The Growing Years

It seemed like only yesterday she was born, my little Alice. Life is so temporal and it quickly moves on without a listen to our pleas to slow down for just one minute more. Time is moving so fast yet there are times it feels like we are stuck in place. It’s like that old Jewel song, “Or am I standing still  With the scenery flying by”, truly truly. You’ll remember that one if you are as old as me.

I am so thankful for the big and little joys and blessings we’ve experienced and are experiencing in our lives. Let me tell you how it has been a rough couple of years with many struggles such as depression, debilitating anxiety, financial burdens, things much darker etc. you name it, and how we are being delivered slowly and surely into Provision and Grace from that stuck in placeness. I know I’ve talked some about these things and don’t want to delve in this post -in another post soon- but just know God is so big, bigger than all these things by unfathomable lengths that it puts my mind at ease when the darkness beckons. I am so happy and there is Joy here, all year round and this past weekend beautiful little birthday joys.

Birthdays celebrate anniversaries of new life, Alice’s birthday is on the 23rd of March, Emma’s in two months, Kenny and I also in the Summer.We just love them, we love birthdays here, we love those days where we can smile and know another year has passed and we are the better for it. I am thankful for Alice’s first year that has been such a gift for me. My life changed after Emma and again more and more after Alice. Isn’t it funny how God uses children to change and grow us? I am so truly undeserving, you don’t even know (maybe if you knew you wouldn’t be reading this right now, but it is so ok, more than ok) and I am so thankful.

I am so happy to celebrate in this Easter season celebrate spiritual new life as well. It’s a birthday for souls, hearts and minds. It’s not about me, this life is not about me. There is so much more, so let us rejoice in the knowledge that we can never deserve new life freely given on our own but can revel in it none the less and be transformed by it. I am happy He chose me and is revealing Himself to me and I am being changed.

For Alice and for the rest of My Family for that matter I am never perfect and I fail a lot,- You know those Human flaws and all- in my humaness I pray that each year I can grow in wisdom to be a better Wife and Mother, I need so much of the growing. I pray for my children as they age that they would know true Love and Joy from above. So we are thankful for the birthdays and new life. These are the growing years and we pray they never end.

Not In Me

…No list of sins I have not done, no list of virtues I pursue,
No list of those I am not like can earn myself a place with you.
O God! Be merciful to me. I am a sinner through and through.
My only hope of righteousness is not in me, but only you…

Enjoy a lovely montage of Alice’s party, also the top Image is our wonderful family in wood from our friend Jennifer over at Minnie and the Monster. You may remember she did a Nativity for us as well. Go buy some stuff and tell her I sent you. 🙂

p.s. now that the house is clean because of the party, seriously- it definitely wasn’t before, I’ve had some friends and followers ask about posting a house tour. Im not sure if it’s house tour worthy but Ill definitely get on it soon.

Intentionality and Lent

 

Today is the 2nd day of Lent, yesterday was Ash Wednesday. In recent years we have started to organically observe in our family a few religious holidays that my husband and I were not familiar with growing up. We marvel at how advent and lent are ways for us to point to Him and how we learn so much in the journey to the cross leading up to Easter Sunday or to Christmas. Not only has it been a healthy experience for our family, we are more thoughtful during the seasons and it helps to reflect and remember Grace in our lives.

lentday2

As we are more reflective of our lives we reexamine the ways we live in the day to day. Instead of doing a traditional sacrifice of some sort during Lent this year I am reflecting on how I can be more intentional- My goal for 2014-with my Family and what are things we can do to implement intentionality in our daily lives. When I say intentionality I mean that We are being mindful of every little thing. Being intentional to me is just examining our hearts and motives in the every day and changing the things we feel led to change. For example, Why do I spend so much time on Social Media? or Do I feel like I am benefitted by the time spent? Probably not for the most part, there are groups that do encourage me and I would be sad to part with but most of the time spent is just browsing mindlessly. So, What are ways I can modify this? I could only check at certain times of the day and especially not this constant checking I do now. I need to think on that more. It’s a journey.

I am trying to be more intentional in my home with the daily activities and tasks like the keeping up of the home. Honestly so far it’s been a wonderful learning experience and am surprised at how much our Family is changing in these things. Sometimes with young kids things get forgotten and put to the side and then your house ends up looking like something out of Hoarders. I can’t really use kids as an excuse though, my house always looked that way, ha. But now, guys, the house is in a state where I’m not embarrassed to have last minute guests like I have in the past. Woohoo, so I m expecting texts and phone calls for visitors any minute, right? Getting the house presentable has never been about keeping up appearances for me but an honest desire to make a comfortable home for my Family and for guests in our home. I think we are one step forward because of prayer and prompting. Thank you God.

There are so so many ways I want to be more intentional, whether it’s playing with my 6 -almost 7- year old more (We broke out the cards yesterday for some War and Slapjack, not to mention trying to do tea times daily, just sweet time together) or making a homemade breakfast for my husband on a week day (this is very rare and does not happen often, so don’t think it does), I am trying with His help to love my family in the little spaces. I know I fail at this time and again but with the help of the Spirit, I want to try.

What are you doing for Lent in your homes? How are you being more Intentional this year during Lent and throughout the year?

When Songs Give Place to Sighing

 

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

 

I sing because I’m happy,

I sing because I’m free,

For His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.

 

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

 

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,

When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me

Written by Civilla Martin

 

This is an old familiar hymn, most of you may know it or have heard it at some point, perhaps in a movie about singing nuns. Still there is so much truth in it. Hymns have a curious way of transcending time with words that pierce through darkness. Perhaps when truth is truth with no filler or substitutions you cannot question it’s authority.  Hymns remind me of truth when I need to hear it, they speak truth when I most need it.

 

Sometimes you may be discouraged, your heart troubled, I have been very recently and am still battling it daily. Words people say or actions done are hurtful at times. I’m dealing with this mind battle of words and actions myself. You may be discouraged by words and actions or by your circumstance or by your perceived shortcomings. Whatever it is, let us together take comfort in this old hymn, remember the words “I know He watches me”. This is a reminder for myself when I feel the swirl of discouragement and doubt because I want to rest on His Goodness knowing His comfort. I want to know I am like one little sparrow in a great world of them and he is still mindful of me, watches me, comforts me, delivers me.

 

Don’t let the words of people discourage you or your circumstances (I’m with you in struggling with these things) because this is such a beautiful observation “when songs give place to sighing”, and think how much more beautiful the song in these times than the sighing. I want this to be my life motto instead “When Songs take place of sighings”. I know so much about the sighing and not so much about the Song. Let us not forget the song and sing it once again.

 

I don’t know this truth, the truth of resting on Goodness, yet, well I know it but I don’t act upon the knowing and I am praying for a heart change that allows me to weather discouragement, fear and doubt. In a culture of “sighings”, where we share each and every disappointment and groaning so publicly and immediately, there is an alternative. I want to sing the Song rather than think of my sighings because I do know He watches me, this is truth for me and truth for you.

Busy-ness

thoreauquote

 

I’m opting out the busy-ness cycle. The one where I spend more time away from home than at it. The one where there is always something scribbled in on the calendar, a place to be at, something to do, something to be running from and to.  I am not saying “Let’s all be hermits”, even though sometimes that sounds so alluring. I am saying that I am only human and it’s too much for me, is it too much for you?

Americans seem to be the busiest of people, bustling here and there every minute of the day. It is an epidemic in our culture that we don’t seem to think is a problem. and why are we so busy? Does busy-ness prove our worth to others because only important people have places to go? Or are we trying to prove our worth to ourselves? I fall into this trap too, we all do, I think. Maybe we think that if we are busy we are being productive, but studies show that busy-ness is not productivity either. I’d like to boycott busy-ness, no thank you.

I never thought of myself has a homebody really, I love company and people, I love chatting and laughter more than anyone else. But I am finding as I get older busy-ness takes time away from my family, and how well I can take care of them. I don’t have to explain the particulars but know the house takes a hit, like a bomb of “got no time” went off and I overwhelmingly can’t tackle it. Time at home, non busy-ness helps me to begin reversing that. No to mention that we as Humans need rest. I can’t imagine it is good for our spirit to be restless all the days. We know from a spiritual aspect God rested and encourages rest. I want to be home more, take care of my family well. I want my kids to be bored, yes bored. I want them to create their own fun like we did when we were kids, or we create it as a family. (and before anyone says I’m a mean mom we do co-op and ballet and soccer in the fall, its not all staring at walls, but it is plenty) I want us to create moments out of rest. You can argue that I am wrong but I don’t think kids need too much and I believe that it is not beneficial for them, the studies seem to uphold that as well. I think kids the most are affected by busy-ness in their character and how they behave. Life is a balance, when things are out balance we may act out of balance. This is purely what I have seen with own child but smooth and easy days that I can invest in her and in her character make for a happier child and a happier Mother. I’ve seen the behavior a rushed week makes and the behavior a smooth and easy week makes and I’ll take the latter. It affects me too, a harried Mother is not a nice Mother. If you are my neighbor, you may already know this.

I will tell you I am the worst at this and I am learning. Scaling back on the busy-ness of life means sweet moments like our Olympics Party and tea times in the afternoon, which I couldn’t ever do in years past because of busy-ness or I was too tired at the end of the week. Busy-ness steals time away from the family. When your car is more your home than your home, like it has been for us in the past, it makes life more difficult. It’s already working for us. All I can do is pray for my rest and ways my family can relax together. Are you finding times for rest in your home or do you desire that as well?

 

From all tribes and peoples and languages

 

“If you had a problem with the coke commercial at the super bowl, lets not be friends.”

That was my status on Facebook last night. While I wouldn’t really stop being friends based on the like or dislike of a commercial, I was issuing my disapproval of an awful reaction to a beautiful -in my opinion- view of our country. I was very disappointed to hear the Internet din that seemed to take issue with the portrayal of diversity in the Commercial.

Here is the Commercial:

 

I honestly don’t understand the controversy. I don’t understand people most days but this was something that really made me marvel. People are saying things like “Speak English or Go Home” or people are verbalizing their disapproval of the diversity shown. It is enough to make your jaw drop and say “what?” to the naysayers. And since I’m mostly at a loss, I just wanted to share a few simple thoughts in regards to my country and the Gospel.

The United States of America is a Nation of Immigrants, a Nation of cultures from every country on the planet, a Nation of individuals regardless of race or creed or religion desiring the solidarity and joy that Freedom gives us. I am proud to live in a country that looks so diverse and beautiful in the eyes of God and I happy to embrace and love all tongues and tribes here in this country. I am multi-cultural, My father is White and my Mother is from El Salvador, so when I heard “America the Beautiful” in spanish it brought a tear to my eye a little. My Multicultural family is beautiful and so is the multiculturalism in America. It was this feeling like “yes” this is what America is about, the great melting pot where our common ground is freedom. “The Speak English or Go Home” crowd seem to be the same ones that took offense to a little boy singing the Nation Anthem in his culture’s dress, another appalling reaction, in my opinion. I am mostly at a loss for words because I find it hurtful, unloving and ungracious. We seem to have forgotten our History as a nation as well, forgotten those that came from distant shores to New Land, those that had always called this country home, those that were brought here not by choice but have embraced this country as home, those that sailed like so many sardines into Ellis Island in search of a better life. Don’t forget these people….my Ancestors, your Ancestors and smile at the beauty of it.

Yes, America is Beautiful, all the colors of Her people are beautiful, every language that She speaks is beautiful because these people are beautiful in the eyes of God, these are all lovely and wonderfully made. How can we forget that? I pray that we as a Nation learn to embrace instead of chastise. I pray we learn to see the beauty in cultures of different tongues desiring so much to be a part of this country that they would sacrifice everything to make it here to the home of free and the brave. Remember that God is not the God of the White English-Speaking Anglo-Saxon Protestants but to all. Even though this commercial was not about God outright, isn’t it wonderful that a simple commercial can be a tiny glimpse into the diversity of His Kingdom and what is yet to come.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” -Rev.7:9

Plans and Priorities

plans

 

It seems resolutions are worthless, well for me at least. The promises we make to ourselves are quickly broken because we find it hard to be accountable to ourselves. I – for one – find it hard to be motivate myself in a lot of ways, although a lot of prayer and thoughtfulness has helped with an increase in motivation recently. Resolutions won’t do though, they don’t work, there’s better ways to make commitments to ourselves in the new year.

A few years ago our Pastor suggested ordering plans and priorities in the new year to help with thinking about what is truly important that we dedicate our time to and what not so much. This has helped me a lot. Sometimes what we imagine our priorities to be are just that- imaginations, reality says different. Whether I spent so many hours watching tv last year or goofing on the internet for example, in reality time spent on these things takes time away from the things that I want to be priorities in my life.  If I can begin to make my imagined priorities my actual priorities this year then I am succeeding, even if it is a little at a time. This keeps me from feeling like I have failed my resolution. Also, I am able to make plans based on those priorities for the coming year.

When I didn’t buy clothes for over a year it was not necessarily because I didn’t want new clothes, I mean who doesn’t want new clothes, but I set a priority of Less Stuff  (of living simple, less materialistically) and was able to spend a significant amount of effort toward that goal and accomplished it in my home and in my wardrobe, although I have a long way to go still-in regards to simplicity. Making a priority and then a plan helped me to see clearly my goals and take step toward them. Every little step counted and helped me on my way to accomplishing it.

Let me share that I am a major procrastinator and ball dropper. I either procrastinate until I have no other choice but to accomplish a task or just drop the ball altogether. I think it must be in my nature because I remember being this way as a child but that isn’t an excuse because I want to be a finisher, a race winner. So number one thing I have to do is pray because only God can change my nature, I am 100% sure of that.

So this year I’ve begun to outline the things that I want to take priority in my life and then make plans based on those priorities. Priorities range from home life to personal and I will share with you what I have so far. It is a process and now that I have set my priorities for the year I have started to contemplate my plans for each. Things that I would like to see happen. So in no particular order, here they are:

1. Faith- This is a primary priority because without Faith I am hopeless. 2013 was a year that God helped me begin to unravel from depression and hopelessness and show me to delight in my circumstances, so 2014 will be even more so a testament to what He is doing. I will continue to study and trust more. I want to be more thankful as well this year.

2.Family- Instead of busy-ness, instead of this activity or that event, instead of every kind of distraction I want my family to be a priority and for us to find peacefulness in our home and with each other. This means we will continue in traditions like Sunday Radio Day, no media except music or talk radio. Also, we will make more intentional time together and less sitting around the tv.

3.Home- This is related to the care and cultivating of the home. I want my home to be simple, beautiful and help my family to thrive, so I am making an effort to make it so through the simplest of measures.

4.Homeschool- The past ten months we’ve had a new baby in the house and now that that new baby is somewhat an old baby we have gotten into better rhythms at home, especially in regards to school for Emma. As long as she’s learning truth, beauty, and goodness through her schooling we are doing something right.

5.Mother Culture (Self Care and Interests ex. staying healthy-eating healthy, gym time and reading for pleasure and knowledge)- It is helping me to think of getting healthy as a thing I am doing to help myself and my children in the context of being a Mother opposed to some arbitrary goal I set for myself. My goal for this is more health, more wisdom.

6.Art- I never completed art school and I am down on myself a lot about it, in 2013 both Kenny started actively pursuing Art making more in our lives and this year I want that to ripen even more. Whether it’s photography or printmaking, I want to see more art making this year. I’ve started making plans based on this and am just praying for the occasional quiet times to work on these.

7.Writing/Blogging-I want to be more consistent with my writing and blogging without being overly ambitious. One plan that I am thinking of is setting a manageable schedule for me to work on this. Something easy-like twice a week, just to write out some of the things I have rolling around in my head.

That is all I have so far and there always room for additions. Plans will be made this year and because they are based on the things nearest and dearest I pray-with God’s help-I can accomplish them. Also a little note about getting healthy, since I started tracking I have lost 7+ lbs. and have lost about 17 lbs. since having Alice. It isn’t a lot but I am encouraged that setting priorities like this will help me make priorities real and not imagined.

Christmas Trees Can Wait

It’s four in the morning. I can’t sleep. I have been up since 2 am and have been sitting in a tub of tepid water all the while, pruning while I think. Of all the nights when I needed sleep, this is the one. A week of cooking, Thanksgiving-ing and Nutcracker practices and performances for the tiniest tin soldier have me feeling gnawed at. I am thankful though.

We avoid the Black Friday shopping crowd, in fact I hate the whole occasion. We went to some thrift stores instead and our thrift haul was sweet. We found Kenny a new-old Wool Blazer to replace the one I decided to put in the dryer. Tired Mom strikes again. We found a cute fall skirt for Emma for 1.00. Also, we found a beautiful wooden train set for Alice for Christmas for 5.00. Kenny found some Santa mugs for pennies, He’s been collecting them every Christmas from thrift stores and shops. I was able to get some new ornaments for our tree Saturday as well, I can’t wait to add them to our humble collection. I am so thankful.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were packed with performances but I managed to stop at the Book Tavern for Small Business Saturday and get 90% of our Christmas shopping done there. I am very thankful for places like the Book Tavern and our friends that own this gorgeous place.

After promising my daughter we’d go Christmas tree shopping Sunday after her last performance and realizing on the way to the Christmas Tree Farm that with bills coming and a need for groceries we were going to have to wait, I couldn’t help letting the stress of week hit me with a guilt flood and cry until I realized Christmas Trees can wait. They aren’t the most important things about this season anyway. Advent is primary, time spent with Family is also so important to us. We, instead of Christmas tree shopping, took a detour to my Parents’ home and had leftovers to suffice for the night. In the busy-ness race, I’ll happily come in last and not worry if our Christmas is Pinterest-worthy or not. There is provision for today and Christmas Trees can wait. I am truly thankful.

Thanksgiving is over but let’s not stop showing Gratitude and giving Thanks throughout the seasons. God is good and there is enough for today and Christmas Trees can wait. When I forget and get discouraged hopefully I can remember Psalm 37 and wait patiently on Him with Joy.

Advent Simplicity

Despite what others may think there is beauty in Simplicity, especially at Advent.
We are about to be in the biggest consumer season of the year while we hustle to out-do our personal buying records of 2012. This post, though, is not titled “The evils of consumerism” or “Things don’t make you happy” or “Stop making Christmas about Stuff”, even though the latter would probably fit. This is not a negative spin on what you shouldn’t do at Christmas time but instead what you can do to make the season more lovely through less. I would just love to see the Advent Season primary and the Western World putting less emphasis on the commercial race.

We give gifts, don’t get me wrong, we do. We love to give gifts and believe it is an extension of a bigger story, but we want to be responsible in our gift giving and in our home so we can focus on a better Christmas Story.

If you follow my blog you know that there are things that my Family has done to live simpler and intentionally. This is not a banner of Simple or Intentional Living that we want to hold high but something that was spurred from circumstance and a desire for joy in the gifts we’ve been given. It has been a step onto unsure ground to start learning this lesson. It is starting to be a beautiful thing in our lives as Faith is more central.

1. Study the Advent- Do a Jesse Tree, this had drastically changed our percepetion of the Season based on what we turn our mind to this next month. We have done a Jesse Tree for the past three years at Advent time and we love it. We adopted this new family tradition from the encouragement of other Families that saw the value in it and I am so thankful we did. Here’s one that we’ve enjoyed the past few years:  Ann Voskamp. Our church recently did a ornament swap for the Jesse Tree Advent Devotional and we are excited to do a Jesse Tree once more this year.

2. Stay away from the comparison game- Pinterest and Social Media are tools, they are not evil of themselves but when used for comparison can aid in stealing our Joy. Good ol’ Teddy Roosevelt, Man’s Man Extraordinaire, said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” and this is so true. I have to be careful to not allow Social Media to become a tool in a Self-Pity spiral. Be joyful in what you have and what has been given and in the humble things you can give. Being mindful of simplicity in your wants and desires can be a better tool than re-pinning every new thing. I do use Pinterest for visual bookmarking but I try to do it in a way that is practical to our needs and a be mindful of desires that out-weigh the simplest wants. “Dream Boards” are fine as long as you don’t think you have failed in life because you don’t have all these things. Maybe I’ll talk more about Pinterest and this new form of wanting in depth in another post. But even in life without Social Media, Let us also teach ourselves and our children not to compare themselves to others.

3. Evaluate your Families needs first and then wants and reasonably what you can do- Maybe I’m “that Mom” that gives my kids things they already needed for Christmas and it’s usually more books and clothes than toys and gadgets. I am of the mindset that children are happy with simple pleasures and don’t need a lot of fluff at Christmas time. I mean our our grandparents were content playing with sticks and have you ever given a child a cardboard box to play with. Seriously though, I could probably give my oldest a cardboard box for Christmas and she’d be happy. I’m not advocating Cardboard Christmas, or Am I? Just using that as an example that children are happy in so many ways other than receiving the most of the most.

4. Give Less in some ways and More in others- Be thoughtful and frugal when you do give and it goes much farther than expensive and frivolous. A simple thoughtful gift that matches the gift receiver well is so much better and more personal than a quick expensive buy. This requires some thinking and planning but is worth the time spent. You know what else, you can be honest with yourselves and others on what you can afford to give. You don’t have to make all handmade gifts, so people don’t like handmade gifts, in fact. (Even though we give art and screenprints and that seems to please most times) You can be thoughtful and not spend a lot. Take the excess money that you would have spent and apply towards life long gifts for those in need. Whether it’s giving to a local charity, a missionary fund, buying a goat, helping to fund adoption, these are good gifts that can change someone’s life forever for better. a. Hope for Augusta b. Lottie Moon  c.WorldVision d. Covenant Care

5. Don’t buy a Christmas on Credit- America is in debt, families are in debt, We are a nation that spends increasingly more and more than we have. If you cannot afford to buy gifts without a credit card, think of alternatives to expensive gifts. Cheaper, more thoughtful gifts, or a handmade Christmas with items available is a sweet and simple Christmas. Be careful what you teach your children about money, is it better to teach them to spend only what they have or to go into debt spending outside of what they have?

6. Look at your life, revisit hearts, remember the joys you have and be thankful- Be Thankful for what you have and Don’t forget what Christmas is about and why we celebrate Advent, this point is just an extension of the first point. Long before the New Year of promises begins, let us look at our hearts and lives and center them on Christ. Revisit living simpler faith lives this season and into the next and being joyful for every single non-physical gift given. A simple thankful life has more value, in my opinion, than years of unmet desires.

jesse

I couldn’t find a better picture of our Jesse Tree.

Nativity Set above is from Minniefolk, this is one thing we wanted to get for this season, our first nativity scene.

 

Let us glean from the field.

“Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not.” — Ruth 2:15.

Moonflower at the grain field

 When I think about all that has happened in our life and all that God is doing I can’t help but wonder in awe at what he has down, what he has provided, what he is providing. When we feel the sting of need and provision like the Brothers of Benjamin through the drought, He allows us to glean from the crop of the field he has provided, though we do not deserve it. Why do I doubt that God is able to do these things when he has continually done them for us. Countless times God has provided for us, Jehovah-Jireh, our provider. He has allowed my family and countless others to be benefitted by his Mercy when things seem too difficult to handle. When I feel like the room is shrinking and the air is leaving my lungs to never return, it is only temporary, I pray, as long as I can recall what God has done and what he has taught me.

 There are days or weeks or sometimes months where we do not know where our grain will come from, but He provides. If you have ever felt the lows of deep need, you can understand how beautiful the realization of provision from God’s hands is. I’ve struggle with depression and anxiousness, deep despair and I can tell you how tiresome it is. The thoughts that pervade my mind at those times have been dangerous.

“I am ready to give up; I am in deep despair. I lift up my hands to you in prayer; like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you.”  -Psalm 143

Anxiousness and Worry hide away truth. We can have the confidence of provision for today and the strength for today. The Spirit helps us in our weakness so we may persevere. I am slow to learn this.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” 
― Corrie Ten Boom

 So, I know now through much stubbornness and doubt that God provides for all my needs according to his riches and glory. I am stubborn because there are times when I choose to feel pity for myself instead of believing promises I know. I am doubtful when I forget the promise and what is and has and will be done.  Although I forget or choose to deny it at times, I can’t help but sing today “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”. I haven’t come to even start to understand this fully, what I’ve learned is not even a grain of sand in the scheme of the beginning and end and forever. I am astonished. Amazed that God is merciful and preserves me, just like the Brothers of Benjamin and Joseph who could not understand mercy bestowed, undeserved.

Not only does he provide for my physical needs, my spiritual ones that have experienced the drought of doubt and self-pity for far too long are being restored as he allows for me to come and glean from the sheaves. He calls me beloved and gives me, us access to the mystery hidden for the ages that I could not earn on my own. I am thirsty and my soul is like dry ground in need of rain. He lets me still come and drink and glean from him, because I hunger.

Ruth had no right to go among the sheaves to glean, but Boaz gave her a right to go there by saying, “Let her do it.” For her to be allowed to go amongst the sheaves, in that part of the field where the wheat was not already carted, was a special favor; but to go among the sheaves, and to have handfuls of corn dropped on purpose for her, was a further proof of the kindness of Boaz. –CH Spurgeon

Grace is a beautiful thing. Grace, Mercy and Love even more so.

Remember the Psalms when we feel the physical and spiritual drought so we that can be Satisfied.

Psalm 42

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation 6 and my God.

Deep Distress and Joy

 

I don’t believe that heart ache and joy come independent of one another, at least in my life. Some of the biggest joy times are intermingled with things that hurt and break our hearts. I so wish it wasn’t the case at times but I see the beauty in the darkness while it blends and becomes light. That is why I am not afraid to talk about what I wrestle with and what I see in that struggle.  I believe in transparency, I believe in showing our true selves over the facsimiles of perfect people we so easily pass ourselves off as in the arena of watching eyes. If that is too much for some, I do not apologize. I am imperfect and I don’t feign what I can never be in my own right, so I lift the veil that hides my bare face in hopes to see….

This year has been the one; the one where I cried the most, I felt the most, I called out the most, and felt like the vice of brokenness harm me the most. It seems (I know) as though God is teaching me through this and even though I don’t know the message on the other side of this yet, I am hopeful in the hurting. There is so much grace in the joys that we receive in the dark times, when we feel the furthest from any and everyone. We bought a house this year, thank God, and we are expecting another child, a blessing. All things that sprung forth in hurting and broken times, are beautiful. Some are easier to notice like a house and a baby, some will take some time for us to recognize. All things working together for good, and His good is beauty unending, a story in trans media. He tells it and it is beautiful, we listen and wait for the next chapter anticipating the next and the next. We know that He protects us and shows his grace and love when we feel we are at the end of what we can handle. We know it, it doesn’t make the hurting less hard but it gives hope to know I am not alone, we are not alone, He is with us, He has been with us and will be at the end and forever after that.

I have struggled with Clinical Depression for over a decade, sometimes it has gotten so deep that I truly felt I could not survive another day. Other times, it has been a soft, sad lapping over me that brings me down with its ebb a little, a little, a little at a time. Only those that have dealt with the horrors of the darkest points of depression can truly know what it feels like. The suffocating grip and soul wrenching, you can’t breathe, can’t see, can’t believe, and feel you can’t endure, all the while, putting on the joyful face of someone else’s happiness. Those that know will try and help with well meaning words, so be thankful for those that pray and grieve for you. I don’t know why some of us fight this conflict in mind and heart, but we do.  If there is one thing I know for certain is that deep despair will never defeat me, even if I woke this morning crying for the loss felt of once present people in my life or the nights I cry over the circumstances that feel like the world, there is still victory because this is just the middle of the story working it’s through all of my being, the silver strings that connect this present, to that past, to what we all feel in our broken bodies is coming.

This Poem by Isaac Watts speaks to me :

Psalm 130:2 [From Deep Distress And Troubled Thoughts]

From deep distress and troubled thoughts,
To thee, my God, I rais’d my cries;
If thou severely mark our faults,
No flesh can stand before thine eyes.

But thou hast built thy throne of grace,
Free to dispense thy pardons there,
That sinners may approach thy face,
And hope and love, as well as fear.

As the benighted pilgrims wait,
And long, and wish for breaking day,
So waits my soul before thy gate;
When will my God his face display?

My trust is fix’d upon thy word,
Nor shall I trust thy word in vain:
Let mourning souls address the Lord,
And find relief from all their pain.

Great is his love, and large his grace,
Thro’ the redemption of his Son:
He turns our feet from sinful ways,
And pardons what our hands have done.