Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grace and Beauty Bits All Strung Together

Dear Ones...
Come and take a Sunday stroll with me. There is a rustic wooden bench across the road and around the pond's curve from here. We would find it nestled in tall prairie grasses but sitting along a mown pathway perfect for slipping off our sandals and relaxing bare toes in the soft green. 
The butterflies and grasshoppers of late August would join us. 
There is already the water-whooshing sounds of geese landing nearbye. Somehow they know these muggy 80s will not last. 
Autumn hinges on the horizon. 

I want you to drink with me in the beauty of this day, this season right in front of us; 
Engaging the worship muscles of our souls and feeding on the LORD's goodness surrounding us!

We will both meet with Monday's newly-birthed motion and demand in the morning, but join me in face-forward entering of the rigorous with our identity in Christ first. 

Let us enter filled, alive, soul-fed, enabled, chosen, surrounded and overflowing! 
His word all around us, His Spirit within us, covering these days ahead; covering all of their aching, rushing, not-enough, waiting, needing, flat out failing with the capstone of grace. 
"Grace, Grace. Too much grace." 
We will shout it loud at the end!

Just look all around us. Grace and beauty bits are gathered in bundles at our feet; floating in from this past week.
{ I will string some of mine together in a bunting of links for you. }
Scraps of His truth and steadfast love whispered in the words and photos captured and put down by others. 

Feast your soul and rest your heart!
Welcome Monday with huge faith and worship!
This wise perspective timely in seasons of reorienting home-life rhythms. 

Is your communion with Abba this way?

So that they believe in their Creator not through catechized brains alone, but from souls enlarged with wonder at the signs of Him all around. 

Heard of this one yet? 
Seriously the MOST FUN challenge you and your spouse will ever take. 
If 15 seconds is already a norm for you, take and add the 15 sec to your "norm" like Mr Favorite and I did... 
{We guarantee you won't regret this experiment...}
Single? Tuck this away for the future, then forward it to a married couple that you love.

Do you know Kara? I wish we could all be her besties as her amazing journey and platform of faith unfold. Grab some fresh coffee and do a little back reading of her blog. Catch her story and her heart. Watch for and order her book.  Pray for her strength and for her people. We will see this woman in glory all wrapped in His embrace, and we will be different here for knowing her story. 
I will leave you with this image. I do not recall where I stumbled across it, but I saved and have returned to it several times.

At first glance it stirred something in my soul; like a pixelated reflection of Abba's beckoning welcome over me. 
His rescue and choosing grace beautifying my heart and drawing my approach through courts of absolute beauty. 

{Zephaniah 3}
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

What are some of your grace and beauty bits from the past week?
I would love to hear you share in this place. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dear Friday; a day for counting...

Dear Friday, 
Oh how I welcome all that your offer me both in the view over my shoulder, the pathway ahead, and in looking right smack dab down at ya!

You beckon for final pushes in effort as the rhythms of this home produce finished projects, school mornings practiced, fellowship embraced, some cleaner closets, appointments kept (with the exception of that one poor dentist, whom this addled memory, immune to all alarms and reminders in the world, stood up- 
flat stood up). 

You, Friday, also offer a place of pause before transition in which my soul finds openness to gather together the nuggets of huge grace which have been gifted into my life since you and I last met. 

~The sweetness of resuming our early morning rhythm in preparation for school's start next week. 
The barely dawning skies as My Favorite and I knit hands and hearts to pray the day in, tousled hair on my littles, and the way a hearty breakfast wakes their eyes to bright-smile slowly.

~K's exuberant passion to see every single animal our city's small but sweet zoo boasts. The way she is still contemplating the map days later and mourning those elusive kangaroos.

~Navigating congested hallways in a freshly renovated school to meet this year's new teachers and deliver supplies. Desks were located, classmates greeted, and anticipation built. 
To release our small people into the hands of teachers each year is fresh reminder that they do not belong to us, but have a Creator who unfolds in perfect ways His purposes for them. 
We are anchored and thankful!

~ Slow lingering walks around the pond with my hand in his and hearts sharing around the day we both have passed through. 
A purposeful enjoying with winsome freedom the sweetness of safeguarding and deepening our relationship.

~ The many times this week that I have chosen spiritual white space to slow, lean into, and savor hearing of His love for me through His word. Freedom anew to put down the list, turn off my phone and just be in His presence has fed and refreshed my heart beyond degree. 
Like the green hedge lining our back deck; heavy and a bit untethered under the growth of recent rain showers, my soul bulges out of the lines with new growth, a freedom, healing, and clarity freshly born.

Zechariah {this minor prophet is playing a major role in my culminating soul renovations}
~lit. "The Lord Remembers".... God's nature and initiation of comfort post-exile.  He plucks from the fire, chooses, takes up residence in, and promises restoration multiplied.
He measures, knows, understands, surrounds, beautifies, overflows, centers, redefines, repurposes, prizes, protects, builds up, gives share in His glory!
The "finish line" of this book came and went earlier this week. I am still swallowed up whole in it's chapters; turning and returning to the LORD's unveiled nature, promise, and purpose for this soul; 
His chosen and prized possession.

"The Best Yes" by Lysa Terkeurst.  
I slurped this title down with intensity; a thick fudge-slathered milk shake with lots of protein for the mind and soul.  It followed beautifully on the heels of how God has been teaching me to cultivate spiritual white space 
{what that means and how to use it etc}. 
My heart's eyes sprung open wide with clarity and fresh understanding as I received Lysa's teaching on; 
{God's Word, Ways and Wonder}, {Chasing Down That Decision}, {Managing Demands by Understanding Expectations}, 
{The Power of a Small No}, 
{The Awkward Disappointment of a No}, and {The Thrill of an Unrushed Yes}.....

If any of that sounds intriguing, get a copy of this book and benefit as I have! You will!

"Lament For A Son" 
Nicholas Wolterstorff's reflective memoior in the grief of his son's death.  I am finding these transparently raw words, strung together by the strings of an aching heart, to be captivating as they illumine my understanding of loss and grief; to move through my own, and comfort others.

"Stripped - When God's call turns from "Yes!" to "Why me?" by Lina Abujamra.  Half way through and deeply challenged. This author has been gifted with a humility which causes her words to ring forth in power and truth; laying the Biblical foundation of the gospel in a revisited fashion for the way we think about and pursue our callings and dreams.

~Fresh raspberries, plump and sweet.
~These last unhurried days of Summer with all three littles at home with me.
~Beautiful sunsets on a horizon I will not always have before me.
~A newfound favorite coffee brew
{Folks it's the best steamy hot black to ever fill my mug.}
~A grace-glimpse into our G's heart as he recognizes, grapples with and clings to the gospel in new ways.
~Waiting. Yes, we are savoring the quiet peace of a long wait in new directions.
~Anticipation: of an extended weekend, of Autumn, of grace upon grace - always that!

 {on replay}
 "The Middle of it All" by Kerri Roberts.
and pretty much anything else from her album, "Time for the Show"

"Who is Like You" by Meredith Andrews
"Into the West" and "Fields of Gold"  by Peter Hollens

This sermon: 
{We like to "stalk" this pastor's preaching.} 

~Spontaneous unhindered weekend family time; listening, asking, laughing, discipling together. The weather will dictate activity, and the Spirit will ordain direction, but my heart already leans into these hours of Schulz5 joy. 
I am awash with ideas for making my people know their identity as treasured graces. 
May I serve up, wash over, comfort through, cuddle in, and wrap up with joy every aspect of these set aside days.

~A short collection of new items has made it's way onto my weekly gorcery list. 
Researching, planning and prepping new dishes is a sweet joy to my specific creativity gifting. 
Where I'm completely lost with fabric and thread, or with scaps and booking, I can get really excited over the saute pan, sweet basil, and chop, chop, chopping. 
Recent soul renovations have brought conviction that this pursuit is part of God's specific instruction for me; to be rejuvenated and guarded! 
I'm eager to rediscover the sweet joys in hearing collective "yums" when new flavour combinations hit tastebuds around our life-scratched square of wooden table top.- So two new-to-us dishes rest in instruction form ready for release into menu reality this coming week.

~Tech-free Saturday.  One of my new boundaries to give test and practice to. The phone and laptop will be set aside for this day each week, not so much because they burden or encumber me, but in obedient pursuit of that delicious spiritual and emotional white space I am finding to be such a relish. As time, attention, and mental energies are made free from these useful devices and the connection they bring, I will be pursuing uninterrupted face time with my people, solitude, off-the-grid reading and writing.

~A New Look. This mom-pony-tail needs to go! My first day without any littles 
{in 9+ years} will find me passing time at a favorite salon for some fun experimentation. 

~Steven.  In my plans every moment of every day, I will relish, receive, flirt with, and serve this man.  I will listen to his admonitions {their needed and gentle} and move alongside him in the mission God gives him.


~Churning, meditation, my white-noise for soul rest right here:

and this:
and this: 

and asking my soul this:

You are welcome here with joy, dear Friday! 

May each of you who read in this place chase down the counting up and stewarding of His grace this weekend! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Prisoner of Hope with Glory in my midst!

Sometimes it is through the smallest of everyday-ness that Abba ravishes my eyes with the largeness of Himself; the grandeur and scope of His glory and His sweetly compelling love all around me.
"for whoever has questioned the day of small things shall rejoice..." Zech4:10

A book read. 
Humanly authored words scraping my soul bare before divine glory.
Simple paper and ink bound together the way His truth bound itself to the leaves of my soul. 
He sought me there; in those pages. 
"Cry out, thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion." Zech1:14

The searching Holy Spirit knowing me intimately; unpacking my vulnerability. 
Spiritual white space sought in quiet moments, journaling, prayer walks; 
Bible-open time spent communing with Him taking on levels of relationship and freedom unexplainable! 

Washing over my heart there has been a healing I didn't know I needed. Such sweet comfort received; affirmations I hungered for and was for the first time receiving as I turned my soul to face His love in new ways. 
"And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words… Cry out again, this is the Lord of Hosts: my dwelling place shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem." Zech1:13,17

Past wounds and needs unfolding.
Wounds which I had neatly papered with platitudes of His sovereignty; packaging up in storages of a refusal to question God; a smallness in my understanding of His love which always welcomes my need. 

His gentleness did not leave me there, but has for years been leading me to the place that this August has held for me. 
I can see it now. The path He authored. The unveiling. The unfolding. The drawing me close to Himself.
Summer's ending holding a culminating grab tighter of His love in my soul.

His sovereignty is never without His love. 
His unquestionable ways do not teach me to package up my wounds in neat unmentioned, never acknowledged hidden places. 
His absolute power over all in perfect love calls me to bring each one to Him;
Questions open, raw, bleeding before Him. 
"for this said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye." Zech2:8

Like a letting go, a slow warming, and a waking up melded together, truth has poured into new crevices of my heart. 
A new knowing, truly knowing, that when He took my place under wrath I deserved, 
He took the woundedness, the confusion, the need of my every little-girl moment right up through this one. 
I can bare all of my moments to Him in absolute safety. 
My stronghold is not one of neat packaging but of hope!
"return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double." Zech9:12 

Wounds unwrapped. Questions laid bare. Bloody bare as-is. 
I have been received, seen, known, held, comforted, restored. 
His Word. 
His Holy Spirit abiding with me.
He has restored to me double. 

Today a weed caught my eye. 
Growing and blooming only where things are untended and left to look wild. 
This was not a plant chosen and planted.
It's brave and bold blooming fertilized by its Creator alone. 

The rough wooden bench where I sat gathering some spiritual white space
{lingering "un-planned-out" communion time with The Lord} 
was positioned only inches from its rough green stalk. 
Only the sun saw me pluck and pull the bloom near. 
My mind wondered at the survival of its teeny white blooms despite the winds and rains we've had here. 
Beauty in delicate lace-like circular shape.
Then I focused in. There in the center it perched. 
Singular and small, but stunning in its simple magnificence! 
Purple. One tiney purple blossom surrounded by hundreds of its white counterparts.... 
What Glory paints a center dot of purple in a lacey white bloom humanity calls weed?

This glory here in my fingertips grabbing my heart. 
His perfect, knowing, healing, pursuing love ready to show up and surround me from the smallest of small! 
"and I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst." Zech2:5 

He is Savior to Me! 

#soulwords for this day!

"On that day 
the LORD their God will save them, 
as the flock of his people; 
for like the jewels of a crown 
they will sparkle on his land! 
For how great is his goodness, 
And how great is his beauty!"

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Different {less cold and drippy} Challenge

Hey You!  {can I hand ya a towel?}

Remember that time when all of Facebook was dumping buckets of ice on each other's heads (this week), recording and posting their frozen responses (some cute, others embarrassing, most hilarious) 
for their general public to relish? 

And then would come the key moment, as in each cold and drippy video clip, a list of names would be uttered. 
{Friends nominated.}
These friends too would now join the ranks of ice bucket challenging. 
{A deadline given – 24 hours.}

All this freezing fun in the name of donating to or supporting a foundation whose methods of research many of us know very little about, but a foundation that is working to establish a cure for a disease that we all know to be very bad... pals were enlisted to record, buckets were filled with ice water and dumped, names were nominated.

Celebrities, former presidents, stuffed animals, friends and neighbors! 
It's. Happening. Everywhere. 

My Facebook feed alone proves the expansive power of combining peer imitation with social networking in the name of philanthropy! 
Someone somewhere is a genious! 

Don't get me wrong! I have enjoyed watching several of these clips, giggling and laughing at many whom we love enjoying their frigid self-inflicted torture. 
It has been entertaining. 

But this domino affect shivering across our country has gotten me to thinking.

{Never mind that the ALSA uses methods of stem-cell research which most of my acquaintances would not support. I have already shared some articles and links communicating that concern as well as safe ways to support ALS patients and research. 
Please do your research and be knowledgable about where your dollars go}

What has absolutely riveted me is the universal human desire which has made this challenge so successful. 
That of being nominated; 
named, chosen, pursued, called up and out on a mission bigger than oneself. 

This hungering desire to be united, brought together, part of and included.
Could it be that we were created to find our identity in that of Another, in responding to a call, and acting forth on mission. 

If you're reading this and not yet in Christ through true saving faith, 
know that the greatest call your name will ever hear is that of Christ's calling you to salvation through the placement of your trust in his work alone on your behalf. 
"Truly truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not coming to judgment, but has passed from death to life." 
John 5:24 

If you are reading this, and like me, are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, 
You HAVE already been named; nominated, adopted, drawn in, forever chosen!!! 
"even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will." Eph1:4-5

The wrath of God was poured out on Christ in your place, and He bears your name on His palms. 
"even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..." Is49:15-16

He has given you a mission: 
make Him known to the ends of the earth. 

There is a cure to humanity's greatest disease! 
Sin has lost its victory and death it's sting in our Savior's death and resurrection. 
"you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide..."

There is now no deadline for your soul, but there is one for your telling others about Him. 
You have until His return. 
{This may or may not be 24 hours.}
"and this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matt24:14

Oh to see the proclaiming of His gospel taken up and spread like this past week's dumping of ice water! 
I have been challenged. 
I nominate..... 

You have this moment, today!