Thursday, May 29, 2014

extravagant lingering

I have a lot of time on my hands, these days. And to be honest, it scares me.

I've been going at a frenetic pace for so so long, that to have this time, this idle, unpoken-for time, feels wasteful.

And wasting time is NOT OK. It's synonymous with lazy, right?

So I've been feeling guilty, for feeling wasteful.

But today, as I sat with a friend (who also finds herself with lots of time on her hands), we dissected and discussed and engaged in a lively back and forth about how lost we feel, and how much of a bummer it is, to have all this time that we're wasting.

We looked back on the most recent, busy, fruitful season of our lives, and in comparison, these days look just plain lazy.

And we're afraid we're missing it, whatever the "IT" is.

And that scares me.

So I'm living scared. I didn't realize it. But I'm existing paralyzed.

Then Isaiah 43:18-19 came to mind:

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
19 Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert."

That's God talking, right there. Reminding me to leave the past where it belongs, to just stop. Do you notice that He not only says to stop pondering the past, but He says He WILL DO something new? How exciting!! What is it? Tell me, shout it in my ear, show me a picture, reveal the mystery, open the door! I want to SEE!

But wait.

Four times He says He WILL. 

And that's not now. It's later.

So while I can rest on the promise of "I will," I can't know the new thing right now. 

Which brings me right back to today, with long minutes and hours, and feeling like I'm wasting time.

BUT WAIT. Is that not what He is asking me to do, right now? Stop peering into the past, trust Him for the future, and just WAIT.

Is waiting wasting time? My flesh tells me yes. My God tells me no. Who will I believe?

Wasteful waiting?

How about extravagant lingering.

Wow. Wasteful = extravagant. Waiting = lingering. They're synonyms - I looked it up.

How about Excessive Abiding? Fantastic Continuing?

Absurdly Constant?

Do those phrases strike you as oh so different from wasteful waiting?

And I am humbled, stricken even, as I realize what a pity party I've been having without even knowing it. 

And how arrogant that really is.


I realize that I can choose. To thankfully, joyously, hopefully, fantastically, absurdly linger. 

And the funny thing is, I still have all that time on my hands. But I am suddenly as sure as the day is long that I WILL NOT MISS IT. How could I miss a roadway opening up in the wilderness? Or a river appearing in the desert? I won't. 

Not if I'm abiding, excessively, in Jesus. 

This time I have, today? I spent it with Jesus, with a friend, with my daughter, cleaning my house, reading a book, cleaning off the office shelves, planning dinner, potty training my dog, getting a pedicure, all the while pondering these things. I found a cool book of prayer poems, and had a lovely conversation with an awesome lady at a new-to-us restaurant.

But I DO NOT believe it was a waste. God doesn't waste my time. 

So ok, I can't see. I can't hear. And of course I still wish I could. But I CAN quit beating myself up. And refuse to feel guilty. And be thankful that I have been given this gift of time.

This extravagant lingering.


Monday, May 26, 2014

silly sweet

Nothing profound today, really, just a few pictures of Greg I've grabbed recently that make me happy.

Watching videos about the unlikely combination of cats and water ...

Posing at the drag races ...

And my favorite, putting a necklace on Tiny.

I just love him, that's all. 

Capturing moments,

Saturday, May 24, 2014

all wrapped up

Mason and Gypsy, this morning.

It was hilarious, watching them. Over and over Mason tried to wrap Gypsy up in that pink blanket, and over and over Gypsy wriggled free. He tried everything, from begging her, to using his "stern" voice, to bribing her with treats, to sneaking up on her and grabbing her from behind.

Every time she broke free.

He is nothing if not persistent, though, and as we watched, she began inching closer, and closer, and closer. To that boy, and that pink blanket. Until she laid down, just at the edge. But the moment he reached for her, she was gone. 

Then she laid down, all the way, on the blanket. He lunged, she bailed.

She laid down again. And he moved in softly, gently, and she stayed. Until he started trying to wrap her up in the blanket. She bailed. But she didn't move quite so far or run quite so fast this time.

And so on. It was an elaborate dance, with moves and countermoves, and patience piled upon patience. Eventually he would succeed multiple times in getting her wrapped up, only to have her jump free the minute he moved. And the dance went on.

Eventually, though, I watched with amazement as Gypsy not only laid down on the blanket, but she rolled over on her back and LET HIM WRAP HER UP. 

And held still, while he picked her up.

And began licking his face, as he stood there holding her ridiculously bundled up in that pink blanket.

And there was DELIGHT. His, and hers. Mutual.

It made me think about how persistent, and patient, and gentle, and careful God is with us. 

And how we are wary, and fearful, and afraid of being wrapped up, claustrophobic, even?

And how He won't force the blanket on us, or the wrapping up.

But that when we choose it, we feel safe, and we know we are loved, and we love right back. 

And there is DELIGHT. All around.

"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take GREAT DELIGHT in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

Just imagine. THE Mighty Warrior, taking delight in you,loving you rejoicing in you, singing over you. Can you hear it?

It's beautiful.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

this boy

Nine years ago. Mason Gregory. Born 10 days early, weighing in at 9 lbs 7 oz. BIG boy!

And here, just this weekend, celebrating his birthday, laughing SO BIG.

A simple little word, but so fitting for this lovely boy. He's all in, all the time, for better or for worse.

He's a complicated child, it's true. But I know that God made him complicated, and sometimes that shows difficult, but mostly it shows amazing, and surprising, and awe-inspiring.

He is logical and analytical and asks questions - oh the questions! - that can be impossible to answer or seemingly inappropriate, and sometimes he seems rude, but all he really wants is information. He gathers it like a collection, reading encyclopedias and such, and his knowledge base is immense. Which sometimes can produce interesting and amusing statements in his quest to know more - more than he should, sometimes.

BIG. He makes me laugh hard, and often.

He sends me researching because he knows stuff that I don't and I have to confirm it for myself. He's almost always right. BIG.

He'll never be a shrinking violet, even though he doesn't like being the center of attention, but he is just a BIG presence wherever he is. You can't help but notice him - if for no other reason than that he's adorable!

(OK that might be the bias in me coming out, just a little, but come on, I'm right, yes?)

There is no way to capture this beautiful child in this post, and there's no way to measure the depth of my love for him.

He delights me, and I cannot wait to see him move into tomorrow, next month, next year. Surprises await, I just know it. BIG surprises that will delight and amaze.

Til next time,

Friday, May 16, 2014

pardon me ...

... while I recover.

Seriously, who gets a virus like this in May? Me, I guess.

Til later,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

how long?

This is my beautiful daughter, 36 weeks pregnant.

She's excited, and tired. Even though she knows that little Lincoln will be here soon, right now it feels like she'll be pregnant forever. 

It strikes me that this is a nifty example of walking by faith. Because she knows there is an endpoint coming soon, she can depend on it even. So if she just looks in the mirror, or thinks about how tired she is, she might not be much excited ... but since her body can be relied on to produce this child in the near future, she can mostly move past the tired, at least in her mind.

She knows that what she sees won't last much longer, and she has faith in the promise of labor and delivery and a baby in her arms.

Hanging onto that promise, even when the mirror tells her otherwise.

Walking by faith, not by sight.

I would do well do remember this when my mirror shows me tired - what I see won't last forever, but God's promises to me of a hope and a future are worth standing on.

Waiting with her,

[P.S. I think she is actually waddling by faith these days!]

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

concentrate and repeat

Remember when this seemed impossible?

Whether you remember your own frustration or have observed that of a child's, learning to tie your shoes is no small feat. (Pun intended!)

And even when you understand the mechanics, it's hard to get all the pieces in position and in play at the same time - shoe, laces, fingers, thumbs and of course holding your tongue just right.

It requires supreme concentration, right? And lots and lots of practice.

As I put on my own shoes this morning and tied them effortlessly, I thought of Tiny struggling to tie hers on Saturday. 

She was determined and relentless and stubborn, and she didn't give up until the task was accomplished.

I'm still thinking and processing from my post the other day, about habits.

Trying to find that balance between determination, relentlessness, concentration on the making of a new habit, yet giving myself grace when it's slow going, and even when I fail.

We have to give ourselves time to learn, and remember we need a teacher. We need to have the space to fail, because don't we often learn the most from the fails? 

I wonder how many times someone showed her, with patience and love, how to tie those shoes? And how many times must she have attempted and failed before she finally got it right? And even now, when she knows the mechanics, it's slow going and her complete concentration is required. And even when she does get them tied, the result is sometimes a little sloppy.

But we all know that as time goes on, and she practices and practices and practices, it won't be long before it's effortless for her as well.

So as I ponder this desire, this decision really, to cultivate the virtues that make me more like Jesus, even as I concentrate and am jaw-clenchingly determined, I'm struck by that picture. And I remember that she sat there for a full 90 seconds getting that shoe tied.

Practice, yes.
Concentrate, yes.
Be determined, yes.

But I need a Teacher. This doesn't come naturally.

Will I be a slow learner? Most likely.
Will I fail? Most definitely.

But I must hush up that inner critic and listen for the voice of God instead. I must let Him show me again, and again, and again, what love and kindness and perseverance and knowledge and self-control and godliness look like.

And I have to love and persevere and be kind and control myself time and again and unlike tying shoes I'm never going to get this completely right as long as I live.

But as I practice and fail and learn and mess up and grow and change and be determined, I can be assured that new habits will be formed, and that this new formation will look more like Jesus, and I will bear His image a little brighter and bolder and maybe, just maybe, some of it will seem almost effortless someday. 

In the meantime, though, I'll expect to trip over my laces from time to time, and to look to the Teacher for repeat lessons.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

just start


That means I have to do something.

Sometimes I forget that I cannot do what God does, and that God WILL NOT do what I can do.

This passage in 2 Peter 1:5-9 contains a list of virtues that produce a well-rounded faith. 

Brotherly Kindness.

And these virtues are to be cultivated simultaneously, not one at a time.


I look at that list, and all I see is failure. And what I feel is something akin to fear, because I don't know how to fix the failure. And trepidation, because I am now exquisitely aware of this command, to ADD these things to my faith, and I don't know how to create this future.

So what if I look at this list just for today? For this moment, even? How can I add virtue to my faith, this day?

I think I just start.

ADD must mean that I must get into the habit of doing these things, and that at the beginning it will be hard. Habits take time. 

But what if I just start?

I could:

Take the initiative.
Take the first step.
Do the next thing.
Stop hesitating.
Act immediately when God speaks.
Don't reconsider.
Don't change my mind.
Make it irrevocable.

Move. Do that thing God is whispering in my ear to do. Do it now.

As long as I sit gazing at the list, I will be discouraged about the past, and fearful about the future. But perhaps if I just get going today ... and then choose to keep going tomorrow ... and the next day and the next and the next ... a habit will be born?

I CANNOT FORGET, though, that I CANNOT DO what only God can do. And that I will not be able to manufacture these qualities out of pure self-effort. Only because the Spirit of the Living God has made His home in me and promises to produce fruit in my life and my character can I hope to add these things.

Self-reliance won't make this happen.

Only by yielding my stubbornness. Admitting my failure, and choosing to move forward, to do my part, as a new creation. An image bearer. A reflection of Christ in me.


My plan for today.

Hoping for the habit,

Friday, May 9, 2014

this last day

Today, a chapter closes. A much-loved season of working on staff at Olathe Bible Church has come to it's anticipated end.

All these co-workers, now friends.

Celebrating with me, even though we're all a little sad.

Lots of questions are coming my way, about my plans now. And the truth is that I really don't have any. And I intend to keep it that way for a good while.

I'll rest, and I'll spend time with the ones I love, and I'll read more and cook more and clean more.

That's pretty much it.

Me, the endless list-maker and arduous planner? I'm good with leaving the pages unwritten, at least by my own hand. With letting the future unfold in front of me.

There are scary bits, yes. The unknown is always a bit unnerving. But I believe with all my heart these words:

And so I can rest in the now, even while expectantly, joyfully, hopefully, anticipating whatever the future may bring, because I know He is good. And He is for me.

This first day.

More to come,

Thursday, May 8, 2014

she spends her time on me

This is my friend, Brenda.

"Friend" doesn't begin to cover it. You see, for months and years now, she has chosen to spend her time on me. We've worked shoulder to shoulder at church - the work was part of my job, but for her it was all volunteer. Hundreds of hours, it must have been, just on this alone.

That doesn't count carrying me all over the place, all these months I haven't been able to drive.

She drops what she's doing and chooses me instead.

We laugh like crazy fools when we're together, mostly. But sometimes we cry. And we are constantly amazed together at the things God is showing us, teaching us, reminding us, and how often He is showing us in sync. 

I love her like she's my sister, and truly she IS. My sister. Maybe that covers it better than "friend."

So thanks, Brenda Beautiful. Thanks for all of it, past present and future. Here's to all the years to come!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

can I call this beautiful?

This morning, early, I gave myself an assignment. To watch for beauty.

And then I promptly forgot. I just "did my day," until mid-afternoon, when I walked out to get the mail. 

My husband says this is his least favorite week of spring, thanks to these little guys:

And really, who can blame him? They're everywhere - driveway, flowerbeds, deck, lawn - and since he's the keeper of all things outdoors around here, they're just messy.

So I'm looking at these piles everywhere through the lens of messy and extra work for my husband, and then I shifted my gaze.

And saw beauty. 

Still messy? Yep. But suddenly I saw a beautiful mess.

All I did was turn my head.

Such a lesson for me, today. A shift in gaze, of attitude, a change of heart in just the slightest direction and something irritating (and frankly ugly) changed. Completely.

Sometimes I choose to keep staring at the ugly, when I really know I should turn my head. And sometimes I'm just blind to the possibility that any other view exists. Even that, though, is a choice, because I always have the option to pull back, shift slightly to the left or right, and catch a different perspective. Will I always see beauty, just by looking on the other side of the driveway? Probably not. But it's guaranteed that I won't see it if I don't turn my head.

As I prepare for a new season of life, one I've longed for and hoped for, I am exquisitely aware that if I'm not careful, I'll miss beautiful things. I'll miss what's right in front of me. 

And this. Right in front of me a few minutes ago. 

Fifteen unexpected minutes with this boy-child. 

Tell me that's not beautiful.

Here's to not missing it tomorrow,

Monday, May 5, 2014

this messy monday

Today has been a scattered, disorderly day ... not the sort of day I'm fond of.

I like lists, you see, and I've not crossed many things off my Monday List. Monday is the day I restore order - to my home, to my schedule. But there's a load of laundry still sitting in the dryer, wrinkled I'm sure. I managed to get a few errands under my belt, but several were left undone because I just got tired. There are emails that need answering, dishes that need doing, a bed that needs making (the horror!). 

But here's what I did instead, on this messy Monday. I hung out with my girl, and listened to the aches and pains that come along with 35 weeks of pregnancy, and the fear and joy and excitement that grows with her. I went to the library, got a few groceries, scratched behind my dog's ears, and this.

Sat with her and generous friends, picking through clothes and hats and spoons and yes, shoes, for this baby soon to come. Orderly bins of clothing were turned to chaos and put back to order again, a little lighter. And the little boy will be covered in cuteness for months to come.

I'm finding myself often in a strange place where order and chaos are co-existing, and while I don't much like it, I'm learning. That order sometimes crowds out the good kind of messy. And that chaos is do-able, at least for short periods, and sometimes it's even good for me.

I don't want to get too relaxed in chaos, but I'm pretty sure I've been really stuck in "order" for a good long time. 

For today, though, I found the middle, and it looked messy to my list-making self. But if the moments truly matter (and I believe they do), then today was well-spent, and I will save that list for tomorrow.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

this first day

It is fitting, I think, that I begin here on Sunday, the first day of a new week. It is easier, isn't it, to live fully in the moments of Sundays? Fewer distractions. Stretched-out time to rest and ponder, and my to-do lists are less unruly on Sundays.

The cry of my heart is to live ALL IN and ALL OUT, every moment of every day. To frame each of my days in a way that feels complete and satisfying. To keep both feet (and all my mind and my heart) in the shot, not one in yesterday and one in tomorrow, but all of me all in. I will succeed some days, I hope, and I will undoubtedly fail. But I'll try again the next day, because there is a clean slate awaiting me when my alarm goes off.

For this first post, though, some introductions and maybe explanations are in order. Each of those pictures to the right? They are days and moments framed that mean something to me. Something important.

First, a moment captured on our last vacation. Me and this husband of mine, married more than 25 years now. This man who loves me like he means it, He needs a post of his own, and I will undoubtedly write one. But for now, know that he is my fiercest protector, my unfailing provider, and the absolute love of my life. We have two grown children, both married, who are as of now MIA from my photo roll. But trust me, they're beautiful inside and out. Daughter Christa is married to J.R., who is perhaps the best daddy I've ever known. They have the Littles on loan from God, three known, one to become known in June. Son Brandon is married to Shiloh, a lovely and spirited young lady who inspires me with her art.

Next, a clock from my living room. What's important about it is that in this moment, time is stopped. Just for that moment. And I am more and more convinced that it's the living right now that matters, and that I miss the mark far too often. I miss joy and sometimes pain, but mostly I miss Jesus.

Then, one of my favorite pictures of my middle Little, Mason, laughing out loud. He is the most logical and rational little man I've ever met. But when he laughs - oh when he laughs. Pure unbridled joy. Part of my heart belongs only to him.

The next two - soak in the truth, and watch for beauty - well, I've been soaking pretty regularly for the past 14 years, but I will never be soaked-enough. Watching? I'm working on that. I miss beauty all too often.

After that is a beautiful picture, taken without her knowledge, of my littlest Little, Callie. She prays with reverence, and worships with abandon, and I want to be more like her.

In June, we will celebrate the arrival of this new life, the tiniest Little, who is fearfully and wonderfully made. I can hardly wait to meet him, this boy child to come.

Make messes. Honestly, I'm in training on this one. Messy mostly stresses me out. But I've learned from my Littles that art comes from messes, and I know that I'm a mess, and God uses my mess (and yours too) to make beautiful things.

Decide. I am faced with oh-so-many choices every day, every hour really, and each one depends on the one I made right before it. So I must choose well. Thoughtfully and carefully. But I will only choose well when I am thoughtful and careful enough to listen to that still small Voice leading me on.

Then, a breath-taking photo of Greg and our biggest Little, Lexi, dancing in the kitchen. Was he in the middle of cooking dinner? Yes. Was it inconvenient? Probably. But he took time. To dance with this lovely, sweet, sensitive child. And she still remembers it. Dinner? I have no memory of it at all. But that dance. I'll never forget it.

Finally, know the Potter. The One True God. The One who takes the broken pieces of me and binds them up with His love and promises. Who saved me. Who makes beauty from dust. Who can handle my mad, my sad, my joy, my excitement, my hopefulness and hopelessness, and who never lets me go. Not for a moment.

These are the things of my life, this holy day.