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“Mimi!  Look!  I have a Sophia the First book bag and lunch box and thermos.  I get to TAKE my lunch to Kindergarten.”

“You do?”

“Uh huh.  And Anna and Elsa folders.”

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I watch as she pulls out each new thing we’ve just bought for Kindergarten, excited and sharing what’s new.  She can hardly stand the excitement as she moves towards her new start.

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 “And this will be the girls bathroom and down this hall will be my room.”

She breathes deep and her eyes light up with each new thought and I know that look.  I had it not long ago myself when the husband and I walked through what would soon by our new home.  And while that decision did not come without our own version of pain, I know the healing that comes from moving into a new place for a new start.

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I slide behind the wheel and I thank God for moments of “new” and He takes that moment to remind me that He makes ALL things new.  And I’m humbled by all of the new that He’s giving us and pray that our excitement to tell of His great, life-giving, new creation kind of love will grow.  That we will be more excited to run and tell someone about that than we are about our new car, new shoes, new book bag…. new whatever.

May we never tire of telling our story of being a new creation in Christ…

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Day 3 of 7 Things Learned: Painfully Beautiful

Recently, I posted this.  I felt like I had found a good place again with this place we call church and it was spilling over into other aspects of my life as well.  I was all set to love on frozen hearts and set the focus to my own heart and kept praying that mine would soften to love on people even when it’s hard.

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And then we lived this past week.

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And all of those tears, that I’m tired of shedding, silently rolled down my cheeks as I ended my day feeling very much on the outside of the very circle that we claim to live in and amongst.

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But this time has to be different.  This time, I’ll remind myself that my worth isn’t grounded in what other people think and who’s hanging out with whom and whether I’m heard by this world or not.

This time’s different, yes.  This time, I’m choosing to see God move in the midst of it and while I haven’t found Him yet—I know He’s using it.  I can almost feel the very sharpening that I’ve prayed for.

So this time, I’ll choose to grin.  The kind of grin you give your mom when she’s caught you and your sisters consuming a million cookies before dinner, and you offer her one knowing you aren’t really in trouble.  I can’t be consumed by the chaos that my mind could become what-ifing it all.  I’m too excited about what I know to be just around the corner.

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And it’s going to be a beautiful thing, I’m sure.  Getting there is sure to be painful; we don’t do easy here.  But as I sit fleshing it out with my husband, I can tell he’s getting excited again.  And, I’m stoked.

We’re dreaming again and dreaming bigger than before.  We know that with these dreams come sacrifices.  Sacrifices that most people will not truly understand.  We’re okay with that.  In fact, it doesn’t monopolize much space in the conversation.  For the first time in a while, I sense that we’re coming into confidence in the Lord and His prompting and I’m amazed at how right on time it’s all coming together.

I’m sure that more tears will roll through all of it.  So, if you think about us… pray that I’ll see them differently.

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And just because Meredith Andrews is one of my favorites and her music seems to play in my car… or at my desk… right when I need her.  Plus, she’s from Wilson and I just think that makes me like her even more.

Day 2 of 7 Things I’ve Learned in the Past Seven Weeks

I’m sure we’re the only house that does this, but there’s a coat that has sat in the bottom of our dirty clothes hamper for months now.  It’s a heavier coat, the kind you wear when it’s 26 degrees outside.  It’s sat there because, until now, it hasn’t been cold enough to need it and there never seems to be enough room in the washer for it with everything else.  Just keep that and the fact that I clean when I’m bummed tucked away while you read…

It had been one of those days that just seemed to be continuously full of unexpected news.  With each new “announcement” came the need to either regroup plans, take on more stuff, or ended with more time away from each other.  And it all seemed to come in the midst of a very unfabulous (that’s right, I use made up words here) day in the office.  And maybe I just have holiday-itis (which is kind of like Senior-itis that you get your senior year in school), but I didn’t really want to accept reality today.  I just really wanted things to go my way and start decorating for Christmas.  (And no, I don’t have anything at all against Thanksgiving.  I’m just reeeaaallllllyyyy thankful for Christmas.)

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I walked into the house after working late and made my way up the stairs to our room.  I got a grumble from our kid when I mustered the hello.  She’s not really feeling me today, which is probably a good thing because I’m not really feeling the world today.  I change clothes and head back down to the kitchen to see what I can do to help with dinner and kiss my busy husband.  He tells me how he’s gotten a text that says he should probably make plans to be at the Christmas party, which is the same day I want him out of town with me.  Win number two tonight.  (Note the sarcasm.)

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I quietly get up and head down the stairs and begin dealing with laundry.  I like to take on laundry when I’m feeling not in control of other things and/or sort of down. Right now, it’s both.  The thing about laundry is that it’s a task that’s always available for me to take on.  It seems to never end.  I can control it and I like the end result.

So, I did laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.  I washed, folded, hung to dry…

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And, I prayed that God would teach me to let go of the planning.  And if you’ve been following my blog for a while or just know me or just know that you’re a planner too… then you understand just how painful of a prayer that is for me.  I’m all out of tears these days though.   So, the pain was shown in pure silence.  And, I wrestled with what big change must be coming our way because I’m having to re-learn this notion that God is not surprised by anything and that I need to just be content in His sovereignty.  And I lived silently that night until even that jacket had been washed.

Everyone Has Mess

We had been packing for what felt like forever. Which is weird, because I never felt like we had truly unpacked since our last move. And hadn’t we been moving stuff little by little all week anyway? And why do we still have so much stuff? We’ve been purging and purging . And Kelley and I had just moved the kitchen last weekend. Didn’t we? Why does this kitchen still feel full of stuff? Our little lady was staying with my parents so that we could stay up packing all night, but my body was beginning to rebel against me. I needed a nap. I looked at my night owl of a husband and asked that he wake me up in an hour.
Four hours later, my alarm was going off. How is it already 6!?! I thought we were getting up an hour! We’re so not ready. There’s still mess to pack! I immediately go back to packing mode and my husband goes to find us food. He returns and makes me stop to eat and I knew I’d be thankful for that later.

“We aren’t ready. This house is still a mess.”

“It’s okay. Our friends and our family will be here soon and everything’s going to be okay. You’ll see.”

It wasn’t much longer when we heard the back doorbell ring. Our friends were starting to arrive. The first of which we had just learned last weekend would no longer be amongst our Sunday School family. And I’d taken that news hard. It was really good to have them walk through the door and remind us that doing life together isn’t contingent on being in the same class.

“Hey y’all. Come on in.”
“We aren’t as ready as I had hoped. There’s still stuff to pack.”
She looked at me and smiled. “It’s okay. It’s a work in progress. We’re here to help. Tell me where to start. Where are boxes? I’ll start packing back here.” And my husband was right. Everything was going to be okay. Her husband walked through to the living room,
“We brought our van with the back seats out. Okay if I start loading this stuff in here into it? And then when the other house opens up, I’ll head over there with it.”
“Sure. That’d be great.”

It wasn’t long after that initial moment of admitting that our house was still a mess and that I was looking a hot mess, that our house was full of our people. And they were willing to come in, be in our mess with us, and share in the excitement of our family’s new home. In a few short hours, they had us completely moved.

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We headed to the new house and I was almost dreading it, because I know how much stuff we have and how much unpacking was ahead of us.

I walked through our new front door and everyone was working so hard to help us get settled. Two friends had already set Katherine’s room up for her, ready for her to come unpack her stuff. Another was walking up to me, asking about bedding for our two rooms.

“We need to at least get y’all in position to crawl in bed tonight.”
“It’s out in my trunk.”
“Let me get your keys then.”
“I’ll walk with you.” During our walk, I looked at her and said, “I feel bad that you guys have had to help do so much of this mess today.”
“Girl, we all have mess. It just doesn’t always look the same. Trust me, it’s so NOT a big deal.”

I walked back in where curtains were being hung and our kitchen was being unpacked. I stepped downstairs to find men folks hooking up the washer and dryer. My dad was calling me to the boiler room, he’d discovered how hot our water was running and wanted to show me how to monitor and control that. Somewhere in there we had stopped to eat the food that another friend had picked up and she gathered all of our kids out the door for softball game. Giving us a chance to breathe for a minute. Our community had more than rallied for our need.
At the end of our day, I crawled into bed completely exhausted and so thankful that it was made for us. The house was quiet and I was thanking God for this group of people that He lets us do life with. These friends that are family who were Jesus with skin on for us that day. And truthfully… mess or not… I can’t imagine doing life without them.

Crawling Back

It’s been just over seven weeks since I last posted to this blog.  And I would love to tell you that it’s because we’re incredibly busy and I haven’t had time.  That wouldn’t be completely true.  Sure, we’re busy.  Not any more busy than anyone else though.  And the thing I’ve learned about time… there’s always enough.  Just depends on how we use it.  Figure the Lord gave us all the time we needed.  He just expects us to be good stewards of it.

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So no.  It’s not that I haven’t had enough time.  To be honest, I found that I was more willing to be real to cyberspace than to those sitting in my physical space.  And, that’s probably not good.  We were designed for community and to live in it.  I needed to learn how to do that a little better before I returned to the keyboard.

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I haven’t mastered it by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve gotten better at it.  At least, I like to think so.  So… I’m crawling back to the blog and trying to find my cyber voice again.

In the spirit of returning, I’ll spend the next week “catching you up” on the last seven.  Stay tuned, if you will…

A Melting Pot

I sit and stare at a poster of Elsa, Anna, Olaf, and Kristoff.  I’ve seen the movie about 42½ times now with our little Ice Princess.  Tonight, the poster that hangs in her room brings clarity.  She prays “God, help us to always love you” and I pray for the wisdom to know how to show it.  And then I find my mind playing the movie.  I’m a sucker for some Olaf.  Can I get a witness?

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Love.  That’s what it’s gonna take.  It’s gonna take love to thaw a frozen heart.  And really, I would like to think that “they” are the ones with frozen hearts.  And they are.  But if we’re honest, so am I.  My heart is hardened to the notion that they can change.  And maybe they can’t.

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But I’m not responsible for them.  I’m responsible for me.  And my God is love.  And He calls me to love.  It’s the only way the world will know that I’m a Jesus-follower—if I have and live love.  To everyone.  Whether they’re nice or not (I know.  I hate that part too.)  Because Jesus thinks we’re all a frozen heart worth mining.

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So… I need to buy into that too.  Heaven help us all, y’all but I’m asking to be thrown into the melting pot.  I figure once we’ve all jumped into that, then our Refiner can blend us into something beautiful.

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Y’all pray that I’ll stop kicking and screaming the whole way there.  ‘Cause if we’re honest (and we’re honest here) I’m at a place of feeling done loving tough people.  But Jesus isn’t done loving me and I can be really tough to love, so I have to learn to keep on loving this place—even when it’s tough.

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Seven Minutes Broke Me

Behind the wheel for seven minutes on three different occasions today is the only time I’m alone all day.  In some ways, I’m thankful for those twenty-one minutes and in other ways– I’m not.  I’ve been craving “me” time for days, yet I’m puled in a thousand different directions.  And some sick part of me thrives in the pull.  So, I breathe deep and run the plan through my head again for how to get it all done.

The first seven minutes is consumed with laying out the game plan for a full-day’s work.  Have I generated enough in our quiet season for my girls to train and maintain?  Have I responded to all of the exterior requests?  Am I meeting my own professional goals?  Do I have time to run all of the necessary errands at lunch and still visit with the people I’ve agreed to have lunch with today?  Did I make the right change during lunch to have lunch money for our kid?

The next seven minutes follows work as I drive to pick up the littlest lady in our family.  We have plans tonight so I need to sign her agenda at the stop-light.  I need her to get her homework folder out so we can make sure the right things go back to school.  She’s buying her lunch tomorrow so we need to put her $2 in there too.  It’s a two folder night, so don’t forget to ask for the yellow one too.  Be sure to explain to her the game plan for the twenty minutes we’ll have at home to pack the next day’s snack, take medicines, and lay out pajamas.  Change your own clothes. 

I’m mentally spent and emotionally confused and frankly, I’m tired of listening today.  I’ve sat across the table from people that I’m missed and laughed at stories shared.  I’ve coached the littlest one on how to breathe and just be, but on the inside I’m struggling to do the same.  I’ve heard things that I wish I could unhear and said things I’d like to take back.

It’s the third seven minutes that breaks me today.  I slide behind the wheel for the final few minutes alone and I breathe deep.  I know the tears will soon roll for feeling guilty about feeling spent and then feeling stupid for feeling spent when I’m just doing life.  But I’m not convinced that this is the life I’m cut out for.  I’m not cut out for surface conversations where no one’s really known and tasks that don’t generate Kingdom results.  So, I turn Casting Crowns on up and beg for Truth.

And, it’s delivered.  And I’m held in the midst of a wrestling that’s breaking me.  I’m just held and it’s by the One that created me.  He’s on the throne and none of this surprises Him.  So, I ask Him.  There’s more to this, right?!?