Thursday, April 26, 2012

just a little while.I just finished reading Katie Davis' book, "Kisses from Katie".  If you haven't read it, I strongly encourage you to purchase a copy, get out your highlighter and tissues, and go to town.

The reading of this book coupled with so many other things going on right now - and I truly feel at this unexplainable place in my life.  My husband feels the same.  And we're looking at each other and wondering just what our Lord has in store for us.  Just what might come, if we are open to obeying His word and His whispers.

Never before have I been at such a powerful crossroads.  Life is fragile, I know this.  We are called, I know this too.  Even called by name.  And God is slowly revealing His plan for me, for us, for our family.  It's beautiful and crazy and wild and confusing, and completely indecipherable one day and so very clear the next. 

I've come to a point where I'm hearing whispers of Stop. 

Stop?   Yes, stop.  Stop trying so hard to come up with something to say, something to write, something to proove a point about.  And start focusing those hours on Him. 

Stop talking, and start listening.  Stop writing for everyone else, and start writing private love notes to God.  Start seeking with everything in me so that He may reveal His whole and perfect plan.
Stop and listen to the breeze and the children's laughter, and the children I can't see but know are suffering.  Open your heart in a new, fresh way.

So, forgive me if I'm quite absent from these pages for a while.  I love writing here, but I'm choosing to Stop for, well, I'm not sure how long.  To truly unplug from here (... imagine!  The irony!) - and to wholly, passionately, fully plug-in to the One who has all the answers and wants desperately to direct our ways. 

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 3)

"I was coming to understand that what it means to be real is to love and be loved until there is nothing left.  And when there's nothing left, and we feel we're all in pieces, God begins to make us whole.  He makes us real.  His love sets us free and transforms us."

"Nowhere in the Bible does it say that I deserve a reward here on earth.  Colosians 3:23 says, 'Whatever you do work at it with all your heart.'  It does not end in, 'and after this hard work you deserve a long hot bath and some 'me' time.'  It does end with, 'since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.'

Reflecting on this from the Word of God:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 

 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Tilling the Soul.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I get it.  The theraputic nature of gardening.  I didn't always.  The grit of the soil between my fingers, it now connects me deeply to God's earth.  The tilling of the ground - an act as ancient as time.  And I do it this week.

Hardened dirt lays before me.  Naked and grassless in a small area, maybe 6ft by 4ft in our messy, unkept, but gloriously green backyard.  But not this patch.  It's dead brown.  We need to plant seed - so I start to till.  On a sunny, cool morning, I just start hitting the soil.  Me, a three-pronged weapon and bare dirt - we have a date.

WHACK.  The forked tool comes down hard.
WHACK.  Again.

I hit the dirt over and over, my intensity building.  As the soil breaks, I break.  In the very moment I'm hitting and coming down hard on this dry, lifeless land - I'm coming into myself.  I'm realizing.  Life... my life, has been the dry soil.  The thirsty, life-seeking soil.  So incredibly parched for so long, yet blinded to my own need...

For purpose.  For grace.  For God.

And I've been longing for the green grass all along, but fearful of the tilling.  Resisting the tilling.

Yes, I know in theory how all this works.  Land grows grass and trees and flowers and food.  But to grow something beautiful where barren land once was - well, it is a process.  The tilling, the violent preparing and breaking up of the soil - it's necessary for growth to take place.


And it's no longer the soil I'm preparing, but God preparing my heart.  Yes, I'm a crazy garden poet - and dreaming dreams while wearing rubber boots.  And my daughter looks on and giggles.  And it's ok.

WHACK. This culture - my dislike for the life of 'plenty' is growing, mounting, almost suffocating me.
WHACK. My greed.  I hate it.
WHACK.  My ignorance.  Give me wisdom, God.
WHACK. His calling - to love.
WHACK.  How am I loving through my actions?  How is my LIFE love?
WHACK. Wasted years.
WHACK. Wasted ambition.
WHACK. His love.
WHACK.  His grace.
WHACK.  His calling for my life.  My family's.

SRAAAAPE.  And the soil is raw and ready.  But I'm sitting, staring at it, simply lost in thoughts.

How do I live drastically and intensly devoted to Jesus?  To my neighbor?  At 28, my eyes and my mind are finally clearing and I'm starting to realize, as Katie says... that my life is upside down.  And I'm ready for God to completely rock my world right-side up.  I know He's planting.

Crazy, unimaginable seed.
Love seed.
Passionately counter-cultural seed.

And my soul is tilled.  My heart is open.   Blemished, imperfect - but open.  Ready for the process - ready for more breaking, more ripening, and the planting, and the growth.  This year has been a year of tilling.  It's been painful - it's been unexpected.  It's been like violent scrapes of prongs in vulnerable earth.  But I'm still here.  He sustains.  He prepares.  Even the 'me's of this world.  He prepares even us.

And so it goes.  Just as the garderner's hands break up the earth for planting... doesn't God do the same to our very soul?  To the very deepest part of us?

Breaking up is part of the readying.  Shaking up, mashing up, scraping through - it is the ripening... and it is sacred.  He is preparing us for the plant and His everlasting waters, will always be there to sustain us.  Always pouring freely.  Filling to overflow.  And then, when we are most vulnerably bare, something miraculous springs up.

But it takes the tilling.  And it's uncomfortable.  And hard.  And Holy.

And a privaledge.

Good-Bye (Thirst)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Yesterday, we had no water.

Well, I guess we didn't have 'NO' water, but our taps were not flowing.  We live in the country and our house is... um... old, to say the least.  Sometimes, our water runs out.  It dries up.  We forget to fill our cistern.  The pump burns out.  And yesterday was one of those days.   So, for twelve hours we used tiny amounts of water from a small water dispencer.  I poured four inches of cool liquid into a large bowl - and that was it.  Our water. 

Good-bye hot shower.  Good-bye tall glasses to gulp.

And I got thirsty.  I felt desperate to get that water flowing again. 

I thought it fitting that I live without running water for the day.  I needed it.

Don't we all need to be reminded once in a while?  Reminded of our humaness.  Our brokeness.  That just like that water flow, we too, can run dry.  We run out.  And like the over-worked pump, we burn out.

But then I'm reminded of this:

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”[c] 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.   (John 7)

and this:

 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  (John 4)

The water of this life will run out.  Everything we try to feed ourselves of this world - those things we THINK will keep us going - they don't.  They dry up.  On my own, I dry up.  I realize just how thirsty I am for more.  For Him.  Jesus is the only flowing river that will never stop rushing over us... bringing us to drink and drink and drink some more.

So, I humbly come to the One who is living water... and I don't just sip, I gulp, I chug... I cry.

And I am quenched.  I am awed.

Good-bye Thirst.

Written for Five Minute Friday.

Growing up Slowly in a Too-Fast World...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We are clinging to our children.  We want them to grow up slowly... 

We're keeping them away from negative influences like popular music, television, kid-marketed movies, commercials, the Mall, kid-stores, and the list goes on. That's right, our family doesn't go to the Mall. We are choosing to stand apart so we can foster our family's love of God, nature, and the simple things. We strive to build up their confidence, love of others, and true, soul-gripping sense of self through our faith in Jesus and their connection to family and nature.

I wrote more about kid-culture and society's push for kids to grow up too fast at The Better Mom today... come read more.

Why me? (The Rich Life)

Monday, April 9, 2012

This weekend was FULL.  Rich and full... like a healthy meal and tea by the bonfire - that was our weekend.  And it is at the end of days such as this I realize how rich I am.  Rich in God-gifts.  Rich in friends, family.  Rich in the 'us' of life.  Rich in the 'what matters' of life.

Cherished friends welcome us with open arms. Even us, with our three and our chaos.  We share a meal and cuddles with oodles of fluffy goats.  My heart is warmed with the richness of this-

The richness of His creation... all this beauty... why me?

I sat and sipped coffee with a friend Saturday morning - one babe at her breast, the rest of our five happily scattered around the backyard.  We asked each other the hard questions of this life.  "How much is too much, where is balance?  How do we engage with others, with the poor?  How do they teach us?"  How do we live a life that is full - but full of others, rather than self?

And why me for the full life?  Why me?

What did I ever do to 'deserve' this life? 

Nothing.  I did nothing and I deserve nothing.

This thought has been a theme for me for quite a while.  And  where does blessing run over?  Where does it bubble over, burn the stove, and beg to be poured into a new pot?  When?  Not soon enough. 

On resurrection Sunday, I held babies and hugged crying toddlers and then  cried myself all the way home from Church. 

"I'm sorry, I'm nuts, I know..." I whispered to my husband in full car.

"No, hun, I understand, I'm right there with you... I get it."

I was trying to put into words how I am going to stand this Friday in front of hundreds of women and represent two Ugandans whose generosity brings me to my knees.  Why me?  Why me to tell their story?  Why not them?  I'm angry now.  Why me so much and them so little and yet them so giving and this world is so messed up.  Why am I living the Rich Life?  Because I choose to buy a country hutch - and that cash would have paid a child's medical bill.  Because I go out for dinner, and that $50 I swallowed down - was all one man had, and he gave every penny to train to be a pastor in Kampala.

Why me here, safe and sound in our little country home?  Why her there, in danger of being raped and tortured, with no hope for justice?  Why.

Why me with the riches?  And why me here and telling stories that aren't mine to tell?  And why me so greedy - even when I  think I am generous...

even when I puff  myself  up because, oh, we love nature, and, oh, we see beauty, and yes, we rock babies, and we gave our few bucks.

Big things are stirring in this heart of mine.  I like it.  I cling to it.  I will keep asking the why mes, because I know there is a divine answer.  And I'm getting there.

Linked In:
The Better Mom
A Holy Experience

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