Muddy Footprints and Stale Air

More routine doctor’s appointments, state-wide school testing, and illnesses have hit us upside the head than should be legal.

We’re muddling through.

Aren’t we all pretty much muddling through?

I keep putting one foot in front of the other – determined to see this school year through to the end.

The Lord has had infinite mercy on us, up here in New England, as we’ve been able to get away without another snow day tacked on to the end of our school year. This brings me indescribable joy. Indeed. As a former elementary school teacher, I know full well how desperate we all become for The End.

The Sweetkids are up to their springtime tricks, tracking in an endless stream of muddy footprints.  Their preoccupation with the green stuff sprouting underneath the finally melting snow is almost as keen as mine is for us to finally be able to get this stale air out of the house!

Out, stale air! OUT!

Vacation. That’s what I keep telling myself that I need. And I am indeed blessed to be able to take it, coming up here in a couple of weeks. But, I can’t shake the feeling that this intense need I feel for a get-away has more to do with the stale feeling in my heart than with winter’s remnants in my home.

God, as always, is able to show me what I need to see.

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He’s showing me that my heart space needs an airing out.

The desperation I’ve been feeling has far more to do with what I haven’t spent enough time cultivating. Just like the blades of grass become greener with each day nearer to the son, my heart is much the same.  The deeper spiritual choices are the ones that have been neglected.

I have found that nothing alleviates the labor of breathing in thick stale air such as the Fresh Wind of Grace does. To feel it blowing so near to where I need it most makes me fall to my knees, in relief.

And instantly, He reveals what is needed.

Grace.

Again.

This just makes my grasp on the human condition all the more firm, though. Recounting the number of times I have need of the grace He offers me… it could make a human feel hopeless.

Until…

I receive His beautiful Word blowing through my heart. Yes. I welcome Him in and gulp down each fresh breeze sent my way. He revives me. And inspires me.

Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope.”

Watching that stale air move on out, I can get to work sweeping out the dust that has settled too thickly. While I’m cleaning, I’m just gonna head over there and attack some of those muddy footprints, too.

Yes indeedy.

 

Cuteness, Times Seven

I’m convinced that Sweetgirl is able to sense my reluctance to allow her to grow up.

You see, she turned seven last week.

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As we celebrated the risen King, Jesus, we also celebrated another year with a girl whose spirit is so big and beautifully loud, that all who meet her are charmed.

This child is able to dance, sing, bounce, and breathe with joyful abandon. Sometimes, I think to myself, “I want to be like her when I grow up!”

Her confidence in her abilities sometimes outshines her actual abilities – and you know what? That’s exactly the way I hope it always is for her.

I want her to aim for the stars, keeping her eyes fixed on The One who already thinks she’s made it.

She catches me sighing in resignation as she’s making a scrapbook page instead of coloring Doc McStuffins. To that, she says, “Mama, I have to keep growing up. That’s my job, you know.”

Indeed, child. Indeed.

If I were a letter writer, this is what I’d tell her.

Dear Sweetgirl,

I love you.

I love your spirit of adventure. Please, never stop seeking wonder.

I adore your smile. Please remember to flash it toward any and all.

Your tender-hearted ways make me so proud. Please keep your heart soft towards this world.

I love your belief in a God you cannot see, but to Whom you often talk. Please, never stop talking to God.

I love, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, your adoration for the color pink. Please, know that it was you who turned your mama into a pink lover, too.

And most of all, I love seeing how you change each year. You keep trying new things and loving new things and understanding new things and I love every minute of it!

I’m so glad that God gave us you!

Happy Seven, child of mine!

Love,

Mama

Here and Now

Once upon a time, I would read things on the Internets and ideas would spark. I would write those ideas down. They would fuel my thinking for a good long while. Sentences would become orderly and paragraphs would step into line. Comments were bopping around in my head.

But, then I’d forget that there were little minds and big minds, right inside these four walls I live in, that also needed help sparking ideas. Or playing Apples to Apples. Or painting rocks and making cereal box book reports.

And so, I’m finding myself less online and more offline. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, either.

I also don’t think it’s a forever thing.

It’s just “for now”.

I’ve learned that, for me, taking a media fast now and again is a really good thing. Not because the Big Bad Social Media is gonna get me, if I don’t. More because, my heart needs to feel things in relation to the other humans that I am lucky enough to spend time with and take care of.

The ice cream mustache on little one’s face needs to be kissed and the spiky hair of the older one needs to be bristled.

I’ve long known that one of my top Love Languages is physical touch. Getting heaping doses of it, around here lately, has only been further confirmation of that. God let’s me know how He’s wired me, each time I’m nuzzled in on the couch with Sweetman. Every little toe tickle I pull on Sweetgirl, is magical. Conversations linger when I’m fully present with arm around Sweetboy’s shoulders.

And, I breathe in deeply of the connections that these people I live with, my people, provide.

When I’m tuning in to them.

When I’m tuned out to the other.

It’s easier to notice glitches in the stream of conversation when you see the raised eyebrows that accompany it. You might find out that the little one has zoomed past the tickle phase and would instead like to read you a story. That she wrote. And illustrated.

And, that the older one tends to just casually drop into the big green chair that you are reading in and read his own book next to you. In solidarity.

These are the precious moments that simply can not happen when I’m plugged in to the point of needing the smart phone attached to my palm or laptop open at all times.

Yeah, I’ve been a little absent from this space, lately.

That’s okay.  It just means I’ve been a little more present around my people. We’ve needed that.

I’ve needed that.

Each time I flip the laptop closed and grab an outstretched hand, or grab beans to help with a math problem, or take a bike ride with the big kid, I get the feeling that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Grace swoops in and saves me from myself, reminding me of all I’ve been given.

Here.

Now.

I’m grabbing hold of it all.

With both hands.

Yes indeedy.

Do you take a little break from your online world now and then? What is your favorite way to plug into your own here and now?

Former Fool Seeks Wisdom

Flashing the foolish card used to be my way.

But, I have learned to detest one feeling above all others (aside from realizing too late in the day that I’m out of Devil Dogs). I can’t stand to feel foolish. It grates a very special nerve in my soul and reminds me just exactly how human I am.

Join me over here –> click here to read the rest of my foolish story.

Hope to see you there!

 

The Back-up Hairbrush

Sweetgirl sat still (SHE SAT STILL!) while I brushed her hair the other night.

She had come to me, moments before, clutching her beloved purple hairbrush. The one with the gigantic, princess-sized, colorful gems glued to the back. The one I bought her on a whim. No wrapping paper adorned it. She didn’t request it. It was one of those “Sweetgirl would love this!” purchases.

And, oh, how she did!

This sweet child of mine, so girly in her ways, so foreign to my own, adores this brush with every strand of her fine golden hair. Each time she asks me to “Brush, please, mama!” I stop mid-whatever and sink down to do it. Each brush stroke another fleeting moment spent with this cherished girl child that hardly ever holds still long enough to allow me this gift of time.

As she walked over to me, this particular night, the brush slipped out of her hand. I dove, volleyball style, to get my hand underneath and break the impact.

I’ve still got it, because I surely did save that brush from destruction.

Immediately, I thought, “I need to buy a back-up brush!”

And, why?

What if she drops it and breaks it and we can’t fix it and she’s inconsolable.

Yeah. That.

I resolved to head back to the store where I bought it as soon as possible and pick up another one. The next morning, I had a quick hour of freedom and made a break for it!

But, a funny thing happened on the way to the store.

God got a hold of my human capacity for worst-case scenario planning. He whispered into the midst of it, “There is no plan for death. Save, mine.”

And I heard it.

But, I didn’t understand it. Not really.

So, I kept driving.

Broken_Hairbrushes_Missindeedy

Pulling into the parking space in front of the store, I felt this check in my heart. A nudge to just sit still, like my Sweetgirl did, and soak in some valuable moments of listening.

You already know where this is going, don’t you?

“You can’t save her from heartbreak. I couldn’t save my Son from the very same.”

I was listening. God’s Holiest whisper finally penetrated my human understanding. “I gave you this little one not so that you could save her, but so that I could. Show her that I can save her. Show her that broken hairbrushes will not break her.

Oh, y’all. I’m crying as I’m typing because… I needed to hear that so very badly.

Do you, too?

I want to take each circumstance in her life and Sweetboy’s life and control it and maneuver it and make it right and straight and copacetic and pain-free.

But, I can’t, can I.

And, that’s not even my job.

I’ve been trying to do Someone else’s job.

Clarity can be startling. It surely was, for me, in that moment.

I may have put the car in park, but it was my mind that God needed to pull over. I’m so thankful that He did.

I’m never more aware of my continual need for His grace than when He’s whispering a lesson into my heart that He’s only had to teach me eleventy times over.

Indeed.

I didn’t end up going in to buy the back-up hairbrush.

She doesn’t need it.

I don’t need it.

Gemstones may crack. We may crack.

But, He’ll put us back together in exactly the way only He can.

I’ll just keep showing her.

And He’ll keep showing me.

When Tunnel Vision Becomes Good

I’ve never had tunnel vision, physically. But, whoa Nelly! I’ve had it mentally. And emotionally.

Actually, I take that back. I have experienced tunnel vision! For my beloved devil dogs. And, it gets me into trouble in the pants department.  Every. Single. time.

Otherwise, there aren’t many instances where tunnel vision is all that helpful. Or good.

Well, unless we’re talking about the intense desire to lose the spare tire that All The Devil Doggery has created. Then, I guess tunnel vision can be a positive.

And science. Science definitely benefits from the researcher intently focused on finding a cure for The Disease! Yes, then all of that tunnel vision pays massive dividends to society. And, to the world.

Valuing self over others, though, that is exactly the sort of tunnel vision that my heart has been railing against. Concentrating on whatever, whoever, will promote me over Thee… I notice far too much of that, lately.

In myself.

And, in others.

A wise mentor once told me that what I most dislike about another person is very likely a thing that I strongly dislike about myself.

Touche`.

We want to be liked. We want to be noticed. We want to matter.

So, we set about marketing ourselves. We push this profile picture. Or tweet and Instagram The Thing or The Thought that we hope might catch someone’s eye. We Vine our video vignettes and harbor a desire to go viral. Motivation to stay on top of the Importance Pile gathering with every click, like, follow, and repost.

But, we already are liked. We already have been noticed. We already do matter.

To the God who formed us.

He likes us very much.

He notices our every thought.

He declares that we already matter.

Come what may.

Or not.

I’m thankful for His patience, on the days and in the moments where I forget that.

Do you forget that, too?

Tunnel_Vision_Missindeedy

It is no small gift that God’s love endures forever. That He is for me.

For you.

And as He waits patiently for us to behold all that He places in our line of sight meant to bless, we continue to seek and search for significance where there is none to be found. When our search turns up empty, again and again and again, He is there. Our worth is validated and invalidated, in a vicious never-ending cycle. Each time we seek significance that seems hidden from us, He is waiting for us to remember that we already are significant.

To Him.

And in that moment when we finally do remember, and do see what we’ve not been willing or able to, our gaze can again become focused with an intensity that only sole devotion can bring.

Then, that tunnel vision becomes Good. It is a grace.

We are known. And loved. And our importance becomes irrelevant.

Because, we finally seek Thee and find thee.

The Most Significant of all.

Yes indeedy.

I Heard This Wonderful Quote

Listening to the line-up of speakers through the LiveStream of the IF:Gathering, recently, a theme emerged for me. A heart hears what it’s ready to hear. After 19 years of following after this God I often write of, I was truly ready to hear this one wonderful quote from Jen Hatmaker: “If you believe someone, you begin to believe what they say about you.”

I don’t believe in ghosts. But I believe in the Holy One. And y’all, I felt Him right there, in that moment, staring me down, saying, “GIRL…do you believe what we say about you? Do you really?”

My pen stood still, midair, as I took in the question and hesitantly answered.

Again, I felt that check in my spirit. “If you do, beloved, then live like it!

If you’ve ever been on the edge of some physical place, knowing you needed to jump, but not really wanting to jump just quite yet… yeah, that feeling. It’s scary, daring, terrifying, and exciting.

And, convicting.

Because, I feel like that one quote sums up grace and glory, the law and all of the prophets, too.

I’m ever-so-grateful that God opened my heart to finally hearing. Lord knows He’s been trying to tell me for an awfully long time.

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If God is Who He says He is, then everything He tells me, about who I am, is true.

And what does He tell me? (And, just so you know, He tells you, too.)

When there’s trouble, I have the peace of God that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

In my infinite weakness, He reminds me that I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me. (Romans 8:37)

When all I see is my dirt, He declares that I am forgiven of all my sins. (Ephesians 1:7)

For those times when I see how much of a hot mess I am, He comes alongside me and reminds me that I am exactly what He made me, and he created me in Christ Jesus for good works that he planned for me. (Ephesians 2:10)

If I’m feeling unlovable, He whispers that I was chosen by Him, holy, even, and beloved. (Colossians 3:12)

Those are some mighty powerful truths.

Truths that could transform a person. Indeed!

For today, I choose to live like they’re true.

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*If you’d like to check out some of the other impactful quotes from the IF:Gathering, head on over to The Twitter and type in #IfGathering2015.

**Have no idea what I’m talking about, every time I write “If:Gathering”, head over here for more info about them and what they long to accomplish.