Monday, November 18, 2013

One Day

If my children don't talk to me for one day, all h--- breaks loose.

They may act like they're fine.  They may even ignore me when I return from a three-day absence (I was at the annual Soli Deo Gloria retreat - wish you had been there!).

But then it's nap time.

And Mommy has to run an errand.

And Little Bit realizes I'm leaving again.

And...forget about it.  No amount of negotiation could get my four-year-old to calm down.  I had to get my five-year-old to Tae Kwon Do, but I couldn't leave her empty-handed, sobbing in her bed (these were genuine sobs, not the "I'm trying to manipulate you" kind).  I gently lifted her body, racked with hiccupy breaths, and carried her into my husband and 14-week-old puppy, Willie "Bill" Nelson.  I told her I loved her, and, eventually, this is what ensued:

I know...adorable!  The little girl needed to sleep.  Not only did she nap for two hours, but she also fell asleep without one peep when we put her down at 6:30!  I'm not kidding!

Why am I sharing this on my blog?  Great question.  I think, for two reasons:

First, I confess that I had some of my friends' voices in my head as my daughter sobbed.  Those voices say mommies should never leave their babies, homeschooling is best, and attachment is the only way.  (This isn't meant to be a political post on your mothering choices.  I ask you to quiet any urge to go there and, instead, bear with me as I use this struggle to illustrate a larger point.)

I felt guilty.

How many of you can relate?  How many of you feel not good enough as a Mom, no matter what choice you make?

Those voices were combated with the only thing that could silence them - and here's my point, peeps.  The voice of God (as I hear Him, which is, no doubt, unique from how you hear Him...and you, and you, and, yes, you) told me something during my time away.  He said, "Retreat is a Discipline."

To me, that one little phrase reminded me of what it means to put my trust in Him.  When I can't be all things to all people (there for my husband, present for my kids, and the list goes on).  When I make a choice that has consequences I don't want.  When I have to choose and can't do all.

Choosing to step away from my life - myself - and let it all go is an act of trusting that He'll take care of everything, especially of my kids, even if the re-entry is challenging.

Making Him the center of my life - rather than myself - is my spiritual act of worship.

Second, I'm sharing this story because I had a sort-of profound thought surrounding my kids and their need to talk to me every day.  (I'm not naive, folks.  I have a feeling this will change as they get older; though, I hope it doesn't.)

"It's like God," I thought.

I know, profound.

Here's what I mean: if I go a day - even just one day - without checking in with Him, without leaning into His comfort, hearing His voice, looking to Him for direction, telling Him how I feel about my life, then I, too, am a basketcase.  The smallest thing will set me off.  I will lose self control and break down in a tantrum of "me, me, me" until all I can do is sleep.  Or sleep walk, making it through my days in an unconscious state in which nothing can touch me.

My point?  I hope I remember what it felt like to hold Lily as she sobbed.  While it absolutely broke my heart, it also drove home the thought I had had the day before: I need Him even more than she needs me.  I can numb myself to the need.  I can (sometimes) stretch the time between my meltdowns to longer than a day.  But in the end, I fall apart without the daily, consistent time with God we were all designed to experience.

So let's hear it for retreats!  The annual kind and the daily ones.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

For everything there is a time....

Dear Blogging Friends,

I've decided to shut down this blog indefinitely.  I haven't been able to keep up with it consistently for a while now because I feel the Lord tugging me in a different direction.  Every time I sit down to write in this space, I have to heed His call and move in a different direction.

Rather than string you along, dear readers, I am going to take my exit with a gracious bow and many thanks.

I have so enjoyed meeting you here over the last few years.  Your comments and encouragement and feedback have Filled My Bucket many times over.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
in Him,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Stairs

Today, I was defeated by a flight of stairs.

Some days, stairs - while challenging - are manageable.  Today, I just couldn't do it.  I walked around, found the elevator, and rode up to the second floor.  Today, there simply wasn't enough energy.

I started to get down about this, to feel embarrassed that a thirty-six year-old woman can't climb a single flight of stairs without needing to have a lie-down.  All day.

I started to berate myself with voices - old voices - that, when taken all together, say one thing alone:

You are not _____ enough.

Fill in the blank with what you will...not good enough, not trying hard enough, not skinny enough, not in-shape enough, not strong enough.  The list goes on.

I'm being real with you today, dear reader.  I hope I do not depress too much.  Is my writing satisfactory enough?  Will you comment?  Will you come back, even though I am not consistent enough?

These are the thoughts that always stand nearby, ready to exploit any weakness in my armor.  These are the thoughts I must defend against, no matter how strong a connection they have to my heritage.

I believe this is what God meant when He led me to Psalm 79 yesterday, especially verse 8.  I believe this is what God meant when He called me to ponder the words about enemies ravaging, neighbors mocking, and ungodly kingdoms dooming.

I believe this is what He was trying to show me when He had me camp on Psalm 79:8:

"Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors!  Let your compassion quickly meet our needs, for we are on the brink of despair."

For me, this is a battle in my body and my mind.  My disease and disorder (the doctors tell me it is both) is genetic.  Something passed down against my will.  My thought-patterns share that trait.  I was taught many of the lies; through word and deed they became part of me.  Now I must unravel them and learn truth.

The lies and disease are enemies, mocking neighbors, ungodly kingdoms.  They attack ceaselessly, and I must stand firm.

But what happens when I am too weak to sit, much less stand?  What happens when I am defeated by a flight of stairs, when there's simply not enough energy to defend?


Those are the best days.  Because, even though I might wrestle with accusations and shame briefly, I have learned a certain lesson very well.  I have learned that weakness is my friend.

In the end, after all, it is not mine to defend but His.  In the end, I can't, I don't, I won't be able to.  In the end, all I can do is rest in His shadow while He does the work.

So I choose that thought.  I camp in that place.  I let the swirling words fall to the ground like dead leaves in winter.  I lie down.  I rest.

And in so doing, I find His strength in my weakness.

Linking up with sweet friends at Soli Deo Gloria today.  Be sure to hop over and check it out.

Friday, March 22, 2013


This week was a "come to Jesus" week.  I flailed.  I whined.  I stomped.  I slammed.

But then I fell and cried and stopped.  Stopped the merry-go-round madness with three little words, divinely thrown my way by a friend with a patient ear and compassionate heart: "Don't freak out."

As she put it, "maybe God is throwing these circumstances your way to allow your old self to rise to the surface - precisely so that that old self can be dealt with.  Maybe, just maybe, the response is simply: don't freak out."

It's that simple.

When things don't go my way, instead of panicking, I need to remain calm.  This, in many ways, is the ultimate act of faith and trust and, truth be told, hope.

When my timeline is not met, instead of whining, I need to stop and think...perhaps there's a reason I'm not getting what I want when I want it?

When I'm overwhelmed by my emotions, instead of allowing myself to drown under the tsunami-like wave of feelings, I need to raise my staff of God*, trust in the sovereignty of my Supreme Ruler, and choose:




Now that a few days have passed between several disappointments I experienced this week, it's a lot easier to see how my panic, fear, hyper-emotionalism were wholly unhelpful.  It's also a lot easier to see how God is, indeed, working all things together for my good.  When I heard 'no', He was actually saying 'not yet.'  When I heard 'not good enough to be given to you', He was actually saying 'I am giving to you, in the way that is best for you.'  It's amazing what we choose to hear when we allow chaos to rule.

I'm thankful for my friend, thankful for her ear, thankful for her words.  I've found my new motto for now.  So, if you see a friendly redhead in Austin, Texas, flailing her arms and tugging on her pigtails, feel free to walk right up and say, "did you leave your three words at home today?"

*Referencing Moses' staff and the parting of the Red Sea, Exodus 14.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Find Your Feet

Have you ever noticed how much sports are about finding your feet?  You fly through the air off the high bar, only to stick the landing on the mat.  You breathe, stroke, flip your way into the wall, hoping your feet pound against the wall so you can carry your momentum through the turn.  You pound your feet on the pavement, the sidewalk, the jogging trail, using each downward motion to create the next forward one.  You leap into the air, stretching for the frisbee or football or baseball or what-not, but you always come down.  And the way you come down matters.  Flat-footed, sure-footed, will all affect your next move.

Today, I mastered the flip-turn.  I've been swimming consistently for eight years, but I've never been able to "land" one.  I've been way. too. scared.

Photo credit: Ryan McVay, Photodisc, Getty Images; taken from
Not today.  Today I heard the Holy Spirit say, "today's the day."  So, I tried.  And, it worked!  I wish you all could have been there with me; I smiled like a little kid.  I was so excited.

And then the analogy came with three little words: find your feet.

Here are some silly, yet painfully authentic, ways I "find my feet" throughout the day:

Me: "Do I seriously look like that?" (I say to myself as I pass my reflection in the mirror.)  "Yuck."

Holy Spirit: "Would you want your daughter to treat herself that way?"

Me: "You're right."  Find your feet.

Holy Spirit: "Can you see how you are dizzy?"

Me: "But I've only been in the pool six minutes."

Holy Spirit: "Yes, but you're back in the pool after five weeks of being unable to swim.  And, it's your second day back this week.  And, you just mastered the kick-turn!"

Me: "You're right," as I acknowledge my limits and climb out of the pool.  Find your feet.

It's not really about the current move, or choice, is it?  I mean, that choice absolutely matters, but it matters because of how it sets us up.

So, will we choose to stick to, push against, run through, land on Truth, setting us up for Life?  I hope so.  Because, I've gotta tell you, it felt so good to kick off that wall today.  The solidity of that wall, like the unbendableness of Truth, gave me power, momentum, strength to move forward well.  I want that.  Don't you?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rocky Ground

Today, I had a vision.

I was walking on rocky ground, the craggy rocks the size of basketballs and footballs.  It was grey and overcast, and the ground sloped slightly.  I could not get my footing.  I was struggling and afraid.

Then, Psalm 9 verse 10:

"Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you."

"Where should I look?  Up?  Down?  Forward?  Left?  Right?  Behind?  Tell me, and I will turn my eyes."

A Voice answered: "Look here."

I looked and saw a face appear where there had been none before.  The air shimmered to let Him through.  

"Look at me," He said.  I did.  We started to walk and I started to stumble.  I looked down and saw Death at my feet.  A hand, a face, buried in the rubble.  She looked like me but not me either.  I gasped.

The Voice spoke: "That vision is not from me."  Its authority drew me back to Him.

I mentally struggled and then pushed Death out of my mind.  I refocused on Him.  He clasped my hands, walking backwards in front of me, urging me forward.

The scene flickered as I walked.

Where grey, overcast skies had been, blue skies replaced them.  The jagged ground was actually a hilly meadow, filled with soft grass and wildflowers, bees buzzing, birds flitting.  The sun kissed everything with its warmth.

I smiled.

"This was here all along."

He smiled.

"Yes.  Now, walk with me."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Arc

I spend a lot of time thinking about story arcs.  I'm a writer, you see.  I can't say I'm an "author" (yet) because I haven't been published.  At least, not for my books.  Not yet.  It's coming, I tell you, and, don't worry, you'll be among the first to know when it happens.  :)  I'll be shouting it from the proverbial rooftops; you can count on it.

In the meantime - in the here and now and yesterdays and futures - I dwell in the possibilities of rainbow-shaped journeys through time and space and development.  There has to be a beginning, a place from which to start.  There's always a middle, filled with the delicious tension that makes you sit on the edge of your seat, hungering for resolution and wondering what will happen next.  And then there's the end, which is never really an end, the glorious resolution that highlights just how far your character has come.

Stories have plots, of course, but that's not what hooks us.  Plots, or action, don't keep us engaged.  Not really.  Not beyond a two-hour attention-span so succinctly provided by movies.  If you want us to invest, we have to engage with the people, the characters you write.  Because books, like lives, are only interesting to us because of the relationships they call us into.

What will happen to _____?  Will she live, will he die, will they fall in love?  You get the idea.  The 'how' is interesting, but it's not what keeps us reading.

So, I think about people and characters and their arcs.  Today, while I was reflecting on my own life, I realized there's a precious story arc happening right here in living color, in the little house I call home on Blackfoot Trail.  In the messiness of 'working it out' daily, I am changed, evolved, matured.

This sounds pedestrian, I know.  Simplistic.  Like something we all know.  But I'm sharing because it's helpful to reflect on the yesterdays and todays and possible tomorrows.  I'm sharing because, sometimes, we need to get a picture of the rainbow to remember the covenant.*  In short, I'm sharing because, today in particular, I need the encouragement of the knowledge that this is a journey, that I'm not stuck, that there is a process that leads somewhere really good.

So here you go, my personal story arc, in sketch form:

I was...

  • short-sighted
  • a money-worshipper
  • a believer that success equaled a certain kind of house, a certain kind of job/education/intellect, a certain kind of community, a certain kind of ability to travel and spend and own
  • whiny, always needing to know 'why?' and 'why me?'
I am...
  • thankful for every little bit we have, which isn't much
  • a God-worshipper; I know that I know that I know that HE will provide, no matter what I do or do not do; that HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills; that money comes and goes - it's what we do with it in-between the comings and goings that matters
  • learning how to redefine success; I'm beginning to see it as a life lived in dependence, a life lived with authenticity and openness, a life that can be moved for His purposes in His time
  • less whiny.  I need to know 'why?' much less than I used to.  Now, I primarily feel resigned to the fact that God's going to do what God's going to do.  Once I've done everything in my power to get my heart as clean as possible before Him, and once I've done everything in my power to walk in obedience (as much as I can discern what that means), then, well, there's nothing more I can do.  The rest is up to Him.  If things aren't coming together the way I want them to, that's not my problem.  It's on Him.  My job is to wait and watch.  He'll reveal His purposes in His time.
Could that be what PEACE means?  Could that be what it is to walk in peace, to be okay with waiting and having absolutely no control?  To allow yourself to operate more like an observer and less like a director, to follow rather than lead, to rent rather than own?  And to be okay with it?

I'm not sure yet, but I do know that I am so different than I used to be.  This post doesn't even come close to illustrating the changes He's worked in me.  I don't have enough words.  But I do have this word: thankful.  I am so, so thankful.  I want to be the person on this side of the arc.  And all the conflicts and 'tensions' He put in my path along the way are nothing compared to the joy and freedom I have now.  

I want the fullness.

Let it be.

*Genesis 9:13

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Tribute to My Husband

My husband and I celebrated seven years of marriage last Monday.  I am so, so, so thankful for him.  The Lord has used him to make me into a better person - a more complete one, yes, but also someone who more closely resembles the character traits of God.

Because of Justin, I am:

  • more balanced.  I consider things carefully and calmly before reacting, rather than allowing myself to become tossed back and forth on the waves of my emotional response.
  • more patient.  Living with anyone engenders patience.  But, Justin has born with me so many times, never saying a word about my struggles until, finally, after months (sometimes years), I realize I'm in bondage and come to him and confession.  Almost every time, he's not surprised. He has seen it, known it, been subject to it.  Instead of freaking out and yelling at me to change because of how my junk affects him (ah-hem, I wouldn't know anything about that kind of response), he waits.  Patiently.  When the time is right, and I turn toward change, he's there, ready to forgive, ready to help, ready to smile and encourage and restore with his loving presence.  
  • more fun.  He makes me laugh.  A lot.  At myself, at life, at hardship.  There is joy with him.  As my son put it, "Mom, Daddy's more fun than you."  Oh so true.  And thank God.  We all need a little fun in our lives, right?  More than a little.  I'm quite sure God gave us laughter for a reason.
  • more loving.  Justin doesn't expect much from people.  This used to annoy me.  I would think, "Don't you know you deserve more; don't you know you shouldn't let people get away with giving you so little?"  Now I know: love doesn't work like that.  What I used to preach with my words I now live more truly with my life.  Love is selfless.  Love doesn't seek to get; it seeks to  give.
From 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails...

Thank you, Justin, for teaching me how to love.  I love you!  Here's to many more years together!!!!