Monday, December 24, 2012

open-ended waiting

Every Advent season, I ask for a new glimpse into The Story. A new dynamic or aspect I've glossed over in years before. For the years I've asked, He always has.

This year, it was about hoping and waiting open-endedly. I read from my Advent Devotional how Mary, hoped rather than wished. And how different a story God wrote in she, and other characters of The Story, lives because they did not cling to what they expected and wished, but rather hoped in the Lord.

I've thought about my own heart and life. Particularly in the area of singleness To be honest, it's something I feel a little uncomfortable writing about. I usually don't write about singleness, for fear of appearing desperate and/or frustrated. And, in my humble opinion, there are few things as odious as being a frustrated and/or desperate old maid. (If you must be an old maid, than be a chipper one, by golly.) But this has to do with my "Christmas lesson", so I think it's okay to share this time.

I have been through many seasons of life where I have thoroughly enjoyed being single. And then, there have been some seasons where I have thoroughly not enjoyed being single.

I think back to a time over the summer when my older sister, 30 now, and I, 27, had been to a wedding of a couple who were both a lot younger than us. We sat at a booth in Chick-fil-A, grabbing a quick bite before dashing off to another event to meet a married friend who was also younger than us. To be perfectly honest, we were what King David might have called, "cast down" and "disquieted" in our souls. We comforted our hearts with a morsel of Chick-Fil-A.. or at least we tried to.

I sat across the booth from my sister and told her with tongue in cheek gloom, "I don't like you that much.. not enough to spend the rest of my life with you,"as I shook pepper over my waffle fries, a little too furiously. "I know... I don't like you that much either," she replied. I nodded in agreement We continued to discuss all the ways that it was difficult being single and the fear of being two old spinster sisters who walked around mothering their cats in their old age.

Most of our friends are married; many of them are having children now. We still feel frozen in time sometimes. We, the two girls who were always outspoken about the importance of being a wife and mother, who didn't plan for big long-term careers outside the home, who have always been frank about wanting to be a homemaker some day. We are a two of the few left, out of all our friends, who are still single. Life can be ironic.

Then, some time before Thanksgiving, I decided it was again time to cultivate an attitude of gratitude about my "gift" of singleness. Not a "pollyannaish" sort of worked up happiness (although I think there's a place for that), but a genuine gratefulness.

So, I thought about how Paul said, in essence, that you're asking for trouble if you want to get married (and judging from the "in-law/out-law" stories of some of my friends, I'd hvae to say it's rather true). How singleness is a gift, and God doesn't give bad gifts.

In my advent devotional, I read about how Mary hoped in the Lord, rather than "wished in the Lord." To wish is to set your sight on something specific... open-ended hoping is to wait with open hands for whatever the Father sends our way. (I copied experts from this devotional below, because he says it much better than I can)

I thought about my wishes for a home and family of my own one day... I thought about how maybe the Lord might use my love for children and home in some other way. Some way different than I wished. Being single doesn't mean that children can never be cared for and loved. It doesn't mean that you can't have a family. It just might look different.

So it is that open ended hoping requires a certain amount of dying. Dying to wishes... plans and ideas that we had for ourselves.

But when I decide to stop wishing and start hoping, then comes the joy and peace of a future unknown, but yet planned. Then, I can say "Thank You," honestly. God gives good gifts, although different, but better, than we would pick for ourselves.

What if Mary had clung so tightly to her idea of how her life would go? Surely she never imagined that her wedding would be surrounded by the whispers of scandal. Surely she never imagined having her baby next to barn animals, or escaping to Egypt, or seeing her Son put to death on a cross. If her life attitude would have been one of a stiff neck and clinging hands, she wouldn't have been able to say, "behold, the handmaiden of the Lord, be it unto me according to Your word." That first "Yes." of Mary's, surely turned the tide of her life from something "nice and normal" to the wild and unexpected, but yet she was the one who received the Light of Christ first.

If I cling tightly to my ideas of how my life should go, I won't be able to say, "be it unto me according to your word", and I will be clinging so tightly to my wishes that my hands will not be open to receive the gifts He wants to give.

I don't know what my future will look like. But it matters less now than it did a few months ago... because with God's grace I am striving to stop the wishing, and live in open-handed, open-ended waiting on the Lord. God gives buckets of grace for that.

So here's to a Christmas of receiving Christ in our innermost... here's to a new year full of open ended hoping and receiving the unexpected.

And here's portions of the devotional that made me think... I really can't recommend this Advent devotional enough; every year it quiets and prepares my heart to keep waiting and watching for His second arrival, and strikes wonder anew at the miracle of His first coming.

From Watch For The Light; Reading for the Advent and Christmas, pages 32 - 34

"A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting then, is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as mother nurtures he child that is growing in her. Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary were very present to the moment. That is why they could hear the angel. They were alert, attentive to the voice that spoke to them and said, "Don't be afraid. Something is happening to you. Pay attention." 
"But there is more. Waiting is open-ended. Open-ended waiting is hard for us because we tend to wait for something very concrete, for something that we wish to have. Much of our waiting is filled with wishes: I wish that I would have a job. I wish that the weather would be better. I wish that the pain would go." We are full of wishes, and our waiting easily gets entangled in those wishes. For this reason, a lot of our waiting is not open-ended. Instead, our waiting is a way of controlling the future. We want the future to go in a very specific direction, and if this does not happen we are disappointed and can even slip int despair. That is why we have such a hard time waiting: we want to do the things that will make the desires events take place. Here we can see how wishes tend to be connected with fears.  
"But Zachariah, Elizabeth and Mary were not filled wishes. They were filled with hope. Hope is something very different Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled, but fulfilled according to the promises and not just according to our wishes. Therefore, hope is always open-ended.  
"I have found it very important in my own life to let go of my wishes and start hoping. It was only when I was willing to let go of wishes that something really new, something beyond my own expectations could happen to me. Just imagine what Mary was actually saying in the words, "I am the handmaid of the life... let what you have said be done to me" (Luke 1: 38). She was saying, "I don't know what this all means, but I trust that good things will happen." She trusted so deeply that her waiting was open to all possibilities. And she did not want to control them. She believed that when she listened carefully, she could trust what was going to happen.  
"To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life... So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination fantasy, or prediction That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control."
Me and "EDNA", wishing you a merry CHRISTMAS,
and proving that despite what we say when we're gloomy, we really do enjoy being together quite a lot.  ;)  

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs." -Jonathan Edwards

The trees know autumn is almost gone... in the wind I hear the crinkle of the trees shaking off their taffeta skirts of crimson and gold, laying aside all their finery for of the good sturdy long underwear of their gray and brown bark.  So do the fields... the farmers have harvested the cotton, the corn.  They have harvested and plowed, and then plowed again.   And now the earth is resting under a comforter of beautiful rich dark soil, lined with perfect rows of lines.  God's creation knows their times and are always obedient to them.  Am I?  Me, who stands among the fields and trees, the only one out of them all who sometimes turns my face heavenward and says, "no".  I, so foolish... I, manager of my own time.

Time... I often tend to have two ways of dealing with it... either ignoring it's magnitude, while I manage it the best I can, or I am hounded by it, even though there never seems to be enough of it.  But there is a third way... a grace, really, an answer to a prayer for eternity to be stamped on my eye.

That is to view my schedule through the lens of a sand-timer   Every five minutes, even the time that it's taking me to write this now, is irretrievable from the set time God has for my life.  Done.  Gone.  Over.  I will not get it back.  I might be laying on my deathbed one day wishing for more time to do more things and I may have wasted it on something silly... like complaining.  Or being lazy.  Or wasting time online.

If I can view it through this lens, that of a giant hourglass of sorts, I will not be caught later down the road wondering where it all went.  I will use it wisely and efficiently and for the purposes and glory of God.  I will not use it glibly, nor will I be hounded by it, because I will be purposeful with each moment, each grain of slipping sand.  I have a ways to go to reach that point.  But I am trying.

It's made me quite stingy, lately, with my time.  The sand slipping away pricks me into action... or sometimes, inaction.  Is stopping to watch kittens play, admiring God's handiwork worth it?  I think so.  Is sitting on the couch with my sister, or visiting with my mom worth the trickle of sand from the timer?  Yes.  Is bad planning, things taking longer than they should because I didn't plan or organize well worth the pouring sand that I can never grasp back?  No... not those.

To mind my schedule in such a way that is busy with the best, and not with the worthless, is good I think... I am not always sure how... I need grace and wisdom and discernment to know the difference between best, good, and the worthless.

Is this school I am pursuing so hard, the job I am trying to obtain, the books I am trying to find time to read... are these worth the trickle of sand that escapes while I work, reach, and struggle?  Maybe... maybe some of it, maybe not all of it.. I don't know.  As I said, I am so needy for His thoughts.

One day, my time will be done.  One day, I will stand before the Lord and be held accountable for the way I spent these hours... this very hour included.  Will I have used it wisely?  Will I have redeemed the time?  Will I have brought many souls with me?

Like the trees, like the fields, I need my Creator.  I need Him to order my steps.. order my thoughts... In short, I just need Him for everything.  And I need to always remember and realize that and never to raise my head and say "no".

loading ...
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."  ~Psalm 90:12

This is on my mind and heart these late fall weeks... many things, are, really... but I think taking time to write them down just might be time well spent... Somehow, I believe He can be magnified, even through the fumbling bumbling thoughts and grasps for truth sprawled out on a blog page, by one of His most grace-needing daughters.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fabulous Fall Favorites

These have and are contributing to a lovely autumn season...

Ann Voskamp's, One-Thousand Gifts  A Dare to LIVE FULLY Right Where You Are
This is a book to be savored... her poetic writing packs a punch that leaves you gazing starry eyed at the goodness and grace of the Lord.

Perfect pre-Thanksgiving book... or pre-anything book.  It's just good any time or any season.

My own count to 1,000 has begun... talk about redeeming the time!  Talk about savoring the moments! Giving thanks- writing and listing them-- for the little things.  It's good, friends.  Very good. 

Bengal Spice Herbal Tea
Bengal Spice Tea
We have been going through boxes and boxes over here.

It's like autumn in a mug.  

And you really just want to sit with the box to your nose for a while... it smells that good.  

It's especially good with creamer; and it has a naturally sweet taste so that, to me, it tastes perfect without sweetener.

The magnificent Art Tatum- blind jazz pianist with amazing talent.

His music sounds like a jazzy fall day... the leaves like to dance to it too, I think. 

Marty Goetz- Jew who found Jesus as his Messiah.

His music is lovely and melodic... but the best part is most of the lyrics are psalms so you get fed with both beauty and scripture.   I have his "I Call You Friend" album only so far... but plan to get more. He's very gracious and kind in person too!

Nat King Cole - nat-king-cole Photo
Nat. King. Cole.   Need I say more?

I never get tired of his music...  it's perfect for every season.   

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sunday Thoughts

I sit in church, a holy sanctuary of mighty stained glass windows, rich oak, and worn velvet pews.  From my balcony seat I watch... the sweet elderly couples, along with the may-be widows and widowers, and families.  The middle aged bearded man in the gray suit sits at the organ, moments away from the magnificence of a grand pipe organ well played.  A great robed choir sits, waiting, ready, on call.  Bouquets of brilliant orange and yellow flowers decorate the altar, a cheery hat tip to all that is loved about autumn.  A solid prayer by the old gentleman standing at the pulpit.

The choir and organ break out into a version of Kyrie and it sounds angelic. And my eyes wander from the stained glass to the flowers, to the Christ-like pastor and the gentle congregation, and my soul drinks in the music... immersed in the beauty of the Lord reflected.  My soul and mind is washed... scoured... rinsed... the worries of the week that had been etched in my heart fade... Faded away in the presence and beauty of the Father of Lights.  I walk outside to the car, in step with the sound of musical church bells.. I feel clean and renewed.  

It's the cunning power of beauty combined with the love and word of God.  A powerful and holy combination...  it's what we need more of.  It's what I want my life to be this week to those to whom I may be the only Church they will see any time soon... of choosing beauty over hastiness... good and quality over the cheap... the shining glory of Jesus over the dull trinkets of this world.   

As the Psalmist prayed, 'May the beauty of the Lord be upon us.'  To that I give an earnest amen

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Liebster Award ('thank you, thank you very much.' )

My good friend, Ryan, over at The Man Who Would Be Knight blog has bequeathed me with an award. The Liebster Award.  How very nice indeed.  I am quite quite honored.  No one seems to know exactly what the award means, or why it is awarded, but we are all deeply honored to receive it, nonetheless. 

This is, however, an award with responsibilities, ones which I do not take lightly.  They go something like this:  
-List 7 or 11 random things about yourself
-Answer the 7 or 11 random questions asked by the awarder (yes, I do like to make up words).
-Pass the award on to 7 or 11 people who have under 200 followers, and
- make up your own 7 or 11 random questions for them to answer.  

So, are you ready? 

Seven Random Facts about yours truly: 

1) I tend to notice hands. (could be because i grew up in an Italian family that can't talk without them) They often tell things about the person attached to them. 

2) I get a sort of high from being at the airport.  The buzz of being in the bustle of movement and anticipation, combined with the constant flow of unique people to watch makes it a fun place, in my opinion. 

3)  I have a fascination with courtrooms and law.  The closest I can trace it to watching movies like Twelve Angry Men and To Kill a Mockingbird as a child.  I am looking forward to the day when I will actually get picked to be on a jury.  Every great once in a while I entertain thoughts of becoming a lawyer. 

4)  Random pieces of conversation cause me to break out into randomly related songs or movie quotes, more often than the average person, according to my sisters.  My sister, EDNA, thinks this is so strange. 

5)  I am a political junkie.  I look forward to election years like a football junkie looks forward to the Super Bowl.  During election seasons, most days don't go by without my tuning in to talk radio, which is where I get the majority of my news from. 

6)  While cleaning the kitchen, sometimes I throw my dignity and worries to the wind and embrace my inner Broadway Star, complete with all-out singing and dancing to fun music.  It's ridiculous (so the "you're weird" looks all my sisters give me indicate).  But it's always fun. 

7)  I found out today that I am an INFJ brain type.  What's yours?

Now for the very intellectual questions posed by The Man Who Would Be Knight:

1) Do we, in fact, need more cowbell?  

Oh, YES, by all means.  It's exactly what the world needs. 

2) To be or not to be?

That would depend entirely on what you wanted to be or what you wanted not to be.  I for one, want to be, and so I would say, by all means, be.  Unless of course it is wrong.  In that case, most definitely do not be. 

3) If you had the time, what would you learn?

Many many things... how to speak Italian is near the top.  If you included both time and money, the list would be endless... and it would include learning how to fly an airplane (so that my next career could be a crop duster pilot, obviously).

4) What does your blog mean to you?

My blog is a haven of sorts where I can put my thoughts on virtual paper... a bit of a luxury that I afford myself when I carve out extra time. A blog evolves from time to time... but for now It's a place to sort or share my thoughts.
5) What is the first thing you are going to do when you get to heaven?

Fall on my face, probably. 

6) If you had a super power, what would it be?

To fly.  Reading minds would be nice too... womens intuition is only so reliable.  

7) How many roads must a man walk down?

That all depends on where and how far he wants to go.

Now, my turn to ask YOU. 

1)  What aspect of life do you view as hardest? 

2)  What instrument would you like most to play?

3)  What retro sitcom character do you most identify with?  (i.e. Lucy?  Ethel? Laura Petry?  Rob Petry?  Mr. Muenster? etc.?  :)  

4)  There was a dish in China called "The Most Delicious Dish", which turned the conversation to what each cook considered their "most delicious dish"...  what dish are you famous for among your family and friends?  
5)  Do you like to solve problems at night or in the morning?

6)  What is your favorite way to start your mornings?

7)  If you could visit any country, which would it be?  

I humbly pass this award on to: 

My Forest Cathedral
As Thy Days
The Chatterbox
Heiress In Training
Beloved's Bride

Learning Late In Life (has already been tagged, but here's a double tag)
My Home On The Range...Texas 
No Place Like Home

But I really would love to hear answers to this randomosity from any gentle reader or sweet friend who happens upon this post, tagged or not, blogger or not (blogging in a comment is acceptable in this case, most definitely).  :)

Thanks again to Ryan for a good excuse for a lightheartedly fun post!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

chased by grace and other randomosity

I'm sitting outside on the front porch, watching the dragonflies circle, admiring the morning sunshine, feeling the Texas balminess in the palms of my hands, drinking green tea, and generally gleefully procrastinating studying for my CLEP test tomorrow.  It's College Composition, and will require two timed essays.  Which means I have to write lots of practice essays about fairly pointless things.  I don't want to write anymore until the test, and I am trying to tell myself that I probably don't need to.  But, I probably do.  I am of the writing tribe that likes to type quickly, but stop often.  Just to think and ponder and look off into the distance for a bit.  And then after I write, I prune and tweak to my hearts content.  That is therapy, but it is not a remarkably quick process.  It is certainly not the sort of process that will get you through a College Comp test with any sort of passing grade.  And so, I have now written myself into thinking that I should at least write one more essay, at least before the day is over with.  And study for the question portion of the test... there is that too...

And in the midst of it all, I hope that I am doing the right thing in pursuing this degree anyway.. I hope that I did not misundertand the direction I was to take... I wonder this, and then I wonder that, and then I feel the icy fingers of fear grip my soul, and then I pry them off with trust, and then I wonder why so many emotions have to encircle the soul like the rings surround Saturn.  Emotions are odd things.

Yet, in the midst of everything, heavy on my mind is to be intentional to choose joy and thankfulness.  I stumbled upon this blog post last night... it hit the spot, so to speak.  That part of the soul that gets weary sometimes... and needs to be reminded about the goodness and mercy of the Lord.

Your whole life can feel like you are running for your very life, like you are trying to out run a tsunami of stress.
Trying to stay ahead of everything that’s nipping hard at your heels. Whole decades can be marked by exhaustion. can think goodness and mercy just follow you, but the Hebrew word for ‘follow’ is radaph’ and it means to “to pursue, to run after, to chase” or, quite literally, “to hunt you down”. 

  And I found myself this morning sitting and smiling hard and tickled pink over the simple joyful fact that I have arms and legs that work, when so many don't.  Such a gift... so many gifts.  They are all around us.  I am chased by grace today... what a blessing. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

broken rythmn

I am taking a break from studying, replying and sorting through emails, updating my computer, addressing envelopes, taking care of business emails, writing assignments, preparing for tonight's Bible study lesson, returning phone calls; all things I've been trying to cram into the past few hours that I have sat here at the office.  I will have to leave from here in a few minutes to go to the post office, the store, and then the Chinese mission.  But first, in a burst of rebellion from my to-do list, I am going to put up a quick blog.  Not because it has a deadline attached to it, by golly, but because I am on a quest to live well and sometimes that means doing things that aren't completely necessary.  But then, on the other hand, who  is to say that taking time for mental health moments isn't neccesary? 

In the midst of the busyness that fill my days, I more and more realize that one thing that does not fill my weeks is rhythm.  This is something I struggle with as a single adult... the proverbial green grass, where having a family and being a full time homemaker lies, beckons to me with a steady beat of rhythm.  Being a single adult, at least being me as a single adult, involves a lot of hats to wear, while performing a juggling routine.  The pressures I place on myself to do my best at being a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a mentor, a friend, a volunteer teacher, a business professional, a student, a decent housekeeper (in training), an aspiring gardener (very much in training), all while keeping the car repaired, the bills payed, getting enough sleep, helping with whatever needs helping with, exercising, knowing when to stop and "smell the roses", and all the other odds and ends of life can pile up.  The pile-up leads to a constant mental pressure that feels like an elephant is sitting on your brain.  You know the feeling, right?   Because I am trying to do all these things at once, I am constantly trying to catch up... except, I never do.  I am so busy completing tasks with deadlines, or trying to catch up, that I rarely have a steady pace in my everyday schedule.  I don't like that.

I love the sweet way my mom raised us...  a slow pace... weekly piano lessons in Small Town... monthly nursing home visits... school at home every day... and playing outside or chores all inbetween.    We had a slow, steady, and sweet rythmn... we knew what to expect each day, usually.  There was a peace and calmness about it. 

Surely we were created for a steady rhythm and a majestic calmness?  Or perhaps there are seasons of both schedule steadiness and seasons of schedule schisms, each in turn?

Whatever the case, joy must be found in the dance of the everyday- whether the music I dance to is agitato or tempo semplice.   If joy cannot be found in one, what makes me think it will be found in the other? 

Oh well... it will all work itself out... in the mean time, I have a Helper.

Behold, God is mine Helper.  (Ps. 54:4)

And that's all I really need to know for today. 

Okay, it's off to the post office and beyond!  The therapy of pen of paper, or fingers on keyboard, never fails. 

(I don't have time to proofread, so I apologize in advance of the error of my ways.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

an uninteresting update.

Well, here I am.  Haunting the dusty little corner of cyberspace where I've staked my claim.  I'm ridiculously bad about putting enjoyable things like blogging to the very back of the list when my life gets busy and crazy... it's always the first thing to go.  Which is sad, because I really think it would help me, mentally anyway (and my poor friends know I need all the help I can get in that area!), but it doesn't have a deadline attached to it, and so I don't.

Yet so much has been happening since I last wrote here.  I started College Plus to work towards a degree in journalism... I've worked in the real estate industry for the past seven or so years, and I felt it was time for a change.  To pay for said degree, I got a steady job that was quite interesting and challenging, but the hours were simply too many and there were some things that made me feel the need to quit... so after only three months there, the Lord made it quite clear that I needed trust Him and leave.  So I did. Now I am somewhat unemployed, as of the last two week.  And I must say I am enjoying it.  So much had slipped through the cracks those three months... housework, correspondence, school time with dear ones... you name it, and I've been behind on it.  I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there's still so much I'd like to get done before I find another job.  But, the bills keep coming, which is very unfortunate.

Also, I am going to China in a little over a month for over three weeks.  I will be teaching English to highschoolers at a summer camp with a team from the Chinese outreach I go to most Friday nights.  We are excited to see all that He will do there during our trip.  And I am trying not to be overwhelmed with the millions of details about the trip (I am not zealous about details, so a trip that is centered around details is good stretching for me)... one of my sweet sisters, Michelle, and one of my very dearest friends, Sarah, and many other good friends will be going, so we're sure to have fun while we accomplish God's plan for us there. 

So, that's a brief overview of the big events of my life right now... and this is a boring and self-centered post.  I am sorry.  But my sisters and I stayed entirely too late last night at a friend's going away party, where I ate more chocolate cake than I should have, I might add, and today I pay the price by feeling very dull witted and uninteresting.  I am totally to blame for feeling tired, because once I got home from the party, I felt too tired to get ready for bed, so I lolled around the kitchen, and then at my laptop, and then loaded the coffee maker, and then lolled some more on my laptop... when I finally could think of no more excuses to loll, I went upstairs to get ready for bed, and then dawdled doing that.  Stupid.  I am not a night owl, but sometimes I give a good imitation of one, and I always pay for it the next day. 

Anyway, I hope to catch up with all my blogging buddies real soon and I hope to come up with something more interesting to say next time.

Godspeed to all until then.

This is the size of cup of coffee I need today. Most days, actually, but especially today would be nice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

on my mind this cloudy tuesday

I've been thinking about:

-Decisions.  Many decisions about my life and job direction.  Like a tangled knotted necklace chain, each knot is individual and complex, but yet they all connected and contingent on another.

-About how some people have their eyeballs in backwards.  They challenge me not to give in to my natural tendency to do the same. 

-About how some people have such mature and beautiful perspectives on things, and life.  They (some are my dear blog buddies) challenge me to see the world through shades of their lovely colors. 

-About how some people make me feel like I should apologize to them before I ever open my mouth, but then how I realize that it might be them that has more of a problem than me, and how life is too short to spend worrying about offending people that surround themselves with eggshells and require that you not step on any of them.  Do you know how hard it is not to step on eggshells when they are all over the place??  For this too-honest-for-her-own-good-at-times gal it is very hard.  So, I joyfully quit.  But, I do ask the Lord to help me to be more gentle... and more careful to consider how other people were raised, life experiences, etc., and how it makes them respond the way they do.  

-I think about how thankful I am for the dear friends with whom I enjoy candid, honest, and edifying  colloquy (isn't that a great word??).

-About how I love the warm, vibrant, enthusiasm of my family.   

-About how I need to revise the little white Christmas tree here in my room from a Christmas tree to a Valentine tree.  

-About how I need to start managing my time better and wrapping up those ever nagging to-do list stragglers. Somewhere along the way, last year I guess it was, I fell off that bandwagon and I don't feel like I get near as much done as I did when I had twice as much on my plate as I do now.  Or, maybe it's just that I don't need that much grace now, because I was, in reality, working myself silly back then.  

-About how I really should start blogging more.  (again, the time management issue haunts me)  And being a blogger-perfectionist less. 

-About how I need to make a list of all the sewing projects that I need to finish, and then finish them.  

-About my natural tendency to be self-reliant.  And how that is sin.  And how I should hourly be reminding myself that it is only through God's grace and strength that I can do anything worthwhile.  

-About the GOP debate last night and how it was the best one yet.  I so love election years.  

-About how I really should shut up now and go work on those nagging to-dos.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I'm sure I can't think of a lovelier way to spend a Sunday afternoon than to sit on the branch of a ground-sweeping oak tree at the back of our land in the middle of no place in particular and to think and pray... to listen, feel, and simply be.  Sometimes, there in the meadow, it almost seems as if one is on holy ground.  The Holy Spirit seems to be in the very breeze, and in the quiet, things come into proper perspective.

We've all crossed the threshold of a new year since I last wrote... new years are good times to take a long look into the inventory of our souls and at the compass of our lives.  And, to remember.  To recollect lessons learned, joys experienced, and trials weathered.   A friend of Facebook recently asked if anyone named their years, based on an idea or writing from Ann Voscamp.  I hadn't heard or thought of the idea before, but it seemed like a ponder-worthy thing.  My friend said her 2011 would be named "Letting Go".  I had a hard time thinking of what I would name 2011, if I so decided.

But then, I stumbled across a word that summed it up:  Selah.  Yes, that sums it up in one beautiful word.

2011 was a year of pause... of rest, pondering, and growth that wasn't much chartable.  At the time.  Now, I see, looking back, that the year called, Selah, was, as all the others, a year of growth, even though I felt like nothing was happening.  The very inactivity of it was what was accomplishing things.

The beginning of 2011 found me severely burnt out, and a general human heap of exhaustion, brokenness, and confusion.   The end of 2011 found me standing, rested, rejoicing, and hopeful.   That is nothing short of God's work.

In 2011 I:
-took three months for a sabbatical from pretty much everything but work.
-I lost a lot of dead weight... dead weight relationships, closet clutter, schedule clutter, spiritual clutter, and the weight of what other people thought.
-I waited, and waited, and waited on God to give direction jobwise.  And I learned, by the very end of the year, to sing praises even before you cross the Red Sea, even before you know how God is going to get you across... but just because you know that He will.
-I reconnected with my inner pianist... :) a part of me that had gotten left behind somewhere along the way.
-I was given a piano (more on that to come!)
-We moved and I learned to embrace the quiet country life, once again... reconnecting with your roots is a very good thing.
-I started the journey of learning how to live well, blamelessly, beautifully, and simply.

God did good things... many good things.  Much more than the above, but those are a few.

One of my favorite milestone memories of 2011was on my birthday... during homechurch I requested that we sing a favorite hymn of mine, Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  We barely got through the first verse, and I started crying.  Really crying.  I couldn't even finish singing along to my own song request!  I was so thankful, so joyful, at recalling God's faithfulness that it was all I could do but weep.  Those who know me well know that that is so not like me (although I think I have cried more in this past year than all the other teen and adult years put together- praise God for brokenness!).... but it is so like the Lord.  He takes a stubborn girl and breaks her, so that He can rebuild her with a tender and grateful heart.  I so love that about Him.  I so appreciate the trials... the winter seasons of the heart... the years of Selah.

I don't know what 2012 will hold...  it'll be fun to see.  But it's so nice to know that His faithfulness will be as great in 2012 as it was in 2011.  What about you... what would name would best reflect 2011 for you?