Anything Can Set You Off

PuppyI’m killing it right now. I spent a few hours at Aroma Joe’s last night writing. I got to talk to the Barista a little. I did two loads of laundry and one load of dishes when I got home. I read. When I got up this morning I made mini muffins. I did two more loads of laundry and one more load in the dishwasher. I visited mum and dad to borrow bread, then made poached eggs on toast for Ben and I. I played with M.

Then I broke.

M was fussing, and the boys were being the boys and there was just too much noise in the house. Or it was none of these things. It was the ants on the kitchen counter. It was the three baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded. Or it was none of these things. It was the sheets that need to be changed. The new couch that hasn’t arrived yet. It was the dwindling weight watchers points. Or it was none of these things.

They say that alcoholics don’t need a reason to have a drink. Well, people with anxiety don’t need a reason to be anxious, it just happens. You can see reasons everywhere, but it is both everything and nothing all at once.

And then I’m crying.

And then I’m wrapped up in a blanket and literally curled up in the fetal position.

I’m reading Unashamed by Christine Caine right now, only where she talks about shame, I’m inserting the word anxiety. It clouds our judgement. If we don’t deal with it, it stops us from moving on. Acknowledging it is great, but then if you continue to live in it, you aren’t free from it. You can acknowledge it with your lips, and get on with your life, and still be living in chains to it. It’s a good book.

“Breaking free from the shackles of anxiety is not an overnight experience or a quick fix, ten step process. It is however, a grand, ongoing adventure of discovering the depths of God’s love and the huge scope of God’s power to transform us, recreate us, and continually renew us.”

So I find myself clinging to these promises when I am like this. When I am curled up. When I am feeling like a black hole threatens to pull me in again. I am his beloved and I will not believe the lies. I am a daughter of the one true King and I will not be brought down by something so unworthy. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I will not be defined by my base fears.

I cling to them with every taut muscle in body. I let the words wash over me, and yes, I let the tears fall. Because I need to release and not just hide. I let my husband look after me. And I hug my boys a little tighter. I leave the rest of the dishes, and the ants on the side. I have a piece of chocolate, read a little, and slowly, slowly feel normal start to run through my veins once more.

Just a little.

The Sun Comes Up

FEinberg

 

Margaret Feinberg killed it with this question this week, and my off the cuff answer, that seems entirely flippant when I say it but was meant with much sincerity, has been sticking with me.

I pray the same thing every day. At the same time. Every. Single. Day.

When Tilly wakes up at 5 am, I pray “Please God let her sleep for twenty more minutes. Let me wake up properly. Just twenty more minutes.”

And it sounds like a trite answer from an over tired parent. But it’s not. Because I pray this in earnest. I have prayed for smaller things. I have prayed for sillier things. The Bible tells us that we should bring everything in prayer and petition to the Lord, so why not this. Because I want to spend time with my baby, I love nursing her early in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up. And when we’re done, my little smiley baby comes with me to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. And then everyone else starts to wake up.

But when I first hear the gurgles and giggle of the early morning Miss M, I pray that I can just lie in bed for twenty more minutes. Because I want to rest next to my husband and listen to my house, with my head on a soft pillow and my eyes closed. Because I want to wake up slowly and retrieve a smiling girl, rather than wake up quickly to a screaming child (usually Mr C).

So when Margaret Feinberg asked that question and I answered, I realized that for all my striving to do this Christian thing right. To get this Jesus thing down. To walk the walk as I talk the talk. Here I was starting my day in prayer every single day. Inviting God into my very first moments, asking for his presence, his blessing, in my very waking. My first acts of the day all mushed together, opening my eyes, thinking of my children, loving my sleeping husband, praying to my heavenly father. For all my daily endeavors to make space in my life, here it was naturally carved in to the very fabric of my being. For everything I try to do, or fail to do, here I was opening my day with words lifted to him.

One of my favorite songs is 10,000 reasons by Matt Redman. The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning, it’s time to sing that song again, whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes. It fills me with hope for the day, no matter when I hear it or sing it. It fills me with joy and anticipation of my King. And when the sun comes up and my first thoughts are to seek him out with prayer and petition, I know that this is a day that the Lord has made.

It’s Getting Better, Getting Stronger…

Photo on 5-29-16 at 7.43 PM #4Just when I thought this new writing spot of mine couldn’t get any better. I come in on the night before a holiday and they are still open, and still till ten. Coffee shops and hospitals, they never close. It used to be banks and hospitals right? Changed priorities?

But then it keeps getting better, after I’ve skewered the barista with my wit, I ask for a black coffee and they offer me a ceramic mug because they see my computer, score. And then he says refills are free as long as you are here. Hold the phone. You are going to give me an awesome mug, and keep filling it. I may never leave. The sign in front of me tells me that my coffee also goes toward the education of Guatemalan children. I pretty much suck at shopping well, so I like it when places make it easy for me.

So this place, that I was afraid to come to, just keeps blessing me. Just keeps giving. More than I could ask for. More than I could dream of.

At some point in the next few months I wouldn’t be surprised if a vacationing Editor from Tyndale walked in and said “Hey, what are you working on? I’m looking for something new.”

A song from Rend Collective keeps going round and around in my mind, along with the scripture they draw from.

More than all we ask
Than all we seek
All our hopes and dreams
You are immeasurably more
Than we can know
Than we can pray
All our words can say
You are immeasurably more

My friend Sarah used the scripture at her wedding, Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. I am blown away by the things we hold onto, not knowing that God has so much more planned. It doesn’t stop me from holding on for dear life, but once I let go of my plans and embrace his, I am never disappointed. You know, even if the outcome is bloody awful, it turns out it was something I didn’t need and the peace that comes with the big fat no is so worth it.

So, immeasurably more, instead of just enough to get by and coffee shops and hospitals that are always open.

 

Five Minute Friday: Cheer

CheerCheer.

I’m not sure where to begin.

When I think of cheer so many things come to mind. The chickadees nesting in the chokecherry tree outside my kitchen window. C’s gut laugh when he finds something particularly funny. Champagne, though I don’t like it, I appreciate the look of the clean, crisp glass, and the bubbles as they pop and fizz.

It’s a grey day outside today, and definitively anti cheer. And yet so much of today has cheer about it. I started my day in prayer, waking on clean white sheets, next to the man I love, with a little boy kissing my nose, saying “I love you.” I reached a goal in my weight loss, a hard won personal victory. I have the prospect of signing off on a new couch at lunch time, a grown up couch for this grown up life of mine.

And then I think cheer leader. Having nothing to do with the fact that Bring It On is my guilty secret, one of my favorite movies. And that it just came to Netflix. And that I just watched it. When I was a child and obsessed with America, the way British kids are for at least six months of their childhood, I wanted pom poms so bad. Pom poms, and a really high pony tail. I got the pom poms in Florida when I was 11 and they were glorious. The high ponytail I just figured out how to achieve about three weeks ago, another personal victory!

Five MinI like encouraging people. I get so much joy out of complimenting someone on a job well done. I love to put into words the value of someone who can’t grasp it themselves. I love to motivate people. I love to get people excited about something. I love to get people excited about themselves. I get more joy cheering someone else on, than in achieving my own goals. So I guess that does actually make me a cheer leader? Roll call.

Blunt and Rambly

Let’s be blunt here. God knows everything. When he sent his son to die, he knew the outcome, he knew what was coming. When he sent Jesus down to us, he knew that they would be separated in a way for 30 years, then separated completely for 3 days, but he knew how it ended.

You can deal with something when you know how it ends right?

God was with Jesus for eternity.He sent him to earth for 30 years, and was completely cut off from him for 3 days. He knew what his son was doing, and he knew he was getting him back.

Thing is, even knowing that, even knowing the end game, the outcome, the final score, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take three days of total separation from my kids even if they felt like the blink of an eye. I. Could. Not. Do. It.

There are many differences between my perspective and that of my God. But Jesus came to die. That was his whole point on earth. There is no way of spinning that. To die.

When I first got married and would leave my parents at the airport, I would cry on and off for days. There was actually wailing, actual gnashing of teeth. I felt as if a piece of me had been ripped away. I would beat at Ben’s chest, I would scream into my pillow. Even knowing I would see them again in a few months. That I could talk to them in a few hours.

Understanding my love for my parents, and thinking of how God loves us, to be separated from his own son like that. I’m not sure I can fully grasp that this side of heaven, but when I think of that long drive back from Logan airport, I have to sharply intake my breath.

Isaiah 53:5

He was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

Being ignorant and wayward

I have a thousand thoughts swarming in my mind today. Thoughts of how to show grace to my children. Thoughts of how to convey how my parents prepared me to live such a life. And then there are the big things I get stuck on. Who exactly is this Jesus Man that stands in the place of my father? Did I show people God today, or did I show them Screwtape on a bad day?

I’m flitting back and forth between my twitter feed, and the book of faces, and christholdfast.org. I’ll probably hit incourage next. No podcasts tonight, no speakers.

And somehow in the shuffling of ideas, doing everything I can to avoid sitting and writing some words down, there it is.

Hebrews 5:2 He is gentle with the ignorant and wayward.

I may have that put on a T-shirt, a coffee cup and a bumper sticker.

Now back to my wayward thoughts…

Coincidence?

IMG_2361

And sometimes a couch can bring you heavenly perspective.

Can you put a price tag on something? There’s a price tag on everything in this picture, but the price tag doesn’t reveal the whole story.

The price tag doesn’t show the couch at home, the couch that is so loved but is now ripped, really ripped, covered with a panda blanket ripped.

The price tag doesn’t show the years of longing for an ordered home, and what this couch could represent.

The price tag doesn’t show the movie nights, the snuggles, the middle of the night sickness as you lie next to a child, gently stroking his head.

Sometimes you see what you want, and the price tag is just right but still too steep. And you make the right decision. You decide not to rely on the credit card, not to add to the smallish debt, not to add to the interest payments. You decide to keep paying that down, and to simultaneously save. Because you have been liberated and you know that the couch with the hole is just a couch, and the couch that is whole is just a couch, and that neither will make you whole.

You make the right decision. You are faithful. You are a good steward. You reflect and meditate and pray and you are confident in your choice.

And then the next day the flyer arrives for 0% interest for the next four years, when you had calculated it would take four months to save up for it.

Coincidence?

When I was a new Christian, when I was a teenager, one of my favorite things to yell to the world was that “there is no such thing as coincidence, it’s all God.”

But as an adult with three kids and a mortgage do I really believe that this company’s first ever 0% interest sale coming the day after my making the right choice is not a coincidence, but God telling me to buy a new couch. Hello!!! McFly!!!!

The Holy Spirit is at work everywhere, but is the holy spirit at work in my holy couch?