Sign Me Up!
Monthly Archives: August 2015
“Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11
Unite my heart to fear your name.
I have a divided heart. Every day my heart is divided, between the things of this world and the things from above, between what Jesus wants me to do and what my flesh wants me to do. There are so many temptations surrounding me, pulling me away from the purpose God has on my life, the purpose He has on every day He gives me.
It’s easy to think God has a purpose for our life and look at that as a future-focused idea. Yes, God has a purpose for me, somewhere out there in front of me. Once I get past this certain stage in my life. Once I’m spending more time with Him. Once I have more time in the Word. Once I have more time, period. But God has a purpose for my life now, today, in whatever I am doing, however I am doing it. That’s intimidating. But it’s also exciting. I don’t have to wait until I get some big dramatic call on my life for me to follow Him, to follow his plan for me.
All I have to do is allow Him to teach me his ways, that I may walk in his truth. And that’s a process. An ongoing process, one that won’t be finished until we see glory. It’s an everyday process, one that can and must happen in the day to day of our ordinary lives.
Teach me your way, O Lord.
In order for Him to do this, I have to read the Bible. How else am I supposed to learn his way? I wish I could say this was easy for me, but unfortunately I struggle constantly with it. Why is it so hard to just sit down for a few minutes every day and read a few verses? I can’t even use the excuse that I don’t have time to read. I read every night before I go to sleep. I read during my son’s naps. I read things on the Internet way more often than I should. Why is it so hard to read the Bible? I hate it.
But this is what has to happen for me to walk in his truth. I can’t just hope and pray that his truth will magically descend upon me as I go through my day. Not to say that prayer isn’t huge in this process, but I can’t expect God to teach me his ways without going to his Word to see what He says about himself. I’m just not that good of a pray-er. No one is.
And this divided heart thing. It’s sort of a chicken or egg predicament. Am I not walking in his truth because my heart is divided, or is my heart divided because I’m not walking in his truth? Maybe a little bit of both. Certainly the reason I’m not in the Word as much as I should be is that my divided heart seeks other things to fill it. But on the other hand, the more time I spend with Him, and the more I learn about Him, the less divided my heart is, and the more dedicated it is to Him.
And here’s where I should provide some neatly packaged answer to how to fix this predicament. Except I don’t have the answer. But there’s always grace. And I know if I seek Him, even in my own half-hearted ways, He will honor my seeking (Matthew 7:7). Thank goodness I don’t have to do this alone, without his help.
I walked into the bathroom of a coffee shop in Germantown a few days ago and read the words “It’s never too late to start your day over” painted boldly on the wall. And I thought to myself, hmm, I guess that’s right isn’t it.
Gosh how many times have I needed to start my day over, especially since becoming a mom. It’s too often that I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, already tired, already cranky, ready to take on the day with all of the peacefulness and joy of a rabid dog. What a sad way to start a new morning, a renewal of life, a receiving of His new mercies (Lamentations 3:23).
And you know what? Sometimes I have good reason to wake up cranky. I haven’t slept well, my son hasn’t slept well, he woke up at five, I woke up at five, I’m dehydrated, it’s hot…the list is long and varied. I don’t always have good reason to wake up chipper in the morning, start my day off right. But you know what? That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. And it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give myself a do-over, at any time of the day, if things just haven’t been going so well for me.
I find myself snapping at Marshall as we make breakfast. I’m impatient with Shook when he’s asking me for something, wanting me to play catch when I haven’t finished my coffee, asking to be held when I’m cleaning the dishes. I hate it, and I wish I didn’t do it, but more often than I would like to admit, that’s how my days begin.
It’s never too late to start your day over.
Listen to the prophet:
16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
This isn’t just a case of the morning blues, is it? This guy is depressed. He is low, he is hopeless. He sounds like he has plenty of reasons to be having a bad morning. Read the rest of the chapter, the rest of the book, and you’ll see that he’s had a rough road. Most of us would be inclined to cheer him on in his lament, man you have every right to complain, let it all out, grab yourself a pint of ice cream and just sit there in your sorrow. If I were in your shoes, I’d be right where you are.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
31 For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.
Oh how I need this reminder to be able to start my day over. It’s a simple “but,” that’s all I need. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. Do you need to start your day over? It’s never too late.
I’m reading The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg, and a couple of things she says in it really resonated with what I’ve been thinking and feeling about writing recently.
I mentioned before that I was scared when I had my other blog, and I want to strive to be really honest this time around. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still scary. And I guess what she helped me realize is that it should be scary, writing, if we are doing it correctly, because we are not avoiding the things we are afraid of.
“What we avoid corrupts and deforms us—we are always twisting away from it. And it shows in our writing, in the way we sit and walk.”
So if I’m avoiding things in my writing, whether it be because they are too true, or hit too close to home, or are too scary to think about or put out to the public, I’m being corrupted in a way by that avoidance. If I’m constantly skirting the real issue, the deepest, most meaningful things in life, because they are too hard to write about, it will come out in my writing. People can see through walls we try to put up, in life as well as in writing, at least if they are paying attention.
Even as I write this, I’m thinking about all of the deep, true things I could write about, and it scares me a little. A big part of me wants to ignore them, to write above them, around them. I can be entertaining with surface level writing, and maybe I can even go a little below the surface to keep people engaged for a while. But really, who wants to read that junk? The reason I even started writing almost fifteen years ago (What?!?! Talk about scary) was to have an outlet to talk and think about the real stuff, the stuff I thought none of my friends wanted to talk about or know about me, my deepest darkest thoughts and secrets (like any good high school diary should be). So why, now, should I betray those first desires, that first decade or so of writing that was only ever for me, precisely for my deepest and scariest self?
There are enough people in the world writing just to be heard, standing on top of hot-button subjects and giving their boxed-up opinions about them. And I guess there is a place for them. But I want my place as a writer to be in people’s hearts, and in order to do that I have to write from my heart, from what is really going on inside of me. I don’t want to twist away from the real things. I want to write truth.
(Some of you may be wondering, “Is she ever going to actually start writing about all of these things she keeps talking about writing about?” Well, you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out now, won’t you.)
It’s been two years since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve continued to write, for magazines, at writing workshops, in my journal, in my almost-two-year-old son’s journal, but I haven’t really had any desire to start blogging again until now.
We just moved back to Nashville after three years of living in Northern Massachusetts, where Marshall was in Seminary getting his M. Div. Somehow we are finished, and by the grace of God we are back in our hometown, back at our home church, back in our old home, picking up right where we left off.
Except not really. Oh how the years go by, and how the seasons turn, and all the other clichés about time and change, and so on and so forth.
I mentioned we have a son now, right? And a girl on the way.
So yeah, I’d say a lot has changed. As far as I can tell, few things change your life as much as the addition of a child to it. I always thought I would enjoy having children, always not-so-secretly wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I never really knew if I would love it, or even be cut out for it.
And let me start by saying, it’s so much harder than I ever imagined. There’s something about being a stay-at-home mom that sounds so appealing to the innocent bystander. I mean, you get to stay home all day! No more waking up early, rushing to get dressed in your business casual, grabbing your cup of coffee and running out the door at 7:30 am to truck it to work (ugh! WORK!) every morning. How nice would it be to take my time in the morning, maybe watch a little morning television while I sip my coffee (or maybe I’ll start drinking tea when I’m a mom! It’s so relaxing), and what if I didn’t even change out of my pajamas until 10? It’ll just be me and baby, enjoying our perfectly imperfect home, singing and playing games and napping until Daddy gets home at 5 and helps with bedtime.
Not quite. I will admit, I do enjoy being home, and I don’t miss going to an office. But babies and toddlers don’t really enjoy relaxing all that much, and they really don’t like it when other people try to relax around them. It’s like they have some radar for when Mommy decides to take a little break and check her email or open a magazine, no matter how long they have been sleeping or playing by themselves, the second the thought crosses your mind that “oh! I can catch up on my Real Simple!” they decide it’s time to need you again.
Or, for example, right now, “nap time,” when I was hoping to get a little rest before we go out tonight, Shook is not-so-quietly playing in his crib, as he has been for the last hour (after thirty minutes of trying to force him to sleep), and any minute I’m sure he’ll get tired of it and start yelling Mommy. Doesn’t look like nap time is going to happen today, for either of us.
Things never go as planned, the house is never clean enough, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t tired, and gosh I would love to actually shower, get dressed, and put some makeup on one morning.
But then, even as I listen to his chirps and yelps in the next room, wishing he would fall silent and get some rest so he isn’t a terror for his grandmother tonight, I love hearing his little voice in there. I wonder what he’s doing, what he’s thinking, how he could possibly be entertaining himself so handily in a two by four foot box in the dark. He makes me laugh all the time. I miss him when he’s asleep. I love the way he says “Mommy,” and I have the best time guessing the words he is trying to say as he develops language and starts communicating with us more and more. I can’t imagine, and can’t even remember, life without him.
He brings out the worst in me at times, yes. But he also brings out the best in me. And gosh what a reminder of God’s endless grace, and my need for it.
That’s probably a lot of what you’ll read about here. My life, my family, God’s grace, and my need for it.
Last time I had a blog, I was scared. I was scattered, somewhat shallow with my writing, and scared of telling the truth. I can’t promise I won’t still be that now, but it’s my goal not to be. I can’t tell you all the reasons I’m blogging again, because I don’t really know them, but I felt like it was time, and I’m excited to be writing, and sharing. And I want to be honest. I may not please people, I may not draw a huge audience, but at least I’ll be honest. As a writer, I think that’s the best, and maybe the only, thing I have to offer.
(Update: still chirping away in there, two hours later. At least I got to paint my nails.)