I’ve moved my blog

I am now blogging at planecoffeemom.com— please come join me there!

 

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Today’s test

I woke up late and tired. The sink was full of dishes and the dishwasher hadn’t run. I have places to go and things to do. The laundry finally got folded yesterday, but it’s still sitting on the couch. My to-do list is so long I quit looking at it, and that is already costing me. I forgot the company that’s arriving in a couple of days. I have no plan for lunch and I need to be out the door in 10 minutes. I didn’t work out.

I sat down and made a plan to get it all done by noon. I wish. Really, I looked around and found myself sinking into blackness. I got into the Word and asked God to renew my mind. I finished my Bible study. I tried to pray, but I kept thinking that I need a plan. Truth entered my mind, but didn’t reach my heart. I drank my coffee. I ate yogurt for breakfast while I rehashed all that needs done. I cleared the table and wiped the counters, piling more dishes into the sink. I tried to figure out what I could accomplish before I leave for the morning. And then I sat down to write.

img_1089And when I started writing I realized how normal my morning is. Life goes like this some days. And we need a plan and we need to be realistic. But more than that, we need God. I knew that sitting down and writing out what was in my mind would help me get centered in reality. Because in the bigger picture, I need grace and clarity. I need God to speak into my life about what needs done and what needs to be left. I need His joy to carry on through the tasks. I need to disconnect from all the voices that tell me my problem is my lack of organization or my energy level or my self-imposed expectations.

You see, those are problems, but not the problem. I think the problem is that I am living from a bad place. I think it’s called independence and sin. Not because my lists or expectations are bad, but because I am trying to be someone or prove something. I am coming to see that truth and freedom do not react to life like this.

Truth stays in God, in the fact that He is enough and that He gives grace for the tasks He assigns. His burden is light and His yoke is easy. He offers rest for our souls. He has finished the work, and all the essential things are secure. In Him we are seated in the heavenlies. Seated.

And so, it was worth sitting down. And now I head out the door much more at peace with the way things are and with the assurance that everything will be ok. And more than ok, they will be good, because I intend to trust Him completely and obey immediately. I’m sure that’s the best plan of all, and that His grace is enough for that!

Where did your day start and how are you dealing with it?

Arrived?

I awoke this morning exactly where I’ve wanted to be, the place I’ve worked so hard to journey to, the destination I have run, walked, and crawled toward. The place that has made bloody knees and  broken hearts worthwhile. The tree that is finally bearing some fruit.

And suddenly, I am not so sure. The journey has been amazing, and grueling and costly. But now that I am here, there are new battles to fight, new problems to solve, and new insecurities to prey on me.

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Where am I, exactly? It’s hard to describe, but maybe the correct word is “belonging”. I’ve moved enough times that I know the routines, and each time the newness gives way to routines and strangers become friends. The risks I took in reaching out to new people eventually begin to bear fruit, and relationships are born. Instead of being an outsider, I become an insider at some level, in some circles. I find a place in the circle where I can offer the things that God has so graciously gifted me with.

In the beginning, you reach out at every opportunity, and many of those efforts pay off at the same time. And so instead of asking God to open doors you begin asking Him to close a few. But each door already has a part of you inside, and the closing is painful, so instead of allowing a door to slam, you shove your foot inside, leaving a crack. And then you battle your way through managing all the doors you’ve propped open with a foot, an extra jar of homemade soup, a hand, or a well-loved shoe. This battle becomes deep enough that you discuss it in the second person, as though it isn’t you. As though it isn’t me.

And then I come back to the basics of God and life and love: not all these paths are mine, and it is ok if doors close to me. I am a part of the Body, and there is nearby, and likely willing, someone who is gifted to walked through some of these doors. Only some doors are mine, only one path is meant to be traveled by me. The others are yours. Or someone else’s. So, in this place where I’ve finally arrived, I choose to settle in and live in the rooms, on the path, designed for me.

My story, your story

It’s strange the way a story grows, the twists and turns it takes. It’s interesting to read and incredible to hear. Living the story is sometimes another matter. In my story, I’ve often wanted to skim the present, skipping to the end of a scene, the resolution of a problem, or the closure of a conflict. Yet when I look back at my story, each part of life that I wanted to skip was as full of joy as it was of sorrow, and each chapter of joy contained sorrow. It almost seems that one cannot exist without growing the other.

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And while my story has had its difficult questions, harder still are the questions that arise in my boys’ stories, harder to wait while they resolve their conflicts and harder to stand by while they make choices. And my friends stories, while unique, are also similar. We laugh and we cry, we hurry and we linger. We worry and we trust.

I look back and think how sensible faith would have been or was. Yet in the moment, faith is hard. It’s always hard. Not because I don’t believe God has this situation, but because I’d like to control it. I’d like to call it before it happens and understand the outcome for better planning. So, I often choose to fret.

Hope is another choice that is an obviously good option. Yet despair knocks on the door of my mind. Fear of the future seeps in and I forget that I know the end of the story. The end is good. Perfect, actually. And in this moment, for this situation, I can choose hope.

And the greatest of these is love, the easiest option to let go when things get tough. I want to hole up in my problems and misery, but truth says that love is a better choice. Instead of looking out only for myself, I can look out for other people also. I can choose to reach out instead of wishing other people would make more effort. I can choose to act kindly and humbly.

Faith, hope, love. They all ask me to take a longer view of the pain and the tears, to read the story as though I already know the ending. I do, after all.

The Retreat

I’ve been to a couple of ladies retreats in my life. These were events aimed at helping women be all they can be, creating community, and sharing encouragement. The strange thing was, the event took me a few days to recover from. Yes, part of it was the work that was left undone at home and needed to be caught up on. I believe, however, that there were other things that left me exhausted at the end of a good time.

We are women, strong and beautiful. And broken. Sometimes when we come together we try to only be strong and beautiful: we try to hide the broken parts. Sometimes the beauty and the quiet reminds us our deep brokenness instead of healing our spirit. And sometimes when we look around a room full of beautiful women we believe the lie that we are the only one who is broken.

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We come together to bless and encourage and refresh, and we do that well. But sometimes there are also judgements we put on ourselves and questions about own value that destroy the blessings and drains us. Sometimes we find the needs overwhelming, and we give at great expense without understanding how to release the burdens to our Father after we have heard them. Sometimes we give and do not take the time to refill at the well of His goodness and grace.

These ponderings have helped me understand what to do with pain and how to find grace, particularly in groups. It has also been a good reminder that using our gifts is a positive thing, but we must also take time to sit at the Father’s feet and be fed by Him. The fact that something costs us does not mean it shouldn’t be done, but rather that we should do it intentionally and with purpose.

And so, I am back at the space where I am reminded that everything worthwhile is costly. And yet, eternity is at stake. So maybe I will attend another retreat sometime. Maybe, but only if it is mine to do.

Not Enough

I’ve been thinking this week about “not enough”. The perception we have of ourselves that we cannot measure up, we are insufficient to accomplish the things we need to do in a satisfactory way. We aren’t good enough women, moms, or friends. We don’t cook well enough food or keep our house clean enough. We aren’t smart enough or talented enough. Our homes are not enough, our kids are not enough. All in all, we simply don’t feel we measure up to our own standards.

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And despite telling ourselves that we are better than some people, the thought nags us, the reality that we are not all we want to be, we cannot do all we want to do, and we cannot control the things we want to take charge of. Despite telling ourselves that we are better than other people, that we should settle for giving it our best shot, or trying to lower our standards,  we are simply not satisfied.

It’s a worry that nags at me sometimes, though less now than it used to. It began to change one day when I was doing my best to go about my business, cleaning up the house, scheduling flights, raising my boys who were young, and crying tears of anger and pain. “God, I can’t do this anymore!” I muttered under my breath while I screamed in my mind.

You aren’t supposed to.

“What?” I asked the voice in my head.

This, my daughter, is the meaning of grace, of salvation. You were never meant to do this, and you will never measure up. That’s why I sent Jesus to pay the price and my Spirit to work through you. You can rest in that. I AM enough. And you are not.

I stopped short. I wanted to get it right, I wanted to prove I could. Yet, I couldn’t deny that all my trying fell far short. And suddenly the thought was freeing instead of degrading. I wasn’t enough and I was never meant to be. God was enough, and He would accomplish His will through simple steps of obedience.

So, I began on a journey of not telling myself I was good enough, but of reminding myself that “enough” was God’s job not mine. I quit telling my friends they measure up to the impossible standard and began telling them that they don’t, and it doesn’t matter.

I don’t always remember that, and I haven’t arrived at the point of letting go of everything. But I am learning, most days. And in my better moments, I love that fact that none of us is enough, but God is still enough. It’s a freeing journey.

My People

Since I went to a ladies conference a few weeks ago I’ve been thinking a lot about “my people”. Not the people who are like me, but the ones God has put in my life as a community. I’ve been challenged to invest with these people, these primary opportunities. To focus my energy and attention on the few and let the few repeat the process with their few. And the “my people” has become “our people” as I realize how much we enjoy serving and interacting as a family.

One of the questions we’ve had is, “Who are our people?” Our small family, the 4 of us, is an obvious beginning.  I have a “coffee and chat” friend that I meet with weekly, and she is definitely one of my people. There’s a group of 4 older students that come for dinner and to chat every so often, and they seem to fit squarely in our circle. Kaleb’s good friend Dylan and his family have walked their way into our hearts and lives, becoming part of our circle.
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Beyond this, it is not so clear. Garry has a group of people at Moody, but are they our people or his people? If we say the Moody aviation community, what does that look like– staff, students, or both? There is a Moody ladies group starting, is this somewhere I should invest, are these my people that I need to connect with? There are opportunities at church, but are they my opportunities, my people?
When I try to figure it out, it’s hard to figure. When I trust God to do His work, it seems easier. People come into our lives, and some of them take up residence. And maybe this is how people become our people, as if by accident rather than by choice. Maybe in some ways we do not choose this group, but they choose us. Maybe this is a place where faith is bigger than intentionality.
Your thoughts?