March 25, 2013

This New House

My man and I walked through our new house yesterday.  It isn't necessarily "ours" yet, but in the next month, if all goes along as planned, it will be.

It was just the two of us as we climbed the stairs and lingered in the halls and rooms.  For some reason, it felt important to spend some time there together without our kids.  We talked about where we'd put the furniture, what pictures would look cool on this wall and that, how the granite joints in the kitchen counters need a little smoothing, and how we'll have to buy a new kitchen table since the one we have is too big.  And while we were there, we may have shared a hug and kiss or two as well.

It was a good time but strangely bittersweet.

Though this appears to be what God has for us, honestly it isn't what we would have chosen, nor is it where we thought we'd be at this stage of our journey and life together.  It's not that it's wrong or that it isn't right, it's just that it's different and in many ways, it just doesn't feel real.

I told my man the other night as we lay in bed, "You can punch me if you want for saying what I'm about to say, but this new house... this new season... it still doesn't feel real to me and I still don't understand it."  And then, of course, he playfully punched me in the arm because after months of praying and listening and decision-making you'd think I'd get it by now but I just don't.

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Don't get me wrong, this brand new, waiting-to-be-filled-with-life house is beautiful and I'm grateful for it and I really do love it.  It's just that it all feels strangely unfamiliar, somewhat awkward, and very surreal.  Looking back, I realize that every one of our moves, every new house, and every other giant leap of faith we've taken has also, at the time, felt the same and I've wondered both inwardly and outwardly, "Are we really living this?  Is this really the next step?"

The answer has always been yes and the answer is still yes.  Yes, we are living this and yes, it is the next step and just like all the times before, God is with us... guiding, leading, providing and continually loving us.

Now if I could just wrap my heart and head around it all...

But I know that's not really the point and it's probably not even possible. (smile)

There's another story, another layer to our journey that I may have alluded to but haven't written much about since some things are better kept close to the heart.  It's a story that bears a great deal of desire and longing, years of hoping and praying and walking with God, disappointment, and what feels like lost dreams.  It's a story we're having to come to terms with as we move into this new season and no doubt that adds to the "strangely unfamiliar, somewhat awkward, and surreal" and makes it harder to embrace and understand what lies ahead.  In the coming to terms, my heart keeps returning to this passage from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  It brings me comfort and helps me move ahead, one step and day at a time....   

"Trust me one day at a time.  This keeps you close to me, responsive to My will.  Trust is not a natural response, especially for those who have been deeply wounded.  My Spirit within you is your resident Tutor, helping you in this supernatural endeavor.  Yield to his gentle touch; be sensitive to his prompting.  Exert your will to trust Me in all circumstances.  Don't let your need to understand distract you from My Presence.  I will equip you to get through this day victoriously, as you live in deep dependence on Me.  Tomorrow is busy worrying about itself; don't get tangled up in its worry-webs.  Trust Me one day at a time." 

"And you take my hand and you guide me on,
and you show me the way to life.
And you lift my head and you give me hope,
and you show me the way to life."

~from the song "Who Can Compare?" by Jesus Culture


March 14, 2013

A Day in the Life

My day started off at 3 am with an angry, demanding alarm clock and some snuggling with my man. I wrote about it here in this post. After my husband left for work, I poured myself a cup of coffee and curled up in a cozy chair with a luxurious throw I just bought for half price at Restoration Hardware. I sat in the darkness and spent some time talking to Jesus and listened to a beautiful song by Jason Upton, "Psalm 23," that melts my cares away and draws me to the feet of Christ. You can listen to it here, if you'd like.

I watched the sun come up over suburbia and then began to prepare breakfast for my kids and pack their lunches. I took them to school and as I drove, I said a prayer for my daughter who was taking a difficult Math quiz today. When I got home, I forced myself to clean house. I really wanted to settle back into the cozy chair, snuggle with the new throw and read, but I gave myself a pep talk and told myself to clean for a bit. I put Earth, Wind, and Fire's Greatest Hits on and blasted it through the house for motivation. It's hard to keep a house clean when you know it won't be yours much longer because really, "after the love is gone, what used to be right is wrong." (I couldn't resist.)

After I finished most of the cleaning, (why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?) I sat down to catch up on my blog reading and do a little writing. I also curled up with a delightful new book I'm reading called, "Sparkly Green Earrings," by Melanie Shankle. I've been following her blog, "Big Mama," for several years and this is her first book... a relatable and charming memoir about motherhood.

And of course, since I'd been up since 3 am, I fell asleep while reading and took a refreshing little nap and when I woke up, I realized I had just enough time to jump on the treadmill and squeeze in a workout and shower before my kids got home from school. While I worked out, I listened to one of my current favorites, "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys, and I ran faster than I normally do because lyrics like, "Looks like a girl, but she's a flame. So bright, she can burn your eyes, better look the other way. You can try but you'll never forget her name. She's on top of the world, hottest of the hottest girls," set this girl's feet afire. It's an awesome song and the video doesn't disappoint. I wish I could snap my fingers and clean house like Alicia does and to look like her while doing so would be nice too. If you'd like to take a peek, here it is.

The rest of my day was spent hanging out with my kids after they got home from school, writing a bit more, folding some laundry, making breakfast for dinner, and running my daughter to and from her women's ensemble group at school. I quizzed my son on World War II history for a test he has tomorrow even though he told me he didn't really need to study or be quizzed since he's been learning about World War II since he was seven and he's seen the Band of Brothers series. He may or may not have a point there.

As the day came to a close, we gathered together in our room and the kids fought over whose turn it was to snuggle with us in our bed, and we laughed through an episode of "The Big Bang Theory". Oh how we adore that quirky, nerdy, laugh-out-loud show even though we have to censor it quite a bit for our kids.

It was a wonderful day with a lot of life lived.

This post is part of an on-going series on what my life looks like in a day. It's a journal and memoir of sorts... a way to record and remember my days... what it looks like to "be and keep being".


March 13, 2013

Living in Limbo

We wake at 3 am to the sound of a screaming, angry alarm clock. My man rolls over and hits snooze, then turns towards me to snuggle up tight. Though it's very early, way too early to be awake, I enjoy these times of quiet with him.

Just as we're beginning to doze off once more, the alarm starts yelling at us repeatedly and we decide it's time to buy a nicer, kinder alarm clock, one that wakes us with soothing, happy music, to replace this one that only and always furiously hollers at us.

My man wills himself out of bed and heads to the shower while I decide to get up and make him some coffee before he leaves for work. I feel bad for him having to get up so early every day and for always having to work so very hard. I want to help and be supportive. We're a team and in this thing together, so I head to the kitchen, make the coffee, and throw together a quick lunch for him to take to work.

As he gets ready to head out the door, we talk about our days and all we each have ahead. I ask him if he wants me to make him a dentist appointment and he says yes and then jokes about wanting to get all of his teeth fixed this year and maybe get liposuction too so he can be my handsome, hot, stud-muffin of a husband. I assure him that he already is my handsome, hot, stud-muffin of a husband.

These are interesting days for us... this living in limbo. We jump off a few cliffs and make big decisions, then wait a few days to see what happens, what unfolds, and then we jump off a few more cliffs and make a few more big decisions, and then repeat the whole process over again.

The home we currently live in will soon no longer be our home. The home down the street that we've put a contract on doesn't really feel like our home either. I ride over and sit in the driveway and look at it. I try to envision our family at the kitchen table having dinner, or walking about the halls and rooms. I try to imagine our furniture in place, our pictures on the walls, our stuff stuffed in closets, but I'm still not certain. I think we might be good friends, me and this new house, but I don't really know yet for sure.

These are uncertain days for certain.

But even in the midst of limbo, in the middle of the now and not yet, we are finding God. A dear and trusted friend encouraged me to look for him in the little things right now, maybe not in the big things, but just in the little ones. And I'm doing that and I'm finding him, over and over again, as he comes for my heart in the sweetest and smallest of ways.

"When you look for me, you will find me when you search for me with all of your heart."
~Jeremiah 29:13


March 12, 2013

But Even if He Does Not...

They were three young men gifted with wisdom and knowledge and blessed with the favor of a King. They held positions of power and leadership and were fully and deeply devoted to their God. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were their names and I can't get their story out of my mind.

They, along with all other nations and people of their kingdom, were ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to fall and bow down in worship to an enormous golden statue he'd made whenever the sound of music was heard. Anyone who did not obey the King's decree and worship his golden god would be thrown into a blazing, fiery furnace.

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Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, however, were not concerned with the King's orders and refused to bow before his giant statue of gold. They were determined to worship only their God, the one true God, and no other. The King was furious when he heard of their defiance and he demanded that they be brought before him. He said to them...

“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” ~Daniel 3:14-15

And the young men replied...

King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” ~vs. 16-18


Absolutely amazing.

I marvel at the courage and faith of these three, their tenacity and strength, even in the face of certain death. They were not intimidated by the King, nor were they afraid of what he might do to them, and under no circumstances would they even consider bowing before his statue. They trusted in their God, confident in his power to deliver them and certain he would.

Though I'm blown away by their response to the king, it's these six words that are stunning to me...

"But even if he does not"

Though Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew God could and would deliver them, they also recognized that he may choose not to. They understood that God often acts in mysterious ways... in ways we can't predict or in ways we don't understand. But they were determined, whether God rescued them or not, to worship no other god but him and him alone. Their faith and trust and hope was completely unwavering in spite of what was before them and in spite of what God might do with them.

Life sometimes plays out differently than I think it's going to and hope it will. Though I know God is fully and completely in control, I'm often surprised and sometimes even disappointed in how my story unfolds. I know God will come through for me, that's settled in my heart, but I also know he may not come through in the ways I hope and dream he will. In those times, I want to have the same firm and fixed faith that these three men had and respond with equal courage, strength and resolve. I don't want to bow to the god of discouragement and despair, nor to the god of fear and lost hope. I want to continue to put my confidence and hope in Christ, who has the power to come through for me and will come through for me, even if his deliverance looks nothing like I think or hope it will.

"Jesus, you have my heart and I trust you with my life. If the path that's unfolding before me looks nothing like I think or hope it will, I will not bow to the god of discouragement and despair, nor to the god of lost hopes and dreams. I will bow to you and you alone, continuing to trust you fully with my heart and story. I know you have the power to come through for me and I am confident you will, and I freely and gladly accept and embrace whatever that looks like."

He can move the mountains 
My God is mighty to save 
He is mighty to save
Author of Salvation 
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

~from the song "Mighty to Save" by Hillsong United


March 4, 2013

Speaking of Blessings...

This adorable little chick, who is now almost thirteen, has captured the hearts of our family, as well as thousands of others, since her video, "Jessica's Daily Affirmation", went viral.

I watch this from time to time when my heart is heavy, my head is thick, and I just can't see straight.

Often that would be in the morning when I haven't had quite enough coffee and the day stretched out before me looks boring and bleak.

Sometimes I just need to remember how incredibly blessed I am, how very much I am loved by Jesus, and how like Jessica, "My whole house is great. I can do anything good."

I'll tell myself these things, out loud, as I stand at my kitchen counter and stir cream and sugar into my second cup of coffee.

Oh the power of the spoken word... of affirmation and blessing!

Enjoy this video and then give yourself a little pep talk and count your blessings like Jessica does.

I bet it would be really good for your heart.

Although, I wouldn't suggest you stand on your bathroom counter while doing so...

That might not be "anything good".

"Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on
things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—
the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly;
things to praise, not things to curse."
~Philippians 4: 8-9 (MSG)

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