Monday, April 30, 2012

I needed a Sabbath.



I have gone back and forth, over the years, on the issue of keeping a "Sabbath." I'm referring to the commandment (one of the 10, incidentally) that says to keep the seventh day of the week holy, or literally "set apart" for the Lord. The Bible also clarifies that God's people are to do no work on the Sabbath, that it is to be a day of rest.

What it means to keep a Sabbath day has been interpreted in a zillion different ways. I know some families who take this very literally. They not only try to avoid any work on Sunday, but they also try to stay away from activities that require others to work, such as going out to a restaurant. Others I've talked to feel that they take that rest time spread out over the week, like chunks of sabbath time, but not all at once on a set day. I'd say most of my Christian friends and family members, however, don't actually observe what they would identify as a Sabbath rest at all.



I've gone back and forth, like I said, over the years. I do try to take the Bible literally and obey it's commands as much as possible. And I do believe God absolutely knows what is best for us. If He has commanded that we should work for six days and then keep the seventh as a day of rest in a given week, who am I to change that around?

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 20:8-11

For me, I just question why on earth I resist His specified weekly structure.

Wait, I know why.
Because my pride interferes with my obedience.

Because I think I know what's best for me.
Because I think getting stuff done will better serve my family and me so I stay in a constant state of asking myself, "What needs to be done next?"

And this past Friday, I saw a busy weekend looming. Saturday was going to be filled with commitments all strung together one after the next. After the kids went to bed, I couldn't do anything else. I declared out loud, "I need a Sabbath." I needed it all to stop.

Problem was that my sink was full of dishes. My laundry basket was full of clean, unfolded clothes. My fridge was end-of-the-week empty. Normally, every other week, there is no way I'd walk away from all that to rest for a full day. No way. But Saturday night, I knew I had no choice. It was as if I had already run a marathon without a drop of water. Not one more thing could be done until I drank deep some Sabbath rest.



Sunday, we went to church. We worshipped, we learned. We went home.
I pushed down my impulse to work.
We made sandwiches at home and then gathered some things into the car. 
I pushed down my anxiety from not working. Over and over, actually.
I brought two magazines that had been gathering dust on my desk. I actually read them while my husband did a few light jobs for my parents. Then we got some exercise with the kids. It was great. It felt good.
We were all so happy.

I don't know if it was related, but my kids played so amazingly well together all day. Playing, laughing, and being silly. I don't recall any bickering or whining at all. Did they perhaps need a sabbath too? (Lord, how have I robbed them of rest through my own disobedience!?) 

When we returned home, all the piles loomed. And then I remembered that according to the Jewish calendar, the end of the day is considered sundown. Their tradition was that the new day starts in the evening, and carries until the next sundown. It made so much sense to me, in terms of taking a Sabbath, for me, for my life. I had stopped working Saturday night (out of sheer exhaustion, this week anyway), took all of Sunday to rest, and then was energized and refreshed to get to work Sunday night, preparing for the week. It was like God gave me a green light and a full heart to dive back in to the holy jobs He's given me. And I had the means to do them well, with a happy heart and a full tank.

So often, I approach my jobs, particularly in my home, with a heavy heart, as if they burden me. I wonder if it's because I've neglected God's order for my week and disobeyed His command to rest. Perhaps this running-on-empty feeling is more of a choice than I've realized.

And Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
Mark 2:27

I take time daily to spend with Him, to fill up spiritually. But is that enough? Are my body and mind receiving enough quiet and refreshment in those moments to carry me through seven whole days? I don't think so. Something has been missing. And I suspect it's a Sabbath.

What about you? What are your thoughts on this?


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grace on a Thursday: For all who blog

I had a humbling realization today.

In church this past weekend, our pastor talked about how if you're in relationships with other people long enough, someone - some well intentioned follower of Jesus- will most likely start to annoy you. Just because that's how relationships work. People are messy and imperfect. Feelings get hurt. Words get spoken that can't be taken back.

And then for the humbling part; he pointed out that I too am probably annoying someone. Maybe in my Bible Study, maybe in my peer group at the elementary school, and maybe in every circle I'm in. Maybe I'm annoying to someone, even though I'm a well-intentioned follower of Jesus. Maybe LOTS of people are annoyed by me!

Today, I realized that means I must be annoying in the blog world to some people too. Ugh. (Why can't we all just get along!?) Most certainly, some people have come across this blog and rolled their eyes. Some have probably followed for a while, and said, "Enough with that dramatic redhead. She's just so annoying!" I hate to face that fact; we all just want to be liked.

The nerve of people who don't like my blog! (Ok, well I sorta get it. I sometimes annoy myself.) But the point is that no matter how hard I try, I cannot and will never be all things to all people all the time. I cannot make everyone happy, be sensitive to everyone's feelings, and maintain a voice on my blog that speaks to every person. I just can't.

And that's okay. Grace today is what I'm giving myself, particularly in blogging. God has given me my particular blog "voice", human as it may be, for His good purposes. He has brought every person who needs something of what I have to offer to read those words, in His timing, and through His orchestration. So I don't need to reach every heart or worry about being completely unoffensive to every person. All I can do is obey God and use my imperfect voice which speaks from my imperfect perspective when and how He leads me.

Oh, and here's one other thing I can do: try to keep my eyes off my statistics. Checking my blog stats and focusing on my number of followers just entangles me. It steers my heart in the direction of wondering whether or not I'm likable, or effective, or have the "right" things to say. Those are all wrong directions.

I'm sure I've written things here that have turned people more off than on to God, even though my heart is for the opposite. I'm sure I've offended someone, and come across as an opinionated, self-righteous, narrow-minded American (funny how "American" is a little bit of a derogatory term these days). And I'm sure I've lost followers because of my own legitimately broken perspective.

Even on my very best blogging day, when I feel a strong sense of truth pressing through my typing fingers, I'm still human me, still going through my own process of transformation, still not there. Thankfully, grace is available to me every day until God is finished transforming me into His likeness, ending on the day I die. Sometimes I wish He would get on with the transforming business a little more quickly. But He's not in a hurry with me. He's patient with me, and so should I not be as patient with myself?

Tonight, I humbly line up a few more words, knowing that not everyone will chime with them or care. Someone may roll her eyes. That's okay. I blog as I learn to know Him and make Him known, for His kingdom, and for the sake of my children and grandchildren.

My words and my blog are not perfect, but they are covered with grace.




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Monday, April 23, 2012

A bit of business and a bit of my heart



Happy Monday, friends!

Welp, we woke up to a wet, grey day outside. Actually, my little buddy did NOT wake up to his alarm. And when I went in to wake him, he just wrapped himself more tightly in his covers, and said, "Please, please can we just stay home today?" When I said, with as much compassion as possible, that that was not gonna happen, he had a few tears, sleepy Monday eyes, and dragging little feet. Me too, buddy. I wanted to stay in bed today too.

But eventually the kids were off, and I now have the perfect opportunity to share some changes with you.

Starting in the month of May, I'm going to begin offering advertising space for my beautiful blog friends. If you have a blog or a shop you'd like to promote here, I'd love to host your ad!



I'll be offering a limited number of feature posts and giveaway opportunities as well, and these will be available for sponsors as well as those of you who don't want to purchase ad space.

If you want to find out more, please see my new Sponsor button on the right sidebar for all the details. (See the cute suitcases?)

So enough business for this rainy Monday morning.

What's on the agenda for YOUR week?

Mine looks a lot like the usual. I'm behind on laundry. Need some groceries. Need to start planning both my kids' birthday parties which will happen next month. Baseball is never ending. Homework is never ending. And I got a voicemail that it's time to schedule my annual lady-doctor appointment. How kind of them to call with such glad tidings. Ugh.

But in my heart...here's what's happening.
I have peace today.
I have joy, not in my circumstances so much, but in the fact - the black and white truth - that I have a God who knows what I need. He is my Hope. That is the word He gave me at the start of 2012. My word.

HOPE.

He knew I'd need that word, those four letters buoyed around me like a life preserver.

Because sometimes things look hopeless. But what echoes in my mind this morning is Colossians 3, what we've been studying in church, and this exhortation:

Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

I died.
And my new life is in Christ.
Today, that's where I find my life. In Him.

I don't want to walk around in my dead flesh, buying into the world's philosophies and solutions.
I have all I need as long as I set my mind on things above.

And then keep resetting it, all day long.


{email me soon if you want to be on for May ad space!
Lnp0202 {at} aol {dot} com, and those are zeros, not Os.)


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Perspective

My perspective is that I fell in love with my now husband when I was 18. We got married when I was 22. We've been married 15 years this summer.

Years 1-7 were....pretty good, but we were young. Didn't know much about love at all.
Years 7-10, were....pretty good, but I was sorta messy. Having babies and all.
Years 11-14, were....pretty good, but he was sorta messy. Has his own reasons.

I can pick it all apart, remember phrases spoken, specific offenses. Birthdays that were ruined. The time he made me so mad because he forgot to install the carseat back in my car. Or the time he had to work late and missed the special dinner I worked so hard on.

I can put our relationship under a microscope, and suddenly, fifteen years can feel like a really long time. I've now known my husband longer than the years I lived before I knew him.

But last night, an email from my mom reminded me that all of that is simply my view from my limited perspective. She said she realized that in a few weeks, it will be my grandparents 65th anniversary.

Sixty-fifth.
65 - 15 = 50 years longer than we have been married!

I just can't wrap my head around that length of time. I cannot comprehend what it would be like to be married for 65 years.

I wonder what their perspective looks like? Do they think back over the years and remember hurtful phrases and day-to-day offenses? Missed dinners and ruined birthdays?

Or is nearly all of it awash with grace? Forgiveness?

Unconditional, courageous, heels-dug-in commitment?

Wouldn't it have to be?

I know my grandparents did not have an easy life. They were poor, migrant farm laborers from the Midwest who traveled westward for work during harvest seasons. My grandpa was the survivor of two accidents that could have taken his life, but instead left him disabled for extended periods of time. He also suffered chronic illness from his exposure to chemicals in the second world war. And when their children were grown, they owned a meager carpet store in rural Oklahoma, an hour outside of a city.

And they followed Jesus all the way. My grandmother played the organ at their tiny church for decades. They prayed and sang and gave thanks every time I saw them. Every meal. Every gathering. God's name was spoken and revered.

Their lives were marked with worship. In picking cotton, in raising children, in laying carpet, in serving others, in suffering, in loss, and in this final season of their lives. They worship.

From my perspective, that must be the key. A marriage lived out under God is one that can survive 65 years.

Well, it's a new day, which makes me one day closer to that goal.

Not the goal of 65 years. The goal of scrubbing clean my memory of hurts, not with unhealthy burying, but with forgiveness. And the goal of worshiping my Strength and my Shelter, the One who is on the throne, the One who sees me, every day.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grace on a Thursday: For when I wear dirty clothes


I think the grossest I've ever allowed my physical body to get was when I went on a mission trip to Mexico. We went for one week to build homes. We slept in tents on hard packed dirt. We brushed our teeth with a dixie cup of bottled water and spit on the ground. Everywhere was dirt. I worked primarily on the roof of the house we were building, hammering tacks into black tar paper and baking in the sun. Just once, we had an opportunity to go to a public bathroom area for a shower. I opted not to go because why not just go all the way with the grossness? (I was a lot younger, and am not sure I'd make that same choice today).

By the end of the week, my duffel bag was filled with dirty, sweaty, disgusting clothes. My shoes were filthy. My hair - well I don't even know, because it spent all of it's time pulled back and under a bandanna. When we arrived home, it was the best feeling on earth to shower and finally put on clean clothes.

In church, we've been studying Colossians chapter 3. It's well known for containing verses on how to live a godly life. About eight verses in, the author, the apostle Paul tells us that as believers, we should "put to death" in us the things of this world including sexual sin, greed, anger, bad language, lying, and the like because they are part of our old natures, our fleshly habits and desires. He ends the list by saying, "And do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge..."

Before I trusted Jesus with my life, my whole wardrobe was like that suitcase, full of filthy clothes I was putting on. Envy. Control. Anger. Selfishness. But when I turned to Him, I took off the old clothes, and he gave me clean ones. Not because I deserved it, but because of grace.

Because of grace, the clean clothes were free. They were garments of contentment, peace, self-control, love and the list goes on. The absolutely crazy part of this tale is that sometimes, I open up that old suitcase. I pull out those filthy rags and try them on. It's disgusting, really. Who would do such a thing in the physical world?? But in the spiritual realm, I sometimes do the opposite of what Colossians 3 says. I take off my new self, and I put on the old. I abide in my flesh instead of in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And it is not pretty. Those old clothes are so unbecoming to a follower of the Lord of heaven.

But grace always always always takes my hand and leads me back to the new, clean clothes available to me. Jesus whispers, "Take that off. It's not you anymore. It is ruining your loveliness. Here, take these. These are clean. White as snow. You are radiant whenever you put them on! These are so you. The real you, exactly who I made you to be."

Oh Lord, help me to choose wisely what I put on today.


{hey, read Colossians 3 today, if you can. it's good.}



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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mama's Day shopping

If you're new here, I'm not all seriousness at top of the page. I am also a girl who appreciates a nice hour to bask in Anthropologie or browe etsy for some cute new wall decor. My list is growing in my head for Mother's Day gift ideas and I thought I'd share them.

{ Pay attention, love of mine }

1. Anthropologie is a given.

I really like this shirt. I wear a Small and I already tried it on. It's too much money, but if it goes on sale by Mother's Day, it would be acceptable.



2. Erin Condren is our friend.


Today I saw that it's that time of year where Plum District offers $25 off a $50 purchase. You know about this website, right? If not, it's super cute and modern stationery, calendars, (amazing) planners, and lots of other things I discovered today when I was on it. I bought some of the 52-page week at a glance personalized calendar pads for Christmas presents and they came out so beautifully. But sadly, I didn't get one for myself. Why does that happen? However, because Erin Condren is our friend, she sent me these gift labels as a thanks. How did she know I love peacocks too?


And yes please to all of these.

phone cuteness.

book plates.


love this growth chart! (LOOK how you can add the heights of people you love on the right, and they list famous people's heights on the left!!)


And I know my mom would love one of the iPad covers that I can personalize with a family photo. Such a good idea for a mom's day gift for her. Shhh.

Go here to get the Plum District deal. You can even save an extra 10% off the $25 if you pay with a Visa card and use the code VISA10. You're welcome. Then go here to check out Erin Condren's many lovelies. I was even spying the teacher's planners for end of the year gifts for my kids' teachers.

3. Lindsey (from Out of Alabaster) + Jessi (from Naptime Diaries) = something I want.

I've never had silhouettes of my kids before, and have always wanted them. Well, have you seen this rockin' collaboration between these two fabulous ladies? Totally want my darling children's faces on the chevron with their life verse reference below their names. Or maybe the meaning of their names below their names. I can't decide. It's all so happy.



There are so many great things in both these ladies shops. They don't know I'm giving them a little shout-out here, but I just thought you too may want some of this happiness for Mama's Day.

Ok pals. Enough shopping for one day.

Now go clean the kitchen. (mine is calling me!!)

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Speaking my language

This past week, during our Spring Break, I was reminded that God doesn’t exclusively love us despite ourselves. He doesn’t only care for us because of His patience and mercy in light of our otherwise helpless souls. He is not always looking down on us in pity and compassion. It is not all about grace.
I sometimes forget this, especially around Easter, when I try to be focused on my need for a Savior. But I truly believe God wants me to remember that He is not only my Savior.
He is also my dad. He is also my husband. He is also my best friend.
And a perfect version of a dad, husband, and a best friend LOVES you because they can't not. They love you because their hearts are powerfully compelled to.   
Sometimes God just wants to say, "I love you!" because He just really does love me.
He is crazy about me. Like the way I feel about my husband or my kids or my best friends times a zillion.
I think after Easter, He looked at me, smiled, and said, “She just doesn’t get it. Not quite. She isn’t remembering that I just plain love her. I want to make her heart swell. I just have to get it through to her, through the thick fog of distractions and counterfeits. I need to shout my love right now. And she hears me best when I speak her language."
He knows how to speak my language. The language of my heart that I’m not even sure anyone else knows but Him. It’s a very complex language, with a history and a story. It's intimate, personal, and completely unique to me.
And so you may not resonate with this part, because it's not your language. I know that. But mine is made up of things like this, things that the Lord brought before my eyes, blessed me with, and made my heart swell this week in a way I recognize is only Him.

Peacocks.

Getting to teach biology lessons to my kids in nature.

Watching my daughter's character emerge in restful moments; the way she is a helper, a sensitive encourager, and a peacemaker. 

Thunder and board games with my family.

Getting to sleep in. (Yes, that is so my language.)
A little boy who wakes up in the morning and won't get out of bed until he gets snuggles with mama. His skinny arms thrown round my neck and dripping tears on my cheek because our vacation is almost over.
Light-hearted times with my man, laughing, relaxing, and loving each other.

Not having anywhere to go. An agenda wiped clean by the rain.

He so knows what I need. He so gets me. And I get the message. My heart is full.
What's your language? Is your heart tuned to hear Him speak love to you lately?  

bits of splendor monday
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Insta-Friday Spring Break edition


It's Friday! So let's take a look at the past week via Instagram.

It all started here, on Easter. It was a good day. Family, food, fun traditions, and best of all, remembering the greatest thing ever: being reconciled to God.



But then, Monday came and all the rooms and surfaces in my house looked like this. Which meant we coudn't leave on our spring break trip until e v e r y t h i n g was back in it's place. Well, nearly everything.


Next, we took the shortest road trip ever, but it still needed to start with Taco Bell. 'Cause of all the cleaning up, we sorta forgot to eat. Then we got on the road and everyone was hungry. This dude loves the Doritos tacos.


And after all the chaos of the weekend behind us, we all started to relax. It has been a Sabbath week. Together.





We even played board games. We never thought we'd get there, actually. We thought they'd be babies and then toddlers like forever. But now, they're legit school-aged children who play board games. I don't know when it happened. It just suddenly did. Seriously it's awesome. 

I even got to be Miss Scarlet. Naturally.



We went to a Mission also. My family members really dig the California Missions. Hey, I realized other people in other states don't sometimes know about the California Missions. If that's you, well there are 21 of them all along the coast of this great goldeny state, and they were where the Catholics tried to evangelize the Indians in the 1700s. And they are so, so beautiful.





Once in a while, I feel like my life is a postcard.

A really lovely one that you can't stop staring at.




And I feel so thankful.

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Grace on a Thursday: in Annalea's words

{You know how you used to call your friend in Junior High so that you could both wear the same shirt on the same day? Well, Annalea and I sorta did that. Except with blogs. Last week I was over there on her beautiful space, and today, she's here with some thoughts on grace in marriage. I'm so honored and excited to share Annalea's heart with you. I didn't know what she was going to write about, but God is tricky because surprise, surprise...her message is for me, my life, my marriage. Just try to read this and not feel a little (or a lot) rocked. Just try. Thank you, Annalea, for vulnerably sharing your brave passion for commitment and living God's definition of love out in marriage.}

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am i willing to be loved in spite of my ugly brokenness?
or will i turn away the gift of grace that God is offering this messed up sinner?


these are the two questions i am confronted with daily.  it seems like an easy choice.  i can receive love or i can reject it.  oh but it is so not easy.  it is a moment by moment struggle to open myself up to what i do not deserve nor understand.
but i want love.
i choose grace.

feet in nashville

one of the most powerful messages i have ever heard in relation to love and grace came from randy gariss during his a lifetime love conference.  he asked the question why doesn't love last?  it turns out to be pretty simple.  we have to be willing to love someone in spite of who they are and what they do.  we have to be willing to love with grace.

you see, the world tells us something different.  there are two commonly accepted types of love:
  1. i love you if (or as long as) you meet my needs.
  2. i love you because of who you are.
it seems pretty obvious to me that the first is an immature and selfish take on love, but i guarantee you our divorce rate has been impacted by this reasoning.  the second doesn't seem that bad.  it seems less self-centered and almost wise.  most choose a spouse based on a set of desired qualities.  i hope to encourage my children to look for certain attributes and maintain high standards

but it is not enough.  what happens when the person changes?  what happens when they do something ugly that outweighs the good?  does that give us permission to no longer love?  is marriage a contract that can be dissolved when the terms are no longer met?  or is it a covenant with God?  does the bible say love one another, as I have loved you, but only if. . .?

i am pretty sure there are not any conditions on it.

missing him

a week after i attended that conference, our marriage hit rock bottom.  it was a dark and heartbreaking time.  i can tell you that neither of the world's definitions of love would have brought us through.

instead i filled the pages of a journal with in-spite-ofs.  it was hand written therapy to heal and process.  at one point, i looked down and realized that nothing i had penned about my dear husband was any worse than my own wretchedness.  

i am a sinner.
yet i am loved.

 
grace is God saying he loves me IN SPITE OF my sin.

He loves me with unmerited favor.
He sacrificed His Son in my place.

and He asks me to love others just as He loved.  He asks me to love jesse in spite of jesse's sin.  i am Christ's ambassador in my husband's life and that is an incredibly high calling.  even more, i am called to be this witness to the entire world.  man is that scary.  i am going to need His grace so so much.  because i am confident i will forget that it is not about me and my needs.  i will forget to love in spite of the pain and discomfort and yuck.

feet in nashville

each day is a new opportunity to receive true Love.
each person is another chance to give it.

i need to choose the gift of grace over and over and over.