Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

a death by which glory comes

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Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  Then he said to him, “Follow me!”


as the kids are getting older the parenting is getting more complicated.  or maybe it’s just me and the way i strive and think and wonder and fear…

in any case my need for the God who is so very Wise continues to grow, it seems so opposite of what i would think.  most jobs, the longer you do them, the less help you need as you become efficient and capable.  that’s how it was for every job i had before this one.

we’ve got one teen and 2 more following close behind.  and i would be lying if i said it wasn’t hard. and i would be lying if i said i’d become efficient or capable.

i’ve always known that the best gift i can offer my kids is my own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  the more healthy i am the more free i am to love them well, and in a healthy life giving way.

but what i didn’t know was that loving in a healthy life giving way would feel like the very death of me.

This is not a time in which motherhood is reveared or respected.  It is not a time of recieving gratitude from the child.  Nor should it be….

-The Mom Factor by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, on adolescence-emphasis mine

i bow to the idol of knowing, i question and question; “am i being unreasonable? ….too lenient?  am i not taking their sin seriously enough?…to much?”  on and on it goes.  there is One who knows the answer to all my questions, and i must listen to Him…..and that requires the deeper trust i’ve needed all along.

It is a difficult process. And it is even more difficult because mother bears this process within herself.  She is the laboratory for the child to become an adult, and it takes its toll on her.  The good mother gets her needs for love, affection, and respect met by God and the safe people in her life.  Only in this way can she altruistically and sacrificially do the best thing for the child, who desperately needs safe passage toward adulthood.

-Cloud/Townsend

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Jesus said that for Peter, there was a specific death that would glorify God.

so too with me.  being a conduit of safe passage towards adulthood-that is a kind of death. and it’s the death assigned to me as their mother.  a daily cross to take up with a command to follow the One who knows the hairs on their heads and loves all of us perfectly.

it is a death that promises life-life in me and life offered to them.  it is a death whose only outcome can be God’s glory.  my strength indeed is small, but my God is big and i love them and they are worth it.

I’ll chase You through the pain
I’ll carry my cross
’cause real love
Is not afraid to bleed

Jesus
Take my all
Take my everything

I’ve counted up the cost
And You’re worth everything

-Rend Collective The Cost

To draw further in: John 21:18-22; 1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 1:1-6; Ephesians 4:17-32; the stanzas in the hymn Jesus Paid it All

Weekend Inspiration

he knocks on the door and i wonder how my youngest will answer.  last time they played together it didn’t end well.  this is what happens with friends, the more time you spend together, the closer you get and eventually your sin will show up and sin always hurts people.

that day ended in tears and cries of; “it’s like he’s not my friend anymore.”  there were heated words exchanged with my older boy defending his brother and letting that neighbor boy know what’s what.  some days it’s one of my boys who’s sinned and then the heated words are between them, but they are brothers and working it out comes with that territory.  with friends, however, there is the choice to leave things as they ended and just stop playing together.

after that day, 3 boys who’d sought each other out day after day after live-long day stopped.  and when that familiar knock comes, i’m not sure the wounded one is ready.

he opens the door and standing before him is this friend holding an unopened package.  daniel hardly says hello, invites his friend in and runs to get the scissors.  together they open the package and delight in it’s contents.  it’s a pair of gloves, with grips on them, for football.  they look them over and ooh and ahh together and they all head out to play so their friend can see how they work.  whatever had gone on that one day, one neighbor boy didn’t want to open his package without the others.

i stand amazed.  i think to myself-this is what forgiveness looks like.  this is what friendship looks like.

as we go about our weekend, may we bask in the joy of forgiveness with our friends!  if you are the one who sinned, may you still have the courage to show up with your package, inviting your friend to share in your joy.  if you are the one who has been offended, may you have courage to forgive and grace to rejoice with your friend’s new way cool football gloves.

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Inspiring things from around the web, my version of sharing new exciting grippy football gloves…

For Reading:

I recently finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  This powerful read kept me company all these sick days i’ve had lately, and i did cry a few times-real tears from deep down, but the story was so worth it:

She was a girl.
In Nazi Germany.
How fitting that she was discovering the power of words.

-Markus Zusak

I’ve really been enjoying Seth Haines’ Recovery Room series.  Because we are all in need of recovery from something:

Throughout 2015, I’ll be hosting various writers, pastors, and counselors as they step into the Recovery Room. Here, we’ll discuss the things that supplant inner sobriety, and connectedness to an abiding God. Couldn’t we all use a little recovery from something?

-Seth Haines

This post from Emily Freeman on longing was soul-stilling.   She crafts her words beautifully and so often gets to the heart of things right where i am at and brings clarity and hope:

When my daily rhythm feels more like a drumbeat than a heartbeat, it’s time for me to pay attention to three simple realities:

-Emily Freeman

This one is more of a listen than read.  My pastor has been battling a rare illness for a couple of years.  After a grueling 5 months absence, this past Sunday he was well enough to share with his flock;  Learning Lessons in the Crucible:

The more seriously I take suffering, the more seriously I will take those who suffer.

-Gary Glover


For Art and Discovery:

storybookmarketingIf you aren’t familiar with Jeanne Oliver’s creative network you are missing out!  She has online classes of all types for the artist within.  I’m not a painter myself, but i’ve found quite a bit of inspiration for the artist that I am from classes on her site.  My daughter is the one who is gifted in the visual arts, and i have marveled at the growth both in her skill and her courage and freedom after time with Jeanne.   Starting Monday Jeanne is hosting a new watercolor class with Danielle Donaldson.  The site is free to join and there are some free courses you can check out.


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Speaking of classes, Myquillyn Smith, The Nester, is  doing something way cool:

Cozy Minimalist

Online Coaching Program

Join us online for a four-week guided journey where I’ll help you create the home you’ve always wanted starting with what you already have. You’ll pick one room in your house and focus on that space for the duration of the four weeks. Our first session begins on March 26th, 2015 and runs to April 16th, 2015.


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 I discovered Natalie Metrejean on instagram right before she released this. For all the singles or those who know someone who is, this little book is a gem.  It’s refreshing, authentic, and deep. I ordered one for my teen and read it first because i’m picky about these things.  I shared it with our youth pastor and now guess who’s going to be leading a bunch of high school and college girls through it!  Yep, me.  I’m not sure my teen is thrilled, i mean who wants to study with their mom who hasn’t been single since the dark ages?  Pray with me that the Lord would enable me to lead well and enable my dear daughter to connect with Him in spite of me!


Enjoy your weekend friends!

when the journey feels like death

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been walking alongside the nation of Israel as they journey from slavery in Egypt to the land promised to them.  it’s been a long journey, and all along the way they have talked about death….they seem so often to be fearful and obsessed with death:

at the very beginning of their journey:  “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Part way through: “But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

at their destination-right outside the land: “And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

At the beginning of their wilderness wanderings (the result of the above rebellion): “And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the LordWhy have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.”

it has been a hard road-this journeying out of slavery and into freedom.  it seems to me that their early cries are a question of; “is the Lord with us or not?” but then move into “is the Lord for us or not?”  so often thinking that anything else, even death or slavery would be better than this.

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i’m moving along on a journey out of slavery and into freedom too. and i ask the same questions.  it comes as no surprise really, these questions all got started in that garden with that theiving serpant.

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she says words that make me cringe and my blood begins to boil.  i halfheartedly try to talk my pounding heart down enough to get past the hot button words she’s used and  actually listen to what she is really saying; “compared to the alternative, followers of Christ do get a better life.”  i don’t hold back and give in to the pounding heart rather then the listening one; “that all depends on your definition of a better life.  followers of Christ get beheaded.”  my cynicism wounds and i see it too late to take the words back.  she stumbles over her response and the pounding in my heart gives way to the sting of understanding my sin and my cynicism.

in many ways i’ve been being made aware of my tendencies towards cynicism-and i’m beginning to see it for what it is; hopeless acceptance of grief.

i’m right there with those Israelites-wondering if the Lord is for me or not- if the path the Lord has sovereignly brought me on is meant to destroy me and my children and my livestock.  i see that going back to Egypt is not an option, and so i resign myself to wandering around in the desert-because i’d rather be wandering around in the desert with the Presence of the Almighty God, than back in Egypt without Him.

but oh the difference it all makes when i move out of that acceptance without hope cynicism and into the truth that…..

You have a Father’s heart
and a love that’s wild

-J.J. Heller Who You Are

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because i’m reading the Israelite’s story, i am able to see beyond their current circumstances causing them to fear death.  i can see the Father’s heart and wild love.  i can see that it has never been the Lord’s intent to bring them out of Egypt to starve them or kill them.  it has been His intent all along to bring them out of slavery and into His presence.  to be their God, their hero, their provider. To give them not just a land flowing with milk and honey, but to give them the gift of Himself, of knowledge of Himself.

and so it goes with me.  He is with me and for me.  He is for you too.

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During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.  You ate no bread and drank no wine.  I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD Your God.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of His great power and Mighty strength
not one of them is missing.

collect wages from your grief work….there is hope…


to draw further in:  Exodus 16, 17; Numbers 16; 20; Isaiah 40:26-31; Jeremiah 31-in The Message

 

 

 

 

 

 

comforted beforehand

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it was early on an unassuming Saturday morning when i am given that glimpse of the mountains and subsequent truths to tuck away and rest into.  it won’t be even 24 hours later when i will need desperately those very truths-and i could not have predicted, prepared, or known beforehand that would be the case.

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a dear one brings me nourishment for the sick bodies, and nourishment for my weary heart.  but neither she nor i could have seen that in less than 24 more hours how desperately my body will need the nourishment, and my weary heart will need to be reminded yet again that i am loved and not alone.

these days it’s the little things that are having a big impact.

the sun shining through my window warming my feet sends my soul soaring.

waking up to yet another sick one sends my soul plummeting. 

the thing that is causing me to be wonderstruck is the fact that the One who sets my feet like the feet of a deer, He keeps one step ahead of the slow drip of discouragement and provides Truth.  He moves within the hearts of those dear ones He’s surrounded me with and sends them with soup and voices speaking words that cheer and delight, lovingly giving to this heart that is so tired and unable to offer anything in return.  it’s such a picture of the gospel-so very Christ like and i doubt they even realize how well they represent Him in their offering.

this comforting beforehand carries a depth to it because it reminds me that He has hemmed me in behind and before and laid His hand upon me.  He saw all of this coming, He sees all of this happening, and He doesn’t prepare me by giving me a better life-plan (do and do, rule on rule) but a better understanding of Who He Is and How He loves.

When i said my foot was slipping,
Your faithful love supported me
In the multitude of my anxious thoughts within me
Your comforts cheer and delight my soul.

 


 

to draw further in  Psalm 139, Psalm 94:18-19 , Isaiah 28:10-13, Sara Haggerty’s Adoration, today it’s specifically this one.

overshadowed

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while driving, i glance over and the perspective i see of those massive white peaks above massive blue ones is stunning.  it is such a contrast as i can almost see the entire bustling city at its base.

they stand there-so strong, so constant, so unmovable, so still.  i know that if i were to turn the car towards them and drive closer closer in, i’d lose that picture and see the hustle and bustle happening in their midst too, but here-this view- and they are saying something else.

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arrows fly at lightning speed, aimed straight at those sore and weak spots of my heart.  they fly from words without, but mostly from words within. they beckon me back into the courtroom before the prosecutor who always comes to steal and kill and destroy.  the attack is always strategic, wolves tearing at flesh striving to snatch joy away. always striving to snatch joy away.  and they come in all sorts of clothing.

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those massive peaks remind me of what is true.   like the city nestled at the base of those Rocky Mountains, i am small, resting in the Shadow of a Mighty Warrior.  He stands behind me and the wolves scatter.

“But was you not afraid, good sir, when you see him come with his club?”
“It is my duty,” said he, “to distrust mine own ability, that I may have reliance on him that is stronger than all”.”
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress    

this Stronger One has adjourned the court-the verdict is in.  why do i persist in returning?  my identity has been determined by the only One who knows everything, the One who calls me beloved even tho He knows everything.  He is majestic, He is massive, He is formidable, He is mighty, and He is kind.  The Lord Almighty is His name.


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 in my moments of clarity and hope, i entertain longings, desires, dreams;  i look at my laundry/everything/dumping room and form a picture in my head and the steps to take to get it there.  i look at my front yard full of hundreds of years of neglect and the weeds that love to grow and i imagine a new picture and all the ways to get there.  i imagine the hospitality that i will offer and the enjoyment we will all share with the new space i will create.  i look at my 40 year old figure and see the form of my days and how exercise fits just right-right there. i can visualize the enjoyment and joy of all 5 of us getting our heart rates up and the energy and whole body health that will come as a result….. just to name a few.

hope deferred makes the heart sick.

but then i get a call and bring 3 extra little boys home and it’s everything i can do to come up with enough dinner for all of us and a bit extra to send home with them to their sick mom.

but then i’m rinsing out a throw-up bowl one more time and making honey toast for another one who can now keep food down.  i’m washing sheets and learning how to sanitize silverware and cups with no dishwasher.

a couple of days to recover, the desires and hopes flood in only to be hit with another round of illness or something else.  and the only thing constant is my need for strength from the only One who can give it.

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just three days ago i began to formulate a plan of execution for that laundry room.  today as i’m walking though to bring medicine to another sick one it stands there mockingly.  i let myself sob at all the ways it’s a representative of even deeper things, crying out to the One who delights to show Mercy to me.  and together we go to all of the places of deferred hopes.  i breath deep and remember that even if my children flunk out of school, even if we are not able to get well, even if i never tackle that laundry room, even if my husband’s travel schedule never ends, even if on this green earth all the people who want answers to our questions will never get them and will go on assuming how if we only did this or this we could be happy and healthy and wise.  even if, even if, even if….those mountains crumble and fall into the heart of the sea…

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…our standing, my standing, before the King of Kings will not be shaken loose.  His delight in me will not be effected by failing grades or messy spaces, or sick bodies, or cancelled responsibilities.

i think back on those mountains,  i can’t see them from where i stand, but i know they are still there.  and i think of how sure and strong and steadfast my Mighty God is, how He is present in all His grandeur and glory, overshadowing the ins and outs of what feels like a crazy life.  deep within i am filled with joy and awe at the constancy of my Everlasting Father.

i will rejoice in the LORD,
i will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights.

 


 

 

to draw further in:  chapter 4 of Pilgrim’s Progress; The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller, Romans 8, Psalm 46, Habakkuk 3

 

 

 

insulated

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jack frost making art on my window

halfway down the hall he punches the wall, goes a little farther and slides down with his hood up and his head in his lap. insulating himself from his surroundings and his surroundings from himself. i pass on by saying nothing, carrying the contraband to the principle. i know he’s angry at me for catching him. i pray he doesn’t take his anger out on one of his 4th grade classmates, specifically-my son.

we talk about the superbowl and human trafficking. i mention an idea of skipping the commercials in lue of prayer. reading the response i’m aware of the desire to remain insulated instead. so i give up. my teen however was listening, and at her own party, she and a youth group mate talk about it and she does pray. she shares this with me later and i grieve that i didn’t even try.

i stand in the isle looking for a chocolate bar to give as a gift. i want to ignore what i know is true, but today i can’t. so i spend the extra and make the purchase of chocolate sourced justly and fairly. but i worry that the recipient will be offended by my choice. no one likes the feelings they get when made aware of the evils in this world.  should i have chosen to express my love for them without expressing my love for children halfway around the world at the same time?  would it be better to keep one insulated from the other?

i listen to someone speak passionately about their calling that is so very different than mine. it’s easy to mistake passion for condemnation i notice, and it makes me uncomfortable. but i keep returning to her place because it is so very different. she lives in a big house on a lake. she loves her people well with her made from scratch delicacies. i wonder if she grasps the gifts she’s been given in her big house on a lake. i think she does.

the feet are knocked out from under 3 of us for 2 days. i notice in my Daily Light devotional that this very day last year was a similar story. in my depressed sick brain fog i dream up all the ways i will fight to insulate my brood of 5-all the places i will refuse to go and the people i will refuse to see. i am fed up with always being sick. i think about that passionate one and the health of her family and how maybe if i follow her recipe for living we could enjoy health too? i dream of moving away, somewhere remote…near water sounds perfect. i fight battles in my head all the while my body fights sleep instead of the virus. realizing i’m spinning wheels that are going nowhere i begin to recite scripture to myself and pray instead. the Lord is my Shepherd, i want for nothing…..He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters…. for the first time in days the needed sleep finally comes.

some hours later i find myself up and out and refreshed……walking behind an angry 4th grader punching the wall.

Good Will Hunting and the story i want to live

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some time ago i watched a romantic comedy i’d seen years ago that i thought i liked.  this time though, i didn’t-not in the least. the language was clean-i don’t recall a single swear word or vulgur comment, but there was something about the story that left me more than dissapointed.  this keeps happening to me with romantic comedies – i don’t know, i guess after all these years of marriage, after walking along side so many whose marriages struggle deeply, i’ve begun to see the stories in a different light.

and the stories matter to me.

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more recently i watched the movie Good Will Hunting.  oof… the language is foul and vulgur.  the story, however, is…..beautiful.  it’s really beautiful.

if you’ve not seen it, or it’s been a while; there is this boy, this very smart boy from the wrong side of town.  this boy who is an orphan, who has his loyal tribe of buddies, and has figured out how to manage his pain and his world to keep himself safe.

i mean, can’t we all relate to that?  surely i’m not the only one.

so this professor at a big important school sees the boy’s genius and wants to ‘help’ him clean up his act so that he can reach his full potential….potential as defined by said professor.  enter psychologist Sean Maguire played by Robin Williams. he wants something different…..

if you can handle a bit of profanity, see for yourself.

 

Sean Maguire;  he wasn’t after cleaning Will up so he could make something of himself….straightening him out so that he could be useful and productive for society…..teaching him how to play right and toe the line so that his intelligence wouldn’t be wasted.

no, Sean saw a boy who was a mystery, a broken, hurting, arrogant mystery.  and he was willing to know more-even though it might open up wounds of his own.  he was willing to go to all the dark places to bring truth and healing and perspective.   but he won’t force Will to let himself be known.  i think that is beautiful.  he puts forth an invitation…and lets Will choose.

 

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i guess i could waist my time on movies with clean language but crappy stories like the romantic comedies of late,

just like i can waste my time on religion-and its clean language and recipes for clean living-lifeless and without risk.  predictable and controllable lacking mystery or story or life or breath or movement.

apparently i’d rather have the foul language and beautiful story.  not because the foul language is beautiful, it’s not.  it’s the authenticity that’s beautiful. it’s the heart of stone becoming a heart of flesh.  i’d rather breathe in the smell of the Sistine chapel than read about it in a book.  i’d rather look over at the man laying next to me and hunger to know more of him, than watch unrealistic and plasticy packaged love acted out on a screen.  i’d rather play in the ocean than stay on the shore.

“it’s coming to peace with the darkness in me that allows the true light inside to shine.” -kendall payne

 

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my taste for the stories i watch has shifted i think beause of the story i want to live.  like Sean Maguire; i want to risk being affected by the person next to me, willing to process through the painful places they may cause to rise up, and then willing to extend an invitation to know them in their own depths.  Like Will Hunting, i want to accept the invitation to be known, to have the wounds and welts cleansed and bandaged and soothed with oil- both by the One who knows everything and the Sean Maguires who come my way.

that seems more like a Love Story to me.
it’s more like the Love Story that i’ve been given…..the one that is currently being written by the Author and Perfecter of my Faith Himself,

who for the joy set before Him endured the cross scorning its shame.

 

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He’s invited me to let Him into the foulness of my soul-so that together we could uncover what was there, and like Will and Sean-we’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together, and He is teaching me what it means to live a good story.  to truly live a good story.

so let it go, we are still far from home
tho you try and try to escape
to live and to love will always be dangerous,
but it’s better than playing it safe.

-Kendal Payne-from the song Ups and the Downs.

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*i just have to put in a disclaimer-it is a favorite movie of mine-but it is not one yet that my kids can watch.  i was 24 when i saw it the first time. this post isn’t really about what to watch or not watch, it’s about the story i want to live.  personal discretion is advised.


to draw further in:  Isaiah 1, 40, and 61; Hebrews 12

5 things i learned about myself in 2014

As the calendar takes a turn to the new year, it feels apropos to reflect back on all that this year held.  unless i make myself write it all down, anything i learned will float about in the air and i will forget and whatever it is will be lost in space.  when i force myself to do the work of organizing my thoughts and writing them down, i am more likely to remember.  and when i forget, i can look back and be reminded-and eventually new found freedoms stick!

Here are some things i learned about myself in 2014 along with a few of my favorite pictures from the year!

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 1. The idol of being understood is not worth its price.

it is a breath of fresh air to be understood and quite painful to be misunderstood.  this isn’t really news to me, but the awareness of how much energy i waste on anxiety, fear, and stewing over it along with other sins i commit because i’ve made being understood into a god was a new area of learning. i’ve decided it’s not worth it.

Harney Peak, S. Dakota

2. I can be the boss of our money.

i learned some new lessons on being the boss of our finances rather than the victim of them.  just like it is in the management of my time, saying no to some things means saying yes to others.  This year we more fully owned some of our choices to be frugal and thrifty in some aspects of our budget so that we could be extravagant in others.

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3. I have tendencies towards recipe living and series writing.

my eyes were opened to ways i’d reduced prayer to a recipe.  somewhere along the way i bought the lie that if i could just fine the right ingredients i could control the outcome.  once i saw this i began to see other ways i’ve applied the recipe principle in my living.  catching thoughts like; “i thought if i loved them well, my children would grow up secure.” when i hold that thought in my hands and turn it to see all of it’s sides, i get to the bottom of things and can speak to myself what is true; “loving them well is important, but they will still need God.”  Because raising children and living a life of faith and prayer, etc. etc. etc. is colorless when reduced to a recipe, i’m pulling away from that and entering instead into the Love Story life is meant to be.

i also began to notice how often i find myself un-intentionally writing a series-one that i did not plan.  the only time i plan a series is when i’ve taken on a 31 days writing challenge.  those challenges stretch me-not just because it’s writing everyday, but because it is writing within a planned series.

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4. I enjoy the company of other writers.

there are things about me that i never knew were a part of a writer’s make-up.  when i attended the Writer’s Barn Event there was a lot of; “What? you too?” moments.  There were so many parts of that Barn day that will forever enrich my soul and this was a big one of them.

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5. I don’t have to pick a word for the year for there to be one.

i didn’t pick a word for the year.  i’ve never picked a word for the year.  But the One who has engraved my name on the palms of His hands chose one for me, and i didn’t even know about it until just this week.  As i spent time looking back, there bookending my year was the word Wonder.  I began the year writing a series on Wonder.   And i ended the year doing the same.  i didn’t connect those dots.  The One who chose the dots for me did the connecting.  that sense of Wonder that i longed for is no longer lost.  at least not today.

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Goodbye 2014, you’ve been a Wonder-ful year!


 i am thankful for the community link-up;  What We Learned in 2014 over at Emily Freeman’s place, it’s just the thing i needed to follow through and do the work of remembering!

Restoring Wonder | Far As the Curse is Found

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oh the curse. my eyes have seen it.  my prayers have felt it.  my hope for change has been dashed in so many ways by it.  and i’m tempted to think that Christmas has lost any Hope of Joy because of death or divorce or addictions or etc., etc., etc…

but then on an ordinary day driving an ordinary road He shows me the roots of my cynicism and the Wonder of Who. He. Is.
yet again.

and so, i find myself standing next to that old Grinch…..

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!    

christmaspurpleball

….what if death and illness and loss and divorce and curse….can’t trump that Babe’s coming?  can’t trump the joy of that Babe’s coming?  No! it can’t! in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us;

He is enduringly strong.
He is entirely sincere.
He is eternally steadfast.
He is immortally gracious.
He’s imperially powerful.
He’s impartially merciful.
He is the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizons of the globe.

He is God’s Son.
He is the sinner’s Savior.
He is the captive’s Ransom.
He is the Breath of Life.
He is the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands in the solitude of Himself.

He is august* and He is unique.
He is unparalleled and He is unprecedented.
He is undisputed and He is undefiled.
He is unsurpassed and He is unshakable.

He is the loftiest idea in philosophy.
He is the highest personality in psychology.
He is the supreme subject in literature.
He is the unavoidable problem in higher criticism.
He is the fundamental doctrine of theology.
He is the Cornerstone, the Capstone, and the stumbling Stone of all religion.
He is the miracle of the ages.

Dr. Samuel M. Lockeridge
*august-as an adjective it means; inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic:

i am becoming convinced that what Paul said is true.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, divorce or illness, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

christmaslightstree

Christ came!  He came just the same!


to draw further in: Isaiah chapters 9, 40, 44, 61; with Luke 2 and Romans 8

 

Restoring Wonder | considering the sky

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These days have found me praying with my children over lost stuffed animals and substitute teachers and help with end of semester tests; while in my own prayer closet i’m beating my breast over broken marriages, sudden deaths, mysterious illnesses, and that despite all the wickedness in the world my love would not grow cold. (matt 24)  I tell my children that the One who placed each star in its place and set the earth to spinning knows the hairs on their heads and cares about the big and little things.  the words spill out of my mouth and my doubting heart listens.

sometimes you need to preach to your heart rather than listen to it.

-Jeremy Weinland   

and so as i’m preaching truth to myself these days and keeping my eyes pealed for Wonder at this One who names those stars, words spoken long ago slip into the recesses of my mind and begin to do their work….

light

Look at the sky, can you grasp its height?  Can you fathom its depth?  its length? its width?  That is how much your Father loves you.

-Amy Carmichael*

sky3

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father….
That He would grant us, according to the riches of His glory

To be strengthened, with might through His Spirit
In the inner man….

That we,
Being rooted and grounded
In love,

May be able to comprehend
With all the Saints
what is the

Width
Length
Depth
Height
of our Star Maker’s Love

and to know
this love of Christ
which
passes
knowledge.
in the depths of our very souls


To draw further in:  Matthew 24; Ephesians 3

 *not an exact quote, i think i loaned my book out so this is from memory.

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