Why You Should Turn Off Your Radio and Listen to Brandon Bee’s Music.

My husband and I are both creatives of sorts. This means we often look at various forms of word-art (poetry, song writing, books) with an eye for learning, appreciation, as well as an eye for critique. That being the case, I won’t lie, we both hate listening to KLove. The supply and demand of most mainstream music these days doesn’t leave much time or room for creativity. Mass production seems emphasized over the product.

Thankfully, we both feel like there’s a true resurgence among truly creative Christians learning to use the gifting and personality God has given them. Writers like N.D. Wilson and Lore Wilburt are rocking it these days. Chad Bird writes some fantastic, modern-day hymns (as well as my husband, for that matter).  We have a personal favorite in-home Renaissance artist of sorts at Refuge who’s pieces have at times been on display around our house. And once (ok, twice) upon a time, we were blessed to have Brandon Bee as our worship pastor.

BB

Brandon moved to Ogden, Utah with his lively family (now a fun family of nine, because, yes, his wife is a superwoman!) just after I graduated college with my degree in creative writing. It was hard for me to figure out how my creative giftings fit into the church body and I kind of neglected them for a while. In getting to know Brandon and seeing how his unique gifts showed the reality and active personality of God I realized God has created and called creatives into His body for a purpose: to glorify Him with our gifts. To show others some aspect of who He is that only they are uniquely equipped to do.

My job at Deeply Rooted includes reviewing and crafting content for our print issues, as well as online blog. This means I spend a lot of time reading Christian creative writing. If all on geek out over content. I love dreaming up entire issues around themes. I love getting to know a writer’s strength and then seeing them edify the body of Christ through their words. All this being said, I’ve spent quite a bit of time getting to know what makes a truly unique, creative writer, and Bee is definitely one of the best creative songwriters and musicians out there.

I’ll never forget the Sunday when he first sang the line, “The bloody hands of yours cleaned the dirty hands of mine. Eternal scars of yours, healed the eternal scars of mine.” I knew there was absolutely no way a song like that could end up on the radio, elevating the gore of the cross to a place of praise. I made sure to tell him how much I loved the words and the visual it gave in inducing worship in my heart. He laughed and said something like, “I thought of you when I picked that song for today.” Creatives get other creatives.

Aside from the above song, I think one of my other absolute favorite of Bee’s, which is on his new EP album, and it’s titled Remain. If memory serves me well, this song was written while his family lived out here and we still sing it often on Sundays in our church. I love that Bee ties the meaning of the name Emmanuel into the fact that God chooses to stay by, with, and in His children.

I Celebrate the Lord is another upbeat favorite. Bee brought all the kid’s in our Christmas Eve service up on stage one year and sang it with them. Come on! Only a dad of seven kids would think of something as adorable and genius as that!

So, if you’re bored of Christian car radio music and you’re looking for something new thought provoking, please pick up Bee’s newest album, Songs from the Sky.

songs from the sky.jpg

In Christ,

Lexy

 

Musings on Why Millennials *Really* Aren’t Having Children.

 

I made the mistake of listening to some millennial, hipster-type folk discuss their reasonings for not wanting to have children. This is a topic I hear discussed often, but as I make my way through the end of my third pregnancy, struggling really for the first time with the intensity of physically laying down my life for the sake of another, I am genuinely nettled as I listen in on the wisdom of the world.

We hear it all the time: Kids wreck your life. Your body. Your home. Your sleep. Your vintage, green and blue dinner plates. The strawberries you just transplanted. Your ideal vacations. It’s true, you can’t go to the bathroom without some little person sending out a search party. And then celebrating right in front of you when you’ve been found. While you’re sitting, sighing, and still on the toilet.

When viewing it one way, parenting is a full frontal offensive on cherished parts of yourself. It’s an offense on my ability to do what I want, when I want, and how I want. It’s an offense on my desire to get nine hours of sleep at night. It’s an offense on my dreams of having a curated, minimalist home. It’s an offense on my goals to have leisurely mornings. It’s an offense on my grocery budget and the inner Nutritional-Priestess that never wants to see a box of Goldfish or Graham Crackers behind our cupboard doors. It’s an offense on the many writing projects I’d love to accomplish and books I’d love to read.

The heart of the problem? It’s an offense on my selfishness. 

When viewing it appropriately, in light of capital-T Truth and the help of God’s grace (and not what culture is telling you), parenting is one of the most beautiful pursuits a person can have.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

My generation isn’t having as many kids as previous generations. But my generation also doesn’t have appropriately ordered affections: for Christ, as well as for other eternal things (like people). The reason the idea of becoming a parent is so horrifying to some is that it’s a call to come and die. Now that I’ve been one for a few years, it really is the clearest picture, aside from marriage, of the gospel I will have this side of seeing Jesus face to face.

Thank God—literally—that He is not a parent who valued hobbies that made him feel satisfied more than He valued the cost of sending His son to die for enemies. (Some days, yes, kids do feel like enemies.) I’m so glad He didn’t abandon me in my sin for some better career opportunity. Or a fun Instagram-able trip to Iceland. Or getting to the next level on his Xbox game.

My generation thinks real life and accomplishment lies in the art and design degree. Writing a book. Making a platform for ourselves. Reaching our next level of ideal success, be it whatever your heart can desire or imagine. If you call yourself a Christian, this is a problem. Why? Because in no way does this reflect the mind of Your Savior.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Phil. 2:5-8

Feminists, what you call your strength, your empowerment, I call your weakness.

Consider these two thoughts:

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

“Your Liberty will flourish, protected by God and man, so long as you hold it – not as the right to use or abuse your faculties in the direction it may please you to select – but as the right of free choice . . . of the means of doing good.” -Mazzini 

My problem with so-called “Christian” Feminists who talk about female empowerment that informs their decisions on childlessness and lengthy career pursuits, etc, is that what’s really going on is slavery to self. (And by the way, I am a mom and I have my dream job. I have had a paid position on staff as the Content Editor for Deeply Rooted Magazine for going on four years now. I travel for work. I write what I want, when I want. I get to chat with, write with, and physically hang out with “Christian celebrities,” if you will. I have enough work, paid and unpaid, that I regularly turn down projects. Honestly, this doesn’t matter, but my point is that I’m not “wasting” my brain as a stay at home mom). You’re enslaved to the newest version of female power that culture has created. Enslaved to sinfulness. (Also, in this particular conversation not once did any of the men or women I heard talking say they were forgoing having kids for the sake of reaching the nations with the gospel. That may be the only viable reason in my mind to, for the lifespan of a marriage, resist having kids. And even then, you should probably just be single if that’s the case.)

The strongest women in my life are those who have taken it upon themselves to reflect the beauty of the gospel through childbearing. They are beautiful because they are spending themselves for others. They are those who put in the literal twelfth load of laundry on a Monday afternoon, folding and putting away clean clothes with prayers, while dinner is bubbling away on the stove, that this hard work of faith (parenting) is making a difference for future generations. It’s a walk of faith because a lot of the time things do look like Hurricane Chaos came through the door, even if the victims (and inventors) of the storm are running around with huge grins on their faces.

But, I really can’t say it anymore bluntly: Sister, but if you actively chose to forego having kids, you are missing out on so much life, joy—and yes, mess—but beautiful mess. Jesus Himself said there is a certain type of life one can only walk in after a person has died (John 12:24). Remember, death is offensive. It’s supposed to be. Jesus died to break the claim and offense that death and sin had on us. But the joy that Christ offers us in Himself is not even worth comparing to the things we lose when the new subway tile gets cracked or you lose a few hours of sleep this week.

Christ’s Kingdom is a paradox. Ladies, this means that those who are least among us, who get down on their knees and clean up the oatmeal from the hardwood floors morning after morning, who stay up late into the night listening to troubled teens, who give themselves to caring for sick kids, and yes—who set aside a career for the mind-challenging, strengthening, and growing work of raising humans for the Lord—will be honored with glory in God’s Kingdom.

 boys.jpg

So, Christians, husbands, and wives: please pursue the most dynamic life and marriage you can, and that comes by means of creating other unique humans, and personalities, to learn about, to challenge you, to serve, and to make you more of who you actually are than that twenty year career ever will. Go with the abundant grace Christ offers you and let the offensive calling of parenting be the very means by which God brings about holiness in you.

In Christ

 

The Worries of the Prudent.

“When Jesus says we are wise to limit ourselves to this-present-day focus, he teaches us not that we must never think about tomorrow, but that this day in front of us contains enough within it to sustain our attention and purpose.” Sensing Jesus, pg. 71-2

“Therefore [because God clothes and provides generously and graciously for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field vs. 25-30] do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient is the day for its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34

Somewhere along my Christian walk I stumbled and began to think that good stewardship meant looking out for yourself, taking care of yourself, working for yourself. “Because nobody is looking out for you, Lexy!” 

I think this belief set in when I started having kids and needed to preserve my energies as much as possible in order to take care of any unforeseen issues that may pop up. “Sit down tonight with your family and a cup of hot tea? Only the foolish and lazy rest.” Many in the Christian community often call this prudence. Good planning. Common sense. Wisdom. We think and believe, “Wisdom looks like work.” This is true, cruciform wisdom gone wrong, a belief that my work actually guarantees and earns my rest. Simply put, we often believe and act on this false gospel through ceaseless planning, scheduling, and worrying.

15873338_10157983692470503_8686984876485367157_n.jpg

Due to this faulty belief that I’m slowly unraveling and piecing back together with truth, I struggle to believe that just focusing on one day at a time really is enough. I have a hard time ceasing from over plan for the next day, and the next, and the next.

My actual thoughts sometimes: “But if I don’t prepare a breakfast tonight, who will!?”

As if I am the sole originator and provider of sustenance. Yeah right.

But is Matthew 6, Jesus says this day is enough. So, even if I don’t get it, even if I feel lazy, like I’m failing Him somehow in my stewardship, if He says it, that has to be plenty for me to act on it. After all, Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived.

Now the real heart problem is revealed.

It’s a trust issue. I must trust Jesus’ wisdom, which says, “Cease from work and worry and trust me.” I must cease from trusting my own wisdom, which says, “Keep working! You’ve got to look out for yourself! After all, you’re plans are practical. He can’t be trusted.”

The funny thing is I overplay with the end goal of rest an recreation in mind. But the older I get I’m realizing I never move much closer to that goal. Why? Because there’s always something more I remember to do, think to do, plan to do. Jesus is, sadly, and, more often than not, never enough for me to sit and behold. I’m growing to trust that sitting at his feet, and not being in the kitchen, is the better portion.

In Christ

A Year of Wasted Hours.

I was excited to sit down and work my way through this survey this week. Lore Ferguson Wilbert posted it, so I knew it would be thoughtful and and helpful.

But what I didn’t know was that reflecting this would would include a time of grief and mourning over my sin.

Exiting 2016 and going in to 2017, I have one major takeaway:

Time spent angry is an absolute waste of time.

I did cry a bit over all the wasted hours and days I looked back on this year. They were the result of a plethora of reasons, but behind them was a lie that the anger would somehow produce the result I wanted. Nope.

“…the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:20

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” Psalm 37:8

There is no wisdom in ungodly anger. It is not constructive. It is not helpful.

Friends, by the grace of God, by all means, all means, flee anger this year!

The comforting thing that happened while I went through this surprising process of mourning over my sin was the God reminded me that just as His mercies are new every day, His mercies are new for every year He gives us. 2016 is truly over. Grace covers 2016. Grace is covering and leading me into 2017, and it can do the same for you. This is the joy I look forward to Tomorrow.

15741178_10157976997425503_95984131809840335_n.jpg

There were other constructive, encouraging things that came out as a result of my time spent praying through these things with the Lord. I’ll probably be saying no to a lot of things and people this year. God’s reminding me to pursue the considerableness of loving Him and others in my home well. I hope to take off the expectations off of myself, and others, and put them only on the Lord. I want to cultivate joy in the work God has wisely given me in my family. I want to continue to grow into the grace God has richly supplied me through Christ Jesus.

In Christ,

Lexy

2016 Reading List

I meant to publish this a few weeks before Christmas as gift ideas for all the readers out there, but…we are just now recovering from almost a month long of being sick. So that didn’t happen. 😉 Instead, these can be books to add to your 2017 lists!

By the way, do you guys create specific reading plans? How do you schedule reading, if at all? I am in now way good at scheduling any sort of reading. I have a stack of books I received for Christmas that I’d love to work through this next year, but other than that, I just add books as they interest me.

Anyways, here we go! These are the books I read in the last year and a few short thoughts on each to help you decide if they’d be a fit for you.

P.S. There will only be a few must read books on the list. If you don’t know where to start or what to read this year, start with those.

//

Personal reads:

Minds More Awake by Anne White

This is a Charlotte Mason book. Personally, it’s my least favorite of all the modern CM books I’ve read. I hate to admit that. I just have a soft spot for For the Children’s Sake. 

The Pastor’s Wife by Gloria Furman

This book was convicting. As a pastor’s wife it’s so easy to feel sorry for yourself. Like…so…so easy. Gloria helped me see that every single woman getting to church on a Sunday morning has a unique set of challenges they are facing in order to be there. She also talked about how Christians in general would value the gathering of the body more if we had a better ecclesiology. And her personal story as a pastor’s wife? I will just say, after getting to know her a bit more personally this year and reading up on her family’s personal journey in church planting, the joy she has is truly supernatural.

Word Filled Women’s Ministry

Those who plan women’s ministry events, bible studies, etc can so often get caught up in the voices that demand we “meet all the needs.” This book really helped simplify my thoughts on how to actually meet all the needs of the women in our church from various backgrounds and seasons of life: seek to glorify God and you will indeed meet the needs of the ladies in your local church.

The Secret to Spiritual Joy by Bill Farley

Farley helped me connect my lack of joy with pride. If we really understood we actually deserve hell, then we will be truly joyful and content in any situation we happen upon here on earth because we know it’s better than what we deserve.

Hoodwinked by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk

Each chapter of this book addressed specific lies we believe about the roles God calls us to as women. I really loved it!

An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture by Andrew Davis

Honestly, rereading this title as a book I read early this year was extremely convicting.

Why? Because I haven’t kept up with the practices described.

BUT. If you struggle with memorization, like I do, this method was so, so, so helpful. I’ve tried lots of different tips, but his suggestions in here are the only things that have actually helped me memorize lengthy portions of scripture. And his suggestions are laid out in such a way that I only had to dedicate a few minutes a day to it, not feeling guilty the entire day long for not going over my verse enough times. The one solid chunk approach was so helpful. A definite purchase if you want to grow in this area this year.

The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney

The Things of Earth- Treasuring God By Enjoying His Gifts.jpg

This book was an assigned reading of sorts from my husband. And I am so. thankful. he made me read it! This book almost single handedly helped me recover from disordered thoughts about food, grow in actually finding joy and pleasure from God’s creation instead of abstaining from pleasure out of pride, and getting to a place where I am totally ok that God actually created someone with a brain to create corn syrup. Sounds dumb, but those are major issues for people in our culture today.

This book is a must read.

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick

I loved and hated this book. The first section was super helpful. The second felt really law based.

And then I heard Elyse (the author) talk about how law based it was. And I laughed. She talked about how this was the last book she wrote before realizing she was totally missing the gospel. That being the case, it was a good read, but keep that in mind.

The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin

This book addresses the idea that women can have clean, organized homes, all the while having completely neglected their heart. In the eyes of Christ, an orderly heart is of more importance. It can go into any chaotic situation and bring peace and calm. A great, short read for women who struggle with control, cleanliness, and harshness with messy people in their homes.

The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge

This was the first fiction I’ve picked up in a while. It was pretty good. Goudge is a must read among some of the circles I run in, so I had to see what she was all about. She was a believer.

For the Family’s Sake by Macaulay

I really loved this follow up to For the Children’s Sake. This is where my husband and I got our idea for challenging Ari to grow in the discipline of hiking/walking this year. So many great ideas for the family in here. Many will easily take her writing as law, but I am growing to understand as families we simply must have a road maps and ideals in order to get anywhere helpful with our family. They are means of common grace, not necessarily law.

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

Sigh. Everyone knows how I love EE. And after learning some more intimate details about her personal life this year, my respect for the words this woman was able to pen through this book specifically is amazing. She truly did walk the talk.

I’d still love to figure out how to get a short chapter from this book in my daily readings, but have yet to do so. She bases the chapters on Trotter’s paintings. If you don’t know who Lillias Trotter is, look her up now!

At BBC Corner I Remember Amy Carmichael by Margaret Wilkinson

This is a special book I purchased directly from Amy Carmichael’s orphanage, The Donhauver House. It was special to me because it’s a series of letters from one of the missionaries who worked at the orphanage. It showed the relationship and knowledge Carmichael have of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education.

Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson

This was my first read in a series of paradigm shifts I did in regards to legalistic parenting. I know many in my crowd simply wouldn’t agree with some of what he said, but he helped me widen my tool box of discipline.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Any Anne of Green Gable’s fans? Well, I found out that Montgomery wrote this book for adults this year. What a sweet read!

Give Them Grace Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

Give-Them-Grace.png

This was the gospel-infused help I needed in my parenting. One of the authors told me to start with chapters 9, then 10, then read from chapter one on, so if you read, I suggest you do that as well. Some will say this is just another law, but again, this advice was super helpful, common grace God used in my life and family this year. This also singlehandedly helped me see how to apply grace into all relationships this year.

This book is a must read.

Found in Him by Elyse Fitzpatrick

This book is a condense, more devotional version of the following book I will list. So, so helpful to grow in your understanding of the implications of the gospel.

As a teacher and Christian in community, this last year my husband and I realized just how many Christians in our circles literally couldn’t articulate the gospel when asked, let alone even figured out how to applies to all of life. This book is a helpful tool to take small steps to growing in that area.

This book is a must read if you can’t dive in to the next book.

Counsel from the Cross by Fitzpatrick and Johnson

I still believe this is the book you should all be reading.

Extravagant Grace by Barbara Duguid

extravagant-grace-3-730x550

This book helped me see that I needed to extend God’s sovereignty into how I viewed the sanctification of other’s around me. It showed how God can literally still be glorified in Christians who will struggle with lifelong, indwelling sin patterns. This book showed me the church must make room for the weakest among us. This book helped me (I think?) be an all around more patient person.

This book is a must read.

Good News for Weary Women by Fitzpatrick

I love this book because it exposed so many of the works based systems women live by. Dress sexier in order to keep your man. Eat organic to ensure life into your 70’s. Homeschool to get godly kids. Etc. Etc. Etc. And women, aren’t we tired? This book has so much gospel goodness for the soul. All that matters in the eyes of Christ is that you sit at His feet and learn from him.

Galatians by Luther

This took me several months to get through, reading small bits at a time in the morning, but so worth it. It helped me realize the faithfulness to the gospel and desire to hold fast to grace alone is not a new fad. Faithful men and women have been pushing for these same things for hundreds of years. Such a great, reformed classic.

Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins

This is an autobiography written by a homeschooling mom about her and her family. I love it because she had 7 (I think…or 8?) boys and one girl. It was deeply convicting at parts because she revealed some of the idols homeschooling moms deal with, but she addressed them with helpful grace. Such a funny, light, encouraging read.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

I was looking for an adult type living nature book and this was the suggestion given to me. This book showed me how generous God is in creation and convicted me to live that same way in my life. It helped me to notice and pay attention more which in turn helped better my craft of writing.

Home by Elyse Fitzpatrick

This is a great meditation on what heaven may be like. It helped me feel ok to not ever be ok in this world.

The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

One of the descriptions on this book said it gave a “strong vision for motherhood” and I definitely agree. Clarkson at her finest.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

This book taught me that you can love the human race as a whole, without loving any single individual human.

Think about that. It’s challenging.

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

I was so excited to spot this rare book in a thrift store a few months ago! If you like L.M. Montgomery, you’d love this!

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

This was my first introduction to Berry and I’m hooked! This book reminds you to care and tend for the place that you are in. I’ve heard many describe Berry as being able to give honor to the strong call of domesticity in the life of women. Definitely a classic author to add to your list. His essays are great too. I’m pretty sure the guy still doesn’t own a computer. And he’s a real farmer. Yes, those still exist. That’s the point of his writing.

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

If you like linguistics, this historical fiction is right up your alley. So interesting! Did you know a good portion of the Oxford dictionary was written by a man in an asylum? No, no. He was in there before he undertook the job, but can you imagine!?

Warning: One of the main characters has a sexual addiction. Nothing too sketchy is talked about, but it is addressed frankly as part of his condition.

 

Happy reading!

In Christ,

Lexy

Are we planning for grace?

The following passages are taken from one of the best books I’ve read this year, Pursing Health in an Anxious Age, by Bob Cuticle, chapter three, “As It Was in the Beginning.”

The chapter itself opened with the quote by Gilbert Meilaender, which says, “The true God … will always disappoint our desire for independence and self-sufficiency.” I knew from that quote alone this was going to be one of those sort of chapters that hurts so good. And I was right.

//

“We are continent beings.”

“…suffice it to say Adam and Eve chose a world of their own making rather than live in dependent creatureliness in the garden.

“Highly influenced by the cultural air we breathe and our assumption that weakness and limitations are bad, we choose to control outcomes to exclude these possibilities  [of good or bad] whenever we can.” [Side note: before sin entered the world, God created Adam and Eve with limitations and many forms of dependencies. These were included in God’s mind and thought when He also declared the creation of these creatures “Good!”]

When we forget God is a caring, sovereign, redeeming agent in the world… “we cease to experience a world that guarantees us a place in the total scheme of things. Not knowing where we belong, each one of us is forced to find our own way. This places intense pressure on the reliability of our personal decisions, thus making us uniquely anxious in our choices. No wonder we plan incessantly in order to minimize chance and contingency. If we get it wrong, so we think, there is nothing in a hostile and impersonal universe that will rescue us. It certainly adds to the worry and anxiety with which most people pursue health and fear sickness today. Every uncertainty, every contingency that makes the world less predictable and more beyond our control, is a source of great dis-ease. So we reach for every new technique and technology that will enable us to regain control [think: new diet fads, minimalist trends, etc]. Alone and unsure of our place in an uncaring universe, we rely on our knowledge of good and bad and the technical solutions [Ex: minimize your personal belongings…] that promise deliverance […to gain a more peaceful home, happier children, etc].”

“As the book of Genesis closes, Joseph’s words to his brothers [who abused him and sold him into slavery] give us good news for an anxious age: ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me …, but God intended it for good … to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid” (Gen. 50:19-21). That God remains an active agent in the world and is able to incorporate even the things we assume bad into greater plan that can be good has the possibility to drastically change the way we pursue health and face sickness [or everyday bumps in the road, things we didn’t plan for]. … The Idea that God is good, that God seeks communion with us, and that God has power and intention to work out good no matter the bad leaves us open to a much wider range of hopes and expectations than the singular one of health at all costs and with any technique.”

//

Anyone else out there offended with me?

What has been sticking in my brain since reading that before bed a few nights ago are these two things: 1) the author’s description of the person who plans incessantly to minimize pain and maximize efficiency is me. to. a. capitol. T. and 2) before reading this I literally viewed the world as an uncaring, hostile universe with nobody in control, nobody there to save me, so I’ve certainly gotta figure it out for myself! This thought led to living out number one.

So, instead, what I’ve been reminding myself is to plan for grace. 

The burden of anticipating every possible out one of a situation was never meant to be my place. That is wisdom beyond me. Plus, that means I view weakness as bad, when God views it as good, even a possibility to display His glory.

Psalm 55:22 says we are to cast our burdens on the Lord and He will sustain and care for us.

Getting practical, the moment you show up for a doctor appointment and forget the snack and toys to keep thereby quiet in the waiting room, see the grace God provides in the friendly lady beside you who is willing to chat and smile at your baby the entire time, keeping them so busy that the half an hour  of waiting felt like two minutes. (Any of you who are moms know these are the real, nitty, gritty things that make up the moments of anxiety in our days, however silly and mundane they sound. They are small reflections of the bigger heart problem.)

1 Peter 5:7 reminds us also that we are to be casting all our anxieties on us because He cares for us.

We sang a familiar hymn in church today, one most of you know yourself.

“My name is graven on his hands, 
my name is written on his heart.” 

Do I actually believe that He cares that much about me that He’s tatted my name onto his very being (even metaphorically speaking)?

Only because of Christ’s righteous covering on me can I say with certainty, “Yes!” And it’s that same covering that attracts God’s care. Because, guess what? He doesn’t remember your sin, the way you were a stinker to your husband last night, or self-indulgent in doing what you wanted to do instead of getting up to help and serve your family.

God is in the business of stepping into hard situations and pouring out his grace. Providing. Redeeming circumstances.

ira.jpg

God always provides. I know this. He does. But something I’ve realized recently is that I don’t always like the way He provides. I think it should be one way, but He provides in another. I saw this last week when Ira was sick for 9 days straight. I had no idea what to do with Ari inside for that long. Littles boys, mine at least, don’t do well indoors for more than a day straight, let alone nine. I felt God needed to heal Ira of his sickness so we could get outside and burn off some energy. But as a truly miraculous form of grace and divine maturity in Ari’s life, we spent most of the week literally occupying himself with various toys around the house while mommy and daddy took turns cuddling Ira to sleep on the couch. He helped. He listened. He was way more responsive than usual. Was Ira still sick? Yep. Was I still tired? Yep. Did we get much sleep? No. But God provided and met my need and Ari’s needs. He allowed me to see His hand literally at work in the life of my oldest child, so I could sit humbled and declaring with Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Maybe these things don’t matter to you, but I’m having major mind renewal over here. I stepped outside today being assured of that fact that no matter what small sufferings came my way, the one in control of it all is going to be for me for all of eternity.

Friends, let’s rest as we plan and anticipate God’s grace!

In Christ

 

A World of Octobers.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Anne Shirley was on to something here. I woke up early this morning, had my cup of cream and coffee, and was settling in on the couch, recording the date in my notebook when I thought about this quote.

Ari spent last night “camping” with grandparents, so Ira and I had a quiet trip to the thrift store this morning. We picked up a few trinkets to bring a little warmth into our new home this fall season: wooden candle sticks, a basket, a wooden recipe box, some winter clothes.

We returned home and had an early lunch. He napped while I cleaned counters of the remaining sourdough tortillas he helped me make this morning. I boiled water for tea, then headed to the attic for the daily two pages of writing and some reading.

When he woke up we waited in the front yard for Oma and Papa. We piled in their car, picked up daddy, and heading to a small pumpkin patch in the mountains for a change of scene. It rained on us as we pulled in to the drive and had to stall our train ride by a few minutes. The only one really upset about this was the loud three-year-old in the backseat.

All in all, it was a great first day of fall in my book. Because in my book fall begins October 1st.

And all day long I kept thinking, “God made a world where Octobers exist. He didn’t have to, but He did.”

Tolkien talks about an aspect of faerie being the recognition that something existing in the natural world – a tree thick with acorns – and recognizing that it didn’t actually have to be made that way. The faerie element lies in the reimagining, sub-creation, I believe he calls this. Instead of acorns in the tree, God could have created a tree that produces hanging lanterns each night at dusk, closing and receding in the morning twilight. He didn’t, but He could have.

But God, when ordering the Universe, planned the rhythms of October into our year. Maybe He didn’t have this exact name for it in mind. He calls them seasons, I suppose? Now this is just presumption. I’ll ask Him one day.

Needless to say, He could have made the world full of emerald Mays or gray Januarys. But He didn’t. He considered our form and brought about the autumnal season of October. He knows we are creatures. He know we enjoy mugs of hot syrupy-goodness, the warmth of fires, sweet treats that grow on trees (truly, this is miraculous when you think more than a moment about it!), darker, stormier days, retreating indoors for a season, and one pot meals shared over full tables.

october

What does this say about the Inventor of October?

I was reminded of how well He knows me. How creative He is. How generous and gracious. How good He is to give me a whole season, every single year, where I can revel in scarves, sweaters, blankets, long socks, and jackets. He knows we humans need a change of scene, something we aren’t often quick enough to give ourselves to keep plugging away.

This reminds me of how I don’t have to share extra chocolate chips with my little boys when they’re baking with me, but I do. Does this seem trivial to you? Do you think the treasured chocolate candy is trivial to my children? I hope not.

God didn’t have to create such a delightful season, but He did. For me and you to enjoy.

In Christ