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Monthly Archives: January 2012

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A Five Minute Friday Post

My friend Lisa-Jo does this Five Minute Friday thing every single Friday where she prompts you with a word and then you write, unedited, for five minutes. Then you do the unthinkable… you publish it for the world to see. She’s brilliantly brave and really awesome. I’ve never done it. But today, I’m in. Because, well, I like to keep it fresh around here and, quite honestly, I like her word today. Ready?

GO

Tender

I studied Psalm 23 this morning for a devotion that’s coming up. “Tender grass” is what the Shepherd leads us to. Us being me and those who follow Him and call Him “Lord.” Tender grass in beautiful pastures and near quiet restful pools. I picture fresh and soft.

I think of tender and imagine Jesus “growing up as a tender shoot” (I’m sure that’s not correctly quoted, but it’s in Isaiah somehwere). Jesus — a tender shoot. Like a brand new, fragile, stomp-on-able new piece of grass.

I think tender and I picture tender steak, yum. Because it’s easy to cut. Tender hearts are nice because they feel others’ cuts and bruises and hurt with them. But the one with the tender, well, sometimes it doesn’t feel nice. Because tender hurts sometimes.

Like Jesus was tender. He hurt sometimes. He hurt for me. He still does when I hurt. You too.

Yeah, that’s tender. I like it. But sometimes, well, tender is hard.

STOP

Okay, so now you see my attention deficit propensities. And aren’t you glad I usually edit? ūüôā

What do you think of when you hear the word “tender”?

Library Stillness

We don’t usually stay for long. Just find your books and let’s get going. That’s how we roll these last few years since outgrowing storytime and needing places to go and things to do with those busy little preschool hands.

But today’s¬†visit¬†evolves into more than the norm. After finding our books and choosing which covers carries the most promise for the next few weeks, we find ourselves among the delight of the stillness and the glory of the order that surrounds.

We approach the couches and the perfectly child-sized chairs and decide they fit perfectly.

The chairs and the¬†quiet fit perfectly today.¬†I hadn’t realized until I¬†made myself notice. The order¬†of this place¬†is exactly what¬†I needed today. I hadn’t realized¬†how unsettled my mind had become until I made myself be still and join the order that is this place of refuge today.

So I wait until I feel the quiet within. I watch them read, watch the traffic outside, and I pay mind to the refuge of the order and the stillness that we enjoy.

Oh, how I do love the library.

Especially today.

My eyes move to the window behind us. My soul feels messy today, like the snow outside.

Of Plans and Markings

I recently read a blog post about writing blog posts. It suggested that, in order to generate more blog traffic, I should post regularly, like three times a week or more. I found it really helpful. Well, there is a part of me that found it helpful. The part of me that loves to think about the future and then plan it out in detail on a color-coded calendar that’s broken up into quarter-hour segments. I love the idea of having my whole week planned out so it looks really nice and neat and ordered, and all pretty-like with its color-coding. It makes me feel like I have it all together.

And that’s where the helpful of that particular blog post ends for me. At the color-coded Google calendar that makes me look really important and organized and all together. Because that’s as far as I got in implementing the advice. I only got as far as the pretty little color-y agenda.

The truth is, I am way better at making¬†goals look manageable and all pretty-like than I am at actually¬†getting something done. The rubber-meets-the-road part of goal setting is the hardest part for me. I like the plans when they look all pretty and color-y on paper, but when it’s time to actually act on the plans, well sadly, that is often a different story. And¬†there is a huge gap between making something happen on paper and making something actually happen.

In truth, sometimes I wish just writing all my ideas down and fancying them up so they look all cute and color-y were enough. Goodness knows I’d be changing the world by now with all my good intentions and daydreams if that were the case. I get lots done in my dreams. Perhaps therin lies my problem with goals… Too dreamy, perhaps?

Book proposal complete in three months. Submit one article per month for possible publishing. A blog post every morning, Monday through Friday. Edit that book in five weeks flat. Totally do-able¬†with my¬†cute little color-coding, and pretty too. But then life happens and the colors get mixed, or erased,¬†or they¬†turn bold and smear pressure all over me, and I find myself paralyzed by the plan I’ve made to look so pretty.

That’s when the¬†gorgeous, color-y¬†plans become kindling in my fireplace and I start to wonder how in the world I can change the world if I can’t even make the colors come alive.

Because that’s what¬†I really want.¬†Really, isn’t¬†it really what we all want? To make a difference in the world. To mark the world with what we do, not just with what we want to do or even how we plan to do it.

But plans don’t¬†leave¬†marks unless they are enacted.¬†Unfortunately for me, pretty Google calendars do not leave marks.

I consider all of this, and then I remember a Proverb that I read long ago.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails¬†(Prov. 19:21).

See, I can make the most beautiful plans in all the world. I can plan to change the world with my words or with my actions. I can even plan to save the world somehow. But in the end, my plans alone amount to nothing. The only marks that mean anything when all is said and done are the one that God Himself purposes. So I guess the only way to leave a mark is to find out His purpose and go from there.

So I sit here at the computer and wonder how to apply this newfound truth to my blogging habits. Oh, how I would love to change the world with the words I write here. Or here. But I need to know first what is the LORD’s purpose for it? What mark, if any,¬†does He intend to make with this tiny little piece of cyberspace?

And that is when I go again to my face and simply ask Him.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17).

Bubble Moves

We’ve begun a new dance in our home of late.¬†And, while I normally really enjoy dancing, I find this one to be a bit awkward and cumbersome and downright demanding, almost impossible, even. Yes, I did receive Just Dance 3 for Christmas from my awesome husband. No, that is not the dance to which I refer. (Those dance(s) = really awkward, nearly impossible, but total blasts of fun.) This dance, led by my seven-year-old daughter (who is still working out the moves, by the way),¬†is actually a¬†dance of uncertainty and anxious unknowing.

Turns out, I’m not the only one whose stomach tumbles to the beat of¬†unknown things out of my control. Turns out, we all have tumbly bumbly bellies and minds that won’t rest¬†when it comes to what we do not know and what we cannot tame. When we enter the land of I-have-no- idea-what-this-is-going-to-look-like, we all choreograph our own little I-gotta-pee-dance and move to the unheard rhythm as if that might stop the inevitable flow (so to speak). And though I normally get a real kick out of any said pee-dance, well, this one I’m just not digging.

Because my seven-year-old’s dance happens to come alive regularly between the hours of go-to-bed and o-dark-thirty. And the moves continue¬†well into get-your-shoes-on-and-get-out-to-the-bus.

You need to know that my family is looking towards some really big changes over the coming year. We’ve known about them for quite some time, preparing in various ways. And now we await their final approach, the arrival time of which we do not know. So it makes total sense to both my husband and me that our kids feel anxious and unsure even in the midst of the excited and the oh-my-goodness-I-can’t-believe-we-get-to-do-this (because my kids aren’t allowed to say holy crap).

As such, I inititated a conversation with the school psychologist about how to help my unsure daughter with her stomach aches and insomnia, as well as the out-of-nowhere regular separation anxiety that pops up everytime she thinks about going to school. It’s new for her. She’s still choreographing the dance. I’m still learning the moves. So Mrs K was quite helpful and gave some suggestions as to how to make the dance a little less awkward. Less pee-dance, more Dougie.¬†(Still awkward but¬†more of¬†an intentional awkward. Thank you, Rockin Skinnies,¬†for the ever so educational you tube video¬†linked here.) After our truly amazing conversation, Mrs K went and talked with my sweet little girl, who was enamored by the God-given grace she found in that woman. (I’m still astounded at how God used that woman last Tuesday in my and my little girl’s hearts. #15 on my list, by the way.)

As a result of that day and those conversations, we¬†added the Bubble Move to the¬†ever-developing dance¬†routine. It helps calm the nerves by breathing deeply — in through the nose out through the mouth — and it’s fun, too. Not so awkward.

Turns out, I’m starting to like the dance of bedtime.

You know what those bubbles are called?

I’m starting to believe it.

Now if we could just¬†switch around¬†those middle of the night moves, I’d be a much happier dancer. Just sayin’.

The Year of Unafraid

“Focusing on intentional thanks — forces those fears to shrink in the face of His Grace. -Ann Voskamp

I chose a word last year for intentionality. You know, something to focus on through the year that I knew would help me grow and become more of who God made me to be. The word was “grateful.”¬†I wanted to start seeing everything — every.thing. — as a gift from God. To see each circumstance, each moment as something¬†God allowed even in all of His sovereignty and grace and goodness and kindness and love.¬†Even the difficult and the bad and the confused.

So I started¬†thanking God¬†for what He had given me in the right now. Instead of begging him during the bedtime prayers¬†for no barf through the night or the next day, I started thanking Him for the health we had right then, while we prayed, even if someone had barfed that day. (Clearly, I have issues with barf, no?) Not so coincidentally, I had received the promise for Ann Voskamp’s book 1,000 Gifts for Christmas that year, and as soon as it hit the shelves, it was in my hands. I’m pretty sure God gave me that word to focus on last year. I’m so glad He did. (Yes, grateful, even.)

So I’ve been thinking about a¬†word for this new year. Another year, another word to sum it up with.¬†And here it is —¬†unafraid. Because¬†I don’t know all that the the year will hold (I mean, really, does anyone?), but I¬†know there will be some major changes¬†and unknowns to face.¬†Because I’ve struggled with fear for much of my life and I’m done doing that. Because God, in His¬†Almighty, promise-keeping faithfulness,¬†has freed me up from so much of my anxiety issues and yet I still find “afraid” to be a part of my vocabulary somehow.

And here’s the really amazingly God-is-sovereign kind part of this whole thing … The unafraid follows the grateful. It’s a natural¬†outcome of joy-finding, this unafraid, done-with-the-fear living.

So I say bring it! I’m ready for the year of unafraid.

Do you have a word you’d like to sum up the year 2012? I got the idea from Ann Voskamp at www.holyexperience.com. (I like her, can you tell?)

New Year’s Post

I have started three posts this year. And published none. This is the third. Whether it earns the first publish of the year title remains to be seen. I’ll let you know by the end of this post. K?

I sit down, computer in my lap, hands poised for brilliance to flow from thoughts to fingers and ever into cyberspace. There is truth burning in my soul, I know there is. But I can’t get it out. Because it’s the first blog post of the year. I feel as if I need to start the year strong. And yet, here I am, five days into the new year, and still postless. Still waiting for brilliance to shine.

So, you know what? I’m just gonna get it over with and let myself off the hook and maybe, just maybe that will alleviate the pseudo pressure with which I’ve blanketed myself so I can get on with the writing that I do so love.

The end.