus, etc.  I don't think I am especially good at simplicity, but I am getting better, and that is the important thing.  

Life weaves together in wonderful ways, don't you think?  A year and a half ago, before I was thinking particularly about simplifying life, I sang a song for my Grandaddy's memorial service:



'Tis a gift to be simple.  

So 'tis.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ranting

This is my office-guest-craft-stash it room.  This is normal.  This also is an accurate picture of my brain at times like these. 

I am having an internal rant day.  Maybe by the end of this post I'll get over it; I don't always know where these posts will take me.  

I went to bed--as in, I was asleep by--8:30 last night.  Eight-plus hours of sleep.  Still woke up grumpy.  

I can't even write out all the stuff that just gets under my skin, especially early in the mornings.  It's a cumulation of little, insignificant things that don't matter much, but they add up and on top of the big things I'm carrying around in my brain and equal just too much.  

              little                                          big                                      just           
             stupid                     +          complicated               =                 too           
         insignificant                              important                                much                            
            bothers                               responsibilities              


It occurred to me in the midst of my grumpiness that a lot of my frustration stems from 


  • trying to be a working mother
  • without childcare
  • and without pay              
I want time and resources to be increased so I can do things like

enjoy my toddler while he's here with me * invest and engage more in the lives of my children: spiritually, educationally, in their fun quotient, family traditions, quality time... * homeschool them in the Scandinavian outdoor-exploration-problem-solving fashion * have time to make Christmas gifts for the people I care about * family Secret Santa projects, going out of our ways to bless other people in this season * go outside more * invest in spiritual retreat and formation time * build relationships * be a present, intentional neighbor * do my long list of house projects * etc etc etc

I have, like, the twisted-stomach-knotted-pit feeling of stress and frustration just writing these things.  It's not even all the things.  It's NONE of the "working mom" things that are taking up almost all of my brain space.  

I don't want it this way.  

This is a normal struggle for lots and lots of women.  It increased with the advent of feminism, when it began to be culturally encouraged that women get out there and "have it all."  And you know what?  My dreams are big enough to want it all.  

But not this way.  This way does not increase love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, or self-control.  

And yet, there isn't a good way to balance these things out.  There is just too much stuff, and it is also stuff (responsibilities) that I can't just "get rid of." 

I hardly have time to talk with my husband, and when we do talk we are still talking about management things.  Not even enough time, though, to properly manage.  

Ridiculous.  It's the surviving-but-not thriving thing I'm doing.  That so many of us are doing.  It's bad.  There's not a good solution.  

And I'm going to leave it at that for now.  I am generally good at highlighting the good things going on, the many, many graces and mercies God is pouring out all the time.  Sometimes I just need to rant, because keeping the ranting inside my head, like I usually do, gets exhausting.  I guess it's still exhausting to write it, but it's a "bear one another's burdens" kind of helpful.  

Today I don't have the energy or the time to process all the way through this, either.  I just need to somehow tackle the responsibilities.  So you can deal with my less-than-ideal, full-of-hyphenation, (mostly) stream-of-consciousness writing.  








































Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Good Words: Prophetic Prayers Over Our Lives

"(Lydia, who we read about in Acts 16, was a woman from) the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who worshipped God, who WORSHIPPED God.  The Lord opened her heart, OPENED HER HEART, to heed the things spoken by Paul.  And when she and her household were baptized she begged us, saying, 'If you judge me to be faithful to the Lord come to my house and stay.'  And so she persuaded us.  

You know, when you study her you find out Lydia was a worshipper, but more importantly you find out that Lydia was one that listened and that she was a woman of detail, and a woman who opened up her heart and head.  She had an open heart.  

What's your husband's name? (Andrew) Andrew. I just see your home as a happy place, and where people want to come and gather and you opened your home.  And for some reason I just feel that you're just a healthy eater, I just see organics and, I just feel sorry for your husband--he probably has to sneak out to get something sweet.  But know this, says the Lord, that I am coming with a fresh visitation to your home.  Yea, even throughout the rest of this year and into next year says the Lord, for I am bringing the right ingredients for you.  Know this, says the Lord your God, that you and your husband will run side by side, says the Lord, for I have equally yoked you, says the Lord your God.  

And know this, oh man of God, and get ready, says the Lord, for you are going to be known as a great teacher says the Lord.  And know this, that I have uniquely put you together O man of God, and I have linked your heart and your mind together.  And know this, that the technology that rests deep inside of your spirit, that I have planted it, says the Lord.  You will bring it forth to many others.  

Know this, husband and wife, know this, that as a couple there will be many children around you.  And I see you both being teachers of the Word, says the Lord your God, that you will bring the Word forth no matter where you go.  But O man of God know this, that I see you walking down a dark hall, and it's like you hear the footsteps of a hollow hall.  But know this says the Lord, you carry My Spirit O man of God, and know this, that you're going to touch many young hearts, says the Lord your God.  The two of you need to get ready, says the Lord.  

Know this, O woman of God, that I have given you a clean canvas, and you're going to start to paint with the oils of My Spirit, says the Lord.  And you will paint the canvasses of the hearts of empty women, says the Lord, where they have given up hope, they have given up the desire to even move forward.  

And know this, says the Lord, that I will cause the two of you to be firestarters in young couples' hearts, says the Lord.  And I have put the two of you together says the Lord.  There is a shepherding (given?) to you, says the Lord your God, and you will shepherd.  You will shepherd many couples, says the Lord, that have had hope deferred, that have given up on their lives.  Get ready, for your house will be a sanctuary, your house will be like a Ponderosa [buffet] for My Spirit, says the Lord your God.  

Get ready, for the two of you are about to run a new race, and you will be successful in the races that you run, says the Lord.  For I have put medals around your neck, not to show you as a prideful spirit, but I have put medals around your neck to show others that they can do it.  So get ready, says the Lord, for the rain is about to fall upon your life like you have never seen before.  

And get ready, says the Lord, for you're going to see many come to know Me through your love and though your care and through your perseverance to others, says the Lord.  Your home will be a place where people get radically saved, they will get healed, they will get brought back together.  I see marriages that are splitting coming back together even before they step foot in the church, says the Lord your God.  For I smell, I smell the pastures of a farm, says the Lord, I smell the smell of sheep, says the Lord your God.  And you will be the ones who will pamper and take care of the sheep and you will nourish them back to a health and you will turn their hearts back to Me, says the Lord. 

Amen."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Things I've Never Done Before

We are toward the tail end of 2017, and I am realizing there are in this year some significant things that I've never done before now.  I haven't written much--on Blogger or Facebook or in my journal--nor taken pictures of some of these things, and yet they are accomplishments.  Here are a few:

I have been serving this year as a member of my village's first-ever Zoning Commission, whose job it is to draw up a thoughtful draft of a zoning law to propose to our community and village board.  This has been a collaboration of several volunteers who live in this village and members of County and regional institutions walking us through this process.  We are nearly finished, and I am glad.  Zoning is often dry.  But what stands out to me of this experience is an excitement, a deep hope, a vision for my community that good things are happening here and better things are on the way.  There are so many avenues being traveled to usher in the amazing things going on in this area.  It is hard, but it is awesome.  Good people, a good place, a God who is faithful to His good promises.  

We accomplished a kitchen renovation!  With a lot of patience, and then a lot of planning and elbow grease and help from amazing friends, after ten years we finally got our dishwasher.  And a beautiful, more functional kitchen in every other way, too.  

My husband and I took our first-ever kid-free destination vacation to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  You can read about that in the blog post just before this one.  It was better than our honeymoon!  

For the first time ever, I planned this year's Vacation Bible School program using a curriculum that didn't need any modifying to be suitable for our timeframe.  And it was WONDERFUL.  Still a high-stress season for me--there are innumerable details to consider when planning those events.  But to use a curriculum that is just flat-out excellent, and that fit perfectly with our 3-day plan, and to have an excellent team to work with in making the big pieces happen--that was different, and I found myself having FUN all three nights, even while "running the show."  Thank you, Group Publishing, for creating quality weekend-length VBS curricula.  Thank you, Lord, for putting it on the radar for us.  

In September, Andy and I did this food thing called "Whole30."  It's an elimination diet that completely cuts out the food groups that tend to cause gut and inflammation issues for people, allows your body to reset, then reintroduces things so that you can discover what food your body truly functions best with.  I first heard about it three-ish years ago and thought, 'That is an awesome thing that I could NEVER do.'  Guess what?  I did it.  And my body feels great.  I can legitimately call this the biggest physical accomplishment my body has ever done, because it was a 30-day-long accomplishment that has paved the way for permanent health and lifestyle changes.  Childbirth and backpacking through Costa Rican jungles did not take as much endurance (and those things both took some endurance!).  

And I have been coaching soccer.  What?!  I don't think I'm the one in my family who would be pegged as The Coach.  Truthfully, I am not being *much* of a coach: I am co-coaching U6 AYSO soccer for my son's team.  Introducing soccer to four- and five-year-olds does not take a great deal of soccer skill, and it also includes a great deal of just loving on these little kids and having fun with them and obliging them when they want you to come see the dead worm they found.  But it is coaching nonetheless, and I am really, really enjoying it.  U6 is a good level of (co)coaching for me.  

There's still time.  I wonder what other things I've never done before will be done by the time we get to December 31?