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Wednesday, October 31, 2012


My little boy is in one the sweetest stages yet.

I'm currently gushing over his smiles that he saves just for me, his giggles, his cuddles.

I really don't know if I will ever get over him.

He's been pushing boundaries, learning what "no" means, and melting my heart every other second.

What a balancing act it is between overwhelming insecurity that I'm not getting it right and overwhelming settledness that this is right where God has me.

This motherhood thing is all-consuming, all-exhausting, life changing.
At the end of most days, my hands and my heart are tired and weary, but full to the brim.

Today, I am letting the gift I've been given seep into my skin and settle into my bones.  This is good.  This is love.  
I give thanks.

And when my little person pulls on me and needs me and I find myself at the end of, well, all of me, I'll give thanks then, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Chapel Song

I went to kindergarten in a small private school.  My teacher was sweet and squishy and I don't remember her name, except I think it started with a B because she had earrings that had the letter B on them.

I also had my first crush.  His name was Taylor.  We met at the pencil sharpener every once in awhile.

We learned cursive (which was pretty fun) and I made the best lowercase "h" out of all of the class.  My teacher told my mom so.  I'm still pretty proud of that "h."

We had chapel every week.
I don't remember what day it was on.  Hey, I was in kindergarten.

Every time we had chapel, we sang the same song.
I thought it was just the chapel song... that it was some kind of ritual.
I thought it only took place in my chapel.  (It didn't by the way.)

I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship you, Oh my soul rejoice!
Take joy, my King, in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear
(This is all I remember from this song.  Evidently there are lots of other verses.  Who knew?!)

This morning I went to sit down during nap time, and I closed my eyes and tried to lift whatever lingers in your heart after you've been needed and pulled on and wanted and taken from.

And it rushed up out of somewhere, that chapel song.
My heart started to sing it ritually.
I got to the line with the "sweet, sweet sound part"...
And I sang out loud.
(Because my husband leads worship, I often get asked if I sing too.  I do sing, thank you.  
Um, no, I don't sing well.  But I do sing.)

Somehow, while looking around my messy house that I just. cleaned. yesterday. and singing the song that came every week for almost a year, over and over, it strikes me:
The repetition, it never ends.
Whether it be the cleaning or the singing or the choosing to praise or the petition that our lives make sweet sounds instead of discordant noises.
It's day by day, moment by moment, endless.

When it seems like whatever you just worked through comes back to haunt your heart, don't get weary.
When it seems like your pleas fall on deaf ears, don't stop singing.
When it seems like you're finally together, don't stop pressing forward into the exposing light.

The house, it gets messy again, even after deep cleaning.
My heart, it fails me.  Sometimes, the sound it makes is less-than-sweet.

But this morning, I will declare, ask, beg that somehow, by grace, I make a sweet sound to His ear.
And sometime today, I'll clean the house.  Again.

I'll do the same tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Long Arms

My eyes squeezed shut and my hands palms-up on my knees, I whisper one question:
What if I have nothing else to give?

A dirty high chair,
A messy, falling out bun in my hair,
An aching need to just nap,
Cluttered toys and sticky floors...

It's all mocking me.

Again, what if I have nothing else?  What if it's all dried up?

What if it all crowds in on me... the everything that takes from me and the nothing I have to give... what if it overtakes me and I can't recover?

My eyes are still shut, and I wait for some command.
Some order to get on my knees and drive my forehead into the ground.
Some motivation to make sure to be more disciplined, more together.
All I can see is the time and the energy that I just don't have.

Even though I know them, the words touch me in a new way this time as they're whispered into my soul:

His arms can't be cut off, even by a mound of cluttered toys.
His ears can't be muffled by the noisy baby or the lists in my head.

When you feel like you can't reach through it all, whatever it is, remember.

It's not too much for Him to get through.
He's got really, really long arms.
He'll find you if you let Him.

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 days: Blurting

Make this your common practice:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. 
I don't know where the notion came from, and I'm sure I was unaware of it until I'd unearthed it and held it in my lap:
If I don't say it out loud, if it doesn't seem like part of my character, whatever takes up residence in my thoughts is mine and mine alone.  If I judge, compare, or get frustrated only in my head, it's ok.

Long story short, I figured it out.
It's not ok.

Somehow, "figuring it out" didn't fix it all for me.
I still see something on Facebook that makes me feel left-out, less than, or just sad.
I still have moments when my skin gets uncomfortable on me, and I'd like to try on someone else's.

These moments, they can plague and taunt me.
The small frustration or bitterness or even self-loathing can bury itself somewhere deep and dark, and I carry it with me.

These thoughts can sneak up so quickly and bite so venomously that once I figured out they were hurting me, I had to make a game plan.

My solution: Blurt it out.
...to the closest person possible.
99.9% of the time, this happens to be my husband.

I tell him what's going on because I already know it's not ok.
No judgment, no shame.

It's become such a normal practice for us, he can just look at me and know when I'm comparing or feeling icky in my spirit.

It's not simple, it's not fun, it's not something I look forward to.
It's like throwing up... the acidic, bad-for-you stuff leaving the body... It's gross.
But the more I practice, the moment the words leave my mouth,
so does the guilt and shame, the frustration, the comparison, and the burden of the sin.

My shoulders feel lighter and I can sit up straighter and live in the light.
No hiding, no fear.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 days: Sidelines

That's why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.
John the Baptist had followers.  He was touching lives, people were committed to his calling, his vision, his teaching.
God ordained him from before he was born to play a part in the grand scheme of the great plan. 

That blood pumping through your veins, tear-jerking kind of calling and dreaming... 
He had to have experienced it.

For me, it's writing.
It's motherhood.
It's being the kind of wife that lays down her all to support the man God's given her.

These callings, they keep me awake at night.
They inhabit the knot in my throat when the tears spill over.
These are the things I don't even have to ask to know the answer - 
They're God-birthed dreams.
Just like John the Baptist's.

I tend to desperately grab ahold of these desires, work toward them, make my life about them.
It's easy to forget that I'm on the sidelines.
It's easy to forget that though these are not about me.

My children, my words, my husband, my ministry, I'm just a spectator of it all.
It's time to step aside, and watch my God at work.

Jesus, be the center.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 days: Anniversary

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
I woke up a couple of minutes before him the other day.
Trying not to rustle the sheets, I curled my knees into my stomach, pulled the covers under my chin, and I watched in fascination.
This man, he is mine.
And I am his.

He used to have a certain smell.  I'd swipe his sweatshirts to wear when he wasn't around just so that I could feel him there when I inhaled.  Comfort and love and the perfect amount of butterflies in my stomach all resulted from breathing in that scent.

It's gone now, his smell.
Whether it's his pillow or mine, it's the same scent.
We have a home, we have a baby, we are a family.
I walk into our sweet house, and I breathe us in.
We've created this feel.  The air, the smell, the comfort, it's ours.

I take a deep breath, and my lungs expand, and I know I'm home, and it's forever, and Jesus is in this.

Three years ago, I committed my life to this man.
I had no idea what that would mean.
I didn't know that submitting to him would make me stronger as a woman.

I didn't know that I would sob in the wee hours of the night and he would hold my puffy face and kiss it and then that we would worship and our tears would mingle and that I would learn more about Christ than I ever knew.

I didn't know that he would protect my heart with gentle guidance.
I didn't know I'd rely desperately on his arms upholding me.

I didn't know what a choice it is to lay your life at another's feet, trusting God that He'll use that action to further His will.

I had no idea.

You've changed my world, my husband.
My whole world.

My heart is yours forever.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 days: Celebrate

The whole city celebrates when the godly succeed.
Pretty soon, I'm going to gain a sister.

Yesterday, my little brother slid a gorgeous ring on the finger of a beautiful girl and she said yes to becoming a wife, his wife.

Little brother, we're more than proud.
It's been a long, dusty road and you have come through more polished, more grown-up, and you're very blessed.  So are we.  Very, very blessed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 days: Makeover

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
"Pick up the house, Jesus is coming over."
It's how I feel sometimes.

This running, scrambling of hiding the dust mites and the dirty dishes version of myself.  Really, desperately wanting to give my best to my Jesus.  Reaching into some hidden closet that I don't really have to muster up the goodness and strength and best-ness to present before Jesus comes over.

My inner woman is tired and her hands are calloused and sometimes getting through the day is a victory for her.

Sometimes, her mascara is smudged and her lips are cracked and she only has enough strength to put on yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt before she meets up with her Maker.

It's easy for me to get distracted with her disheveled state.
I'd rather be dressed up for a dinner with the King.  (Or a snack, or a breakfast, or a coffee date...)

That's just not the way it works.
I just can't muster, dress up, be or say or do enough to prepare myself adequately like He deserves.
Even if I tried, I'd break under the pressure of the impossible.

So I walk up, smudgy eyes and all, and He dusts me off, picks me up, and nourishes my bones.
He makes me over.  
He makes you over.
You will never have enough strength for the day or for the moment on your own.

It's in Him.

It's not about how you look when you approach the throne, it's about how He sends you back out.

Come empty, leave full.
Come filthy, leave sparkling.
Come with tear-streaks, leave burden-less.

He will, He will, He will make you over.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 days: Praise

I've not written for the past two days.
This 31 day thing has really kicked me in the teeth.

For some reason, I've had the most difficult time writing since I've committed to do it.
I've had a hard time finding time or maybe making time.
The words come out slowly, slowly.
It's not been effortless.

But today is a new day and so is tomorrow.

I'm ever thankful.

Source: etsy.com via Echo on Pinterest

Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 days: Decoded Grunts

My head feels heavy as I lean back, the front parts of my neck straining against the stretch.
I practice what I learned months ago, preparing for my birth, deep breaths from my stomach to my toes and relaxing.

My baby is waking up.  I hear his little noises seeping under his door all the way down to the living room and they sit in front of me, waiting.
And I wait, too.

My thoughts feel just as coherent as the grunts my son makes from his crib, alerting me.

I'm somehow trying to formulate a prayer, though my tongue and my grain are not up to the task.

I close my eyes, and I sit, and I thank Him from somewhere inside for moments.  For breath.  For His understanding my needs and decoding my grunts and my mumbles and for filling me up.

There's an emptiness that comes with being fully taken from, needed moment to moment.

And there's a fullness that you would never know if you didn't experience the emptiness.  It's a chance to be given to, to be fed and held and Fathered.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 days: Crabby

Today I finished lists, filled out and executed budgets, grocery shopping, and motherhood.
I snuggled and I cooked and I fulfilled my duties.

My head should feel light and happy and ready for bed.

But, for some reason, today felt like it was on autopilot.
The neurons in my brain somehow commanded my hands and feet to do, so I did.

Just minutes ago, I opened my eyes and let confessions fall of my tongue into the open ears and arms of my husband.
Today, words were not guarded, thoughts were let loose.
I didn't win today, up until moments ago.

Grace and peace and purifying blood make it a win.
Not my attitude, my wrinkled nose and my tired eyes and my thankless heart.

I want to weep with gratefulness that I'm not graded on today.
I have a new chance before I even get under the covers.  Grace lets me smile and be happy for the day I've been given, the chance to be molded and shaped and lovingly repositioned.

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 days: Rejoicing

My God is good.
He does good things.

When my dishes and laundry are piled up, when I keep intending to do my hair only to be interrupted by a needy little person, when money and time and patience just runs out...
My God gives.

And I rejoice.

Today, I sat in a room of moms, and in my heart I just knew.
Somebody's marriage was struggling.
Somebody's finances were past the point of stressful.
Somebody's life and direction looked as clear as murky water.

And I rejoiced.

Because we were all together, in one Name, in one Presence, and there was encouragement and love and prayer, and it was good.
He gives, and gives, and He does take away.
And then He gives again.

Source: etsy.com via Jill on Pinterest

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 days: Enough

It's day 8, and tomorrow I am starting MOPS.
I'm thrilled, ecstatic, and heartbroken.

As I've approached the start, God's been consistently breaking my heart for the women around me, for the need for community and comfort and realness.  Life is tough, and we're often really good at hiding it.

We all need a resting place.

Laying my burdens and those of others at the Cross tonight, praying for hearts to be encouraged.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

31 days: Roots

It's Day 7 of 31 Days of Submission

• • •

It's Sunday, and I can get over-stressed today.
Being in church ministry for us means that Sundays are busy, early mornings and full evenings.

It takes effort to stop, to let Sunday be Sunday and to absorb the life giving of community and the Word and the healing it all brings.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

31 Days: Weekender

It's Day 6 of 31 Days of Submission

• • •

I've decided that since I generally don't blog on the weekend, Saturday and Sunday will be a chance for lighter thoughts, something I've seen or something I'm working on or letting go of...

This is all for today, and it is enough.

Friday, October 5, 2012

31 days: Cheerleader

It's Day 5 of 31 Days of Submission

• • •
Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them.
I met today with some wonderful women about the startup of MOPS next week, and we touched base on our major goals of the ministry.

Toward the end of the lunch, one woman said, "So we stay away from those hot topics, right?  Because I've seen lots of parenting arguments between friends on Facebook."

Goodness gracious.

Motherhood is something that takes up all of you.  The moment you are thrust into the mom role, the unexplainable weight of another life is upon you.

You have to make decisions on how to parent, what path your family will take.
We did, and each decision was thought out, some labored and cried over.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that whether it's motherhood or something else, most people do life on purpose.  Everyone has moments of insecurity, of not being 100% sure that you are 100% together 100% of the time.

You know it, I know it.  Let's support, not tear down.

I need someone on my side, to be my cheerleader when I'm unsure.

I'm sure I'm not the only one, even if I forget it sometimes.

Goal: Remember that you or she or they need someone to work for them, to cheer, to remind them of awesomeness.  Be that cheerleader (note-to-self: you cannot fit into your highschool cheer outfit; you just have to find other ways to fill that role).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 days: Whatever

It's Day 4 of 31 Days of Submission
(I skipped yesterday, but started one day early, so I have a grace day...)

• • •
WHATEVER happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. 
My throat is all lumpy today, and I don't have very much to give.
Before the sun came up, my alarm went off, and I had a hard time holding off the kind of crying that makes my lips puffy.
In the next two hours, there was such a flurry of Starbucks and packing the car and feeding the babies and checking their luggage and then it was time.
And it wasn't enough, will never be enough time.

We shipped our friends off this morning to start their new life all the way across the country, without us.  And it was painful.

We hugged and whispered and then they walked away, and I've never been more thankful for assurance and peace and knowing.

The days ahead are just going to be full of weirdness.  Picking up the phone to realize they're not available to eat chocolate and watch funny videos and just sit and hug and be together.  Looking for faces in a crowd that we won't see.  Missing doing everything and nothing and all of those in-betweens.

But today, and tomorrow, and next week when it hits me afresh, God is good.
He holds us.  He holds them.  And somehow, we're all held together and it's going to be more than ok, and I REJOICE because I need to and because I can and because it's healing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 days: One or the Other

It's Day 3 of 31 Days of Submission.

• • •
Do everything without complaining and arguing.
Billy walks in the door, and it's been a long day.
I'm pretty sure I smell funky mixes of spit up and drool and black beans and yogurt.
My eyes have a funny ache behind them that reminds me of how tired I am.
My big toe is sticking to the floor when I walk, and I'm not sure why it happened or when I'll get around to cleaning it off.

However, all day, I've chosen to be thankful.  I've looked into my baby's eyes and thought, This is just glorious work I'm doing.

But I'm still at the end of my rope, and my husband (poor, poor husband) only has to breathe the wrong way, and I'm just done.

I consider myself fairly peaceful... a people-pleaser too often.
Give me a long day of being pulled on, overflowed, and dried up, and I can show you one very argumentative momma.

It's either one or the other.
I'm looking to get them both right... Thankfulness in my heart and peace in my communication...
Even when my sticky toe stubs itself onto the hammer I didn't know was there.

No complaining and no arguing.
Strait-forward, easy, and not-so-much.
Eventually, though, it's a much lighter burden to bear when they're both under wraps.

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 days: Impressive

It's Day 2 of 31 Days of Submission.

• • •
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other,
loving one another,
and working together with one mind and purpose.
It's been about 18 months now since that night.
Billy's at some sort of service or practice at church, and I'm home by myself.
Forehead against the granite countertop of our small kitchen island, Bible to one side, journal to the other.
I don't remember what night of the week it was, and I can't even remember what exactly triggered my heartache, but I know it was riddled with comparison and loneliness and the burden that I just couldn't seem to shake these things.
How does one feel so alone when surrounded by such great community, such unreal amounts of friends?
Sin, that's how.  Truly, I'm sitting here trying to explain it in a different way, and that's the only word that seems sufficient.  Insecurity, yes.  Comparison, yes.  But really, it is my very own choice to ignore the commands that are in place to keep me from these very things.
Sin, sin and worry.  Worry that somehow, I'll be less loved, less liked, less important than the next person, than the next woman, than the next couple.
Worry and comparison is what keeps us from agreeing wholeheartedly and having one mind and purpose.

I let go that night.  Moved from my seat at the island to my knees on the tile.  Hands raised, my face salted with rivers of tears.

I made the move from needing to have a place to needing to give others a place.
A desperate desire that the people God gifted me with, this community, these families, that they would connect, share life, feel supported and celebrated.  If that happened without me, then so be it.  I just wanted to play my part.

Somehow, little by little, the loneliness gets better with each repeated prayer.
God, give me a heart for them like you have.
And I am important.  I do have a place.  It's in the loving arms of One who created me, who made me this way, who wants me every day, no matter what.