Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Morning's Musing at the Sky...

Because sometimes all I can do is ask why?

Why does He so faithfully do this every morning?
Why does He let me see it and enjoy it for what it is; His glory?
Why does He keep loving me? 

These questions are good.
 They are the stuff of a soul running up against Big Glory!

Bold colors layered hazily together on this day's first horizon.
It was a view that promised a beautiful unfolding, and one that I tried to absorb through my windows while moving about inside.

Mister and I had overslept our usual alarm.... on purpose. It was good.
A shower and coffee were postponed in favor of the ruffled sleepy-eyed kiddos emerging with all sorts of planning, laughter, and even a little fighting over the bathroom.

All of the three breakfasts, teeth brushings, lunch packings, homework checkings, hair tamings later, we emerged from the garage out into the morning's slow but sure advance.
The unfolding was indeed beautiful, as I had just known it would be.
They asked me to take some pictures.

All was soft and bright and full of the sky's layers reaching down to touch earth.
Whisps and shafts of cloud giving way for the still-rising sun to meet the earth in gentle color.
We talked about the glory; about how it is different each morning;
about how we never tire of seeing it.
We talked about the why of God's display and love for this lost world,
of His faithful mercies present in every dawn for His people.
We talked of the declaration of His name over, in and throughout all of creation....
how very short and tiny we really are; a breath.

We did not talk about these things because of some good quality in their hearts or in mine,
but because God's glory all around us simply required it; drove us to it.
Because, designed to seek, respond to, and reflect glory, sometimes all we can do is ask why? 
His love so deep? 
His power so great? 
His glory so beautiful?

And there in that asking, 
His name is declared all over again across our souls in resounding grace! 

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. 

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 

There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber. 
and,like a strong man, runs it's course with joy. 

It's rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from it's heat." 

Psalm 19:1-6

Monday, September 21, 2015

Filled to Hunger On...

I am hungry. In a soul-deep, pressing-on-to-reach-sort of way.
I have been for some time... 16 years to be exact;
Ever since The Living Father grabbed a hold of my heart and soul, but I am only just recently learning to know this hunger for what it is, and for where it comes from, and for where it takes me.


from Him, for Him, through Him, and to Him....

Sometimes this hunger has tricked me into feeling and believing that I lack something, that God has forgotten me or is displeased with me. 
Because of Jesus, this will never be true!

Other times, I have foolishly tried to trick the hunger away by turning to something of God's making rather than to His presence. 
Those wells always run empty and dry! 

It is this new thing I am finding, learning and stretching my muscles into...
and then re-finding, re-learning, and re-stretching my soul around...

...that in the meeting up of my own limitations and the way they leave me desperate for more of Him,

this is where Jesus fills.

One day last week, the churnings of this hunger in my soul literally drove me out my back door.
I needed to get quiet and still and alone with Him,
{because sometimes you have to leave a place to refill yourself for it.}

The kiddos were at school.
There was plenty of quiet and still and alone in the house, but something deep in my heart wanted to be where there was nothing between the top of my head and the great sky dome of His creation.

That sky dome was heavy with gray clouds and releasing a gentle mist, so I pulled on a rain jacket and stuffed my pocket with camera, journal and pen.

I had decided on the path less chosen across the fields behind our home, and mud from recent rain was sucking at my boots.
I could feel my heart settling into each soggy step as the busy stuff of daily life stilled behind me.

I thought about the hunger I was feeling and about where it was taking me.
I thought about how deeply I desire for more of Him to fill more of my doing, saying, being, and becoming with each passing day.
I so very much long for more of my anything to be filled with more of His everything!

I talked to Him about this.

I asked Him about being out in that muddy drizzly field together.
I looked for His hand, because I knew I would see His voice all over everything around me.

It was there as I took in the wild prairie grasses and flowers, some bravely holding onto their color, most bowing over with the onset of Fall's brown.

It was there in the trees with leaves still green but unable to hide the tell-tale spots of mold that will soon advance their change into a bright display.

It was on the thistles - some taller than I am- clutching tightly to their clusters of seeds which will break free and scatter on the harvest wind to next year's growing spot.

All of this emptying to be filled, this drying-out death to provide fresh new life after Winter passes.

I started to see again; was reminded afresh, to press into my soul-hunger, not seeking to satiate it, but allowing it's rhythms of seeking and filling to pull me deeper and deeper into His likeness.

I saw anew that I am filled up, not in the filling itself, but in the hungering for more, because it is the very nature of my created purpose to find satisfaction in a Limitless, All-Glorious God.

I was made for, and redeemed to, this glorious tension;
to be always both perfectly filled and yet hungering for more of Him!

And this is where it was that day in a muddy field walk; where it is today, and will be tomorrow.

In the wanting, the needing, the leaning in for more of Him,
this is where the feast of His presence is received!

and I am filled to hunger on....

Psalm 16::2
"I say to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."

John 6:57-58
"As the Living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven...
Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever."

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Soul's Kalidescope::identity & season::

This morning I dropped my three kiddos of at school, trailing each one in for the annual desk photo, rushing back out before anyone saw my tears. This was the first 1st day of school that I drove home with an empty car. 

I settled in at our life-scratched table and read the latest email update on friends who are on day 12 of their 15 yr old's fight against Leukemia. 
Checking up on a sweet family praying for healing of their hubby/daddy's brain cancer, I saw their strong faith in smiling faces. 
Facebook shows radiant images of a sweet couple that covenanted marriage love yesterday.
Another happy shot, this one of a beautiful sweet momma whose body stretches tight over waiting and readiness and anticipation. 
A poster with running feet and information about our upcoming community service project, and I'm reminded to stop and pray for this community we're seeking to love. 

All of these snapshots of real life moving, pulsing, and converging in with where my heart has been pondering and praying lately. 

There was this time when I took a decorated cardboard cylinder in my hand, holding it to my right eye and shutting the other so that the only light I see was channeled through the tube that I was twisting slowly.
The bits of colored glass inside shifted and fell into new arrangements with each turn, reflecting off mirrors within to create different arrangements of pretty design, one after another. 
We were standing in a Children's gift shop nestled into a shopping mall.  It was a simple kaleidoscope I held in my hands, a simplicity that fascinated my soul with a visual image that God used to show me His love and tender leading. 

Identity and Season:
Two parts of my soul; separate in their essence, but nested together inseparablely in their presence. 
Where I engage with one, I engage with the other, yet they are not the same. 
The one always changing, the other unchanging; both always connected, and if engaged with in truth, together they equal glory and big joy!
I know this because Abba has been tenderly teaching me; lifting the cylinders to my soul's eye and teaching me to see the turn....

Like the twisting and turning of a kaleidoscope, my seasons shift with ebb and flow, and are frequently affected by circumstances very much outside of my control. 
As God does His perfect ordaining thing over my life, He turns the cylinder of circumstance, people, situations, needs, and things are constantly shifting, falling, and resorting into a new season. 

Little pieces of colored glass, emptying, but never falling out; creating new spaces and molding themselves into new patterns but always remaining present within the view; the truths of my identity. This stuff of who and what I am; 
who and what I am always becoming. 
These are not hindered, removed or destroyed by the turning changes in circumstance, emotion, or knowledge. They are truths dictated by One beyond myself, untouchable, going with me wherever I go, and in whatever I do. 

To enjoy a kaleidoscope fully, I must twist the nested tubes and watch the pieces fall into a new beauty, and then twist again.

My healthy, peaceful, and hope-filled soul; my gospel-charged soul, must know my identity, and I must know my season. 
I must allow these two to nest and turn with the unfolding of life. 
I must give myself the freedom to acknowledge a season's hard, fruitfulness, struggle, or success without fear because I knows that while the pieces shift together in new ways, 
my identity stays secure. 

Two mornings ago, I sat in an early quiet before the house woke, and scratched out a list. 
Ephesians was open in front of me, the first 14 verses piling into my heart and out through my pen in a long gathering of truths about who I am in Christ.  
I had limped to this place seeking and asking for help. 
I felt dry and tired and so very much not enough for what seemed to be before me. 
I still wasn't sure I had processed all that has already come and gone, not to mention what is right under my feet, as my life kaleidoscope feels to be turning at break-neck speeds. 

A church change, ministry change, revival of focus... wonderful and so very vulnerable. 

An unexpected personal grieving as my momma status moved {overnight} from the little years to the family much to miss and treasure up. 

The process of positioning ourselves to simplify in housing investment/location... uprooting, waiting, and just plain old hard work. 

Our oldest man-child's move into new struggles as his little self takes on the whirling roller-coaster of growing up... embracing a new dependence in parenting with it's death to self.

Leaning into this particular school year with it's changes for me as a SAHM.... alone and feeling out new boundaries.

All of these little pieces of my unchanging identity falling into new places, leaving new spaces and the old familiar behind. 
It can all be such a scary mess...

Abba drew me to bring all of my reshaping discomfort to Him and ask one simple question:
"Remind me of who I am in You?" 

As my scribbles began to fill up a journal page, my heart grabbed with reminder of that moment in the children's gift shop nestled into a shopping cardboard and plastic in my hand, head upturned to the light over the checkout counter....twisting with my hands, watching the patterns merge, fall and empty into new beauty. 

I realized that my weariness came from an exchange that was happening in my soul; the clinging to season for identity. 

Trying to reach and to grab at aspects of old passing away seasons as though they were part of my identity; fearing that to see them empty out into something new, I would see myself empty out into nothing. 

Isn't this how it so often goes with us?

We take the callings we're given, and so pour ourselves into them that we begin to believe that they are the measure of who we are. 
We grab at season, rather than identity, for a validation-flag to wave, and oh the big freak-out when we're asked to lay it down. 

Reaching into a kaleidoscope and trying to hold a few colored beads in place as it turns will only cause the new pattern to break and eventually jam. 
All beauty stunted and lost. 

Refusing to let the nested cylinders and mirrors turn at all might leave me comfortable, but I would be spiritually stunted and anemic. 

I will not fear new empty spaces, 
or the resorting of my life's pieces.  
The new pattern promises to be more beautiful than the last, and the next even more so, as He moves me from one degree of glory to the next. 
My seasons turn, twist, and resort into new views...
sometimes surprisingly complex, 
sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, always -every single one- 
defined by His grace and love.

I might have to squint and let Him readjust my perspective.
I might fight and balk against the turn until He gently releases my grip,
but when He does, 
{and Praise Jesus HE DOES}
all the pieces, the anchors of my soul, 
are always there:

fully known, 
rich in grace, 
forever and ever...

I put down my pen on that quiet morning.
My soul-kaleidoscope was back in play with a renewed excitement and courage to embrace the whirling colors...

And I knew then it's about the light....
always The Light; 
shining down through the twisting cylinders causing the colors of His love over me to dance in the beautiful whirl of this life, and after that, there will be Jesus forever!!! 

I can just hold it all up to The Light and watch His Glory cascade! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bright and Rich::a recipe post::

Fresh apricots are in season and well priced at the grocery...

Run, don't walk to toss together this delicious salad for a lunch with friends, a refreshing Summer supper, or just to nibble on yourself all. day. long. 

Because you WILL want to!!! 

-fresh greens. any mix/type, but the darker, the better. 

-purple cabbage for color and crunch.

-thinly sliced fresh apricots.

-toasted {in butter} sliced almonds. 


Do you have a favorite homemade vinagerette? Use that. 

Or mix equal parts light olive oil and rice wine vinager. 
Add a tbsp brown sugar and healthy dose fresh ground pepper. 

Drizzle, Toss and Savor.....YUM. 

*this salad can easily become a light meal by adding strips of grilled chicken and pairing with fresh bread or rolls.* 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hard Stuff, Mosaics, {and Where I've Been Found}

The week has been hard. 
The Psalmist counted up enemies and exclaimed, "oh Lord how many have risen against me…"

I have counted up the hard things of this week with the same exclamation but without a cave to hide in.

That has been okay. 

I have not needed a cave for hiding. I have not needed to hide at all. 
I have needed to be found. 

National news has flooded with it; more secret things being made public {as will all secret things one day be made}, but in this story, the home of my story has been hit, memories unleashed, and wounds scraped up and raw once again.

I read in my newsfeed of a friend whose son has burns on his legs.
She has had to learn the hard process of dressing his wounds; reopening and cleansing that they might be freshly bandaged.
It is what must be done for his healing.

This is what must be done in my soul;
for my healing.
It hurts. 
He is tender. 

There has been other hard in this week.
A watching and yearning together with my dear beautiful wonderful man.
Seeing his faith stretch and pull strong. Feeling my own in tandem with his. 

Sometimes even the most clear and anticipated of horizons can stretch on into the place of fuzzy wonder and seeming- impossibility.
The corners where our rigorous investment meet up with our openhanded trust in a sovereign God.
These corners can hold deep pockets of longing and desire.

When a door stands before us, we can see our heavenly father's hand upon the knob, and we wait… 
Does he intend to open it to us? 
Or does his steadfast faithfulness require it's close?

We wait to see... 
And sometimes the wait hurts.
Sometimes it all hurts and it's all for the healing. 
{ever feel this, dear reader?}

To be at once both painfully shattered and perfectly found. 
A soul mosaic. 

In the beautiful introductions to summer weather, iced tea and sunny walks – 
I have been found.

In the faces, sticky and tan, of my people-
I have been found.

In the early-morning places of his word – trutting alongside the Psalmist-
I have been found. 

In the sharing of closest words, tears, laughter, and all the makings of love with my Steve-
I have been found.

In voices of wisdom and understanding – voices which validate and speak redemption-
I have been found.

In the friend, with her own desperate hard, who took my heart on a hard morning and helped me sift it for a re-bandaging in hope-
I have been found.

There has never been a moment, or thought, in which He has not known exactly where to find me; 
all of my zillion shattered pieces so rugged and dirty; captured for a mosaic of His goodness!!! 

And this is where the hard stuff gets treasured up.... In the being found! 

Listen to this song. 
Find Him finding you in it's message of hope! 

Happy Mosaic Weekend

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer's First Savory Sips::{a recipe}

It's here with all of it's newly-arrived awkward fits and bursts. 
Warm breezes, sweat-inducing sun rays, and bold rain showers. 
Although the calendar has not yet officially proclaimed it, the full leafy trees and fast growing lawns induce my belief that Summer must be welcomed. 

I've been celebrating with a daily refresher in my tall straw tumbler; a perfect pairing of healthy flavor and some slow moments in the afternoon before post-school busyness begins. 

To make: 

-Brew a favorite tea bag in 12oz of boiling water. {I really favor Good Earth's Mango brew, but today needed the caffeine from a favorite black tea.}

-Add a handful {fistful} of fresh berries WITH the hot water. This allows them to soak and soften; releasing their flavors. 
Allow this to brew extra long as you will be adding to ice later.

-Fill your tumbler 3/4 full with ice cubes. {remember to use glass or stainless steel if adding an EO!}

-Drop 2-3 drops of an EO. {think about pairing your citrus oils with your berry choice. {ie blueberry/lemon or raspberry/wild orange etc}. 

-Finally discard the tea bag and pour brewed tea and berries over ice. 

-Let your drink chill for a few moments and enjoy! 

This recipe can be made in the morning then refrigerated for a quick grab later in the day.

Also consider multiplying by 4 or 6 and fill a spouted jug with refreshment for the whole family on a hot Summer day. 
Great for kids and friends on the deck or patio! 


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day::to the one it hurts:: {beauty in the rocks}

To the one who hurts on this day!

My heart is full for you; full of love, 
full of esteem, 
full of deep deep gratefulness!

I know you're hurting, 
remembering ---wondering...

It's arrived on advertisements in your mail, screamed from the television, played itself out between your pandora songs.
This vicious reminder that scrapes up against your wounds.

It looks at you from your calendar, sounds on the lips of your co-workers and friends, rides the waves of pinterest and facebook posts right into the aching, freshly opened chasms of your soul...

Mother's Day.

This day of pictures posted, flowers received, and grand greetings in the hallways of church...

It must feel so very daunting and painful, and does anyone really see and know?
Do the ones who do know look the other way or offer awkwardly empty assurances?
Do you wonder if by next year....?
Do you recall wondering that a year ago?

I am so very sorry, dear friend...

I have a mother who loves me and continues to move towards me.
I  have children; three littles in arm, and two in heaven.
Hear me speak this -
there are whole canyons of pain in your world that I have little experience with
and small ability to imagine, 
but I do see you.
I have experienced YOU!

I know that this day hurts you. 
I want you to know that, and there is something else I want you to know too.

I celebrate YOU - yes you - as the sweet, beautiful, mothering woman that you are!

Mothering was created by God.
Mother's Day was not.

The design to mother was given by God to a woman
before a baby ever breathed air upon this earth.

A child does not make a woman a mother.
The woman, through her mothering, makes the child her's.

Mothering is something we learn to chose,
not something we achieve biologically...

When you carry life-giving hope, tend the helpless,
correct the erring, and instruct the naive...

When you feed the hungry, heal hurts, hold the crying, and calm another's fears....

When you pray soul-deep-groaning prayers for another...

When you speak of your deep longing to see all of your life-laid-down-service culminate in the matured and prepared independance of those you have loved....

This is the real mothering.
This is the noble glory business...tending to what is young while gently led by The Shepherd.
He sees you there, faithfully working your skills into the reflection of His image,
and He delights over you!
I can just hear His heart say,
"There she is, my child, recreating her faith, hope, and love into the lives of others.
Pouring out her heart and soul for their good.
Through her sacrifice, in a thousand unseen ways, my life flows through her.
Exactly what I was getting at with, 
'be fruitful and multiply'."

So for you, my friend whose arms remain empty; the phone silent; the nursery still waiting...

For you, my friend, who remembers on this day littles that warmed your womb but never drew breath...

For you, my friend, whose mother was wonderful and is now gone.

For you, my friend, whose dreams of babies stretch far beyond the horizon of your singleness...

For you, my friend, whose child is close but with a heart hard and far...

For you, my friend, whose mother chose to abandon you, or attack you, or ignore you...

For you, my friend, who aches and longs and remembers and wonders on this day...

...on this day

HOLD onto your hope.
SEE the loves all around you.
DRAW them tight and give life.
KNOW His deep pleasure over you!

Lean into the bold and messy business of mothering others from the soul...
of receiving comfort and nurture from those who mother well when your's does not.

The forces that pull you hard with longing come from the One who meets you with the blessings you crave because mothering is His design,  
and He always blesses His design.

May you know on this Mother's Day, and every day, a beautiful purpose and arching-upward comfort.

To the one who hurts on this day, 
see and taste His glory in you-
Like bright soft beauty growing up between hard rocks.

I celebrate YOU, amazing mothering women! 

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Gift of a Crossroad

To have been brought to a junction;
the path beneath one's feet dividing; stretching away in ribbons of hidden possibility on both the right and the left. 

One path must be, will be, taken, but the choice of which lies with a Higher Knowing. 

It will not be forced even if it could be, for to know such a loving Abba can only be to simply follow in sheer trust. 

There is a hidden gift there at the crossroad, for as the feet stand poised in the stillness of waiting, the heart grows strong and ready.
It will not be in the path taken, either right or left, where deep joy will be found, but in the One who will be followed.

In the deep knowing, and even deeper, being known; the simple yet profound rhythm of placing footsteps alongside his leading Presence will be the place where glory arcs high, and it is the crossroad's wait which brings the soul to reach for all of this. 

Right there where the uncertainty holds tight, but his special knowing Presence holds tighter, it all grows to be so very sweet; 
a gift of His love received there in the stillness of a crossroad. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines Day for the Cynic, the Skeptic, and the Over-Spiritualized

It's been in my newsfeed, my inbox, on the lips of friends...

..this talk of Valentine's day as an over-commercialized Hallmark Holiday.  It's presence on the calendar causes some of us pain and feelings of isolation, and that makes it easy for us to proclaim it foolish. Perhaps it's fun loving has been so neglected by those close to you, that you find it easier to strictly ignore than to risk feeling that hurt? 

There's also been talk of Valentines Day being useful only if it's held in the context of it's origin {know St. Valentine?} or relegated to evangelistic purposes {ie slathered in "love" Bible verses. } This gives some of us a sense of "being spiritual" while assuaging the false guilt we picked up with our flowers and chocolates. 

Both perspectives hold truth! 
I get it because I've spent time in both camps over the years...{sometimes in the same year:) }

But what if we are asking the wrong questions? 

-what could be in this for me since I'm single? 
-how can we remain above such fuss and make sure people know it? 
-how can I make this about me pleasing God? 

What if we are asking our questions of the wrong people? 

-what does the world tell me I should want from this day?
-what do I want to lazily avoid or ignore about how my spouse would enjoy this day? 
-what do other Christians tell me I should do? How can I please them? 

What if we asked different questions: 

-how does God want to love me in this celebration? 
-what can I do to love others well with this day? 

Check it out; "what kind of love the Father has lavished us with, that we should be called His daughters and sons?!"  1 John 3:2 

"Beloved {loved by God}, let us love each other, because love is from God..."  1 John 4:7

What if it's not only okay, but honoring to God, for us to wrap ourselves up in the fun frilly pinks and reds of this tradition; entering into the joys of celebrated love? 

What if the single person treated themselves to something yummy and beautiful, planned a fancy dinner out with a buddy, or gathered favorite kiddos around to bake cookies? 
What if you did this simply because you are well-loved and can celebrate it? 

What if the married couple who considers themselves above or too busy for "this unnecessary business" planned a romantic date night together; giving themselves the freedom to invest in childcare, the expensive eatery, the hotel room? 
What if they chose to surprise each other with the chocolates, the flowers, the love notes just because it's so fun {and rewarding} to do so? 

What if our children felt us entering into their fun by helping them prepare the unique and cool valentines for  classmates? 
What if we chose to let them give the best candy treat? What if we sat with them and read together all of the sweet messages they received? What if we surprised them with balloons and fluffy big-eyed beanies waiting outside their doors? 
What if we planned a family date to simply enjoy the fact that we are a family knit by love; 
doing these things because it solidifies and affirms to them the joys they've received in being chosen and loved all the way. 

What if we walked in the freedom God has given us to have all of this fun loving even if there isn't a Bible verse written on every card, or a ritualistic listing off of St. Valentines good deeds? 
{who is the dude anyway?} 

What if we planned, and kept secrets, and wrote out mush, and baked, and poured bubbly all in the big dance of free abandon to His great love? 

What if it didn't stop there! 
What if all of the free dancing in the things of love brought about such an overwhelming rush of joy and strong praise, that we found ourselves awash with greater happiness and fuller worship than we imagined possible? 

What if this is what brings Him glory?! 
What if this is what delights His heart over us?! 
What if...

Zephaniah 3:14-20 *Paraphrased* MSG

 So sing, Daughter Zion!
    Raise the rafters, Israel!
Daughter Jerusalem,
    be happy! celebrate!
God has reversed his judgments against you
    and sent your enemies off chasing their tails.
From now on, God is Israel’s king,
    in charge at the center.
There’s nothing to fear from evil
    ever again!

Jerusalem will be told:
    “Don’t be afraid.
Dear Zion,
    don’t despair.
Your God is present among you,
    a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
    and delight you with his songs.
 “The accumulated sorrows of your exile
    will dissipate.
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
    You’ve carried those burdens long enough.
At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those
    who’ve made your life miserable.
I’ll heal the maimed;
    I’ll bring home the homeless.
In the very countries where they were hated
    they will be venerated.
On Judgment Day
    I’ll bring you back home—a great family gathering!
You’ll be famous and honored
    all over the world.
You’ll see it with your own eyes—
    all those painful partings turned into reunions!”
        God’s Promise.

❤️Happy Valentines Day ❤️

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Hidden Green

I spent some time today pondering this view with my Bible open ... 

What held my attention wasn't the brilliant blue sky or the pure white of the fields. *lovely*

 It wasn't even the picturesque's stone church and steeple on our horizon… *adore*

It was the tangled mess of brittle brown twigs only a few feet from the glass panes I was gazing through....

After looking at them for a long time, I found myself swinging open the window 

{risky business considering this is Wisconsin in February!}

I wanted to feel the stark coldness of their brown dormancy on my face.

To think that those desperately cold and dry branches hold right now the very ingredients of new life?!! 

Though all indication given by their appearance and the setting of their placement in Winter's frigid grasp indicate otherwise, they are in fact very much alive and teeming with hidden green! 

Attached as they are to the trunk; grounded in healthy soil, they can't help but come alive with tiny buds, 

then there will be unfurling green leaves. 

All of this when the time is right! 

A small sparrow, only slightly larger than my thumb, lands on a branch to rest. The cold winds ruffle his feathers from behind a bit as his head bounces around like a little rubber ball. 

He is waiting too.  

Setting himself now on a bare brown branch, but he will be ready when the green unfurls and the tree's fullness provides places of warmth and protection. 

He flitters off... The timing is not yet right, 

But it will be. 

There is a season for sitting on what seems to be bare and brown and lifeless.

This is the middle of the story. 

We are "middlers" after all; a people living between what Jesus has done and His kingdom's full appearing.

Between the place of diagnosis and final healing. Between the place of longings birth and it's fulfillment.

Between the place of hearing a call and receiving its promise.

Between the place of severe loss and full comfort.

Between the place of a growing passion and a realized mission.

In big and small ways, our journeys on this planet reflect this over and over…  

The wait of a middle. 

So gently am I led to rest myself here on the bare brown of waiting. 

I sit here today in these branches of waiting with all of my hope and this longing and the growing passion for this Kingdom call... 

I am reminded of the real thing... 

I am resting on the hidden green, inside, all wrapped up in the roots of His perfect knowledge and power. 

It will come. 

The timing is not yet right, but it will be. 

We will have Spring again. 

This is how He works: 

"for still the vision awaits it's appointed time; 

it hastens to the end – it will not lie. 

If it seems slow, wait for it;

 it will surely come; it will not delay.

… The righteous shall live by his faith." 

Habakkuk 2 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Soul's Oxygen {{& a list of space-guards}}

That space between what we have to invest and what we've committed to investing; 
between what we are actually able to accomplish, and what we, or others, expect to be accomplished. 

If you take the sum of your limited {yes, limited} energies:

  • physical
  • mental
  • financial
  • emotional
  • spiritual

and then subtract the sum of your investments:
  • commitments
  • plans
  • responsibilities
  • roles
  • relationships
what you have left over is your margin....
that is, IF you have anything left over. 

Margin; it is what creates space for movement, for new, for simple and for slow.
The whole walking-with-God-in-the-garden-pre-the-fruit-nabbing sets it clear from the start; 
we were created to need it, guard it. and utilize it!
Post-the-fall, God's spoken law, which included detailed non-negotiables over the keeping of sabbath, revealed His holiness, humanity's need, and a restored relationship defined and fed on this margin.

God intends for His people to maintain this white space 
where their energies are unspoken for but by the things of rest, worship, renewal, and communion which unfold in it. 

You will see it in scripture, if you look for it....

In the Psalmist's repeated proclamations of a tended and restored soul.
In the prophets' many declarations of a thirst-quenching water and hunger-satisfying Messiah to come.
In the healing invitations that Jesus, Himself, offers for a co-laboring under His easy yoke.
In the Epistles' frequent promise of an illogical peace that guards the soul.
In His great Revelation at the close of our Bibles which foretells vanquished tears, sighing, suffering ... all of it gone. 

Margin here, in this place, is but a foretaste of the blissful fulfillment we will know then, 
but it is one that we desperately need and have been given, if we will but steward it!

The soul's oxygen is in communion; knowing and being known by it's Maker...
It requires a cross-cultural solidarity of focus to carve out and guard this margin.

I lived for years without margin, 
and not due to innocent over-extension or busyness.
My warped theology of performing for grace {in which grace ceases to be grace}
didn't allow for margin. 

How could it? 
If I were to rest from the doing... how would the favor come? 
Wasn't it selfish, humanistic, a veritable sin, to "take care of oneself"?
That phrase itself grated with the stench of worldly wisdom.... 
That is, it did back when I was blind, dry, rote, and fairly joyless; lacking a true understanding of scripture's teaching on the care of one's soul that is indeed, selfless.

Then came grace. 
Not all at once, 
but in His gentle igniting of my heart to beat in rythm with His...
it came; 
continues to come.
And I learned it, am learning it, in pieces like the savored bites of a favorite pastry.

This freedom to create, maintain, and guard margin in my life.
To make place for rest and creativity that seamlessly flows into and out of communion with Him.

Yes. On paper, or rather on the screen app tagged "calendar",  I do less.
I am so very much okay with that. 
I am not always at everything. I graciously say no even though this at times, disappoints me or others with me. 

But, oh the freedom.... the radical depth of this confident knowing His favor and delight....
The way it has me all joy-filled, and happy, and rested, and able to give.... like never before.

I do so much less and have so very much more to give. 

If it were mathematics, it wouldn't add up. 

You see, margin is an unexplainable multiplier.... 
Like the five loaves and two fish, it fluffs and strengthens and stretches the layers of one's soul .  
It takes whatever you carve out; a little space of time, a simple activity, a small two-lettered word of decline, turning this little into big refreshing life-giving food...
And a soul that is fed can stretch far in the feeding of others.

I don't know where you're at with margin in your life....
Got it? 
Don't want it?
Got too much?
Most American Christians need more of it, or just need it period. 

I recently compiled a list of the ways I've been taught { by Abba and by my Favorite }
to create and maintain rhythms of margin in my life.
These are the space-guards, if you will, that well.... they guard the space.

1)Read. every. day. Doesn't have to be deep or long. MUST be real paper and ink pages though.

2)Choose one day a week as "renewal day". Keep it free of obligations. I linger in the word on this day, shower when in the mood, only clean as motivation strikes {the house, not the body}, and possibly nap. For those in ministry/ lay ministry, this has to be a day other than Sunday.

3)Follow at least 1 "frivolous" blog/FB page/website for the sole purpose of sparking creativity in living. Whatever that is for artist, photographer, chef, philosopher, decorator, fashionista, politician, etc...

4)Choose cute house clothes and wear them often. 
Fleece lined leggings, knee-socks, long chunky sweaters.  Maybe for you, it's athletic pants and a hoodie, but make choices to feel cute not frumpy in your comfy....then wear your comfy.

5)Drink tea, coffee....alternate if desired. Research new brews or blends. Make it an art.

6)Sit at your window and watch your view....whatever it is. Notice things you never knew.

7)Say No, Yes, Maybe, Nevermind, and interchange them freely as needed.  NO. Shame.

8)Daily chose something on your to-do list that can be put off if needed.  Label it as such. 

9) Find a funny youtube and send it to someone who will share your laugh... 
or, if your people provide the material, make your own.

10)Get rid of clothes.  The ones you love but never wear along with the ones you wear but don't love.... they need to go.  Wear what remains. 

11)Find something that intrigues you however trivial it may seem, and study it.  
Order a book or start online-research. Learn...always be learning. 

12)Cook really great meals. Great-tasting, maybe healthy. Try one new recipe per week, and YES, include dessert.

13)Sit or kneel or stand to be on eye-level during conversation with your people. Touch through a hug while they talk. Make sure you do this with each one, each day. 

14)Explore music; different genres and artists.  Find a new favorite.

15)Write your own words every day.  Journal, blog, sitck-it-notes. They all count, just write something down every day. If it's good, share it with someone else.

16)Stare at the sky for longer than you thought you would.  Talk with your people about the horizon. Describe creation in words together. 

17)Stop counting workouts, miles, reps, steps.... just. stop. counting. 
I know a woman at the gym who intentionally uses a magazine to cover the screen on her elliptical.  
She just turns up the music and goes for it.  I find her to be genius. Get moving but stop counting.

18)Collect something...anything. Teacups, quotes, essential oils, scarves, ideas, rocks - anything but then freely give each item away whenever the Spirit prompts, and He will.

19)Allow regular pampering....whatever that is for you?  Is it hot baths, working out, trips to the manicurist, kid-free shopping, coffee with a girlfriend? When discussed with your people and planned for, these things are far from selfish.  People love a soul-rested wife/momma/friend.

20) Go on dates with Abba like Jesus did. Draw away alone...
Mix it up by finding new places to to do this; a cafe, park, museum, hiking -trail, library...
Only take the items that will forge a quieted soul and communing heart.
Break with the "study mode" or "check list approach" and allow the Spirit to guide your worship. 

I would love for you to try some of these safe-guards.... or compile your own list. 
Build and guard your margin.  
It's where the soul-tending happens, and you will have more to give from a place of far deeper joy, if you do.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord