Chasing Joy

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

Category: things i learned

Kingdom Come/things i learned this first month of 2016

writing has been so very hard this month of new beginnings.  thoughts mingle with beautiful sentences inside my head, but when pen hits paper or fingers touch keys they fly away like ornery fireflies, refusing to be captured.  snippets here and there, but nothing of length and so what better way to persevere than to gather the threads up and bring them to emily’s month end gathering.  it seemed hopeful to me to do so, and doing something hopeful feels a little like winning don’t you think?

caroling, cancer and first and second things.

someone we love was too weak from her cancer fight to make it to Christmas eve services.  when i heard the news the first thought that entered my ordinary small brain was this; “we should go caroling to her.”  always so quick to deem my inner thoughts silly i left them there, but the Spirit had His way with another and the message made its way among the congregation.  after worshiping in our church building, we took it outside and drove over in the dark to her front door to bring ‘tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.’  singing to one so very weak and frail assaulted all of my senses and through tears i lifted my head up to heaven and cried out; “what is in fact the point of this?  she will still have cancer in the morning.”

a few days later i’m stirring chicken soup on her stove listening to her family share how much the caroling ministered to their very souls.  he says he will remember our singing for the rest of his days….days that will soon be spent learning how to live life without his dear beloved wife.

january 1st she  went home

and the One who welcomed her into His arms whispered to my soul; “curing cancer is a secondary thing.  ministering to the spirit of My beloved?  that is a first thing work.  singing at her door those tidings of comfort and joy brought My Kingdom Come.  child, keep learning to trust Me.”

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the parable of the merciful servant

he’s next to me in the car telling it all.  “my friend wanted something i had.  i said no.  my friend was mad.  my friend choked me and my neck got stuck in my zipper. ”

he keeps saying; “my friend, my friend.”

i know this ‘friend’ without my son ‘naming names.’  i am familiar with his ways.  my son’s choice of words gives me pause, i know he means what he says but i don’t understand.

two days later i’m standing on the playground watching  boys playing at football.  my son waits for this friend of his to be open and throws the ball to him.  i know it is intentional.  he’s shared many a time how he just wants this boy to have success.  to make a play, score a touchdown, have something to celebrate because he’s so often in trouble.  he misses the ball and my son calls out encouragement and building up words.  to the boy who choked him.

and the One who bled for these boys whispered to my soul “Kingdom come.”

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who do you think you are?

there has been this inner struggle that i’ve not been able to put a name to.  the One who knows my frame knows it, and knows just how to open my blind eyes and help me to see.  i saw that emily freemon was hosting a webinair on how to write a book proposal and i was drawn to it which didn’t make any sense at all.  i’m not writing a book or a book proposal.  i signed up anyway.  when she spoke the words naming a writer’s real fear; “who do you think you are?” the tears flowed freely.

one piece of the current struggle-not just in writing, but in being fully myself in the presence of others -has been exactly this.  a subtle accusation whispered and payed attention to.  what now, now that i see it?

well, the prayer went like this:

Lord, i still can’t do it, i still can’t write.
it doesn’t flow,
i still feel stuck.
kingdom come.

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a study in hope

Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it.  I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave-that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm. And therefore, this courage allows us, as the old men said, to make ourselves useful.  It allows us to be generous, which is another way of saying exactly the same thing.

Marilynne Robinson | Gilead: A Novel

There is a way in which the jesusy folk tend to write (I do it, too), and that way feels so disconnected from my real life that I could scream. I don’t feel disconnected with my Jesus, no, but I do feel disconnected with the pull inside me to sound this way or that – or with the pull of what others are doing so successfully to point to the kingdom of God. Maybe some perspectives are done; they’re processed, cooked up, and plated well. My perspective is still raw. I’ve barely cleaned these veggies.

Amber Haines | An Uncooked Story

People will tell you to put down your books and join the real world, for heaven’s sake. They will remind you that you live in a university dorm or an apartment reached by only a sliver of light or a temporary rental and do not even think of wasting time or money on land you do not own, but you would do well to smile and say nothing. Go on. Read. Read your books and dream your dreams. You are storing up treasures in heaven.

But after I tucked them in bed and in between her sobs and up the stairs and down, ushering children into jammies, I prayed a new kind of prayer. Prayer was no longer discipline, I was desperate. Tired and needy and confused. And weak. Really weak. There were no books to tell me what to expect from my child, with her particular history — her cocktail of losses and grief, who was wedged into our particular family. Even the best parenting strategies were not sufficient. I needed Him.

We were the kind of weak which many Christians spend their entire lives training themselves to not be.

Sara Haggerty | I Think I’ll Choose Weak, Today

 


thank you dear reader, for your gift of time spent here.  let’s continue on in hope, shall we?

may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

romans 15:13

 

October’s lessons

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October, with all her glory in the leaves a changing and writing for 31 days straight has taught me a few things.

  1.  the leaves will change and beauty will appear whether i’m ready for it or not.  i can not press pause until i’ve time to take a walk or take a picture.  so i need to press pause on something else and take that walk or that picture.
  2. i am not able to publish everyday and run.  i didn’t get out for a run or walk the entire month.  the topic i chose didn’t lend itself to simple words or brief posts.  writing everyday was exactly what i needed, i’ve known that for some time and the challenge to post gave me the motivation to make it happen.  but in dedicating time for writing i let exercise slip away.  i’m entering into November with eyes looking for what it looks like to do both.
  3. i’ve more loyalty to everyone else around me than i have to myself.  i pushed myself every day to publish because i said i would, even if it meant neglecting my home, family, or self.  i already knew this-remember this summer how i wouldn’t quit on my daughter, but if she hadn’t been in the equation, i would’ve quit on myself.  entering the 40’s a few years ago i realized how much more effective it was to work with myself instead of against myself.  since i know this loyalty thing to be true, i’m praying over how i can work within it to both write and exercise-two things that are specifically for me.
  4. reading good authors can usher in fear and super strong temptation to quit writing.  reading good authors also ushers in inspiration and strong courage to write.  it is a real battle for me. sometimes i have to abstain from reading until after i’ve written.  other times i need to read so that i have courage to write.  i can’t predict one from the other, except that i’ve grown in my ability to sense the stirring of either fear or courage and respond accordingly.

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linking up with Crystal Stine for write31days and Emily Freeman for things we learned in october.

sustained

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i’ve moved from tallying up sick days taken this school year by my children (i think we passed 50 in February-when i stopped counting) to tallying up consecutive sick days for myself.  today is day 51.  for 51 days in a row i’ve been sick.

yes, i’ve done All. The. Things.

everyone says it’s too long.  everyone says someone needs to be doing something about it.  either the doctors need to take this more seriously, i need to take this more seriously, or God needs to take this more seriously.

well, i can’t speak for the doctors, but i can say that both the One who heals and this one who needs healing are taking this seriously.

it has been a trial to be sure.

i have words to say about it-but they are still in fragments and the energy and skill required to formulate them for publishing have not been availed to me yet.  i’m taking notes so i don’t forget, and praying for the Word made flesh to keep my story near till it’s time to share.

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in the mean time, i’ve been consuming other’s work.  and words about that have found their way through the fog.  Tsh Oxenrieder wrote recently about that very thing-seasons of producing and seasons of consuming.

I also haven’t been working much, because my head throbs when I think beyond my basic survival skill tactics.

Producing, consuming, and why both matter. by Tsh Oxenrieder

me too, Tsh, me too.  One of the promises the Very Near One has given me is; The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed….(psalm 41:3) and that brought both comfort and frustration. frustration because i want to be released, not sustained. i want the second half of that verse; and restore him from his bed of illness, to be the outcome today.  but comforting because until then, He is sustaining me.  He has sustained me.

i’m linking up today with emily freeman’s Things We Learned in March because tho these aren’t things i’ve necessarily learned, they are things that have been used in the Lord’s sustaining-bringing encouragement and insight into these hard days-and it felt important to mark them just the same.

so here are a few of the ways He’s done that ….


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You doubt your value, don’t run from who you are  -Aslan

from The Voyage of the Dawn Treador

 He grabbed hold of his lifelong dream and didn’t let go. Hand over hand, hour after hour, year after year, plane after plane, he climbed, he learned, he grew, he flew. What had been forbidden was now free. He became a pilot, a guide, a navigator, a natural. Caretaker of souls.

Carmella Rayone on her husbands journey 


 Whether you run a business or not…the [social media] pulls are a part of our lives (whether you like it or not) and we need to learn to manage it without letting it manage us!

Jeanne Oliver sharing her top 6 ways to keep social media from running her life.


And then there are the well meaning people who want me to know that they were cured of every illness in the world when they went gluten-free! sugar-free! meat-free! fill-in-the-blank free! Then others who want to know whether I have used Thieves because Thieves cures everything. And I have used Thieves and I am not cured. Then others who want me to know my body is strong in the Lord! And my body was built to overcome illness without medicine! Then others who swear by Zyflamend or swear by this acupuncturist or this herb whittled down from a tree-of-life at the top of the Himalayas. You get the point. Everyone’s best intentions are to see you made well, without all the pain and struggle in between.

Asthma + Elephants + A Holy Fight by Jenny Simmons


You have an accuser. Don’t let him in.

So, you, desperate to be out of this fog and to walk, wildly alive, in what He has for you:

Use.your.voice.

Speak His Word, don’t just read it. Fill the space with His truth and leave little room for anything else.

About Those Harmless Thoughts by Sarah Haggerty


The practice of joining in on #itssimplytuesday via instagram has helped me to see through the fog of discouragement and embrace the beauty of an ordinary still sick day.

Let’s take back Tuesday, the smallest day of the week because here is where we  live and where our people live. Here is where we wash our dishes and wait for the snow to pass and pray for miracles and walk with the hurting and carry the burdens and really live.

What We Find on Our Simple Tuesdays by emily p freeman


 

 

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!

Things i learned this summer

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slipping in here for a linkup with Chatting at the Sky.  Monday i will return with ‘An Unexpected Journey’ as promised.

Here are 11 things i learned this summer:

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1.  This 190something train depot will be moved to another town to serve as a gift shop for their railway museum.  Apparently the current railway company planned to tear it down, but someone in the know found this other solution.  i am sad.  this is one block from our house and i happen to like the building.  now all we will have at this intersection will be train tracks and fields of gophers and goat-heads.

2. After 15 years out of the workforce, creating a resume, introduction letter, and appearing for an interview would be a process worth going through.  not getting the job will be a nice souvenir.

3. just ten years ago taking your phone with you to dinner was not so common.

4. taking my getsalongwithallthepeopleandnoneofthedogs Saint Bernard camping and to a baseball tournament would prove good for everyone.  She got more practice with being out and about and i got better at the whole anxiety thing (she did attack a little dog once and it cost thousands of dollars to save little dog’s life so i’d been avoiding public places with her)

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5. there was a scandal over cheating and test scores in Georgia.  i find all of the information fascinating and am still taking in the tragedy these tests are subjecting our kids and teachers with.

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6. in South Dakota there is this tower that looks like a castle and it is only a 3 mile hike to get there and totally worth it even if you happen to be sick at the time.

7. there is a Dairy Queen nicely placed next to an elementary school (playground!) near a transmission shop somewhere in Grand Junction, CO.  Howard the tow-truck driver will know this, but what he doesn’t know is that it will be just the mercy and therapy we all need and i will be strengthened for what is ahead and overcome with gratitude.

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8. stressful travels will all be worth it when you see your boys in their ‘discovered’ fort near grandma’s house and hear one declare to his cousin; “this is way better than screen time!”

9. the nester finds feathers.

10. i don’t have to have previous knowledge about numbers 6-8-God will show them to me moment by moment, showing Himself to me in the moment by moments.  i find feathers too….just in a different form.  this summer i learned how to find the feathers.

11. making a deal with my son that he could earn 5 minutes of screen time for every 10 minutes of reading a book that is not Calvin and Hobbes would lead to this every. single. morning.  Note his cup of tea.  he would thoughtfully fix me a cup too and place it next to my bed.  unfortunately, by the time i awoke it would be cold because he was waking at 6 (!) and i …..wasn’t.   i will miss this summer morning routine.

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