Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lean on Me

Last week God shined a light on this word that gets a bad rap in Christian circles.  We don't disdain it in public or on purpose, but overall, if you mention this word, it gives most of us the chills.

Submission.  

We get turned on our ears thinking of bowing down under someone - especially if that someone is flawed and sinful as we are.  It seems like too tall an order and just more than should be asked.

And then, on the other hand, we see it as a duty, a godly calling, so we try to walk along and go with this expectation: to submit, to set aside our self, to give in, to even give up.

So. last week, when I heard a talk on submission that just resonated to my bones I just knew I had to share it here because maybe you will feel as I do and allow God to redeem us from our fear of submission.

First of all, who is asked to submit?  If you are reading this, it's you.  If you aren't reading this, it's you too.  And, it is me.  God tells us to submit to one another out of respect for Him.  He starts out Ephesians 5 by telling us to be imitators of Christ and walk in love, giving ourselves up as Christ gave Himself up.  This isn't for the wife or the woman any more than it is for the child or the servant.  It is for all of us.  And, if you think I'm being a bit out of line here, check out Philippians 2 where we are told to have the same mind as Christ who humbled Himself to the point of a criminal's death on the cross.  There isn't any qualification there.  No ifs ands or buts about it - we are all invited to this life of submission.  Eugene Petersen uses the phrase, "Be content with obscurity."  There's a mental image.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When Life's Undertow Threatens to Drag You Down

When I was a little girl, most summers we went to visit my grandmother in Rockaway Beach, New York.  She lived in a high-rise apartment building across from the boardwalk and from her balcony we could see the ocean.  Most days we took the elevators down from her apartment and walked across the street, doffed our shoes and ran for the waves.  

My grandmother would yell after us, “Be careful of the undertow!”  

This week, as our family went through an unexpected trial, I felt the undertow of life, threatening to drag us, hold us down and suffocate the breath out of us.  I got on my email and saw blogposts which were written about hopeful and happy things and there seemed to be a curtain between my life and those around me.  They were buoyant and we were struggling for air.  


... Today I am honored to be guest posting at my friend Barbie's blog, My Freshly Brewed Life.  Come read the rest of the story and be encouraged here

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Sneak Peek at What I'm Up to These Days ...


Chain letters: I toss them.  

(800) numbers on my phone: I let them go to voice mail.  

Those emails that say, “If you pass this to 10 people in the next hour you will get $1,000,000, “ yeah, I delete those too.  

So, when I was invited to be a part of a “Blog Hop,” I wasn’t so sure.  I met the blogger who invited me, Laura Moss, through an amazing group of kindred writers who have come together to help launch the book, “Finding Spiritual Whitespace,”by Bonnie Gray.  Laura caught my heart right off the bat as she shared her story of surviving cancer.  If any number of other bloggers had asked, I’d have said “no.”  But, since it was Laura, I gave this blog hopping a chance.  


 If you are as green as I am, you may ask what in the world a blog-hop is.  What I’m going to do here is answer four questions about my writing and what God is calling me to these days … and then I’m going to introduce you to some amazing bloggers and suggest you go check out what they are writing.  It’s worth the “hop.”  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Let Your "Yes" be Yes and Your "No" be No

Hercules.

Atlas.

These are the guys myths are made of - really.

But, you and me, why do we feel we have to step into their shoes and shoulder the world?
I know you hear me.

I have been having conversations lately and I'm hearing a theme.
We take on the world.  
Our burden is heavy and difficult. 
But we don't know what to release or how to let go
or what in the world will happen if we do.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Radical

Well, I got up the gumption to write a big blog post last week - one that sort of spilled out of my soul all over the paper.  To be honest, I wrote it in a Word Doc and let it sit for a few days while I allowed God to remind me that He stands between me and any critics in my life.

Tonight, I'm alone in the living room.  My husband and older son are off in Mexico building a house with a church group for a family who needs something more than tattered boxes to call "home." I'm praying hard over their trip - knowing God can build much more than a house in this process.  As my two guys reach out to this family, God is reaching deep and I am praying that their hearts will be eternally changed for the good.  It works that way.  We pour out and we are filled simultaneously because we just can't outgive God.  Giving reminds us that we don't own anything, and that we could just as easily be the recipient as the giver because there really is only One Giver and we are all beggars in His presence.  Oh, we need those reminders. 


Monday, July 14, 2014

When God Is Waiting to Shake Your Soul


I have been feeling this feeling that I can only name as akin to when I have had the stomach flu.  You know when you feel it coming on, but you are hoping against hope that you can override the unrest.  You keep it at bay, even though the keeping it at bay takes effort and makes things worse in one way.  You don’t want to go there.  You want to hold off as long as you can.  Then, finally it is just too much and you give in.  The process is messy.  It tastes awful.  It smells awful {sorry girls} and yet, when you finally let go of all the junk you’ve been holding together inside, there is this feeling of freshness where there was rĂ©sistance and suppression.  

Grief.  It’s kind of like the stomach flu.  

Some people who know me in my day to day life might find it odd that I am writing about grief.  They might say, “I didn’t know you had a death in the family or another loss recently.”  That’s the thing.  It’s not recent.  Well, there were recent injuries that set this chain in motion, but those are not the big chunks of grief which have been haunting me – taunting me.  I’ve been avoiding them more than processing them and when I do touch the injured places I feel like I’m touching a hot ball of lava – the tears come so readily.  For a girl who is great at helping others find peace in their own journey, I can really keep vulnerability and difficult emotions stifled until they just won’t hold.  


Weakness was never safe for me.  I only survived by being stronger than the pain.  And I would think, maybe you would think, that after seventeen years on a specific healing journey with an amazingly supportive mentor walking alongside me I would be so free I would be through it all.  I always wanted a graduation from the muck.  I learned a while back that my goal isn’t to graduate, but to grow.  And grow I did.  God stepped in time and again - into dark and ugly memories – into cavernous wounds and barren, hopeless hurts and He brought Himself into those places. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dropping off the Face of the Earth

Sometimes I wish I were one of those people who lived in a yurt out in the middle of a wood with minimal needs and much free, unscheduled time.  I'm not a total introvert, though I do sure need my space to recharge my battery.  I just need to breathe and sometimes the way I do life there isn't a lot of breathing left in me.  


Margin gives space to life and makes room for a pause.

Margin helps bring peace.

Margin makes for balance and leeway between commitments. 

Margin gives God the invitation to move in.  

For this last week and a half I have been trying to give myself a breath - actually I've given myself a bunch of breaths and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  But all this has shown me is the depth of my need to slow and step back.  We've been in the throws of a very full summer.  How does this happen?  We start with some innocent idea that we will meet up with friends to swim.  Then another friend suggests we meet at the free summer movie that morning.  Yet another friend hosts a summer debate club once a week.  And we have piano lessons and we care for a friend's children when she asks and we go to VBS ... All of a sudden we are jetting from here to there "relaxing" with our friends and making the most of summer and we have lost our place of rest.  We weren't made for this kind of living.  Too much of a good thing is still too much.  I do know how to say "no" but sometimes I lose my vigilance and we all pay the price.  Innocent "yes" answers end up piling up. 

"No," is a healthy answer.  I'm writing it on my calendar at least once a week - big beautiful NO - to remind myself that this time is time to pause, give margin, let the world whirl by without me.  I need to drop off the face of the earth every so often so I can find perspective and renewal.  This is sabbath-keeping. 

I was visiting two older women from our church yesterday.  Life is naturally slower at their age.  They are sisters, both widowed, who live in a quaint craftsman home in the older section of town where trees grow high and life seems to have stepped back in time a pace or two.  As we sat on their screened-in porch one of them said, "Harmony.  All of our life needs harmony.  We need to let things flow together well so that we can have the peace of God in our midst."  She hasn't always walked easy or outwardly peaceful roads.  She has raised children and she nursed her dying husband through poor health, using a lift to get him in and out of the bath as she daily let go of the man who was her other half. 

She speaks from a place of knowing and reflection.  And she sweetly smiles as she does, eyes dancing with the truth of harmony.  Time stands still on that screen porch.  We talk about heaven and church and our families.  I soak in the spoken and unspoken lessons. 

So, though I thought I'd be writing more through the summer - keeping my series on Fenelon's wisdom for child rearing going, writing about organizing home education, getting a series going on rest - and instead I find I am slowing.  God is calling me to rest.  I need the margin.  I need to find Him and be with Him throughout each day.  I need to savor "the lazy days of summer" and intentionally make space for it to be so.  I'll still write (don't fret, those of you following those series) but I am going to spread my pace out a bit, take my flip flops off, put my feet up in the back yard and enjoy some homemade peach tea while watching my boys run through sprinklers. 


The wisest man in the world said there is a time for everything.  Even rest. 

If you want the most inspired book I have read on rest, I encourage you to check out Bonnie Gray's book Finding Spiritual Whitespace.  It is blessing my socks off and God is using it to echo His loving call to rest into my life and heart these days.