Wednesday, November 26, 2014

So Much

When I was a little girl, the children used to sing a song that went like this:
   "We have so much, so much, so much, (hands spreading apart a little at a time; quiet voice)
 so much, so much, so much, (arms getting wider and wider; voice getting louder and louder)
so much, so much, so much, (arms spread as far as they can reach!; shouting!)
to be thankful for!"
It was quite rousing!  We liked it.  
It's an easy song to learn and a harder life to live, which is the way it goes.
This year I am counting gifts.  I think I will make it to 1000 by December 31st.  That's cool, but it only matters if my heart is trained to bless God in the process.  We can record on autopilot, I think, just as we can approach the Thanksgiving table tomorrow with hearts still cold toward Christ.  

This morning, my devotional asked for a bit of reflection, for me to take time to think on the last 10 years of my life and see God's faithfulness in it. 
What a decade.
We moved, went from elementary schoolers to high school and college,
buried my dad, moved my mom, went through two surgeries with her in a year,
 found our ministries in the church, left our church, started a church, 
went back to teaching, left teaching, went back again.
We gained three dogs, lost one.
Gained three cats, lost two.
Crazy, but no crazier than yours, I'd warrant.

And God is faithful.
In ten years, He's done more than I could think or imagine.
He is more than I thought or imagined.
David Crowder said it best:
"At the start, He was there.
In the end, He'll be there.
After all our hands have wrought,
He repairs.
  He repairs."

This year is full of nostalgia for me, but my faithful Father is nudging me along, 
gently but with definite firmness, 
because, while gratitude looks backward and blesses, it looks forward with yeses,
with the "Amen" as benediction and the "Our Father" for the journey to come. 
He is faithful.
Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Long Time, No Blog: a Daybook

I've missed you.
I miss writing, and I miss words, and I miss the faithful handful who respond and make me feel like I have something to say.
So today I am diving back in as though someone cares--because the someone who cares is me.

It's a Friday day-book--just because.

Listening to...the No Other Name album by Hillsong.  Does the Lord give you theme songs?  He does that to me all the time.  This album is the background music for this season.
Eating...brussel sprouts!  (Like, for the first time ever.  Brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, roasted at 425* for about half an hour.  I'm a believer.)
Checking...things off my packed fall schedule; one class down, just three papers left in the other, and I'll be about 1/6 of the way through this Masters.
Sneezing...ah...because it's time for my annual head cold--choo
Missing...a regular exercise schedule, teaching women's Bible study, my college girl
Untying...the knot in my stomach over this school year.  Knowing why would not bring me peace.  Jesus brings me peace, so I'll take it.   By faith, not by sight.

Stunned by...sapphire blue skies, leaves crowning trees like rubies and citrine and topaz. 
Say hello if you will!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Beautiful Gate

(Two posts in a month!  We should probably celebrate.)
 One night, I manage to slip away from the papers and tests long enough to go with my husband to the track. 
Beside me, Big Red begins his intensive workout--sprints, burpees, and other mind-boggling, sweat-inducing moves.
I walk in circles. 
Big Red is training for a Spartan race.
And I thought, I am training to hold my breath.
So I pray to exhale.
Around the track, around my head, prayers loop and weave in between my parallel lives of teacher, mother, student, wife.
Lesson plans and supper plans and best-laid plans.
The next morning, I'm in Act 3, 
reading about the man at the temple who holds his cup out to Peter and John.  
He's asking for silver,
but he gets something far more precious.
He gets a chance to praise Jesus with everything--
body, soul, spirit.
It's a cool testimony, and one with lots of implications, but my eyes go to the line Luke repeats.
"...the Gate called Beautiful."
It sings like a chorus in my head all day: the gate is beautiful.
The place he sat, day after day, year after year-
 where he looks at Peter and John,
where he listens to Peter's voice,
where he anticipates just enough for today,
where he seizes Peter's right hand,
where  he gets more than he ever thought or imagined.
It was beautiful 
because it was the place where he waited with expectancy and where he accepted what was offered.
This place where I am, 
the place where I'm waiting with my cup out,
looking, listening, expecting,
that's the place Jesus calls beautiful in me.
What looks like brokenness now will look like beauty later.
I don't know what I'm anticipating, 
but I know Jesus well enough to know that it will be more than I bargained for--
and I want to seize it, accept it, 
and leap for joy.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The God of Present Tenses

Long time, no blog.
The pace of life accelerated out of control around here in July, with gardens and graduates taking the bulk of the hours.
In August, I sent my baby away to college, started my Master's degree (hello, college tuition), and landed in one of the most challenging professional situations I've ever found myself.
There has been insomnia.
There have been tears.
There has been the stupor that only comes when overwork and under-rest collide. 
Oh, and did I mention I am working a retreat team this fall as well?
As my laundry list of responsibilities grew (including laundry, which sits in untouched mounds awaiting action), my mother questioned my participation on this team.
It was tempting to free a night in the crowded calendar, but God said no, and I listened.
This past week, He did a bit more speaking.
It started in the worship, when the Comforter reached into weary places and did His thing.
Then the speaker reminded us that God's name is I AM.
Not I Was or I Will Be.
He is the God of present tenses, in my NOW, because He is unbound by time. 
In every season, He is there.
The past belongs under His blood; the future in His hands alone.
My present tense: morning mist on the pond
Truth be told, nostalgia had taken over, 
a wistfulness for the days when my girls were little, 
and I was a SAHM, 
and, as it always does when viewed backwards, 
life seemed simpler.  
In a school year when I am not at all sure I will survive until May, 
that simplicity (or, at least, those problems) taunted me.
So, in the quiet of that room, the Lord reminded me that I am in my now, 
and He is, too.
He is here, 
in a middle-aged woman attempting to return to college mode for a few semesters.
He is here, 
with a mama launching one from the nest with fear and trembling.
He is here, 
in a classroom with insurmountable issues further complicated by educational bureaucracy.
He is here. Holy, holy.
He is here. Amen.
Linking here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the 'House...

Anybody stopping by?
I took a blogging break.
I might still take one; I've not decided yet.
Remember when I said this was a good season?
We interrupt this blog post for a 'Where's Waldo?" moment; do you see it?  Look closely...
I didn't have time to change my camera settings--assuming I knew what they should be. 
 It is, but it's within an unreal busy season,
with a ultra-short summer on the school calendar 
(Teachers go back week after next.  Yes, I know summer just started.), 
a soon-to-be college freshman,
a house with projects.

My hands have held paintbrushes. (Interior doors; not blog-worthy, but oh! the difference!)
My head is holding dorm supply lists. (My head is not big enough to hold it.  Things ooze out of one list and ooze onto the next one when I remember.)
My heart is holding John's gospel,
 my girls' faces as they struggle with coming changes,
 my husband in his jaw-dropping garden.

All summer I have chased the days and found them fog-like.  They seem tangible but aren't; they disappear before I have time to enter into them.  
I've forgotten my camera. 
Meanwhile, zinnias bloom, 

blueberries ripen, 

peas promise to take over August.
Today, I exhale. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Multitude Monday: Lists

I am a list-lover.
I'm not always good at following them, but I like them.
Organization eludes me, best intentions aside.
As our uber-busy summer flies by, I'm trying a different kind of list, a short and sweet one written daily in large letters on the chalkboard. 
Amazing the satisfaction one can derive from a chalk line drawn through a completed task!

List makers vary by style.  I manage my list with micro-tasks.  Fold one load of laundry.  Paint a door. Dust the living room.
Big Red's lists are global, sweeping vision statements to guide his long-range plan.  Clean the basement!  Landscape the yard!  Paint the whole house!

Today's gratitude list resembles Big Red's method more than mine.  They're the mammoth, underlying blessings that make the small ones possible; they dig deep roots that tether my wandering heart to my Rock. 

507.  The Lord calls me to believe Him, and He can be trusted.
508. He speaks to me, and He'll speak to me again.
509. The Old Testament undergirds the New.
510. God gives God.
511. The Word nourishes me.
512. The Word is sweet to me; I know it is feeding me even if the message is bitter.
513. Living Water leaps up in me and flows to others,
514. Jesus is beautiful to me.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Grass is Green

Yesterday I attended Day 1 of a two-day college orientation for DD#1.
(Dad is taking his turn today.  Bahaha!!)
Somewhere in between the " Don't helicopter over your college student" (got it; I teach middle school and am well-acquainted with helicopter parenting) and " You will need a second job to pay for this, " I cleaned 519 emails off my account.
True story.
And don't even get me started on FERPA. 
Me no see grades, you no see cash.  Very simple.  
Yesterday evening, this tired mama and the sweet daddy who had swooped in (helicoptered??) to rescue shared a pizza and talked finances, dorm dilemmas, assorted worries about our child.

This morning I was reading about the feeding of the 5000 in John 6.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.  7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”   8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,   9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”    10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
There was plenty of grass in that place. 
Jesus is getting ready to show His disciples yet again that He's sufficient for every need.  He commands them to have the people sit down, and they sat on the grass.
Another gospel tells us it was "green grass". 
Not dirt.  Not sand spurs.  Not gravel. 
Green grass.
I love that detail.  I big-puffy-heart it.  It brought tears to my eyes today, because it is the picture of the God Who overlooks nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He meets my need and then some ( a point that He makes again and again in this story.)

Not gonna lie--sending my kid--and in particular, this kid--to college is a big, huge, fat, hairy deal.  It is not small. In fact, between this and work, this fall is loaded up with not small.  
In her book, Rhinestone Jesus,  Kristen Welch shares an email she received during a difficult season:
"'You are not going to lose this battle because it is already WON on the Cross.  I don't believe in losing or getting the victories because Jesus has already done it.  The question is, how far will you do to declare the victory in this battle?  Would two more rescued girls make you know it?  Or two thousand more?  How far will you go to proclaim that the victory was DONE for you?'"
How much will it take for me to know Christ is sufficient for all things?  How many more signs do I need?
He fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish, and everyone ate as much as they wanted.  There were leftovers.
There was green grass.