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Archive for the ‘introspection’ Category

We were swimming in large pool. I thought I was going to be teaching Cohen to swim, but as it turned out, he was already a great swimmer. He dove to the bottom of the pool effortlessly and swam down on the floor like no one I had ever seen. He looks like a guppy, I thought to myself with a smile. I then noticed that the pool had no deep end- it was all deep. My feet couldn’t touch the bottom. Co was under water longer than I thought he could be, but again he labored without noticeable effort. Then I saw him struggling as he rocketed to the surface of the water. He didn’t realize he was out of air until the last second. I held him and then he dove back under, I did my best to stay above him as he swam deep to the bottom of the pool, knowing it was likely he’d again not recognize when it was time to come up for air. He zig zagged from here to there; I struggled to keep up. Then he swam right into a volleyball game happening on the other side of the enormous pool. I panicked. He bumped into legs and feet, but kept on going. I could barely make my way through the sea of bodies. The volleyball smacked down beside me.

Saturday morning I woke up to this dream. The images were as vivid as a movie, thanks to the pregnancy hormones which often make dreaming seem as real as being awake.

Some years ago I attended a Sara Groves concert with my sister and my parents. She had just released her album, The Other Side of Something. I listened as she talked about the inspiration for the songs coming almost entirely from a struggle she’d had with the Lord over her two sons. Though she was herself ready to take on whatever God asked of her, the thought that her children might suffer was unsteadying. She talked about searching the Scriptures for assurance that her children would be protected, but time after time only discovered that it was most likely that they would be hurt and maimed by life, the sin of others, their own sin and times, possibly even God. Those gut wrenching 11 songs were written as she fought these realities, finally making peace with the sovereignty and goodness of God.

Though I wasn’t a parent at the time – or even a married woman- her words resonated with me and some seven years later are still with me.

Cohen turned four last Friday… unbelievable. When you have a baby everyone tells you to enjoy it because it goes fast, but they tell you this when you’re in newborn land and days run into each other, filled with sleeplessness and feedings and dirty diapers. It is hard to believe them then, but one day you turn around a six months or a year has passed and all the little things you thought you’d never forget are starting to get fuzzy in the files of your memory.

When he woke up in our caboose cabin that morning (I will post photos at some point- so cute! an old caboose converted to a cabin in Hocking Hills) he hopped into bed with us. I had only moments earlier hopped into bed with David (the caboose only had single beds), not sure I’d even fit with my burgeoning belly. With Cohen added to the mix, we were very snug little bugs. In keeping with my mom’s tradition, I told him about the day he was born… about waking up early in the morning not feeling “right”, about how I mopped the floor and then drove myself to the hospital… about that terrifying and wonderful moment when the nurse checked me and said, “well we’re having a baby today!”… and about the moment when I heard his cry, saw his face and learned he was (as I had suspected) a boy. He ate it up. I felt like it was so near I could almost relive it for a moment myself.

The Spring does something to Cohen. This is the first year I have been able to them together enough to understand some of it. Change is a hallmark of Spring… new buds, new life, new length of days, new warmth in the air. For us, the last few Aprils have meant even more change than what naturally occurs. Three years ago, Cohen was turning one. We had his birthday on a tour bus. Though the events of how and why and what exactly have been stripped from my remembrance, there was a feeling that the marriage was salvageable and that we might be a family. A week later, the veneer on that hope cracked and began its slow 8 month crumble. His second birthday rounded out a month of changes: papers filed, a move from our own place to live with my parents, a full time job for me. Last year, he turned three weeks after the divorce was final (not that it meant any real changes to his everyday life) and we entered a new season that foreshadowed what would soon be our new reality.

There are a lot of things Cohen doesn’t know. But there are a lot of things he does know that I wish to God he didn’t. He often surprises me with his words and insight and understanding. This is a double edged sword. A friend recently encouraged me to ask Cohen about a particular circumstance to explore what he was aware of. So I did. I asked. I sat and listened as he explained a series of contexts and implications. I felt shock and sadness. Shocked at the sheer vastness of what he had gleaned from whispered conversations and words that had never been explained to him. Sad that the words had ever touched his ears, sadder still that the contexts even exist.

This year on his birthday, things are as settled as they have ever been for us. There is some unfinished business on the near horizon but by and large there is peace and calm. Some days I think Co can feel the loose ends as much as I can, though he knows little of the situation that lies ahead. We pushed it out of all our guts for a few days of birthday camping and hiking and togetherness. Cohen seemed light as a feather, giddy and full of life. David and I spoke briefly about times that this isn’t true. We sat by the smoldering campfire with cups of coffee while Co launched his hot wheels off the picnic table ramp into the woods.

I thank God for the changes that this year has brought our family… for stability and a home and expansion, for the new life inside of me, for David. I look forward with expectation to the changes that are still unfolding and are finally soon coming.

Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Though Sara’s words in that concert struck a chord with me so long ago, I am only now intimately acquainted with the experiences of which she spoke. I know now what it is to struggle with God over your child’s well being. And, thank you Jesus, I know now what it is to find that your child is the hands of One who knows and sees and cares and is ABLE.

Sunday morning as I woke up, I remembered the dream from the morning before. David was still breathing evenly beside me. I had joked about Cohen being a guppy and the oddity of the dream the day before, but in the calm Sunday morning light, I started to see it for what it was… a tiny fear that I cannot protect him all the time had blossomed and bloomed into the silly images, as my subconscious tried to find a way to work it out. I laid there for awhile with that thought stirring until the Lord reminded me of the other side of the equation.

Two of the biggest blows in my life have come in August. August 2007 I uncovered something that turned my world upside down. And two summers later in August 2009 I learned that a horrible blow had come to my son’s life. That weeks that followed were a blur of tears and helplessness and fear. I was away overnight to do a training and I was woken early in the morning by a text from Pastor Ricks, encouraging me to read through a portion of the Psalms. I got up and did so. In those early morning hours the Lord broke my heart and allowed what had been pent up behind the flood gates to all come out. I repeated the words of Psalmist, capturing them as my own. At one point the Lord said to me that Cohen would grow strong even in his youth and then the Lord gave me the picture from Psalm 1 of the tree planted by the streams of water, whose leaf never withered and whose every endeavor prospered. I read it aloud again and again, placing my son’s name into the text, believing in my heart that it was all true of my then toddler and his future.

Though fear may want to grip my heart in these next couple of weeks, I have determined to believe God. I am determined to instead let my heart cling to His unfailing words. May God arise and His every enemy be beaten!

Even before I pregnant, David and I had felt strongly about a particular name for a son. The middle name has been a whole other story… the list of could-be middle names is still quite long and very undecided. I was going over them this morning, thinking about their meanings. The first name we’ve chosen means “eagle”. I felt like the Lord was reminding me of Isaiah 40 and naming our child with that picture of overcoming just seems right. When I named Cohen, I just liked the name. Cohen Reid. I fit; it sounded right. David loves the meaning of names and when we were first reconnecting he said something powerful about Cohen’s. Cohen is Hebrew for priest and while Reid actually means “red”, David said that Cohen was a “priest among the reeds”, referring to Moses.

Moses had some wounds, flaws, set backs. He hadn’t been unscathed by life, but he was called of God to be a deliverer to his people. This morning and in the weeks that lie ahead of us, I am nurturing these images of my son…not only is to be solid, unwavering, steady, well fed, prosperous.. but he is also purposed to be a leader and deliverer.

Whether or not my subconscious can work it all out, I know my God is more than able to accomplish all that He has begun.

So thank you God for this rainy Monday that You have breathed life into and for a season to hold fast and believe You. We covet your prayers for our family and our faith as we eagerly await the unfolding of what God has called into being. Thank you, friends

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You know how it is when you are on the internet working on one thing and then you click on this link that leads to that link that leads you somewhere you probably should not be. Well I started to read something that simultaneously made my blood boil on my own behalf and crushed my heart for my son… and then I stopped reading; clicked it all off; closed the laptop.

I sat for awhile, creating in my mind thinly veiled tweet after thinly veiled tweet. How to say it without actually saying it in 140 characters or less.

Then somewhere in the midst of the angst I only feel when I disobey God’s command to keep my eyes on Him alone, the Spirit conquered over the whining and fist-raising nature of my flesh. I felt my weak inward groans gathering real strength from the Presence of my Salvation. Jesus, always save me from my desire to be my own defender!

If you’ve ever had to really crucify your flesh and die a deeper death than at times feels possible, then you know it requires more than spiritual awareness and wishful thinking. The only thing that works for me to stay free once Truth has made me free, is to entirely refocus my heart. If Jesus enables me to conquer the longing of my flesh and then I don’t quickly get myself in worship and thinking about all He is and all He has done, I will easily be taken back over.

David has been the last in our family to get the flu so he nibbled on dinner and then headed to bed early, stocking cap on so he can “cook out the germs”. Cohen and I cuddled the evening away. He’s been very emotional today. We sat across the kitchen table this evening having the kind of grown up discussion no parent should ever have to navigate with their 3 year old. His little chin never really stopped quivering and he needed a fairly permanent spot on my diminishing lap for the remainder of the evening. Now he’s fast asleep on the couch adjacent to me, covered with his favorite Superman sheet. (We’re sleeping downstairs, containing the nasty flu bug to the second floor-we don’t want to do more than one round of it!)

All of that to say, I am now awake and alone with my thoughts. Wouldn’t the Enemy just love to tempt me! Sometimes I more tangibly experience the war Paul described in Galatians 5:17 when he wrote, “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another”. This raw truth is foundational evidence for Paul’s plea one verse before, “But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).”

Oh how the Enemy would love for me strangle me with angry thoughts and drag me back to the kind of brooding that feasts on itself and is never satiated! How he would love plant words in my mind and get me to feel the defeat that is rightly only his! And if he couldn’t coerce me into outright rebellion, he’d settle for my unplugging and watching something mind numbing on Netflix…

So instead of giving him an inch to do his work of killing/stealing/destroying, I am going to rehearse the innate Goodness of the Lord and how His faithfulness has undergirded my life and made it overflow with His abundance.

Tonight I got to hold my precious son on my lap while he fell asleep (after claiming he’d forgotten how to 🙂 ) I rubbed his back and watched his almond shaped eyes slowly close, the smile on his face fade into ease of sleep, and his breathing become deep and even. The Lord continues to remind me of the promises He has undeniably spoken about Cohen’s providential life. He will be like a tree planted by streams of waterHe will be whole and solid and unwavering. Though many arrows have been aimed in his direction, I can see how the Lord is already making good on His promise to reroute any weapon intended for my his life. On paper, the account and happenings of his life shouldn’t add up to a well adjusted little boy, but it does. On paper, the account and happenings of his life shouldn’t add up to a little boy who effortlessly taps into the things of God, but he does.

Superbowl Sunday this year, Cohen and I were driving to our home from my parents’ at half time. “Mom, I wish God was real,” Cohen said with a sigh.

“Honey, He IS real,” I assured him, knowing that line between real and not real is blurry for children who want to believe in Santa and Spiderman.

“Then, why can’t He come out of the clouds so I can see Him?” he asked bluntly. We talked about how God is everywhere with us and not just in the clouds and how we can feel Him and talk to Him and hear Him even though we can’t see Him with our eyes or touch Him with our hands. I wasn’t sure if Co would be able to follow the conversation, but as usual, his childlike understanding of God humbled me.

“When I talk to God, why can’t I hear Him, Mom? How do I talk to Him and hear Him?” I did my best to explain how God can speak to our hearts and how we can know its Him.

“Mom, I want to talk to God in my heart. How does He get in there?” asked my wide-eyed preschooler. So we talked about that and I refocused the rear view mirror to look at him. He understood. I pulled over and prayed with Cohen as he told Jesus he wanted to talk to Him forever and that He could come in.

It was an indescribable moment. While I choked back tears, Cohen called Grandma and David to tell them about how Jesus was living in his heart. He got it.

Faithfulness, friends… that’s God working ALL things together for Good.

Last year at this time, I was one day past the final divorce decree. I was living with my parents, still unemployed after being laid off 5 months before, wondering how in the world I would get my house livable for Cohen and I. The Lord asked me to give Him a season of my time. I had no idea all that He was working out for me! Sometimes I feel like Job- getting back multiple times more what had been lost…

Tonight I am sitting in that very livable house that is getting an addition this spring and a porch and privacy fence for our comfort. In this space, I have everything I need and many things I have just wanted. I have a job that allows me to fulfill a lifetime longing to work with young moms. I am close to paying off all of the debt the divorce left me with. My refrigerator is full. We have two working cars parked in the driveway. When bills come, I open them without anxiety because I know I can pay them. The Lord has by His unmatched power delivered me from depression, anxiety and bitterness. In my womb, fluttering and flipping and kicking all day is my second son, who is big and healthy and strong. I once thought I might never have the pleasure of bringing another child into the world or giving Cohen a sibling, but not even a year later, that is happening.

Upstairs asleep is my husband, the kind of man I wish every woman could share their life with. David exemplifies to me in big and in small ways, what God meant when He drew the parallel of a bride and Bridegroom to help us understand His love. Every day I encounter David’s unbending kindness and his joyful pursuit of me and I learn. I learn more of who Jesus is and how He feels about me and just how much I really do love Him because He first loved me. I have now the marriage I could have only dreamt about. I have a husband who, without fanfare, loves Jesus and lives righteously.

Abundance. Overflow. Fullness.

And best of all? I hear the Lord speaking to and influencing my person in much the same simple way I explained it to Co in the car that day. He whispers and stills any fear of what will be. He reminds me of what He’s already said. He breaks my heart with worship while I am in the car or folding laundry. His correction reminds me that I am His. Like a daily baptism, He helps me to identify my own deaths to His sacrifice and the resurrection of my spirit man with His overcoming. He reminds me that to obey is sweeter than to sacrifice. He renews, revives, restores… He continues to breath new life into what was.

Jesus, You are Good and Your love endures FOREVER.

Tonight, may my thoughts meditations on You be unshakable…immovable…undistractable…

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So, words are not coming so easy for me right now. A few have suggested that maybe it is “pregnancy brain”… so I tried to think about being pregnant with Co… was my writing spurred on by the pregnancy or inhibited? And you know what? I couldn’t remember. (Exhibit A? Perhaps)

Other possible blame holders are as follows:
-sickness [I finally stopped being nauseous last week… and then promptly got strep throat.]
-processing a lot of private info not fit for the the world wide web [though I love you bloggy friends dearly]
-time [sometimes the question is: should I complete morning hygiene or blog? or should I eat breakfast or blog? or should I sleep or blog? or should I read my Bible or blog? so currently though I have not written much… my clients, the tiny person growing inside of me, my tired body, and Jesus thank you for taking one for the team.]

Still, the lack of blogging should not be mistaken for a lack of stuff going on in our lives…. no, sir! I can honestly say that my life has never been so full or so good. More mornings than not, I find myself sitting at the kitchen table eating steel-cut oats and sipping tea with my enviably sweet husband while Cohen entertains us with his songs, dances, or “shows”, wondering is this really my life? Could it really be this beautiful and simple? And somehow it is. [And by “somehow” I mean, of course, thanks to Jesus]

It is not perfect, naturally. We have spats. Sometimes he’s tired from a pressing week at work. Sometimes I am overly emotional and reactionary. Sometimes Cohen doesn’t sleep for days on end. Sometimes the mail comes and it is all bills. Sometimes my clients all decide to all fall apart the same week. Sometimes one of our dogs runs out in the yard, cuts her side 8″ long and 3 layers deep, and we have to spend $300 we weren’t expecting to.

It is not perfect, but it is good.

Yesterday it was sunny without a cloud in the sky. After two weekends of rain forcing us to cancel our plans, we were able to have a work day in our “yard”. The excavator came Friday evening and when David, Co, and I got home from our Whole Foods run [ps- don’t want to cook dinner? Just go to Whole Foods on a Friday evening- samples galore! Co said, “Mom, this is the BEST grocery story ever!”] there it sat in the yard. I thought both of my boys were going to have a hard time going to sleep just knowing that piece of machinery was on our property.

We got up around seven and I tidied the house while the boys started learning the excavator. I took off for an hour or so to have prayer with Mom, Aunt Deb, my cousin Emily, and few friends at the church. When I returned, my in-laws were in the yard with work gloves on, our dear friend Nick was loading his truck with the debris and my husband was digging out some giant stumps left behind when the dead trees and out of control bushes were cut down to make room for the… well, house.

our house before any yard work- can you even see the house for all the overgrown bushes & untrimmed trees?

Work was in full swing, which was good cause I have big plans for this yard between now and when this baby arrives. [think: siding, a wrap around front porch, patio, pergola, privacy fence, garden, playground, and yes- even grass 🙂 ]

The day went pretty much that way from there on out. We lost Nick to his wife for a few hours (but kept the dump truck 🙂 ), gained my brother in law Tim and my brother Matt and my mom in the afternoon, and just kept at it only stopping briefly for lunch. Our yard is just under a half acre and with 60+ stumps to be removed and truckloads of ivy to ball up, we made a serious dent in the project, getting more than half way through the yard.

Here are some photos of the yard before we touched it so you get an idea of where we started two years and some 30 truckloads of brush ago:

side yard by the road, not that you could see the road!

front "yard" (zero sunlight!)

there were more than 10 of these horrid bushes around the house!

ivy choked 10 trees in the yard! the stone wall is behind all of that brush

our yard is more than 70' wide, but only 20' was usable due to the brush (all ivy & poison & thorns)

I found that though I love yard work [especially if I get to use a chainsaw], I wasn’t much help. That whole no-heavy-lifting-or-twisting-from-the-middle-pregnancy-thing kept me from the kind of work I normally love to get deep into. Around the same time I had that realization, I also realized how awesome it would be to have Yard Crashers come with a crew and complete a massive project in two days! What is wrong with those people who turn down the help at their local home improvement store? Seriously? I am willing to bet they have never tackled a half acre of space that has been overrun by various kinds of ivy.

But I digress.

One side of our yard has an old (and somewhat dilapidated) stone wall. On top of the wall were growing these ugly, unkempt vines and bushes. Unable to reach our neighbor (her daughter rents the place), we weren’t sure if the wall and ugliness atop it was ours or hers and the surveyor wanted $350 to tell us. So midway through the afternoon we just decided to hack it all down. David and I have had many conversations in the past week about that mess of vines… I wondered if they wanted the privacy that it provided. David assumed that if it were theirs, they would have at least trimmed it. Eventually Saturday afternoon we decided that we would assume responsibility for the mess (by hacking it down, mind you) and then if they wanted the privacy back we would plant something in its stead… something, you know, attractive.

our stone wall w/ the ugly on top of it


the wall sans ugly growth... still in process, but so much better!

My goal was to have it all down (all 175+ foot of it!) and cleaned and the neighbors side raked up before she got home. While I was inside helping my mother in law make dinner, I saw her car drive up and have to go through her yard to get past our truck, which was still parked there.

Oops.

David hopped the wall and headed over to talk to her. I was so busy when he came in that I didn’t ask how it went. So he made up his plate and we got a call from the owner and he headed back over. I stayed inside. After all, I am pregnant, right? And he’s the calm, diplomatic one in the relationship anyway. He was out there for a solid half an hour. I kept peeking out the window, thinking I should go over but then realizing I had a house full of people.

As it turns out she has no idea if the wall is ours or hers either, but she’s been mowing under that mess and not trimming it for years because she didn’t want to mess with something that was her neighbors and upset someone. She was thrilled to have it all gone. And apparently she told David her whole life story and her daughter’s to boot. Which made his dinner cold and stomach growl, but also let me know that our neighbor is a single gal in her late twenties who is going through a separation. I think I will be making my way over there soon. So, the moral of this story is: talk to your neighbors.

Funny how something as practical as yard work can uncover ministry, isn’t it?

The evening ended with homemade cooking, leftover Subway from lunch and pizza. My dad and three of my five brothers, my in laws, my brother in law, and our dear friends Nick and Bethny were all lounging and eating and laughing. Joe, Josh and Cohen were building lego airplanes in the toy room. Dad and Paul (father in law) were sitting in the kitchen talking man stuff. My brother Matt was eating us out of house and home 🙂 Nick, David and Tim (brother in law) were joking around and laughing like men who needed to after a day of physical labor. Bethny, Debbie (mother in law) and I were talking pregnancy and babies and grandparents and giggling about Bethny’s parents who have already bought a crib and pack-n-play (she’s 11 weeks preggo with their first grandchild). Only hours earlier, Aaron, Beck and her parents had stopped by to introduce Hudson to everyone. I sat there, surrounded by so many people I love, eating the casserole Debbie made, thinking that somehow this is the life I always dreamed of possessing.

…and this morning, just one day from the first day of Spring, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. What more could a woman want?

Thank you Jesus!

Well I need to get ready for church… I hope where you are the day feels as pregnant with possibility as it does here! Happy Sunday friends!

*more yard photos coming when its more “done”- right now even though there is a lot of progress, it looks all torn up and muddy so its hard to tell*

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Sometimes we don’t need any further proof than our dreams to know that our mind is trying to work something out. Some weeks ago now, I woke with a headache and realized my pillow was wet and that I was crying. Trying not to wake my sleeping family, I hurried to the bathroom, turned on the light and the fan, and sat down on the foot stool Cohen uses to brush his teeth. As the backdrop and the characters and the story line washed in waves back over my awareness, the tears continued to stream down my face.

I couldn’t stop.

I heaved and my shoulders shook and I felt a sense of loss so deeply it felt like it was pouring out of bottomless well in my soul.

Twenty or thirty minutes later I turned the light and the fan off and shuffled my way back to bed in the dark. Quietly crawling under the covers, my sweet husband pulled me to himself and a few minutes later whispered, “Are you crying? Are you okay?” It was only then that I realized I was doing the same thing I have seen Cohen do more than a time or two… the tears were gone, but I was breathing the rhythm of the sob and still sniffling and choking. I told David I had a sad dream so he held me close and I cried for awhile longer until my breathing evened out and I fell back to sleep.

Never one to shy away from something real, over breakfast David enquired about the dream. I told him it was silly. That he wouldn’t understand how it was even a sad dream. That I didn’t want to talk about it. He gave me that look that said he’d ask again and he has… a few times.

The thunderstorm this morning woke me on and off between midnight and the wee hours of the morning . At three I realized tornado sirens were whining and shouting just above the sound of the wind whipping the world outside our bedroom window. I convinced David we should all go downstairs as hale pelted the windows. He fell immediately back to sleep on one couch, while I checked the weather online. As luck would have it, the storm was downgraded shortly after our move so then we all shuffled back upstairs and into bed. Again, as if on cue, he was immediately back to his gentle snoring and I was lying awake on our bed, listening to the storm and feeling the baby do somersaults in my middle. And I was thinking. Thinking about that dream and about a trending topic on twitter from a week ago that I had plummeted my emotions back to that somehow not quite purged well.

I had seen the topic repeated over and over for about a day. Friends I actually know and well-known people I don’t alike we tweeting and retweeting a link. I watched it on and off, wondering if I should click or not. Eventually I took a deep breath, moved my arrow to the shortened group of letters that would take me to a website I wasn’t sure I was ready to see…. and I clicked. I told myself that I was a big girl and I could handle it. [That’s my go-to mantra when emotional panic tries to take my avoidance land]

The professionally done website had the colors and feel I would have anticipated. Beautiful art was well placed and caught my eye (adda boy, marketing). I read a little about the project everyone was raving over and couldn’t help my smile to myself. It was a good idea. I even felt myself hoping for it and wanting to love it.

I had almost decided to retweet it myself, when at the bottom of the page a photo caught my eye. A head shot. Eyes, hair, smile, glasses. I felt like the wind had been sucked out of my sail; that all the air had been knocked out of my lungs. Warm tears sprung from the corners of my eyes.

I shut the computer.

During the beginning of the separation we did counseling with a pastor and friend that I have long respected and loved. I would drive to Michigan four hours each way every other week or so for these gut wrenching, long into the night, bare your soul kind of sessions. At the time I felt like it was the right thing to do and even now I don’t regret the effort. I even think it could’ve really helped under different circumstances. That is to say, it certainly wasn’t for lack of insight or wisdom or guidance on the pastor’s part. After one of those sessions, while discussing my at times harsh reactions, he said something that stuck with me:

“Kate, you’re like a dog who has been drug behind a truck for miles and has old bruises and open wounds and cuts and is generally rubbed raw. It is understandable, but sometimes then when someone reaches out with no intent to harm, it still hurts. And like a torn up animal, you’re bound to bite back.” [a lot of paraphrasing- he was more eloquent than I]

The imagery wasn’t flowery, but he was right.

And while I am happy to report the open wounds have healed and the gaping holes have been sewn back together and there is notably less flinching and biting on my part. But the old bruises? Well you know how a bruise can be… even when the colors have faded from a deep purple to a barely noticeable yellow, it often still hurts for awhile when directly touched.

There was a gathering- a camp meeting, a church service, retreat or something of the like. Someone who taught me to love the Bible when I was still a young adult was to be speaking. This person took me aside and gave me some Scriptures and asked if I would mind reading them during the service. I eagerly turned to the passage and began reading and rehearsing it, not wanting to disappoint the speaker. Even more so, I wanted to impress this person who for so long has been a hero of mine. The passage was hard- one of those with a million tongue-tying names and places. I stepped outside the main entrance doors to try to pronounce them to see what sounded right. Singing began inside but by the time I slipped in, preaching had begun. I tip-toed to the outer edge of an aisle near the front and stood, waiting to read. The speaker looked at me… a first like there was annoyance at my being late and possibly a distraction… and then when it registered to the person that I was waiting for something, a strange look came over his face. A look that said he didn’t know what I was waiting for… a look of questioning. He had forgotten. Even in the dream, I could feel my face flush with color and shame. He had forgotten. I wasn’t needed. It occurred to me that the passage had already been read, either by the speaker or someone he had randomly and quickly chosen from the audience, totally unaware that I had taken his asking as a privilege. He was unaware that I had been practicing in the hallway, glad to be a part of what was happening. What I had taken as special and important, was really a task for anyone. While I had felt I had an intricate role, it was one effortlessly filled by anyone. Though I had felt weaved in, I was really forgotten.

In the dream, once all eyes had drifted questioning off of me and back onto the stage and the speaker, I quickly and quietly and unnoticed made my way back into the hallway just in time to explode into the very same heaving sobs I awoke with.

Cohen now says “that hurt my heart” when he’s unhappy with something. Most of the time what hurts his heart is that I won’t let him eat snacks for breakfast or stay up past his bedtime, but other times he hits the nail right on the head. It might be a childish expression- a cliche one even- but sometimes there’s just no better way to say it.

Wasn’t there a book called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”? And then some other book that followed with a title something like “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People”? or something like that? I think a better title yet might be “When Good People Hurt Good People” or how about just “When People Hurt People”. That would probably cover it.

One of the deepest deaths I have had to die to survive the separation and the divorce was to give up the notion of explaining myself or vindicating myself or talking it out with everyone… not just the people I loved and wanted to understand, but the people I have never met who sent emails or commented in the most well-meaning way about what they could never know.

I still remember one life-changing spring day in 2009 right before I filed the paperwork. I got a call that I was going to get a call from someone important in our life. I was prepped to know that this important person wanted to know what was really going on. Seeing as I had only ever had one or two conversations of pleasantries with this person, I was shook at my core.

Thank God I had enough sense in the moment to call Pastor. I talked a mile a minute explaining this implication and that detail and how it all intertwined our life and friends and business. I am sure I barely came up for air. Pastor listened and when he could get a word in edgewise, he wisely said “Don’t say anything.”

I must’ve misheard.

“Don’t say anything.”

What? I had been for an hour rehearsing how I would explain the last four years of my life and how things had come to be as they were and where things were at right then and don’t forget- what I thought should happen- you know, just in case that important someone wanted my extra two cents.

Pastor talked about David and Saul and how David wouldn’t cut off Saul’s head even when he had the chance and even when no one else understood why he wouldn’t and even when he was justified and even when David had been right and Saul had been wrong. My heart ached in a way I don’t think it ever had before as the Lord pulled back my justifications and showed me the real thoughts and intentions of my heart…

I had wanted to vindicate myself. I had wanted to be right. I wanted this important person to know what had been done and what I had tried. I wanted him to know how I had been treated. I wanted him to take up my case, to be angry for and with me…
…. and there was a part of me that hoped he wouldn’t keep it a secret.

The ugliness of it all was startling to me. And that ache I had never before known? Now I know its the feeling of the death of my rights and my need to protect myself. And you know what? It hurts.

I was reminded of that day and the very short conversation with the very important person when I learned what it meant to obey God against my strong urges and what it means to entrust myself [my heart, my hurts, my reputation] to One who is ABLE to repay righteously on my behalf and to make me the head and not the tail. Sunday at church Pastor was preaching about Peter’s attempt to walk on the water to Jesus and how Jesus caught him and how in the book of Jude the writer amplifies that reality for us all by saying,

” Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]–“

… and somewhere in the message the Spirit had Pastor rabbit trail into offense and self-protection and that nasty old urge in humanity to avenge ourselves. The Lord just cannot let us avenge ourselves- He can’t! Because in our fallen state we cannot vindicate ourselves without dressing ourselves in the very same wickedness we had started out to expose. We cannot avenge wrongs to our children without first convincing ourselves that we’re on the same level as God- able to see it all, able to judge and the jury, able to maintain holiness and yet correct in love. We just can’t. Pastor was talking about teachers and kids and grades, but those of us whose children have been wounded and maimed, it goes to a whole different level… and here comes that now-familiar ache.

As he continued to speak, my thoughts drifted. The movies of my life played back. And I had to ask myself, do I really trust God to repay righteously? Not just for me, but for those I love? Do I trust Him to make the calls that would be hard for me and rest in His all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerfulness? Or am I sometimes tempted to be like Jonah, okay with God as long as He judges as I would?

It is not a popular passage to preach from a pulpit, but it was alluded to and it cut, dividing up soul and spirit just as Word should. Paul, speaking to the church at Corinth in his first letter, puts them in their place for taking each other to court. He points out in the first six and half verses how wrong this is for a brother or sister to do to one another- not to mention how it looks to the unbelieving outside of the Church! But then in the latter half of verse seven, he comes around the corner for the KO [Knock Out, for those of you who don’t have family members into kickboxing]…

“Why not rather let yourselves suffer wrong and be deprived of what is your due? Why not rather be cheated (defrauded and robbed)?”

Why not? Why not instead of biting and fighting and being offended and sowing seeds of bitterness, why not? Why not just allow yourself to suffer a little? to be cheated? or misunderstood? or talked about? or left out? or lied on? Why prefer our own rights over the kingdom?

Feel that dying yet, friends? After making the case that preferring one’s self over true unadulterated righteousness is itself wrong doing and unrighteousness and a defrauding another Paul goes on to boldly say,

“Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoerst will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.

And such some of you were [once].”

He adds the one who lives a lifestyle self preservation and self preference to a long list of persons Christians are always quick to remember aren’t making the cut.

And such were some of us, right? But now (read all of chapter 6 -so good) we have been washed and consecrated and set apart for something and Someone better.

So… people hurt people. And really good, God loving and God serving people sometimes hurt other good, God loving and God serving people. And sometimes good people who love God make bad decisions for the wrong reasons. I know I sure have and I am betting if we had a blind survey, so have most of you.

A wise friend of mine once told me about how her child had been treated unfairly by someone and how her natural knee-jerk reaction was to want to similarly hurt and alienate the other adult’s child. Ugly, right? Thankfully this woman loves God and is more prone to fall on her face than to satisfy the desire of her flesh. You know what God told her to do? He told her to bless the other child. And not in a small way. She obeyed and reported to me that her heart had never been freer. I tucked that truth into my back pocket, knowing I would need it.

As I have been writing (you know this is my therapy, right? 🙂 you are all cheaper than counseling) and working out my soul’s salvation on this little corner of the world wide web, the sun has been slowly rising on the morning. What was dark and stormy and loud and commanding has now lulled itself into stillness, bathing everything in that cool, blue morning light.

The bruises are still there, yellowed with time and occasionally screaming with the searing pain of being touched too directly… but time is a gift of clarity and healing. If it is true that only those you love can really wound you, then I’d be a liar not to admit the love and fondness that exists somewhere near the foundation of the awkwardness and brokenness that can come from being in storm with other people, is still very present.

David and I saw the movie “The Grace Card” last evening with friends from church. At the crux of the story is this old worn piece of paper tucked into a Bible that said: “I will pray for you every day. I will forgive you and ask you to forgive me. I will love you and be your friend always.” It was a token of affection and a mending heart written to a slave owner from a young slave he had set free.

The Lord is reminding me this morning that I would rather suffer a little hurt, be bruised, misunderstood and even in some cases defrauded than to try any brother or sister in the court of public opinion or in the judge and jury of my own mixed motives. Good people sometimes hurt good people. Sometimes it is a wrong done and sometimes it is lack of information and others is just the stinging loss of closeness when a hard, depleting thing has concluded into an uncomfortable wedge between parties. It doesn’t really matter in the scheme of our little vapors of life unless we make it a hill for our trust in God to die on.

This morning the hurt is dull, but present. Smoldering underneath the decay of what dying has come and is coming, I sense new life about to spring up. I think we call that hope. So, this morning I am freeing my heart again of something that has been weighing it down in recent weeks. I choose the kingdom over being right. I choose love over bitterness. I choose God’s refining of me over my nitpicking and whining about others. I choose to forgive, even if no one asks for it. And I choose to bless and not curse.

And you know what? I am going not going to just wish that project well, I am going to sow some of myself and what I have into it because I love that person with the eyes and smile and the hair and the glasses and he is my brother.

Friends- above all else, guard your heart! for it is the well spring of life! What will you choose to let go of today?

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I am going to blame the Holidays on my recent like of blogging, but truth be told Busyness and Tiredness and The Full Moon should also somehow share a bit of the blame. I will say this is my first morning in weeks of actually being able to pry my tired carcass out of bed when the alarm has gone off. So I am up like a quiet little church mouse in my sleepy house, trying to figure out what I do when I have two hours to myself in the morning and there is no laundry or dishes to catch up on (thanks to my hubby!)…. oh, that’s right! I blog!

Last Saturday we headed to Wauseon to visit David’s parents. It was Paul’s birthday so the trip was a mixture of Hey It’s Your Birthday! and Sorry We Didn’t See You on Thanksgiving and Go Bucks! Beat Michigan! David’s youngest brother, Tim, spent the night Friday so he could ride with us. He and David stayed up for awhile having man talk and I put Cohen to bed and took myself to bed too (told you I am blaming Tiredness 🙂 ) We got up early and after a short coffee visit with my friend Miss Kate, we loaded up the car and got on the road. Somewhere between Bellefontaine and Findlay, Cohen’s story-telling (which is HYSTERICAL- video coming) died down to mumbling and then his little head hung and his eyes closed and the mini-man snoring began. David and Tim were in the front seats, solving all the worlds issues via business planning and I dug out a book from my canvas messenger bag.

I am a sucker for memoirs, right? I love a well told story, but how much better if it is a true story? Remember, I am the one who said I wish instead of commentaries, the Church had a collection of stories of how people struggled and overcame… people and the twists and turns of their lives intrigue me. So I’ve had this memoir sitting on my shelf for awhile now. With the title “Leaving Church” I was expecting to read about a disenchanted someone who walked away from faith. I have always been curious about what causes a person to come to church or leave it… you know- what goes into that decision for a lot of folks? So imagine my surprise when the first chapter let me know that the book was really going to the memories and stories and thoughts of a female priest in the Episcopalian church. I am nearly done now, some four days later, and I am still not sure how she’s “leaving church” but none the less, I am enjoying the ride.

About a year after I first started this blog in 2005, I got an email from a girl whose parents/youth leader didn’t want her to read my blog anymore because they felt I recommended books that were too far out on the fringes of Christianity. At the time, they used a certain term to describe what “fringes” specifically they meant, but rather than get into that now, let’s just say we don’t all agree on what are the outlying areas. I said it then and I still believe now that it is important to read lots of things- not only the things you already know you agree with. By reading something that challenges your own perceptions or ideas, you benefit by being stretched, being made to think, being brought to a place to ask God to help you understand, and maybe occasionally finding out you weren’t as right as you thought. Christians don’t have to be so threatened by unfamiliarity- the Truth is easily found by a pure-hearted Seeker.

So, now I am stepping off my soapbox and saying that while I don’t agree with all of the writer’s perceptions, the book is a worthwhile read… provocative, compassionate and beautifully crafted.

David always has a black pen stuck in his shirt somewhere- it is a certain kind of pen, the ink writes smoothly and smears easily if you don’t give it a minute to dry. He’d know the exact name; of course I don’t. I leaned up from the backseat, “Babe, can you hand me your pen?” He fished around inside his sweatshirt for a minute, producing the very professional looking pen. His eyebrows raised in the rearview mirror, but I could see the smile gaining momentum across his face from where I sat. “Quit it,” I teased, knowing he was going to tease me about not running off with his pen. [to date, I have misplaced or taken possession of at least 4 of his special pens 🙂 ]

With four smooth, deeply saturated black lines I made a box around a paragraph early on in the book. For good measure, I made each point of the box a star. I wasn’t sure how much more I would be highlighting and I didn’t want to forget to revisit the passage.

The writer had been in ministry for some time, but had not yet become a full fledged priest in the church. Having served as a deacon and filled other roles, she had not been assigned any telling attire such that she could serve in the church and then go about the rest of her week without officially been recognized as “clergy”. So, when she did get ordained as a priest some years later, the thought of wearing the infamous collar and even the sight of it, was unnerving to her.

“…When I was a little girl riding in the backseat of my family station wagon to visit my relatives in south Georgia, I remember looking out the window to see men in black-and-white pajamas working in the fields. “Why are those men dressed like that?” I asked my mother. Turning around in her seat, she explained that they were state prisoners, who were dressed like that because the uniform made them easier to see. If they tried to escape, she said, then the guards could find them quicker, and if they showed up at a farmhouse looking for good, then the people who lived there would know to call the police. “See how they stand out?”

…Looking in the bathroom mirror twenty-five years later, I could see how I was going to stand out too. For good or ill, I two would have a hard time escaping. As my beloved priest had told me in seminary, being ordained is not about serving God perfectly but about serving God visibly, allowing other people to learn whatever they can from watching you rise and fall. “You probably won’t be much worse than other people,” he said, “and you certainly won’t be any better, but you will have to let people look at you. You will have to let them see you as you are.”

Although certainly all leaders should be a good example of how to follow Jesus, I like the thought that there is something sacred about visibly following Jesus even when it is not perfect. In a much smaller way, I guess that is what I hope for this tiny space in the world wide web where I record recipes, mommy stories, fears, and victories. I hope that when you take a “look” into my very good, but often ho-hum life you “see” me as I am… my strengths and my failings alike. I hope you “see” what it looks like for me to follow Jesus, imperfectly but honestly. And I hope that for you too- that in the space of your life, you are a visible, living picture of what is means to be a little Christ.

Well Cohen is up and wanting breakfast, but before I sign off, I wanted to remind you THE GREAT ORNAMENT EXCHANGE closes DECEMBER 3rd!

Picture post from Thanksgiving coming- how was your Thanksgiving?!?!

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I believe I have mentioned a time or two on this blog that despite my musical family, I am just not one to listen to music in the car. Most of the time I am listening to Cohen, my constant chatter box. Pre-Cohen (which admittedly is becoming nearly impossible to remember) I would talk on the phone and occasionally out loud… you can act like you think I am strange, but you know when you’re alone, you do it too 🙂

Thursday morning we woke up late (when did 7:20 become ‘late’ !?!?) and had to hit the ground running. Cohen had an accident around 3a so after sheet changing and mattress cleaning and tucking him in again, we were all having a hard time waking up when the alarms went off a few hours later. Cohen was apparently still tired on the drive to work/preschool and was oddly quiet. I found myself flipping through the AM channels for the short drive from our house to the other end of town.

I stopped on a station just long enough to hear the Bible teacher ending a morning devotion on Gideon and faith and fear. He ended his segment with a quote from General Patton that I have been chewing for better than a day now.

Have you ever been afraid? I mean, not like walking through a corn maze or watching one of those silly movies but like really, truly unsteadied by gripping fear? About a year ago, I remember asking Pastor Ricks about how to handle fear about all of the ‘could be’ outcomes of a situation in my family. He gave me sound counsel, admitting that what I was dealing with wasn’t child’s play… it was weighty stuff.

I spent my last waking hour Wednesday night on the phone with a dear friend I’ve never (yet!) had the chance to meet face to face. She and I met like many of you- here/online/the blog world. We have recently had some similar battles and so occasional phone calls help us support and pray for each other. She’s dealing with some weighty stuff too.

Last night I spent some of the last of my waking moments on the phone with a dear friend whose beautiful face I’ve had the pleasure of beholding now for years. She had something she needed to tell me. So she did and we both felt the weight of it. I was glad for the call – for the information- but I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t on my mind through the night and one of my first thoughts this morning.

The last few years of my life I unwittingly became accustomed to living on the edge of my seat; the edge of my life. I was trusting God and somehow still waiting for that proverbial other shoe to drop… makes me pray that I am was not and am not like the double minded person that James writes about- the one who asks of God and doubts at the same time. James says in essence “that person should expect to receive nothing from God”. Still, the Lord has come through again and again for me and for my family, going above and beyond what I could have even imagined asking for. So, maybe more than being double minded, I was expecting God to come through and others to continue to make messes He would need to rectify. That’s probably a fair assessment.

Like the light brimming around the edge of cloud, fear was always outlining my best efforts and thoughts and even, at times, my faith. I would wake with a pit in my stomach, playing the ‘worst case scenario’ with my life… imagining all of the could-be’s, praying to God to help me be stronger, to trust more whole-heartedly.

But something has shifted… a page has turned.

Last week I received three separate messages- all reminding me that the Lord has taken up my case in some things that lie ahead of me. Two were phone calls encouraging my faith and repeating a Word for me from the Lord. The last message came via facebook from a woman of faith at my church. She and I know each other casually at best. Her husband and I work at the same place and I know the names of their three children and that’s about it. She knows about as much about my life. Her faith and faithfulness to God is well known in our community. I don’t call her a woman of faith as a pleasantry. She said while she was praying early in the morning, the Lord brought us to mind and that she felt strongly I should read through the Psalms, highlighting and meditating on the each phrase describing the rescuing, warring nature of God.

General Patton is remembered as a brave man of war, though he denied his own bravery upon being asked about it. In his autobiography he wrote this insight about what it takes to move forward in the face of weightiness, “I was not counseled by my fear”.

My alarm was to go off at 5am. I have one alarm set for 5a and another for 5:30a. David’s alarm is set to start playing soft music at 5a and to begin an annoying set of beeps closer to 6a. For two morning people, it occurs to me that it is kind of funny to have so many alarms set. I guess that is still on the docket of marital details to be worked out. Anyway, I woke up at 4:45 and just stayed awake. Having had disrupted sleep since Cohen “needed” me at 1a, I just gave up on the idea that fifteen more minutes would be even be helpful. I laid awake, waiting for David’s alarm to begin playing worship music from his ipod. It started and my husband, still fully asleep, rolled over and began to whisper prayers in my ear. As Jason Upton sang “my beloved” over and over again, describing opening a door to the Lord, my heart shook off the small lingering heaviness and restlessness of the night.

Sitting on my cream colored leather couch before the mammoth 15′ by 9′ (empty) built-in bookshelves in my living room, I am drinking a cup of very stout black coffee and reading and meditating by the soft light of a side table lamp. I love this point of the morning… no one else is awake and all I hear is the fan in Cohen’s bedroom and his moving around on his bed and the furnace turning on and off as scheduled. The smell of coffee is the most active happening so far and I can feel myself just being present with the Lord. In a very similar way, I rested my head on my husband’s chest last evening and just wanted the comfort of closeness without too many words. Sometimes words are effortlessly trumped by Presence.

In the sweetness of this silence, my heart has been opened up more deeply to think about General Patton’s insight into what other’s saw as bravery and also to what the Psalmist David had to say about what he had permitted to counsel him.

In Psalm 13 David, in speaking about his feeling forgotten of God, says “How long shall I take counsel in my soul? Having sorrow in my heart all the day?” The Amplified version says it this way, “How long must I lay up cares within me and have sorrow in my heart day after day?”

In Psalm 16 David says this: “I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken”.

I can only speak from my own experience, but I am assuming that many of you have had real reasons to fear and to seek counsel. I assume that many – if not all of you- can identify times in your life when you’ve been counseled by fear or your own sadness and hopefully, by times when the Lord is so set before you that His voice is all you can hear.

Fear is the opposite of faith and cannot stand in the presence of perfect love. And yet, with a God who loves us so flawlessly and who requires sincere faith, how often we, His children, find ourselves held back and tripped up by fear! You know why the enemy of your soul attacks you this way, right? Because more than anything else the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy in you, he wants your mame your faith. Why? Because without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is the baseline, starting point of walking in step with the Spirit. If the enemy can get you to side step the Mighty Love of God just long enough to make you doubt your Father’s intent or love or ability, then he has you a hop skip and a jump from deflating your own faith. And the more counsel you ingest by way of fear, the more you will find your ears dull to God’s words and your will limp to do as He asks.

The Psalmists admits to taking counsel from his own soul and the sadness in it. Have you ever noticed how your flesh will speak if you give it an audience? Last night my friend Bethny and I went for a late night power walk around our neighborhood. She jogged to my house and we put on stocking caps and headed out. It wasn’t long before we were telling on ourselves. We have a habit of doing that. She told me about her husband misspeaking and her dramatic reaction. I told a similar story and we laughed at our like-mindedness. At one point we ended up talking about the dialogue that accompanies our thought processes in the midst of conflict. There’s what you are thinking rationally and what the Lord is saying and then there’s this… this other speaking. You know what I am talking about… its that voice that is so soft and so influential that if you don’t stop to examine your own heart you might not even notice it. It is the voice that fuels and informs your emotions… the one that pats your indignation on the back, good games pride, and helps you to come up with those super hurtful zingers?

Just listen to David in Psalm 13, wallowing in his sorrow:
“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, And my enemy will say ‘I have overcome him’, And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken…”
I mean if this isn’t forget-all-that-God-has-done-for-me-pity-party 101, then I don’t know what is! At the end of the song (as is often the case) David has to admit that the Lord has dealt “bountifully” with him. In the middle of it, his soul’s counsel has him defeated, belly aching, and hopeless.

In the recent past I can see how often I let fear have my ear. This morning I am realizing how less than 8 hours ago I was quick to incline my ear to my own soul’s counsel; that I was quick to say, “here we go again” or “will this never end, Lord!?!?”

One of the last things David said to me last night in regard to my concerns was “Babe, it is already done; settled; taken care of.” I went to sleep holding onto my husband’s steady faith, knowing how right he is. All that lies ahead is already known to the Lord; His feet have already tread the path. I am just waiting for the unfolding of His will. I drifted off asking the Lord to let David’s faith being a shield around our family; a covering; a protection.

Even so, last night my sleep was full of dreams of what could go wrong punctuated by wakefulness at times when I should have been resting. The mind works out what it can when we sleep, but only the Lord can really resolve a matter.

As I read Psalm 16 this morning it has become my prayer. Pray it over yourself and seek the Lord today about whose counsel you taking in your own life. Be blessed my friends.

Psalm 16:5-11 [Amplified version]
“The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup;”
You are my inheritance, Jesus. You are my sustenance. You are Goodness and Provision allotted to me. I choose You because You first chose me. I love You because You first loved me.
“You hold and maintain my lot.”
Everything that is mine comes from You. Indeed, EVERYTHING that is comes from You. I am not responsible to make anything, hold anything together, protect what is mine. You are the One. You are My Shepherd, My Father, the Lifter of my Head.
“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good heritage (the NASB says “Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me”)”
Jesus, how truly BEAUTIFUL is the lineage You have grafted me into. How radiant – how glorious! You have made the boundaries of my life pleasant and supplied everything good thing. My heart is thankful, brimming and overflowing, Jesus.
“I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel;”
I WILL bless you Father. Thank you for your Word; Your Truth; Your Speaking. Thank you for speaking enacting a better covenant; for the shedding of Your blood which spoke and continues to speak better than the blood of Abel. Thank You for giving wisdom liberally to all who ask. I am asking Lord… be my counselor, Lord. Push out every other voice. I agree with You.
“yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.”
Let my heart resound with Your truth. Let my meditations day and night be on Your Word. Let my heart overflow with songs about Your goodness. In place of restless nights I ask for night seasons full of hearing from you. Instead of anxious dreaming, I ask for visions of You.
“I have set the Lord continually before me;”
I will look to you, Jesus. I will put you in the front of my mind, my heart, my eyes.
“because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
I set you at the position of Authority and Ruler and Advisor. Be my stay, O Lord. May I be steadied and sure hearted because of You.
“Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices;”
My heart IS glad and my whole self blesses you; my whole self gives you thanks. Bless Your sweet name, Jesus.
“my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety,”
Thank you for rest- physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. I say that You will do as You have promised and give me rest round about. Thank you for making us safe, for letting us burrow down deep and stretch out in the safety of Your will.
“For You will not abandon me to Sheol [the place of dead],”
…and nor will I give heed to any voice which would say that You have or will ever abandon us.
“neither will You suffer Your holy one to see corruption.”
…for Your Name’s sake, Jesus… because You are the Holy One who never decays or gives out or rusts..
“You will show me the path of life;”
… and I will walk in it.
“in Your Presence is fullness of joy,”
Yes, Amen. So let it be.
“at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
Thank you Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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So… 5 weeks from today I will be waking up to decorate and prepare for a rehearsal dinner.

Unreal.

No one could believe we were really going to try to plan a wedding in 7 weeks, but we’ve made good progress down several giant checklists and while I can feel that there is still a lot to do, I couldn’t be happier about our short(er) engagement. I pick up my dress this afternoon and then after work we’re picking out wedding rings and deciding on flowers.

In 36 days I will be Mrs. David Andre.

Someone pinch me. 🙂

Yesterday was a good one… toilet and sink got installed downstairs (thanks to brother Ben) and the upstairs got primed and painted. I spoke with the electrician and I got a estimate on the trim. I hired someone else to do the tiling this weekend so we can do wedding stuff instead. Upper cabinets are ordered and today I will finalize the carpet and granite installations.

After a year of gutting and remodeling, the idea of actually living in the house had started to feel like a mirage. Even when we got closer and projects were finished, it felt like moving was still forever away. Well, now its weeks… probably only two weeks. And then I will get to fuss over the stuff I really want to… like rugs and painting and window dressings and vases.

Last evening Cohen “helped” Aunt Debbie paint for a little while in my bedroom. He wielded the brush like a pro and kept drawing people on the wall and then covering them up and then giggling. I took him home looking like smurf from his painting adventure. I scrubbed the paint off of his nose and fingers and toes, while he told me all kinds of stories about what his bedroom is going to be like. Then I got in the shower and scrubbed the primer I had spent the afternoon applying off of my nose and my fingers and my toes (apparently Cohen gets his painting “skills” from his mama- ha!) and I dreamed a little about what life is going to be like in that house on the northeast end of town.

David arrived at 8p having had a longer day at work due to a project he wanted to finish. We talked about wedding ideas, finalized weekend plans, did ear candles (yes its true), and decided on our honeymoon location and room and airfare. It was a pretty typical evening (minus the ear candles- I’d hate for you to think I have some strange obsessive compulsive disorder about de-waxing my ears *grin*). We didn’t eat anything special or having anything planned. When he got there I was already in sweatpants and a tank top and Cohen was in his pj’s. We talked through some to-do’s and details, but had no seriously enlightening conversation.

But you know what? It was a wonderful evening.

Sometimes I cannot wrap my mind around where my life has been in recent history to where it is now. Sometimes I want to stop the people around me and say, “Hey this is my life, isn’t it?” Sometimes I find myself praying that it is all real and that God will not let any “other shoe” drop… heck, sometimes I really do want to pinch myself.

But this is my life and I really don’t have to keep waiting for things to fall apart anymore.

Thank you, God. Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU.

While my heart woke up brimming with thankfulness, my Spirit began to recite a familiar psalm of David.

THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.

He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.

Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place. [Psalm 23]

Though this is David’s story of how God was to him, it is also my story of how God has been and continues to be with me. In the last 3 years in particular I have walked through valleys so deep at times it felt like the sun had ceased to exist. I found myself often stumbling through the narrow passage ways, praying for an end to tunnel; begging God for a glimmer of light and hope. And even when I didn’t see a glimmer at the time, I can now honestly testify that the Lord was the Guide and Protector for Cohen and I. The Lord has helped me to climb the highway to righteousness when I knew I didn’t have it in me… and He did it for His name and His renown! Even in the tightest of spots, we have not had need of anything…. that’s the kind of Caretaker the Lord has been to us.

I have seen the Lord prepare a banquet for us right in the middle of trouble, with our enemies looking on. Not to spite them as much as to remind us that we are His; children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We feasted and dined with Him and been drunk on His company even in the hardest of circumstances. We’ve known what it is to overflow on the inside at times when people would’ve expected us to be coming apart at the seams. He has given us eyes to see into His purposes even when the fog of what was had settled in thickly around us.

This morning what my Spirit was relishing in was this:
He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.

A few years ago I wrote about where I had been and I said I looked forward to someday writing about where I am going. Well, the Lord is leading me beside still, restful waters. I think it might just be as deliciously simple as that.

Thank you God. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

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