Chasing Joy

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

Category: art (page 2 of 3)

life

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the moon, venus (my guess) and man’s light seen from my front porch

The Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering  They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.

They took the very gift God gave to them and used it to reject Him

In Moses’s song he describes it this way:

  The Lord….He found, He shielded, He guarded, He hovered as an eagle, He carried, He led, He fed, He nourished.
Israel’s response to the God who made him, the Rock his Savior….. he grew fat, he abandoned, he rejected , he deserted, he forgot.

barn

daily sights-this one, my favorite barn on the way home from dropping hannah off at school.

for the past 9 months i’ve journeyed along with these people.  beginning with the Mighty One’s rescue from slavery in Egypt, His salvation through the red sea, His care in the desert, all to bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey-to give them life.  and yet, the very gift of life becomes the means by which they reject.

He knew this beforehand.  and He gave them life anyway.

selah….sigh…

i know this is my story too.  this is my story too.

sky hannah

this one taken by my daughter hannah

Before the Lord God made man upon the earth, He first prepared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are simply “things”. They were made for man’s use, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.

But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul. Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart things have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.

…..The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development, never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.

-A. W. Tozer from The Pursuit of God

church next to the bus stop, across from the downtown Safeway where the homeless and addicted congregate. 3 blocks from home.

The Ever Near One sustained me with personal and specific truth during all those sick days, those 54 perpetual sick days. now that He has released me from my sickbed, he’s weaving together in my heart some new things.  Jesus said; “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  won’t you come along and explore this topic with me?

life


to draw further in, Deuteronomy 31 and 32

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.


  nester

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.


nataliemetrejean

 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!

insulated

ice on window

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.

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 | Gift List

if you haven’t yet noticed, i need help entering into Wonder.  I was pondering some of the things in my life that have been useful in ushering me into that place of being affected by awe, and the fact that it tis the season of giving.

so i thought to myself, why not put the two together and share a gift list?

yes, why not!  here goes:

untitled  Radio TheatreChronicles of Narnia.  This is word for word with the books, but acted out vs. read aloud.  Think audio book only way better.  We actually have about 15 different books done this way either via FOTF or BBC’s radio theatre production companys.  Narnia gets the most play time ’round these parts.  on the most ordinary of days someone will be building Legos whilst listening and i’ll catch a snippet of pointed wisdom exchanged between Aslan and Lucy Pevensie…causing me to stop right in my tracks affected by the wonder of needed words from a talking beast.  and then there are the road trips…..our sweat family of 5 fitting nicely into our 5-seater gallivanting along the highway for a lovely 8 hours-i can almost picture it….almost.  Rather, our cantankerous family of 5 crammed into our 5-seater and Radio Theatre turns a grueling 8 hours into something bearable!

 

Snow Crystal ImageSnowflake Bentley:  after a trip to the library one cold wintery day we sat to read this children’s book Bentley was a Vermont farmer who took pictures of snowflakes.  he died in 1931.   He Took Pictures of Snowflakes! In the 1920’s! There is a most wonderful gift shop including a book containing his more than 2400 images of snowflakes and frost!

“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”

Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley 1925

One year i custom ordered some matted Lantern Slide Prints  with the quote “Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated.” (similar to this only with one snowflake.) Mine is framed hanging in the bathroom-to remind all who enter of the One who fearfully and wonderfully created the snowflake…..and created them!

 

Infant Stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud

Infant Stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud

Hubble Telescope images:  There is nothing that reminds me of my smallness and the wonder of a God who has both numbered the stars and the hairs on my head like images from the Hubble Telescope does.  You can even download and print some of the pictures for free!

 

famFamily Favorite’s CD:  Every year the 5 of us gather up our favorite songs and put together a CD.  We are currently in progress weeding out for our individual top 5 (there’s usually room for 20-22.)  There are a couple of us (ahem) who have enough to fill the CD themselves, and so the others help by indicating which ones they hate don’t care for.  In a way it becomes a snapshot of where we’ve all been in a year.  I marvel at our ability to still make this work  and i marvel at the places of Wonder the playlist takes me.  So this isn’t one you could purchase, but you could make your own!

 For more inspiration, head over to Emily Freeman’s blog for her list of Simple Gifts to Encourage the Soul.  it’s what got me thinking about Wonder-gifts in the first place.

 

disclaimer: no affiliate links or sponsors were used in this list-simply because i’ve not entered that territory in the blogosphere yet.

for understanding | pursuit

 kite

Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress,
    and for their children it will be a refuge.

 the door slams and i start washing the dishes. the tension is thick and i think to myself, no one is feeling very safe or very loved right now.  how can a fortress provide refuge if the battle is inside its walls?

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 i stew in all the ways that i am right and have been offended.  as is often the case with these dishes of mine, the Spirit begins to stir within and i’m told to pursue.  to seek out.  to walk the path to where she is hiding out.  and i’m reminded of all that i do not know and all that i long for our home to provide to it’s inhabitants and all the ways it doesn’t.

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and so i walk the path and do not expect the tears i find.  we walk the path back together with dad (who is so logical and steady) and talk it all through and at the end we have come to understand each other (related to this particular issue anyway) and it makes all the difference.

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i too am hiding away in my pain and grief related to this season and all the ways we’ve failed eachother.  and He pursues.  He walks the path towards me and together, my Steady One and i talk it all through…..

i’ve attempted all the things, but all the things appear to be no match for the wounds from without or the wounds from my own sins.  my misjudgments (read misunderstandings), my leanancy when strictness was called for and my strictness when tender mercy was called for.

You have said i’ve been redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to me from my forefathers.  -1peter 1:18

and i resolved not to hand down an empty way of life to my kids.  but deep within i fear that is the very thing i’ve handed down.  which leads me to wonder;

what is it that makes a life empty?
what is it that makes a life full?

it is not perishable things that redeem, it is only the blood of Jesus and i too am helpless in the handing of  that down…..except for a demonstration of my own neediness for it, of our neediness for it.

this is what these teen years have been revealing to me-the wounds have not been covered by all the things, even the good and obedient things.  they can only be covered by Christ’s blood. 

oh Father, that she would…..that we all would …feel safe and feel loved…

in You.

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……and i begin to understand the One who Pursues. …and this One who Pursues provides understanding.

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days later we’re all crammed together working at this workhorse of a kitchen table.  with papers strewn between us, this Pursuing One breathes hope and i am overcome with perplexity and gratitude.  in this moment, amidst this mundane, she grasps my true heart towards her and speaks it forth.  in her words, i grasp her true heart towards mine and my heart swells with the joy found amidst papers and assignments and drudgery.

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oh my Lord-

i have beheld Your Glory.

for understanding | composition

Her eyes give away the anxiousness mixed with anticipation.  in her thoughts she reminds herself that her God is both good and sovereign and can be trusted with what He gives and where He leads.

quilt sillouette

Photo taken at a Quilt Show in 2011. I do not know the artist’s name.

composing  those words and this picture amidst a scene of other excited travelers embarking on a wonderful week-long artist retreat in Normandy France  would carry the statements about God into a specific place in a receiver’s heart.

composing those words and this picture amidst a scene of bomb-destroyed rubble and other weary and frightened travelers embarking on a long journey to a refugee camp would carry the statements about God into a very different place in the receiver’s heart.

same words, same picture.  different understanding.

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the places that the Lord is inviting me- you know, those places of feeling inept, the pain of being misunderstood, of struggling with communication.  i have become aware of a myriad of ways this is playing out in my life these days.  Providentially showing up it seems everywhere i turn.  and so my Father has my attention and i am seeing various places for tearing down idols and building up strength in Him.  so here i am with another unplanned series.

today is a lesson in composition.

i have mastered enough of the English language to effectively use words to communicate.

however, that composition thing-the way words filter in through the composition of a person’s life and land where they will within that– Jesus alone is master of the skill of weaving words perfectly and personally, getting to the individual heart of things.   He is also the master of the skill of giving enough detail in such a way to gain understanding.   me-i am inept at all of that.  and so if anything i say is to be understood the way it is meant to be understood-He will have to intervene.  and if anything i say is to be understood the way HE means it to be, He will have to intervene there too.

…”for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

silouette river

and so the Master Communicator invites me to pray over my words….

….and then release them into His capable hands.

growing quiet

sky and trees

i sit amongst a group of folks and attempt to share a glimpse of hope from my tender Father.  the response is clear-they don’t get it. in fact what they hear is completely opposite of what i am actually saying.    it’s important to me, so i try again.  i give it a third go.   driving home, sifting down the frustration  and i can name it-misunderstood.

i resolve that i must be inept and unable to communicate.  and so i grow quiet. everywhere.

later, i’m back amongst these folks and 4 people, yep 4, share the very glimpse of hope i was attempting before and everyone, yep everyone gets it.  i resist the temptation to declare (read shout) “That’s exactly what i was saying!”  but i don’t.  instead i write in my journal-what am i going to choose to do with this?  What are You inviting me into here?

i am very well aware of the churning and battle going on that is specific to me and there is no coincidence here-this pain of misunderstanding, this awareness of my lack in communication-it is purposeful and i know the Lover of my Soul is inviting me into something other, something new.

so i do what makes the most sense for thinking deeply and processing through what is going on in my heart…..

i clean odd and random places; the drawer under the stove, the top of the fridge

i dash outside facing off that wind blowing the fall out and winter in and rescue a few branches with leaves on them…you know to decorate with.

i sit down and read one of the Anne of Green Gables books.

ice on window

Gilbert had finally made up his mind that he was going to be a doctor.

“It’s a splendid profession,” he said enthusiastically.  “A fellow has to fight something all through life…..and I want to fight disease and pain and ignorance…..I want to do my share of honest, real work in the world, Anne….add a little to the sum of human knowledge that all the good men have been accumulating since it began.  The folks who lived before me have done so much for me that I want to show my gratitude by doing something for the folks who will live after me.  It seems to me that is the only way a fellow can get square with his obligations to the race.”

“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily…..

-Anne of Avonlea p.53

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me too, Anne, me too.

 

 

food for thinking on

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God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.

-John Piper

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