The Ugly Beautiful (Women’s Retreat Speech) Part 1

The main longing God had placed in my heart from my earliest days is to be a mom.  To nurture, love, and train young souls to love God and rise to His calling.  I always loved the idea of teaching, but never felt God was leading me to necessarily be a school teacher.  Growing up, there is no paid occupation that I can muster the least bit of interest in.

As I grow the voices come at me from every angle..  in school, TV, magazines, movies, and yes even people from church.  ‘To be a mom is not good enough.  You must go to college and get a degree you can be proud of first and foremost.  Then a career.  At that point you can start thinking about marriage.  Once you’re settled and you’re both making plenty of money, only then do you start a family.  But don’t let that family get in the way of your career.  Oh no.  Because to be ‘just a mom’ is not good enough.”

I want to be accepted and admired more than anything growing up.  So early on I get the message: to become what my heart truly longs for is not acceptable.  I am constantly told to hold on to my dreams, but it is clear that this means only as long as they involve a money-making career.

I don’t realize that my longing to please people is choking the very life out of the dreams God has placed inside me.

I am instead learning that my hopes for the future are unacceptable and must be suppressed.  And as I push them away, part of me dies.  The deep down joy I know as a child is lost and I don’t look forward to the future. at. all.  I know I don’t fit into any of the career boxes.  So I only look at the future with dread.  And this begins when I am 10.

This makes it difficult for me to draw near to God because I feel He is calling me to do things I will find no happiness in.  Trusting God with my life sure seems unattainable and rather scary.

If only I could have heard then that a mother is the shaper of souls.  That there is no higher calling.

Sally Clarkson, who has written many books on motherhood and parenting and who is my mentor, says this:

“For thousands of years the view of motherhood described in the Bible was generally respected in western culture.  Motherhood was seen as a noble and important calling.  Women considered themselves blessed to have many children, and it was considered normal and good for home and family to be the central focus of a woman’s life.  The office of ‘mother’ was respected and revered, and it was generally assumed that entire generations were shaped during the time they spend at the mother’s knee.

Now it has become a lifestyle option – and to many a lesser option – rather than a divine calling.

Friends and teachers had encouraged me to do something important with my life, which meant choosing a career and a type of work that would make the best use of my talents and personality.  I could marry and have children if I wanted but not at the expense of fulfilling my potential.  Even many of my Christian friends and mentors managed to convey that being ‘just a wife and mother’ would somehow be less than God’s best for me.

God designed motherhood to be a deeply meaningful role.  We have the opportunity to influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children.   Through our teaching and influence, morality can be learned and modeled, love and kindness are taught and received, purpose and vision for their lives are ignited and passed on if the mother’s relationships with her children are strong.”

Such truth.  How I love Sally and wish I had her books when I first became a mama.

As we walk through life with our kids each day, sharing our hearts and hearing theirs, sharing in good books and good food, playing and learning together, seeking and serving God together, we are molding these eternal souls who are learning the goodness and love of God and who are being filled with His love.

Raising these souls will impact the world.  When the time comes they will be shapers of souls as well.

A month after I graduate from high school I am in breathtaking Northern Ireland on a missions trip.  And this is where I meet him for the first time though we are a part of the same missions team from TX.  This guy pursues me, this guy who boldly shares his testimony on the streets there, this guy with the big brown eyes that fully captivate me and leave me breathless.

3 weeks after we meet, we both feel our relationship will be forever.  We make a forever commitment to each other.  We don’t see it so much as a boyfriend/girlfriend thing, but we see our relationship as one preparing for marriage.

So a year later on the bright green coast of Northern Ireland, towering high over the rocky blue waters below, we cross a rickety rope bridge to a small island.  Dan bends his knee and asks me to be his wife, with dear friends surrounding us.

A year later, and 2 years to the date of committing to a relationship with each other, on August 5, 2000, we nervously exchange promises and rings.  I am not nervous because I doubt if Dan is the right one, but because my head is filled with shame as we are getting married before our culture deems it proper.  a.k.a. before we finish college, and certainly before we have money-making careers.  I feel I am failing in some way.   But now, looking back, I know we were married at the right time.

6 months later I am pregnant.  I thought we had taken the proper precautions to prevent that.  I struggle with an opposing mix of utter joy and devastation.  The world is saying my life is over.  I am breaking the cardinal rule, having a baby before we have finished college and have plenty of money rolling in.  What should have been one of the most joyous times of our lives is drenched in grief.

Then we begin to hear God.  He gently says, “I’m in this.  You are blessed.  It’s going to be alright.”  And we try to believe it.

The world is calling us irresponsible.  God is calling us blessed.

I know the Scripture.  I know God calls children a gift and that nothing is created apart from His will.  I know of His promises to provide, and His promises to provide don’t depend on if you stay within the acceptable 2 kids limit, nor do they depend on college degrees.  But even the Christian world is telling me something different.

Once Gavin comes, my blue eyed, chunky, perfect Gerber baby, I am smitten.  The role of motherhood seems a perfect fit for me and I soak up every minute, kissing those cheeks, tickling those baby rolls.  Yet I still have the shadow of how the world perceives me gnawing at me.

I go back to school.  Before long my world is caught up in making all A’s, even being the top of the class, and all the recognition that goes along with that.  My ego is being fed.  And my family is taking a backseat.

During this busy season in which we are both in school, with each of us working as well, we put our marriage on the back burner, each believing the other will understand.  We each think we can just pick our marriage back up when we have more time.  We fall for another one of Satan’s lies.

We don’t know then that we are giving our marriage a death sentence.  And die it did.

This is a lonely time.  The little time Dan and I have to be together is spent with us studying in different corners of the house.  We and I are not connecting.  My heart aches that I don’t get to spend the time with my toddler that I long to.

But this pressure rages on inside, the pressure to do it all.   The pressure to be everything but what I truly want to be.

My days at school are long.  I make a friend who is there the same hours I am in the business building.  He is seven years older, hard working, mature, makes pretty perfect grades.  We have much in common (but not necessarily those things) and enjoy each others company.  In Business Calculus whatever I am struggling with, he excels in, and I do well in the portion he doesn’t understand.  So we begin meeting together to study.  It makes sense, but is one bad decision that seems innocent and small enough at the time.  Satan set it up well.

Before long he is the one I am connecting to and sharing life with instead of my husband.  Over time this becomes an emotional affair.  This guy is truly genuine.  He speaks to me in a way that makes me swoon, all the right words.  At all the right moments.  And says them with such depth.

I recall lingering in his car with him one time.  I am looking out the window, then when I turn back toward him he is gazing at me and says, “Damn, you’re beautiful.”  He holds the weight of me with these words and I melt.

He makes me feel like a goddess.

Being with him gives me such an adrenaline high.  I am addicted.  And my ego is thriving.

During this time I feel no attraction toward Dan.  I think even God can’t fix it.

I am torn.  There is a war waging inside of me between this addiction, this lust, and God’s hold on me.

I have already listened to the world so much that it is natural now and I continue to.  I listen to the world say I haven’t experienced enough.  I was a virgin when I married my first boyfriend.  The world is saying I missed out on something.

There is a battle in me between these thoughts and what I know to be true.

And now my relationship with this guy is deepening and becoming physical.  We make out in the elevator and in the car after school.  But I am surprised to learn that the more I am with him the emptier I feel.  This lust can’t be quenched, can not come close to being satisfied.

I eventually find myself in bed with him, but I can never go through with it.  God has me.  And even though parts of me want to helplessly give in to the temptation and not give a rip, for the most part I am screaming internally.

I know I can’t continue to live like this, with all the inner turmoil, without God and my family as priorities.

I know enough of God’s character by now to know He is waiting with open arms.  And I am ready to run toward them.

I miss who Dan and I once were.  I hope God will restore our marriage, that He will raise it from the dead, but I have a difficult time believing it possible.

Finally, I open up to Dan about it all.  I know this is the only way to the healing.  Heartbroken, anguished, but still full of love for me, he forgives.   And I am overwhelmed by his goodness and his rich love for me that I have missed.  All because of the lies I have listened to.

Dan sees how he has neglected ‘us.’  I know I have done the same.  We have ignored the red flags.

We work to pick up the broken pieces of our relationship and start over.  This time with new vigor, being all too aware of the fragility of marriage, and knowing it’s something we have to fiercely protect.

I have 2 early miscarriages at this time, within 4 months.  As we grieve God knits our hearts together afresh.

During this time I learn that the sacrificial, unconditional love of my husband may not always bring on that adrenaline high, but is deeper, more satisfying, and far sexier than anything the world has to offer.

I learn that lust, the lust to be admired, the lust for that next adrenaline high, is nothing but a black hole that is never satisfied.  It sucks you in deeper and deeper but produces nothing but darkness and emptiness.

I continue on in school but at a different campus.  God gives us our daughter, Ellie.  Quite a gift.  I have never been happier, with 2 precious kids and long to be with them.  But this pressure inside rages on and I feel I must forge on in school.

By this time I am in the senior level operations management business classes.  These classes require far more than I have peace about giving.   Challenging case presentations.  I can’t do this and be the mom I know I need to be.

For the first time in my life I began having chest pains continually.  I end up in the ER.  I try to control the stress but the pain continues.

Dan and I venture out on a long walk together and I share with him how I’m trying to figure out what to do with these struggles, this unhappiness.  He simply says, “What if it isn’t God’s will for you to finish school right now, or ever?”

Not God’s will!  The thought had never occurred to me.  I have always heard it from Christians..  so I have figured it is from God, it was always implied that you get.a.degree.  This is what our world puts their faith in.  No one ever said to seek the Lord on the matter.

But in that very moment I know.  And I see clearly for the first time in my life.  In this moment God’s peace floods me and I hear Him say, “I’m not in that.  Not in that pressure to finish school, that heavy weight like chains all over you, this way of life that robs your joy and keeps you from your family.  My promises to provide for you are not based on you acquiring a degree.   The longing to be with your kids and the vision you have of the mother you want to be is there because I placed it inside you.”

An indescribable peace washes over me and I am released from this people-pleasing bondage I have lived in far too long.

I am set free.

Set free from the weight of it all, this hunger to be accepted by others and the fear of what will happen if I am not, set free from my dim view of God and what He is calling me to.

And in that moment I am aware that I have made pleasing and impressing people my god.   I have longed for the world to validate me and it has blinded me.  Blinded me from a life that is not easy, but rich and full of joy.  It blocked me from an intimate, trusting relationship with God as I thought He was calling me to that which every fiber of my being found miserable.

So I stop in the middle of the road with Dan, tears in the sunshine, and there’s this sweet release.  These chains all over me – this heaviness from trying to please others – is lifted.  Gone!   And I no longer give a rip what others think about our choices.  Only what God says.

I am delivered.

I know God’s holding my hand and leading me down the path I had dreamed of all along.  And I fall in love with Him all over again; joy is now attainable and a reality.

It is the sweetest surrender.  I feel light as a feather and as though God and I are dancing together, rejoicing together.

So Dan and I embark on this life long journey, going against the flow of our culture.  Little do we know at this point that this will affect all areas of our lives, that He will lead us to something radically different even from what we often see as the Christian norm.

Freedom comes when you listen to God’s voice and tune out all the others.  As well as a rich life.

And at this point in our lives we are set free.

Romans 12:1b-2 says,

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

I spent so much of my life looking for approval, not understanding that Jesus had already accepted me.

Ann Voskamp says,

“What if the beautiful reality of His extravagant, lavish, ardent, complete acceptance became your everyday reality?

What if your complete acceptability became your complete identity?

We need to learn to live loved.  This frees us into the art of life.

When identity is not drawn from a performance- but drawn toward a Person, the Person of Jesus- this is the place where a life makes music.  If your performance is fueled by your need for acceptance, this is what BURNS your life OUT.

But when His already acceptance is the very fuel of your performance – this is what ignites a life into pure glory.

An erupting relief of grateful joy moves you to dance, knowing the completeness of your acceptance.”

We need to allow this to sink in, how completely He loves and accepts us now.  Not when we’re spiritual enough, not once we’ve rid ourselves of our bad habits,  but NOW!

When we surrender fully we are met with a life sweeter, more satisfying and fulfilling than we ever dreamed possible.

Because it is the life He has created us for.

Scandalous

I’m sitting here stroking the letters on my laptop, knowing what my heart longs to share, praying for this message to be translated properly into words.

Because what I long to say isn’t easy to share.  It even feels downright scandalous today.

But isn’t that as it should be?  God calls us to that which registers as scandalously radical to the world.  The path is not an easy one for people pleasers like me.

I did the responsible thing.  With plenty of time before the deadline, I registered our Elizabeth for ballet.  Because I heard it often from other mamas there and saw it myself, how talented she is.  A natural little ballerina.  A natural grace about her that has always been.  We looked forward to watching her perform in recitals over the years as her grace and ability matured.

When making such decisions I feel as though the weight of the world is on me as many mamas do, thinking of all the future implications of either adding an activity to a child’s schedule or withholding.  I don’t want her to miss out on one thing God has for her.  The mere thought of it is suffocating.

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Nor do I buy the lie that a full schedule makes a complete life, though I did once.  This hurrying around from one activity to another, this busyness has become a sort of idol today.  We say it is for our kids and often believe it’s for their good, but as Ann Voskamp says, “the hurry hurts the kids.  All our rushing ends in nothing.”

I’ve made the mistake plenty of times.  I see the extracurricular activities as good (and they often are) and so I’ve signed up, without giving thought to what it will cost our family, without seeking the Lord’s will.  Sometimes we need to say no to that which is good so we can say yes to something so much better.

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Why are we afraid?  Afraid to live slow enough so that there’s time for kids to be bored and imaginations to flow, time for us to have heart talks over a random baking session, time to gaze curiously at the path of the beetle, time for mud pies and long books read by that sunny window, time to knit and build a fort, time to soar like the wind on our bikes, time to snuggle up under the stars and discuss the greatness of God, time to pray together, time to laugh, time to love.

It almost feels scandalous.

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“To make the time to love because what else in the world is time for?”  ~Ann

Those who live simply live richly.

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I felt God’s gentle tug to pray this through.  Dan and I had talked about it.  How we knew God was calling us to run from assuming, from blindly swimming along with the flow, and to seek His will in these decisions.

To hear His heart before committing.  Then surrender.  Then bask in the freedom it brings.  Oh the peace!

We crawl into bed, hands held tight, once again praying and waiting for a response.  My mind flutters around from one distraction to another as minutes pass.  Then I study Dan’s face, as I often do at these moments, trying to discern if He is hearing anything.  I detect a curve at the edge of his mouth and he looks at me knowing what I’m up to.   I know by the light in his eyes that He has seen or heard something.  And I bite my lip, eagerly awaiting as a child at Christmas.

He saw a large thriving tree.  Then he saw someone mercilessly chopping it down.  He had wondered why, asking God to interpret.  Then he heard the Lord say that for Ellie to attend ballet last year was good and healthy.  She learned far more than just ballet, and was stretched in many ways.  And if that ‘tree’ is taken down now it can be used in building upon.   A healthy thing.  But if that tree is to remain then it would begin to deteriorate, to rot.

The answer is clear.  To remain in ballet would not be what is best.  We don’t know why nor do we need to.

We smile.  Tears fill our eyes as we’re not only grateful for an answer, but we’re touched.  Touched that this God who stretches out the universe has once again answered one of our seemingly insignificant questions as we’ve sought Him together.  Touched that He loves our little girl more than we ever could, sees the beginning from the end and knows how it will affect her heart.  The peace floods us both and we rest in God’s guidance, falling in love with God all over again.

How thankful we are that God is not some distant being, leaving us on our own to make these decisions.  No, He is this ever present lover of our souls who knows the number of hairs on our head and is always at work within us.

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“Sometimes doing the most important thing eternally – doesn’t look like you are doing anything noticeably.” – Ann

It’s another Saturday and like most Saturdays, we’re all here together, playing and working alongside each other.  There’s a breeze rustling the tall shady oak trees and I hear her laugh as she swings, tossing her golden head back and flying forward.  Joy that cannot be contained as we smile wide and our spirits soar.

And there’s this satisfaction that dives right into the deep places in which I’ve desperately needed his peace.  And this peace flows and I can’t wipe the smile off.  Peace because we have this ever present God who guides those who seek Him.  And I can rest knowing we’re doing what’s best for her, because we don’t want her to miss out on one thing God has for her.

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“In quietness and rest shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

“Simple living anchors a child’s soul and prepares the heart to know God.” ~ Sally Clarkson (and you thought it would be Ann)  🙂

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disclaimer:  Please understand that I’m not saying all extracurricular activities should be avoided.  We have our son in fencing as well as all kids in Choir and AWANA on Wednesday nights.  However, I do believe we should seek God’s guidance rather than just jumping in.  There, living intentionally, we will find peace and meaning.

Christmas Ponderings

I admit I’m a bit uncomfortable writing this.

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But this season I pondered how we celebrate Christmas.  I toiled over it sometimes to the point of agonizing over it, my spirit unsettled at the way our culture (and I do mean Christians) celebrate the coming of our Savior, the miracle of this God cloaking himself in skin and living and breathing among us.

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Does this indulging in buying as much as we can for each member of the family glorify God on His birthday?  Is that what He wants for His birthday?

I haven’t been alone in these thoughts this season.  I had several girlfriends write me or call me, asking my opinions on Christmas.

God with us.  God moving in our hearts, whispering in our midst.

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I love the exchanging of gifts.  All the learning to give.  However I am uncomfortable with how it has become the focus, and the amount given.  Whose birthday is it anyway, I would continually ask myself.

The thought came to me, let’s make the main gift of Christmas to Him.   The focus of our giving.  “When you give to the least of these, you have given to Me.”

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So the first gift of Christmas is for Jesus.  I wrapped up this tree to represent the money we sent to assist in bringing children out of slavery, the tree representing life.  A reminder to pray for these kids whenever we see the tree and a symbol of the gift we give to Jesus.

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So Christmas Eve after the feasting and the worship-filled carols around the piano, the first gift of Christmas is opened by my firstborn.  He explains to all the family gathered around what it stands for and why we give.  To hear him give his heartfelt account of it all is the best gift I could receive.  And I know God is smiling at our meager attempt to love Him.

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I certainly don’t think there’s one right way to do Christmas.  But I know I don’t ever want our family to blindly march on to the beat of the culture’s drum, oblivious to what God is calling us to, and missing out on the joy, this abundant life that springs from it.

So we gather around each evening in December, light a candle, and the kids unwrap a hope-filled Christmas book for us to share in.  Oh the anticipation to see which book it will be!  (Many are on loan from a precious friend).

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When admiring the glow of the lights from our tree we discuss all the wondrous symbolism there.  The tree representing the cross He gave His all on, the lights representing the one true Light, the always green fir tree representing eternal life, and then there’s the fruit and the candy canes and the star on top of it all, a rich illustration.

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We fill our home with cinnamon and spruce candles burning,  choral and instrumental Christmas music, and the aroma of pies baking in hopes of creating memories we will savor for years to come.

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But most of all, we long for the way in which we celebrate to point to Him, to lavish love on Him, to bring a smile.  It is, after all, His birthday.

Please, dear friends, leave a comment as to how you make your Christmas about Christ.  I hope ours will look a little more like Him each year, so I would love to hear your ideas.

Growing Aware

I’m not usually aware of it the second it begins.  But it slices right to the core of me.  It stomps and spits all over a beautiful day and leaves me bewildered as to how we got here.

And mere minutes ago I was deliriously happy at the thought of us side by side all day.

Our tone toward each other.   Without the words changing, our tone slaps in the face or evokes love.

And I step away not knowing what to think.  Get alone with God to bring some clarity.   And I’m hurt and angry about what could have been but what happened instead.  How all the beauty that is between us is strangled.

All this when there was such unity in our decisions, laughter shared, arms wrapped around each other tight, and a firm kiss mere minutes before?

It doesn’t happen very often, but too often nonetheless.  Our tone polluting the air and driving arrows straight to the others heart.  A shadow of the dark, dangerous places we ventured to in the past.

I’m aware of the damage that a tone or sarcasm can do to a soul, to relationships, and I know.

I know that we will not allow it to define our family.

As I am praying I see a picture of a ‘tone’ chart.  We prop up this white board on the aged piano and put a mark under our name anytime a demeaning tone or insulting sarcasm is used and will continue to for 21 days.  The whole family involved because it has not only been an issue between husband and me, but brothers as well.

We decide to do whatever it takes to disable our habit and protect and nurture what we have.

Rewards to those who do well!  Awareness to those who don’t.

9 days (with almost all of us together everyday) is behind us now and it’s waking us all up to what it looks like.  To what loving each other in all situations looks like.

Big brother had several marks beside his name the first day.  He’s had none since.  Years of trying different ways to get it through to him (when it comes to speaking to his younger brother), and we just began recording it on this board, and now he gets it.

Our 6 year old daughter, who excels in patience and love, has had only one mark and she put it there herself, insisting she had earned it.  No surprise.  We can all learn something from her gentle ways.   She is by far the winner thus far.

Husband and I have had more than we care to admit.  Not between each other but it has surfaced when speaking to the kids.  When we allow that frustration to build.

The first time I let out a harsh tone was toward our sweet Ellie and I didn’t realize it until I saw that look in her eyes.  My heart melted in that second.

It wasn’t a yell, but it wreaked of frustration.  I was shocked that it slipped out even on such high alert.

I wish I could say I have it down now.  I have certainly improved, almost always catching it before it slips out, however this with great struggle and focus.

That large white board in the center of the home with those ugly marks doesn’t allow me to forget.  The thought of my marriage and our children’s hearts drive me onward.

From the dark dining room I look over at my beloved sitting on the couch with all the kids wrapped around him.  He meets my eyes quickly, a flash of love and an inkling of a smile.

Imperfect we are.  But we’re in this together, doing whatever it takes to keep our family in step with Him.

And we rely on this God who takes messed up people like us and does something beautiful.  He’s this ever present, never stopping, always working in us God.

And I smile back at Husband, twinkle in my eye, fully confident in the story God is weaving.

 
always counting the ways He loves..  some taken from my journal:

6)  how Ellie’s eyes lit up when she saw her ballet recital costume

9) Quinn and Ellie happily playing ‘house’ together in the laundry room, for days

13) a pastor who regularly seeks out time with Husband

14) a cat sleeping under the Christmas tree

25) the boys sound effects as they fly their planes around the house

33) laughter from the bathtub

37) Gav, Ellie, and I soaring all over the property on our horses (otherwise known as

our bikes)

My Heart Overflows

Before I publish the post I’ve been working on, I wanted to share some of the kisses from God in my life, some of the things currently making my heart radiate joy:

the first egg from the young hen coop..  oh how eagerly we have looked forward to it

the wonder of that first leaf pile of the season

family gathered around cracking pecans from a friend

the peace that permeates this place

the touches of scarlet

moments of childhood magic in the new tree house (yes, Gavin dressed himself :))

and a family to gather around the table, full of thankful hearts, full to the brim with His love

The Fight

We planted it this summer to no avail.  How eagerly I had awaited the bursting forth of fresh green.  I got on my knees, and stared at that dirt as if knowing I was there, expectant, would breathe life into it.

A blanket of grass to roll around on, to cushion bare feet racing and dancing, to hide Easter eggs in, to coat our yard in that lovely life color of green.  To elevate our yard from the abandoned look to one that is a cherished part of family life.

I step outside, smile at the warmth of the sunshine on my shoulders.  Then the large expanse of weeds with random spots of bare earth fills my gaze.  I let out a long sigh.

Yea, it’s grass, but it’s the foundation of our outdoor life, and the view from all my windows and I wonder if it will ever really feel like our yard.

And the frustration of how S.L.O.W.L.Y. our projects have gone around here (despite our best efforts) rises from inside of me, mixes with rage, and births a discontent monster who begins to take over my countenance.

A glimmer of light catches my eye as I spot several pieces of glass.  Since we moved here we have been picking up the pieces, thinking we’ve finally got it all until it rains and more broken glass pops up around our land.  A reminder of the alcoholic who lived here before us.

I thought about how he lived here among such glory, these oak trees, these rolling hills, this blue sky, with the cardinals by the kitchen window and the family of cottontails on the edge of the forest, the deer tracks by the pond, nothing but nature in every direction.  Only the sounds of birds and the gentle breeze swaying the branches.

And yet he missed it somehow.  I shook my head at it.  At how he polluted the beauty, left piles of whiskey bottles lying over much of the 11 acres.   Carelessly corrupting it all.

I added the glass to the garbage bin.   And, oh, if only it was that easy to get rid of my discontented self, my frustration over expectations.  To just throw it away.

Standing by the bin, it hits me.  I’m no different.

Some days my heart soars as I soak up the God that surrounds me, and I’m filled to bursting with thankfulness, overwhelming joy as I feel God’s touch.  Giggles from the kids as they jump on the trampoline.  The brilliant red of the apple bobbing.  The feel of Quinn’s chubby hand around my neck.  The smell of pumpkin muffins.  The tender smile of my beloved.   The way he gazes at our Elizabeth as if it’s the first time he’s ever looked at her.

But all too often I allow my thoughts to dwell on the things I want to change and wonder if they’re ever. going. to. happen.  Grass.  Kitchen remodel.  A barn built.  Adding on to the house and finally having more than one bathroom and more than one closet!

And my words spew filth over this beautiful land when I allow frustration to boil from my unrealistic expectations.  And joy doesn’t stand a chance.  And I miss out on living.

I latch the garbage bin and look up to see a boy happily trotting along with his hero.  And I whisper thanks to a God who provides moments like these.   And in the next breath I apologize for my discontent heart.

I’m well aware that this will be a battle.  When the bills are piled high, when the kids are snapping at each other, when I feel like I’m drowning in my responsibilities, when sickness looms.  It will come down to a choice as to what I will focus on.

I’m learning that ‘rejoicing in the Lord always’ is only possible through the channel of a thankful heart.  A heart that is still enough to see.

Here I go..

I really don’t have anything worthwhile to say.  I’ve told God this repeatedly as I’ve felt the gentle but persistent tug to begin a blog over the last couple years.  A couple friends and a loving husband called me on it.  Told me it’s time.  Made it a choice of obedience.

I’ve used endless excuses.  There are so many better writers out there..  No one will read it..  I’m really just a mess.  After she told me I needed to begin writing now, I told my prophetic friend that creating a blog would be something I’d consider if I had a laptop.  That would enable me to sit and write with the kids in eyesight.  Right then and there she went to asking God to provide one.  I thought, well this will be interesting.  Cause we sure don’t have the money for it, so let’s see if God moves.

Less than 2 months later, here I am, typing on my brand new laptop.  A large, unexpected check came in the mail not long after she prayed that prayer.  And our computer had started to show signs of dying.  When the check arrived Dan, with that tender gleam in his eye, said, “there’s your laptop babe.”

I smiled and swallowed hard, feeling a bit of pressure.  And I’ve never been one for working under pressure.   I tend to want to run and hide rather than conquer when things loom large.

But here I am.  Only because I know that His strength can rise through my weakness.  Only because I know that if He truly wants me to write, then He will give me the words to say.  Because, again, I have nothing worthwhile to say apart from Him.

I invite you, my friend, to follow the story God is weaving in our lives.  He is at work as we’ve never felt before.  Although it will often be messy and raw, I want to share the ponderings of my heart with you.  What God is saying and revealing to us.  The struggles.  The joys.

Subscribe and you won’t miss a post.  I promise I won’t inundate your inbox!  I will not be posting daily or even close to that.  (You may recall I home school 3 kids and help run a farm).  🙂