the danger to compare

I visit with an old friend and in response I bring up an old enemy.
While there are days that I have wrestled greatly with fear, there are more days that I wrestle with comparison.
That old enemy of my eyes being on the lives of others which brings eyes of discontent onto my life.
And as I wrestle with my feelings, this overreaching desire to criticize her choices and her life brings me to a new place.

I drive down a highway pleading with God to remove this discontent.
I attempt to pray for this friend every time I start to mull over her.
Then I am stopped in my thoughts by this…
while comparing my life to others I am living in discontentment, yes, but
I am even more saying to God that the choices I’ve made; the choices that I know He has led me to,
are wrong.
That with each frustration over my life compared to hers;
with each jealous thought that stems when I think of what I don’t have
I am telling my Jesus that He has me on the wrong path;
I am telling my Jesus that I don’t trust Him.

So then my prayers for her turn to prayers of forgiveness for me;
for my sin and my shame.
And then I am reminded of Ann’s words:
Every breath is a battle between grudgery and gratitude.”
Every breath is a battle between
comparing and loving.

Again I remember what Ann writes it is “impossible to simultaneously give thanks and feel fear” and I add that it is impossible to keep my eyes onto the blessings, to recognize the details of God in my life and ponder the better life I think others might have.

I walk home from dropping off my children at school. It is a crisp morning, one that stirs you up, energizes and renews and I am overcome with gratitude. I am overcome with the simple act of walking my children to school. I am overcome with the healing in my body, but even more the change in my soul.

I hear the words of Zephaniah playing in my head…
The Lord your God is in your midst and living among you
He is a mighty, victorious warrior who can deliver and save
He takes great delight in you, rejoices over you with gladness.
He renews, quiets you with His love, He no longer rebukes you, His love calms your fears
He shouts for JOY over you, exults over you with singing…loud singing.

How and what could have ever brought me to the place where I think my life is so much worse than others…that the choices, places, things He has given and led me to could ever be wrong? Or that their choices are wrong?

And I look at the words I’ve started to sew and I continue the count. Knowing that every number I count is one more step, one more detail, one more way that I am emptying myself of all these things that keep me from Him.

431. opening the windows on a September morning to feel the coolness
432. stepping outside after a rain
433. the smile of my girl this early morning
434. the bearing of wounds in the heart of my son
435. twinges and pulls slightly dimished
436. an overwhelming sense of Him as I walk home
437. a raging conversation with my God as I drive down the highway
438. old relationships
439. emails that blow my mind
440. arrival of parents/grandparents after long being away
441. the joy of ice cream in the middle of the afternoon
442. a fridge so overflowing with His bounty that keeps on giving
443. worship, conversation, relationships growing
444. the reminder that, yes, He rejoices over me!
445. quiet, stillness
446. the look, swagger, walk of a husband so proud of the work he has accomplished
447. a lifting and stirring that I’ve long prayed for in him
448. the blue and green and light outside my window
449. laughter right before sleep
450. the perfection of His provision

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just get through it

“Let’s just get through it.”

These words have been plaguing my head all morning.
And the question following them has been…is this really all I want for my life?
To just get through it?

Last week as I faced surgery and an upheaval in our family life for a few weeks, all I kept hearing was “you will feel better when you just get through it.” Truthful words, no doubt. And not unwise words, but almost like Job’s friends I hear those words now and stop myself and say “no, I don’t want to just get through it.”
What will I learn?
How will I be changed?
How will the Gospel inundate my life if I just get through it?

I’ve participated in counting gifts here for a long while, but I don’t think I really got what was at the heart of Ann’s meaning in this practice until now. If I put my head down and push on, I am going to miss God.
If I just keep pressing on until I’m on the other side, I will miss the “messy, piercing ache of now.”
And I need to see this messy. I need to let myself become enveloped in the piecing ache I feel.
I need to

Until I was able to be ok with the reality of surgery. The risk of death, even though it was a routine procedure, I wasn’t able to experience the now and the peace God had for me.
Until I could begin to “live fully so I was fully ready to die” I couldn’t walk into that hospital with any sense of peace.
But I did. And it is only because I didn’t push my fear away. I didn’t just get on the other side. I entered into that place where I said, “yes, Lord.”

And today, as my daughter struggles.
As my husband is weary of balancing it all.
As my son plugs along.
As we as a family become raw with emotion from the past week.
What do we gain as a family if we just “get through it?”
How does God pervade our lives if we don’t enter into this messy place we are in?
But how how do we let God enter in?

Right now, I start here…

420. a doctor’s hand on the place where he is about to enter into, while he offers word’s of prayer to our Lord
421. the beginnings of scars, reminders of an awakening in me
422. the embracing of new friends as we walk through this raw place
423. a friend to whom I cannot be false with
424. a sleeping girl at peace
425. a hand on my husband’s cheek as he offers up his worries and frustrations
426. quiet
427. borrowed books that keep me entranced and therefore making it easier to keep me resting
428. what this new emptiness in me will bring
429. weariness, but yet a place to lay my head
430. the ability to say “yes Lord”

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when it all hits the fan

Where do I go when my day turns to dust in my hands?
When all my greatest plans turn into sand and are just blown away?
What do I do when I walk back into my house 8 hours later than I had wanted to
only to discover a bug infestation, dinner yet to be made and a child following me around begging for the spelling of words.

Did I stop wiping up those crazy bugs?
Did I take her face into my hands and declare her the most amazing child ever?
This child who was making a picture, a card, for the neighbors.
The one begging to know how to spell a greeting.
Loving her neighbor better than I could ever love them.

And as my son declares the wonder of God’s creation; that He would create so many different kinds of bugs.
Did I stare him in the face and declare the amazing wonders of his mind?
Did I tell him how grateful I was for his ability to see past the frustration and bother and into the gratitude for everything the Lord has made?

Missed opportunities, but yet such reminders of how different my day would have been
if I would have taken the dust of my day and reformed it.
If I would have taken the opportunity to rejoice in the grains of sand that were blown away.
Knowing that the Lord, He knew each and every one of those grains.
And knowing that tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to rejoice in
my frustrations
and sorrows
and joys.

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Today I turn thirty-seven. Even more than when I turned thirty, this year seems kind of monumental. I know in the grand scheme of things in the world it is no longer really “old” but it feels kind of old to me; like I should be firmly established and grown up….which I don’t feel at all. Never mind the fact that I have a mortgage, an almost nine year old (and a five year old, but the nine is what’s killing me) and have been married for almost fifteen years.

That said, I am pretty darn blessed.

So as a gift to myself, I’m listing thirty-seven blessings that come to mind.

1. my God and Savior who loves me and pursues me and never stops…even though I fumble and fail continuously

From Tremont 2012- ?

2. my sweet husband who is so patient and has stuck with me through so many ups and downs. There aren’t even any words to share.
3. my son, who is so like me and has revealed so much about myself through him. It’s because of him that I’ve grown and been challenged in so many ways. He is confident, funny and genuinely friendly with pretty much everyone.
4. my daughter, who is so NOT like me and has challenged me and stretched me in so many ways. Her desire to go slow, to stop and look and smell and see, forces me to stop and look and smell and see and that is good.

From Tremont 2012- ?

5. my family who is always there and available
6. my core of girls. I’ve got a core of sweet girlfriends in my life that I know I could call at 2am. I realized this a few months ago and I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement of the gift of them
7. this home I live in. Smack in the middle of a park, an older home with character, the ability to walk to school. awesome
8. memories. good and bad. those that are teaching me and moving me out of the past and into the present with expectation for what the Lord is doing in my future

From CO: Captivating 2011

9. space. the gift of space to create, design my days and be there for my children when they come home
10. security. which I’m learning isn’t resting in the number in my bank account, but rather in the faith of my heart
11. the changing seasons. which prove to me that my God is alive and changing and ever present
12. the view outside my window. dogwoods, daffodils and lush grass
13. the school that my children attend…the proximity to our home and the ability for me to be present there
14. the chance to start again. a new community, new friendships, new place of worship.
15. the health of my family…both for myself, my husband, children and parents
16. for the expectation of the future and the knowledge of the story that God is writing in my life
17. for words and the ability and place to share them
18. freedom. the knowledge that the Lord is freeing me from my strongholds
19. today. that today is enough and today is what I make it. not worrying about tomorrow and not consumed with the mistakes of yesterday
20. for late night talks after the light goes out with my husband. those last little bits of conversation before we drift off
21. for a “power hug” from my son this morning and the feel of his arms around my waist…the memory of those arms around my legs not too far in the past
22. for the neck nuzzle of my sweet girl in the morning. that little bit of snuggling before she wakes up
23. watching my children sleep at night
24. playing tennis last night as a family. the laughter, the joy, the fun and the memory of doing something that my husband and I used to do so long ago. so good.
25. photographs. sitting as a family and looking at photos from last year. remembering and seeing how we have all grown in so many different ways


26. sewing. oh how I love to create and design and make. I’m so grateful for the space, time, ability and even finances to be able to do something that I love
27. forgiveness. saying the word to my husband and children
28. music. the way it stirs pictures in my head and the memories it evokes.
29. for babies. playing with a sweet baby at church on Sunday, seeing a commercial that reminds me so much of my babies and holding a friend’s sweet baby last week. ah! how I love that feeling in my arms

heart tree

30. quietness and stillness, how I need this and how eagerly the Lord provides it for me in so many ways
31. being found. the security I am realizing in knowing that I’ve been found and pursued by Jesus…all the way to the cross.
32. the realization that my story is not over. there is much more to write and share
33. a good book. how I love to be transported and how easily a book can grip me and tear me away from all my responsibilities.
34. my desire to teach. how God is taking that gift and moving it in different directions.
35. good food. like really good food. like a $25 a plate dinner kind of food. so special in our lives and such a treat and oh how delicious
36. tears. How I don’t let them fall, for joy or for sorrow, and yet how the Lord uses them for my good. To cleanse my soul.

the view from look rock tower

37. for beauty. That the Lord is teaching me what real beauty is and what it means to be noticed, not for the things I do, say or the way I look…but for His Spirit within me. May I walk more fully in His light this next year.

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when I feel like nothing

It’s been a weird couple of weeks for me. I haven’t felt like writing here, being visible to anyone at all. I haven’t even felt like writing in my other journal, the one that no 0ne reads but me. It’s not that I’ve wanted to be hidden, I just didn’t have anything to say. I’ve had one of those months where I have a million conversations running through my head. Times when you want to just scream “hush!” and yet nothing happens.

I feel like it’s been one of those seasons where I’ve got a devil and an angel on my shoulder. One whispering lies and one whispering the truth…

you can’t make it. yes you can!
you’ve taken on to much. God gives you nothing more than you can handle.
you aren’t good enough. you are everything to Me.
you are a failure. you are My beloved.
you are alone. you are never alone.

When the voices come. When the arguing in my head comes. What do I count? Where do I go? What do I think of? I can look around and count all the projects to do, not completed, undone, never to be done etc or I can look around and count all the things I have…a roof, a home, a heater, a car, four little feet padding around giving hugs and laughter, time to create.

The voices become silent when I start to look, open my eyes to my life.
But I have to open them and keep them open and keep counting…

398. mercy
399. the sun shining through all the windows in our family room
400. yellow post its that help me remember things
401. daisies and how they remind me of my mother
402. my family, resting in beds above me
403. my “studio” and the space to create
404. the Word and the quiet moments in the morning alone with Him
405. the furnace that heats our home and teaches me to let go of fears
406. the wind as it howls outside – oh the strength of His power
407. the feet of my husband moving around upstairs, how lonely I would be without him
408. visits with friends
409. stories that I hear
410. listening to my little girl singing
411. a twirling skirt
412. the making of a doll for a friend’s new little baby
413. a conversation with a friend
414. the excitement of new shoes
415. walking in the park
416. paint! finding a color for the inside
417. visiting with my mom and listening to my son and her talk
418. knowing that God has us
419. time at home

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