Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Do the next thing

One woman who has been a great inspiration to me throughout the years is Elisabeth Elliot. As a teenager I read her books as well as the books of those who inspired her. She introduced me to heroes of the faith such as Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot. So when the opportunity arose as a young adult to hear her speak in my hometown, I was eager to meet this "mentor" of my mine. I took many notes that fall day over fifteen years ago which now are most forgotten, but four small words have never left my memory....

"Do the next thing."

Simple, yet profound, these words have echoed through my brain time and time again. You see, when Elisabeth found out her husband had been killed by the Auca Indians in South America, leaving her in the jungle alone with her toddler daughter, she cried out to God, "What am I to do, Lord? How am I to make it?" He gave her these four simple words...

"Do the next thing."

If you know her story, you know she became a part of bringing the light of the gospel and forgiveness to the very ones who massacred her husband and four other missionaries in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador. She wrote many books and published the memoirs of her late husband for all to be inspired by. She has spoken to large crowds and passed a legacy of evangelism on to the next generation. And she did all this by simply one motto...

"Do the next thing."

You see, I don't know what the future holds, whether the economy will collapse, whether I will even live to see my next day or even breath. I can't see how the big picture of my life will unfold, but I know that I am called to follow my Savior day by day, and moment by moment. When I cry out before him, "God, what does this look like?" You know what He says to me?

"Do the next thing."

What does the next thing look like? It may look as mundane and simple as laundry and dishes, or it may appear as challenging as giving up everything to live with the poor of this world in order to bring them the Kingdom. It may seem hard, overwhelming, unattainable, but when broken down it is simply...

"Do the next thing."

I don't have to worry about what tomorrow will bring.  I don't have to have it all figured out, for my Father who owns all things knows tomorrow. I simply move forward hand in hand, step by step, with Him who feeds even the sparrows while doing the ONE thing I know to do....

.....the next thing.

 (Image of fun shoes found at Anthropologie.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

"I AM with you, even to the ends of the earth....."

When a stay at home mom goes through a divorce, many thoughts whirl about her head as if the life she lives is sifted by a magnanimous tornado tearing apart every foundation lain the previous years.  The process of grief overwhelms the mind with questions of the past, present, and future sending the individual into a daze which sometimes lasts for weeks, even months.  When this takes place there is only One place to go , One solid foundation left unturned, One person to trust.  That One is He who knows all things before the foundations of the world, the I AM of eternity.  I AM walks alongside, not merely as God, but ultimately as friend.  Who is this I AM who is friend?  He is everything to the broken, the weak, the disheartened and overwhelmed.  He is:

healer   lover    counselor  friend   maker  provider   father guide  giver  restorer  redeemer mine    companion     leader     teacher   shield  shelter  deliverer  refuge   strength   comforter  husband    savior   light....

He is all consuming everything who meets every single need of every single soul, enabling a peace that passes ALL understanding to keep the heart and the mind of the one who listens to Him.  

So what is He to you today?  Write it down, make a list, or even keep a book of remembrance then teach it to your children so that you may never forget that I AM walks alongside you minute by minute, day after day in all of your days.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the Blue Parakeet

I have been reading a book by Scot McKnight called The Blue Parakeet, and it is rocking my world about the way I read the Bible. It has changed my perspective from "How should I think, feel, and live?" to "Who is this incredible God of this interactive story told over time by several authors from several perspectives?" And in reading in this way, I am undone. The God of the Bible can in no way be boxed to conform to our minute ability to describe Him nor can He be mastered. To quote Scot McKnight:

"God did not give us the Bible so we could master him or it; God gave the Bible so we could live it, so we could be mastered by it. The moment we think we've mastered it, we have failed to be readers of the Bible."

The Bible is the Story of God, the unfolding of who He is, told from the perspectives of different authors from different cultures and various time periods. It's a story that cannot be tamed, boxed, nor (do I dare say this) is it complete. For the God of this story eternally existed before any words of Him were penned, and is so vastly above our ways that the story serves merely as a window into the height, depth, breadth of our wonderful Creator. It no longer is a matter of readers laboring and studying to grasp His ways, but rather it is a matter of readers, so in love with Him, listening to know Him so that His ways grasp their very hearts in radical transformation.

How then does this affect the way I teach my children about God? Do I present Him as a taskmaster with rules to submit to? Do I force scripture on them when their hearts and minds are elsewhere? Do I summarize the text of the Bible from the traditions I have always believed? Do I content myself with mere outward behavioral obedience? NO! I must patiently weave the Story into their everyday existence. I must remember to present it as God's amazing Story full of action, blood, deception, romance, treason, beauty, art, passion, death; and then let them find their own way with this Beloved Creator of their souls. I must introduce this Savior whom I love from the depths of my heart, and leave them to find Him who is already seeking them, that they will love Him, know Him, and let Him radically transform their lives.

Image by lori joy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finding My New Normal

Here I am, sitting down to the computer in an effort to express the thoughts, feelings, emotions of the past few months.  Honestly, a lot of "water has gone under the bridge" since I last shared.  Details of the separation of my marriage have been discussed, and I am now left with what I call my "new normal," sifting through thoughts, ideas and God's word in order to discover how to walk the now delicate line between appropriate boundaries and sacrificial love.  There is really no manual on how to best walk this, no clear cut black and white lines,so I find myself learning as I go, doing some things right, and some terribly wrong. Yet in all of it, I am growing past grief, anger and difficulty and finding something beautiful emerging from the ruins.  I don't yet know exactly how this "new normal" looks, but I do know that my Heavenly Father who holds all things in the palm of His hand will be right by my side.  There still will be moments when grief hits me like a ton of bricks, but new joy will be found in walking as one who overcomes baby step by baby step.  I invite you to join me in this journey as I now plan to use this blog as a place to share my thoughts, struggles, ideas, and dreams as a single mom who desires to partner with God for the souls of my four incredible children and find beauty in my home and my life amidst the ruins.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love... what is that? What does it look like? As I anticipate seeing my husband for the first time since the decision to separate, I am burdened with one thought straight from the heart of my heavenly Father, unconditional love. What does that love look like? It is very unique to the individual it is poured out on. For my husband, it involves a letting go, a releasing of hand to allow him to find what he is looking for, painful as that might be to the depths of my soul. It involves harboring no bitterness. It involves letting go of the past and wishing only what is best for his future. It is not done as an act to gain something in return, not even reconciliation of the marriage. It is simply poured out in grace as the greatest gift one can ever give. This act of love is not an easy one to give, as it is clouded by human nature. But as I lay myself down on the altar of the Lord, and let Him love through me, it is possible.

Love through me, Love of God,
Make me like Thy clear air
Through which, unhindered, colors pass
As though it were not there.

Powers of the love of Good,
Depths of the heart Divine,
O Love that faileth not break forth
And flood this world of Thine.

a poem by Amy Carmichael

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Weekend!

Weekends are for:
  • family projects
  • breakfast in pajamas
  • naps in the park
  • walks in the mountains
  • relationship building and bonding
Looking forward to a wonderful slow weekend with my children. We have no major commitments, but to simply enjoy relationship with one another as we work and play together. Hope your weekend is blessed as well!

Image found at Basil.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Journal of an Ordinary Day:

These thoughts were written on January 16, 2010 to commemorate the ordinary days of my life:

Here I am, much past my desired bedtime, sitting down to the computer to jot down thoughts of a lovely day before they escape my memory. For these thoughts hold a memory I do not want to forget. A memory of an ordinary day.

My ordinary day began as I awakened to two ambitious boys ready to conquer the world. Not being ones to understand the concept of sleeping in, they tugged at the covers until I rolled out of bed. I sipped tea, laughed in the kitchen, and remained in my pajamas most of the morning. A memory of racing out the door with the wrong directions in hand to a basketball game. A memory of a frenzied child trying to pull her emotions together for the game (which she did, by the way, and played the best game of her season so far). A memory of a simple supper. A memory of playing games together. A memory of kissing the boys goodnight then slowly plodding up the stair to fall into bed then stopping half way to listen to a girl's thoughts, then pausing longer to laugh with another girl. Then before I knew it, I found I had lingered on that step for over an hour laughing and chatting with two beautiful girls. A memory of friendships forged and relationships built in simply an ordinary day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My son recently enjoyed a "Pioneer Day" field trip where he was able to dress up in hardworking pioneer clothes, play pioneer childhood games, eat savory pioneer biscuits with homemade pioneer butter, and make pioneer crafted toys. As I observed him enjoy his adventure away from the classroom, I was reminded of my girlhood days when I longed to live in the Little House On the Prairie. Those seemed simpler days when families labored hard all day long then shared life together into the evening telling stories, singing songs, and playing games most often around a fire. It's tempting to wish for those days in today's fast paced, media driven society, but they are gone. The modern culture has shifted, and modern mothers have had to shift with it. We have had to take on taxi driving, wade through hours of homework, encourage practice of musical instruments, cheer at multiple sports events, while trying to maintain some sense of peace and order in our homes. How are we to stay sane? Two and go. We have to learn to say no to those activities that take us beyond our calling then go and walk in God's strength if and when He bids us to stretch beyond our human capacity. How do we do this? We do it by listening closely to the heart of our Father and surrendering ourselves to His ways. He wants to use our lives of faith in "such a time as this." He will never call us beyond what He is able to do in and through us, so we must cultivate a life of listening and trust of His will. Sometimes we mistake His voice for the voice of another, but He gently directs us back to His ways if we so choose to listen. Then in listening, we enjoy the ebb and flow of bustling activity for His Kingdom and quiet solitude for our soul restoration.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

how does one love a butterfly?

can one cage it?


a butterfly's beauty is most appreciated
when its wings flutter in the expanse of the open sky allowing it to soar to freedom and the life it was created to live.

where does that leave one who loves this intricate creature of beauty?

open handed

somewhat sad, somewhat lonely, but altogether knowing that letting go
, difficult as it may be,

is to love.