That’s A Wrap

What. A. Week.

Seriously, y’all, Tuesday just about did me in.

We had breakfast for dinner on Monday night so I took my wedding rings off to make some buttermilk biscuits. I am happy to report that this batch turned out even better than my previous attempt last week. But the reason I mention Monday night in relation to my cray cray Tuesday is that I forgot to put my rings back on and when I realized it on Tuesday morning after I had left the house I felt like I had forgotten to get fully dressed.

I was heading to a photo shoot for the teachers and staff of our kids’ school and the weather was iffy and rainy off and on and I was praying that it wasn’t raining downtown where I was headed. A few minutes delay due to road construction and I was reminding myself to breathe and not get impatient. I wouldn’t be as early as I had wanted but I wasn’t going to be late.

And then the sky fell. Buckets and buckets of water were falling from the sky and even though I knew it was possible that it still wasn’t raining downtown I was getting skeptical of our chances. I passed not one, but two car accidents on my way.

I decided to make a call to one of the admin and see how things were looking weather wise.

No phone.

I had not only left my wedding rings at home I had also forgotten my phone as well. No choice but to keep going with fingers crossed that my people would be gathering under a nice overcast sky for pictures. We managed to get our pictures darting in and out of sprinkles right up to the very last five portraits. Thankfully we got them finished before the buckets upended again.

After the rain let up some I headed home passing yet a third accident.

Five minutes later I am sitting at a red light when the car behind me tried to stop and it’s brakes lock up. With more traffic to her right the other driver had no way to avoid hitting me so for the first time in my life I was in an accident.

Minus my phone. In this moment I learned a very important lesson. Write down and carry a list of people and their phone numbers because I basically know Rob’s by heart and when I couldn’t reach him at first it only added to the stress of the minute for me.

Thankfully it wasn’t very bad and I just woke up the next day stiff and sore…nothing that a few trips to the chiropractor isn’t taking care of. But man, Tuesday was just a dozy of a day.  It ended fine with Claire playing in her first volleyball game that afternoon and killing it with nine scoring serves in a row. Not bad for her first year.

Wednesday was fairly quiet and Thursday was okay as well if a little more hectic. This last week before school starts can keep a girl busy! Plus we tried our hand at homemade egg rolls to go with our fried rice for dinner. Also, some wontons that looked so very pitiful but actually tasted rather good.

Today will be full of this and that and running around. Another volleyball game this afternoon with a tailgate party and soccer game to finish off the evening. Super excited about our ladies brunch and book discussion on Saturday morning. I mentioned the Book You Who by Rachel Jankovic in yesterday’s post. I loved it and I am looking forward to some robust discussion about finding our identity in Christ and what that means.

Okay, one last thing to wrap up this week’s postings.

Curcuma.

This is the second year in a row that I have had them in our yard and man, I just love them. The colors vary and I think last year I had a creamy almost tan and brown one. This year I found this glorious fuchsia, almost purple one.

It’s a lovely tropical plant with gorgeous and dramatic blooms. I love them because they almost have a small iris growing out of their blooms. And interestingly enough, they are cousins to the ginger and turmeric plants although they are not safe to ingest.

I think I might try my hand at keeping the plant through winter because from what I read they will rebloom if they do not get too cold. Their season is about to come to an end so last week I spent some time photographing them. The little portrait session went so well that there is a post up on Just A Glimpse and I hope you take a moment and just bask in the beauty of one of God’s most interesting flowers.

And then go and have a wonderful weekend full of much joy and rest. See y’all next week!

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He Thinks I am A RockStar

Seriously. He has been amazed by me lately and I feel a bit guilty because honestly, what he is noticing is really what should have been all along.

It started some time last week. Have you ever had one of those days where you are just burning through your to-do list? Yeah, it was like that only I didn’t have a list.

I was just being busy. Actually, I think that is the wrong word to use. We all know we can be busy, even really busy, and not actually be accomplishing much of anything.

I was being very purposeful. I was looking for things to do. I wasn’t trying to be productive but it happened.

Pssst, side bar. What you read and meditate on has a huge effect on your state of mind and attitude and that in turn has a huge effect on your life. Start reading about contentment. And start pondering prayer. Your life will change in a very quiet but solid way.

Here is what I learned. If idle hands are the devil’s playground then laziness is the fertilizer for discontentment. Not doing work leaves your mind free to wander and think about all the stuff you don’t have but wish you did. Too many breaks between chores and you have time to ruminate on how he doesn’t really love you the way you need to be loved. A pause in tending what needs tending will make it easy to tend the hurts and perceived insults and wounds you’ve suffered, to concentrate on how you just aren’t appreciated.

But maybe that isn’t what happens to you. I will be honest that those things might happen in my mind and heart upon occasion but not often. You know how it really shows up for me?

Apathy. I just don’t care much about those things that really ought to be cared about because it is more fun to daydream about the things that I decide ought to be cared about. And rarely are they things that you can look at on the surface and dismiss as not being important per se, but in reality it’s devoting a lot of time and thought to misty things. Things that aren’t super substantial or carry much weight.

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It’s like cultivating a diet of fast food rather than a palate that desires fresh fruits and vegetables. You are indeed eating and taking in sustenance but we can all agree that it is not the healthiest way to live.

Rather than just giving stuff a cursory swipe of my attention I was paying real attention to whatever task my hand found to do. And amazingly enough I was getting a lot done. And I even felt more energetic to keep going. (Now, lest you think otherwise, I am a pretty good housekeeper for the most part. I had worked out a routine to keep things nice and tidy in such a way that you could drop in unannounced and it would not have caused a bit of panic. But, things like that have a way of becoming a way to gloss over something with no thought or real effort. Intermixed with contentment and prayer you should try a steady consideration of glorifying God in all that you do. That is a real game changer!)

Back to my rockstar status. I had been pretty productive but still had some time left in the day. Two things about that last sentence. First, when I say “time left in my day”  I am referring to time left before my love arrives home. Time  is measured and used differently when he is home and we’re all together. Not sure how to explain it but it’s a marked difference in the blocking out of our day.

Secondly, I cannot tell you how many times I have muttered, moaned, and groaned over the lack of enough time in my day. In hindsight there is no doubt that it is much more of focus and time management problem than an actual dearth of seconds, minutes, and hours. I have actually had more time to read, snap a picture or two, blog, and do all manner of things  while accomplishing so much other stuff like laundry and what have you.

So what did I do that day last week when I suddenly found myself with time on my hands and no desire or feeling to do nothing? I ironed his shirts. I know I am going to sound so spoiled right now but Rob’s main dress shirts go to the cleaners weekly. I haven’t had to do anything with them other than drop off and pick up for a few years now. If he needed a casual shirt (polo or short sleeve button up style) pressed he would pull it from the closet and I would happily iron. And I do mean happily because I fought that battle a long time ago to not whine or hate doing that task.

But see the gloss? I would do it when asked, even with a happy heart, but I didn’t invest the time to just go ahead and do it so that the shirts were hanging up waiting for him to need one. And I didn’t do it for any good reason other than I was “too busy” only the truth was I wasn’t busy doing anything other than looking busy.

Man, I sound ridiculous, don’t I? But what can I say? This is where I have been these days and what’s going on in my heart and mind.

This morning when he mentioned again how he was loving the shirts being ready in the closet and not knowing if I had turned over a new leaf or what,  I just told him it was my own way of stepping a little further into being a grown up.

That’s what it feels like really. As if I am maturing a bit…seeing myself a little more clearly, learning a little bit more about God and how he expects his people to be his people. Funny how that shows up in such mundane everyday things.

I will confess that today I decided to amp up the rockstar-ness in Rob’s eyes so I did two things. I made a trip to the cleaners (without him asking) to drop off the shirts because he had planned to do it and forgotten.

I also took our sixteen year old daughter driving. We are never in any hurry for our kids to get their permit or driver’s license according to when they legally can but we have really procrastinated teaching this particular child how to drive. (Probably because we have been too busy…ha!) For whatever reason it has been difficult for Rob and this daughter to uhhh, enjoy the father/daughter bonding over driving instruction. She makes him nervous which in turn makes her nervous and you can see how this cycle can break badly.

So, today I turned it up to eleven and took her driving.

Total rockstar.

Sharing with Candidly Christian.

 

Living the Life

To want to be a writer seems to be a very presumptuous thing to me. To author anything, be it a blog post, book, or even a twitter feed, is a rather arrogant undertaking. You are essentially saying, “I have had a thought that should be heard. Someone else needs to hear what I am thinking other than the me that walks the halls of my mind and heart.”

How is that not presumptuous or arrogant? Yet here I am, pen at the ready. Or more accurately, fingers at the keyboard.

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We like to be made much of. We can crave the praise of man and feel driven to pursue acceptance and notice. I remember what it was like when several years ago a blogpost of mine was commented on and reposted by a well respected gentleman in our circle, a ministerial peer, if you will, of my husband. Man, I felt like I had arrived! Or when someone unexpected would engage with a post? That was like I had a feather in my cap.

That kind of pride or desire for that praise is one of the reasons I didn’t write/blog for a while. The lines of what motivated me became a bit blurry and I didn’t (and still don’t) want what could be a good thing to become nothing more than a narcissistic work of the flesh. It’s why I still come to it with a bit of hesitancy.

So, why am I here? How do I know it is okay for me to claim this part of the cyber world and to write? And further more to put it out there and invite you to read my thoughts?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

When I was younger I would read that verse and envision a boisterous medieval style feast, colorful and loud with joy and merriment. Eating and drinking with no concern of gluttony or hangovers as long as a cup was raised in honor of the King and thanks was rendered. It meant that no task, no endeavor, was ever “too much” if it was done for and in the name of Christ.

That seems a wee bit foolish, doesn’t it? It would be easy to tack a “Cheers!” style attitude on to just about anything and call it good if that were true. No, doing all you do to the glory of God is not free reign to indulge as deeply and unconcernedly as we can because just a few verses prior to that admonition is the reminder that while all things may be lawful not all things are helpful.

What does it mean to glorify God in all that you do then? John Piper defines it like this, “Glorifying” means feeling and thinking and acting in ways that reflect his greatness, that make much of God, that give evidence of the supreme greatness of all his attributes and the all-satisfying beauty of his manifold perfections.”

That is my plumb line…it is what I put my writing up against and how I evaluate it. It’s how I take measure of every thought and action that I do and have. Does this ________________ accurately reflect the characteristics of my King? If someone comes across my words, or sees me cleaning my house, or practicing hospitality, managing my time, eating and drinking, if anything I do is seen by anyone , will they see God in it?

Is it okay, or lawful for me to write? Are my words gentle? Are they kind? Do they encourage and point people to Christ? Am I being obedient to what I should be writing or am I just flapping my chops, as the old timers used to say? If I can answer those questions correctly then let the words fly!

A lot of the reason I am more comfortable these days with wanting to write is because of of the books I have been reading and sermons I have been pondering, etc. One book in particular that sort of solidified things is You Who by Rachel Jankovic.

“We have a natural, God-given desire for glory, but it must have a healthy purpose. Glory to give, not glory to hoard. Glory to pass on. This bring tremendous freedom. We do not struggle to be glorious, but we struggle to give glory.”

It’s not just in being free to write because it is something I want to do. It’s about being free from trying to turn it into something. When the purpose in doing what we do is to glorify Him, is giving evidence of His greatness, then I can be content with what I’ve done. He is free to make as little or as much of it as He would like.

Living that way is truly living. All of our work becomes important. I do not need to search for meaning in my tasks or to over spiritualize washing dishes and doing laundry. I just do them joyfully, content to allow the glory of His provision, His restoration, to have their proper place and be revealed through my obedience in these mundane ordinary tasks.

Whatever you do, do as unto the Lord. I always took that verse to mean do your work like God is your boss. I’m wondering now if it might mean a little more than that. If it might also include a bit of doing as unto the Lord as reflecting back the work He has done and is doing? Less a do the work well because the Big Boss is watching but rather do the job well, no matter how simple or difficult, small or significant, because there is glory to give in that task?

Today is grocery shopping day. As the kids have gotten older and in school or able to be home alone I have settled into a rhythm and routine of doing that task in a quiet focused solitude. Today Sam and Claire will need to go with me. There will be no quiet solitude and my focus will be dancing all over the place because their focus will be doing the hokey pokey all over the place. I literally just stopped typing, reread that sentence and took a big bracing sip of coffee. That alone is enough to give me pause but we aren’t called to face our day with teeth gritted and a just get through it attitude.

The truth of the matter is that no matter what is on the agenda today for me or you, we can do it all to the glory of God. We should do it all to the glory of God.

And who knows? A trip to the grocery store with two of the biggest personalities in the house may yield a blog post or two 🙂

Sharing with Candidly Christian and   Tell His Story

 

On The Book Shelf

When I was around eleven years old I discovered the public library. It coincided with my family’s move in the middle of the school year to a new neighborhood where there were not a lot of kids on my street. I became a voracious reader. However, there wasn’t a lot of direction or guidelines and at that age I had zero discernment on what was good literature. Needless to say, I didn’t develop a love for the classics. One of the first books I ever checked out was called In Times Like These by Emilie Loring and thus began my journey into the world of romance novels. I wouldn’t call her work the sort of twinkie fiction you find on most shelves today, her stories are more along the lines of Grandma’s pound cake. The occasional slice is a treat but a steady diet will probably make you fat.(Through the years I have read all of her books and collected, gotten rid of, recollected, and lost almost all of her stories. Usually set anywhere from the 1920’s to the 1960’s her heroines were unfailingly cheerful in disposition, the girl always gets the guy, the bad guy always looses, some sort of mystery gets solved and to this day I find them to be endearing and would reread them. I am fascinated by her in general in that she didn’t write her first novel until she was fifty years old.)

Unfortunately, my book reading never really matured or grew. I read what was on the shelves at the store or I what I could easily get my hands on. I read for enjoyment, pure and simple. I wasn’t looking to learn or grow, just to be entertained in the way that most people enjoy movies. I became a fast reader and I always score high on vocabulary and comprehension tests so there’s that 🙂

Fast forward to life with a husband who was also voracious reader but a thinking one who read to be informed and enriched. He’d roll his eyes at ‘my stories’ but gave up trying to encourage me to broaden my reading horizons after meeting, much to my shame, resistance. We were in the early years of the child raising life phase and I read to relax and to a certain extent, escape the world of diapers. I didn’t want to work at reading. I didn’t want to engage my brain. I wanted respite.

Fast forward some more years and now those diaper clad children are in a classical christian school where reading good literature is encouraged and a regular part of life. They track how many minutes a month they read, they have a list of books full of things I have either never read or haven’t looked at since high school English Comp class, and they talk regularly about what they’re reading. The books are shaping and forming their thinking and, at times, entertaining them.

So I’m trying. I made a goal this year of reading a certain number of books. I’m expanding fiction to include more than the contemporary off the Walmart shelf repertoire (I do have a favored author coming out with a new book next month and I plan to read it) and I have discovered some fiction by old guys that I really enjoy. I’ve never been a huge Mark Twain fan but read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and it is in my top five all time favorite books ever.*

IMG_0299I just finished reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury and oh, my goodness, what a delightful and charming book! It was a nostalgic read. The kind that made you sigh when you finished it because you were so happy to have read it and sad that it was done.

 

I’m also trying to read more non fiction. The ladies in my church read The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosario Butterfield and it was challenging in all the right ways and sparked a lot of conversation.

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Right now I am reading Learning Contentment by Nancy Wilson and it is hitting closer to home more than I expected. One of the most startling things that came out of it was realizing that Jesus was not just obedient in going to the cross but that He was content in the Father’s will to do so. Not just take-a-deep-breath-gotta-do-what-He-says submissive but a satisfied contented determination to do His Father’s will. That kind of contentment seems next level, doesn’t it?

I want to read more biographies and I would like to learn how to read poetry. I still enjoy a good whodunit and other mysteries. Next on my list is Wind in The Willows which I long considered a children’s book that I missed out on but I’m learning that I need to go back and read some of those stories, fables, and fairy tales. They’re rich and deeper than one might expect. I feel a little old coming to these stories and basically in trying to learn how to read correctly (not just consuming and forgetting) but if Emilie Loring can wait until she is fifty before penning her first novel, and since I am surrounded by a community of readers all giving robust support to my endeavor, here I am.

So what are you reading these days? Anything you’d recommend?

*Technically I didn’t read A Connecticut Yankee, I listened to it being read by Nick Offerman and honestly I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. But the great debate surrounds the idea of what exactly do you call it when you listen to a book as opposed to reading a book? Some people believe you can say either one and others are adamantly against using the two words interchangeably. What say ye?

Being Quiet Where I Am

A Scripture verse that has always fascinated me is I Peter 3:4, “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”  (The emphasis is mine.)

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Truth be told I do not really have a very good picture in mind for what a gentle and quiet spirit looks like, not in real life. I usually conjure up old movies of bygone days with women in flowy dresses and strong broad shouldered men who handled everything. Of course her spirit was gentle and quiet…Cary Grant or John Wayne took care of everything that needed to be taken care of. She could continue her sewing or whatever because her life itself was gentle and quiet.

Obviously that Hollywood version is not what God was setting forth in Scripture, anymore than it was an actual reality of life.

All that is to say that the summer rhythm I mentioned a few weeks back has not made itself clear. I feel like we are sorting of lurching from one activity to another day to day. The activities aren’t bad or a waste of time either. It’s all things we want us to do be doing…helpful to others, stuff that is growing and enriching us. There are just a lot of us and a lot of them and only seven days in a week and right now and I feel like this week is full and done before it’s really even gotten started. It feels exactly like it used to when my children were little and I woke up after them instead of before them. Like I was playing catch up for the rest of the day instead of leading.

So maybe next week I need to be better at managing and tracking activities. But I have also figured out something more important than developing impressive organizing skills and better time management.

I must develop the skill and discipline of having a gentle and quiet spirit. Because let’s face it, the rhythm of life is always, without fail, going to occasionally rise to a crescendo when I’m still in the downbeat.  Or there will be the erratic drumbeat of some urgent something or other that adds a discordant distraction.

I cannot control all the variables that come and go in day to day living no matter how hard I try to act as the metronome for us. But I can make sure that my attitude, that hidden person of the heart, doesn’t start tapping out a panic tempo or worse, begins to play a cranky grumpy symphony that drowns out the melody of joy we should be tuned in to hear.

No matter the upset or upheaval, I do not want to add to the noise in a way that is neither helpful nor beautiful. I want to be quiet on the inside so that I can sort out the sounds and know which ones I should amplify. I want the song of my heart to be one that is fit to be heard by the King and encourages his people to sing along.

 

An Invitation

I started my first blog about fifteen years ago when the kids were little, the funny stories were plenty, and friends were overseas and it was a good way to keep up with us. The years passed, the kids got bigger, and the stories (albeit still funny) were fewer and the need to protect dignity became stronger and I still had things to say and talk about so a new blog was born.

Over the years it waxed and waned as taking pictures became a bigger part of my life. Then a few years ago, for various reasons, I stopped it all…the blogging, the picture taking and I just stepped back.  It’s been a season of winter in some ways. Roots have stretched down but the branches have stayed bare, its been a time of rest I guess you could say. Then this past school year I had the opportunity to help out a few days a week in our jr kindergarten class and it was so fun! But it also kept me busy. (Man, how do women work outside the home full time and still keep their sanity?)

For a while though I have been feeling the tug to come back to the blog world. The discipline of writing, the working out of my thoughts, and in some sense, the risk of it. Laying it out, putting myself out there, inviting others to share their thoughts to encourage and to grow. I’ve missed the conversations that can be born out of ideas that are shared and challenged and pushed to go further or to pull back and simplify.

I shared a devotion at a baby shower for one of our teachers last month and a few people asked for a copy and the idea took root to just put it here, to begin where I was in that moment instead of trying to finagle a start. And why only do one blog when you can do three so I added a recipe blog, She Feeds Her Family , and  Just a Glimpse since I still take the occasional picture.

They’re not the fanciest blogs because I am slooow in the technological department. Posts won’t always be funny or deep and meaningful but I hope some of them will be. I hope new conversations can be started as you share your thoughts via comments here or texts or emails, and even around your kitchen table and we will be better people for having spent the time together.

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The easiest way to know when a new post is up is to have them sent to your email or you can also just pop in anytime to see what I’m up. I hope you do. I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

 

Renewal

Back in September I joined a group of women from all over the world in a Bible reading challenge. It was the first time I seriously began to follow a plan in my Bible reading and something began to happen. It was not a specific passage or verse that caused it but the steady diet and consumption of the Word that began to have an effect on me.

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I began to feel a kind of restlessness…who I was, what I do and why. It wasn’t this big noisy conversation and I would not have been able to articulate it at all. It was just a steady unspoken shifting of things. Life was moving along as usual but there was this current flowing behind the scenes that was doing something.

I believe that both Old and New testaments tell one story of God and His people but as I read every day the consistency and connection became stronger and stronger. I wasn’t doing anything wrong per se but I was beginning to question my motives. A few months further along and I can see Romans two was at work “…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  

Things that had been easy before, enjoyed before, were becoming a burden. A certain discontent, not with the actual doing but the reason for doing, was growing. Something needed to change. And one day the words just spilled out and things sort of clicked in place.

I’m setting my camera down and I closed the old blog. There was a tremendous feeling of relief when that decision was made.  I have a few photo commitments to complete and I will still do things for the school but I will not be taking or pursuing sessions in the new year. (Except birth photography. Rob and I discussed it and that is an avenue I will happily tread down whenever the opportunity presents itself.)

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with What Marty Sees. From the beginning I struggled with its purpose. There are some posts that I think can stand the scrutiny of motivations and I am trying to figure out how to hold on to them for future references. Also, quite a few recipes that have been shared and pinned that may get a reboot here.

Change, even good change, comes with the loss of one thing in favor of another. Sometimes we pursue the change and sometimes that change is thrust upon us. Either way I am learning more deeply how the life I live must line up with what I say I believe He says about life lived as His child.

Romans two begins as a call to death. The way to discern His will is to first die, gladly offering self as a sacrifice…an act of worship. Paul goes on to tell us to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought but rather with sober judgement. Obviously, it’s not a call to naval gaze and self assessment but rather to look at the Father, to learn more fully His character and that of His Son. And as His Spirit draws us we can easily see and judge what is not good, acceptable or perfect and leave it behind.

Let love be genuine.

Hold fast to what is good.

Rejoice in hope.

Be constant in prayer.

Rejoice.

Weep.

Never be wise in your own sight.

Overcome evil with good.

God is the God of renewal, of redemption, of resurrection. He has already asked if old dried up bones can yet live and answered, “I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Know that He is Lord.