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Cradled

Apparently, one of our pastors has been known to say something to the effect of,

“True brokenness is when you no longer have any possible plan in your head of how God could possibly work out a particular circumstance.”

 

I think that the Lord has *finally* taken me there over the course of the last couple weeks. You see, for the last 8 months or so, I have been striving and wrestling to work out my own desires (the ironic thing is, I don’t even really know what those true desires are). Not only that, but I’ve been rebelling at the mere thought that His plan could possibly be the one thing that I didn’t think I wanted.

 

It’s taken a full 8 months, and maybe really longer than that, but I think I am finally at peace for whatever might be around the bends in our road.

 

I have taken His silence – His seeming lack of direction – as a hard case of discipline. It’s even made me wonder if I’m truly following Jesus.

 

Short story:

My striving – even at the thought – against certain possibilities in our lives, sent me into a frantic searching. A spiraling depression. Doubts.

But He sends truth-filled words and He helps me develop an eye for Him in my life. He allows me to groan through nights of insomnia.  Until, I just can’t do it anymore. Like a young toddler, my temper-tantrums and wrestling against the waiting . . . the possibilities . . . did nothing but lead me into sheer exhaustion. He held me through my fighting, lovingly waiting for me to surrender.

I’m done striving.

I’m letting go.

I’m done trying to figure out what He wants.

I don’t even know what I want.

But, of course, it’s not about what I want, now, is it?

It’s all about bringing glory to Him.

In the waiting.

The not knowing.

The surrendering.

I know nothing better

than to

rest peacefully in His arms.

Where He leads, I will follow.

By grace.

 

The Smallest

If you have faith, as small as a mustard seed,

You can say to this mountain,

move from here to there,

and it will move.

If you have faith, as small as a mustard seed,

you can say to this tree,

be uprooted and planted in the sea

and it will obey.

If you have faith,

as

small

as a

mustard

seed.

(Singing this today . . . a song adapted by Seeds Family Worship.

Taken from Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6)

 

Is it really possible?

A mustard seed’s size of a faith?

And He can use it to uproot

the

immovable,

the age-old?

 


 

It seems like a ludicrous promise.

 

But He, Himself, said it.

 

The one who spoke a word

and the mountains formed

and trees stood stalwart.

 

 

He offered us the promise.

The dare?

I will begin the asking.

In His hands are mustard seeds for the taking.

 

 

Colors

Joining others in thanks

 

I’ve called her Firefly. My oldest daughter with her artistic bent and her sometimes intense emotions. Her eyes twinkle and her dimples appear and she entrances me in her light. But just as quickly, her light flickers and her face and heart are suddenly dark and brooding. Sometimes, I think she is art embodied.

 

 

And I have a confession to make. These Thankful Mondays? They’re wonderful and all, but I have not been living the thanks. My ingratitude colors my days much, much more than the gratitude has. Mondays come, and I reflect on His gifts to me, try to develop an eye for Jesus, but the gratitude has been more like quick, Polaroid snapshots in my life.

 

Today, I am grieved over the ways I’ve allowed my heart and mind to dwell on what I’ve perceived as the Hand behind His back.

 

Yesterday came and because of sickness in our friends’ household, our normal Sunday church small group routine was changed. We were still able to meet, but the children would be at our house instead of our friends’, and Firefly’s little girlfriends would not be coming.

 

Enter 3-year-old, little girl heartbreak. Bitter disappointment.

 

She cried.

 

And then she got angry.

 

Disrespect toward me entered her tone of voice and she lashed out at me in anger.

 

But I saw her, trying to fight back those disappointed tears, trying to hide them behind her little-girl-fury.

 

Over the course of a couple of weeks, the Lord has been showing me how to better parent this emotional child. I’ve (finally) learned that the anger is her defense. It is her coping. Does it excuse her behavior? Uh, that would be a *big* no. But thankfully, the One who teaches me is slowing giving me insight into how this little girl of mine chooses to paint with whatever colors life throws at her. Hopefully, this insight will help me teach her how to better handle life’s disappointments, and consequently, her emotions.

 

But simultaneously, as my heart achingly watched my beautiful girl lash out in anger as she choked back tears of disappointment, I saw myself.

 

The ingratitude, the disappointment, the things in life not happening the way I’ve wanted them, or expected them, or life not happening in my own swift timing . . . these things show up in my crankiness. My seeking for more. For something else. My anxiety. My insecurities.

 

Ah, yes, my paint-choosings.

 

My lack of trust and gratefulness colors my world in ugly brushstrokes of black, dark greens, and browns.

 

And these Mondays help me brush some different colors. My Monday afternoons are cheerier. Yellows, reds, and purples.

 

 

But I want my whole life to be full of the beautiful brushstrokes of thanks and trust. The living in grace and truth.

 

It takes time to paint a masterpiece. It takes a Master. I’m asking Him to use His brush. Chisel, if need be.

 

I do, indeed, have so very much for which to be thankful. Eternally grateful. But for today . . .

 

just . . .

 

#302 that I can go to Him, confess what He already knows, and it’s like a blank canvas. again. and again.

 

Tucked in the Cleft

I have hinted in previous posts about our family’s current state of limbo. I am not trying to be vague, but rather, quiet, as we seek the Lord for our lives, in basically, every aspect of our lives. We sense Him leading, calling us out of something, to something, but we don’t know where, or how, or what.

 

I’m sure you’ve been there too? Personally, I feel a bit like we’re treading water in the middle of a huge lake and can’t see what direction to swim because of the dense, dark fog. For all we know, we could be right next to the shoreline and not even know it. It feels like He is purposefully keeping us in the middle of the lake. Right now? He’s apparently calling us to wait. And I know He can be trusted and that He has a plan, but honestly, I’m ready for the fog to lift, or a confirmed direction to begin some progressive strokes.

 

I needed to hear these words again today, which I heard here at (in)courage (by Ann Voskamp):

 

Is that it? When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in the cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent…. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by…. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. Then He will remove His hand. Then we will look.

Then we look back and see His back.


 

 

Oh, I needed these words today. Because isn’t this just what I asked of Him? That He would not send us somewhere that He has not already gone before?

 

May we be in His shadow.

Like Moses,

I want to see His back.

The Parking Dudes

So, the hubby and I got away this past weekend. The first time in, I think, 5 years that we were alone. No nursing babies. No pregnancy-induced-morning-sickness. Just my man and me. It was wonderful. Thanks to a wonderful friend who cares about me, us, my marriage, and loves my girls, we didn’t worry about the two little ones one teeny bit. But we did miss them. We also enjoyed the sleeping in . . . if you call sleeping in ’til 8:00 sleeping in, that is. Parenting dies hard. 🙂

 

On Sunday, we stopped in at a Starbucks in a suburb of Atlanta, spontaneously decided to walk the sidewalks, tucked my purse into the car, walked past the Starbucks, and gawked like true, small town suburbians as we walked under glass skyscrapers’ shadows. We laughed at the two-story Target and stopped into a bookstore and talked and reveled in each other’s company while sipping on our Mocha Frappuccinos. I got a tiny sunburn. It was warm. Fun abounded.

 

We walked back to the parking lot to grab our car before heading to lunch. From a distance, Jonathan saw an orange sticker on the driver’s side window. Hmmm . . . what could that be? We walked a little closer and saw that, guess what? Our car had been boot-locked. Is that what they call it? We didn’t realize it, but as we were gasping and muttering, “What in the world?!”, we were standing next to the two men who booted our car. Their eyes watched us.

 

“What’s with the boot?” My husband asked them, annoyed.

 

“Well, you parked your car in the lot, went into the Starbucks, then crossed the street. That’ll be $50. I take Visa, Mastercard, or cash.”

 

Now I don’t usually get seething angry about little things like this, but I was mad. Really mad. And for, I think, the first time in our marriage, I was more adamant that we stand up for ourselves than my often, very opinionated husband (who loves our car, I should add).

 

“What are you talking about, we didn’t see any signs!” I said.

 

The parking man scoffed at me.

 

“There are eleven signs in this parking lot, ma’am.”

 

My eyes followed the parking man’s arm outstretched.

 

“Eleven signs?” I was scoffing now. “Those are microscopic. And this is a large parking lot, we’re not parked anywhere near those signs. You’d have to be parked right in front of those signs to read them. If you’re going to fine a person an exorbitant $50, there should be a sign at every. single. parking spot. And you were obviously watching us, waiting for us to cross the street. It would have been nice if you’d warned us. We’re not from here . . . we didn’t know we weren’t supposed to park here.”

 

The man smirked. “Yeah, warnings are nice. That’s why there are red letters at the top of the signs that say ‘Warning.'”

 

We paid the fine. He took off the boot. I called the number at the top of the “receipt” and was told I would receive a call from the manager. I’ve yet to receive that call. We sat in the car for a few more minutes, trying to calm the feeling of being preyed upon.

 

I vented.

 

“I’m going to go ask them for our money back until we hear from the manager and they can send us a bill. How do we know these people are even legit? If they say no, can we buy them a drink from Starbucks? I am so angry at those men, I feel like I have to do something nice for them if I’m going to let this go.”

 

My quiet husband shrugged. “If you think you need to,” he conceded.

 

Of course, they didn’t give us our money. They laughed when I asked. Of course.

 

We walked back inside the Starbucks and we joked about walking to the sidewalk and taunting them to boot our car again. But, not wanting to pay another $50 or $75, we decided against the risk. 🙂

 

We ordered two more frappuccinos, walked back outside to where the predatory parking men (can you tell I’m still a bit bitter?) had been previously parked. They were gone! Great. Now it felt even more like some huge scam.

 

We frantically looked around and saw they had moved to the front of the parking lot, near the road. Whew. I didn’t really want to drink another frappuccino (I know. Hard to believe.)

 

We handed them their drinks. I said something about my needing to let the anger go. Jonathan said something about there needing to be better signage (is that a word?), especially because where they watched us walk up onto the sidewalk, there were NO signs. They thanked us. They actually conceded that we wouldn’t have seen the signs. We walked back to our car and went on with the few short hours we had left together before going home.

 

Buying them the Starbucks drink didn’t help me let the anger go. But you already knew that, didn’t you? It didn’t keep me from feeling preyed upon – watched by someone just hoping I’d fall into their trap. Forgiveness didn’t magically make a horizontal move when that drink went out from my hands and into theirs.

 

There’s only one Way to that kind of power. Calling on Him, who knows *my* sin and has taken me in with arms wide open anyway. Because she who has been forgiven much, loves much. I’ve been forgiven . . . MUCH. The forgiveness – the letting-go-power – all comes from the same Source.  Whether that forgiveness is needed for our own sins, those who have hurt us to our souls’ very cores, or those who pelt us with petty annoyances.

 

And thankfully, He doesn’t just watch us, waiting for us to mess up so He can pelt us with the need for some sort of penance. He sanctifies. Purifies. And maybe, just maybe, He even uses predatory parking dudes to help me see my need for Him.

 

Let me lay it all down.

At the cross.

At the cross.

And in the shadow of that cross,

it all suddenly feels

very

small.

Looking

When I was a teenager, I was often called a Pollyanna of sorts by my family members. The words stung. They weren’t meant as a slight, but they sure weren’t meant as a compliment. But they were true. I did have an irritating way of looking on the bright side of things – of glossing over things and putting my own bright, sunshine-yellow brushstroke over life.

 

I had an optimism that came from a lack of suffering. An optimism that didn’t understand pain, or heartache, or nitty-gritty ugliness. I hadn’t experienced it. I don’t think I believed that it truly existed.

 

I grew up a little more and pain entered.  It hurt and it stung and I wrestled. I still haven’t experienced pain and true suffering like so many in this world have. But for a long time, I looked at my life’s gaping holes  . . . wondering where Jesus fit into this seeming new, raw, unbrushstroked life He’d placed in my lap.

 

I grew up even a little more and learned that not only does life take things out of your hands . . . sometimes, it simply doesn’t give you what you want. Some call it the “death of a vision.” What do you do when you feel like the life you expected got lost somewhere along the way?

 

 

Let me tell you, it’s easy to trade in some good, old, trusting Pollyanna sunshine for a stone-cold, bitter, E. Scrooge sort of cynicism. And I think in some aspects of my life, that’s exactly what I did. Because after you’ve been hurt in sensitive areas, it’s hard to trust people . . . yourself  . . . God.

 

But He’s awakening me and I can’t dwell anymore on the things He-never-promised-but-I’d-come-to-expect, my assumed empty-handedness. He’s not left me to pine and simmer in bitterness. Thank God He’s been scooping me up, teaching me, teaching me, teaching me not to dwell on the seeming gaping holes of my life, but holding me close to His chest, pointing His finger, turning my face to see . . . Him. His hands. Toward this story He’s writing in my life.  So many times I’ve wanted to throw away certain chapters, or change the course, or scratch in Audra-chosen details, but all the while, He whispers, “Peace, peace, child. Let Me write. I am the Author. The Perfecter.”

 

I am learning to let go of the pen.

 

I am learning to trace the etchings of His filigree.

 

 

Cynicism looks in the wrong direction. It looks for the cracks in Christianity instead of looking for the presence of Jesus. It is an orientation of the heart. The . . . cure for cynicism, then, is this: develop an eye for Jesus.

~ Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

 

 

 

My eye catches on something fallen to the hardwood.

Face Turning

Nearly 3 months later and I am back here again.

Desire. Submission. Peace. Desire. Submission. Peace.

A re-post from this blog’s colossal-sized archives.

Yes, that was sarcasm. 🙂

 

I am in love.  Yep, me. I am in love with a beautiful, toasty warm, 80-year-old house. After walking through its halls and over its hardwoods twice in a week, we came *this* close to making an offer.  But after much talking and praying, we decided it just wasn’t the time. Maybe not the house. My husband and I have been renting ever since we said “I do” and my heart is longing for a place to plant our young family’s roots.  I shed a few tears. Prayed.

 

And I then . . . I was okay.

 

And now, some time later, the house is pulling at my heart and mind. It feels like “home” is calling to me. My husband is willing to reconsider (what should I call him in this space?), but how do I know that what I’m feeling is something legitimate? I’ve never been one to trust my heart or my feelings too much and I definitely don’t want my family’s future riding on them. So we cry for wisdom because how do you know for certain when God is speaking?

 

Have you ever longed for a place that feels like home? The home of your childhood? Your honeymoon nest? The home you’ve never had? Oh, me too. Maybe those longings are placed inside us for more than a feeling of security. Maybe they turn our searching faces toward the One who is always our home. Changeless. Timeless. Unmoving. If so, that doesn’t really help me with my quest for a physical home in which to raise our children. Sigh. But it does give me a foundation on which to build my family’s true “home”.  A place where in between the busyness, exasperation of raising two little ones, and trying to balance it all, Someone helps us to whisper love, bestow kisses, listen to whispering hearts, and direct little souls toward Him.

 

 

He is in the rental house.

He is in the mansion down the street, the shack in Peru and the place where you cross the welcome mat.

He is whispering in our longing.