lessons from Much-Afraid {the aerial chairs}

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There is a small part of Much-Afraid’s journey that after I read Hannah Hurnard’s journal I was shocked that 1. I seemed to just brush through it and 2. that she didn’t write more about it.

After the mist clears the Shepherd leads Much-Afraid into the Valley of Loss. Again, he has brought her through and then away from the mountains. It seems beyond heartbreaking to her as she walks down into a valley to give up all that she had gained from climbing the precipice. Yet again, she makes it through the valley only by giving up another part of her human desire and will only to be led to another precipice. This one seems even more impossible to climb than the first one. But before she loses heart the Shepherd shows her some aerial chairs that they can sit in and ride to the top. The chairs lead her to the top of the waterfall and to the beginning of the end of her journey.

This whole section of the book is only a few pages. But in Hannah’s journal she writes for pages and pages about her experience with the aerial chairs where she is staying in Switzerland. They are called the Sesselbahn and they lead riders up and over this great chasm to this chateau at the top. I tried to look up some pictures of the original Sesslbahn in Switzerland from the 1970’s when she was there, but I couldn’t really find any. Her description was so fascinating to me.

There they were -those tiny chairs with no sides or backs – only a couple of bars. The cable by whose power they traveled overhead and at a great distance, was quite invisible. Underneath there was nothing but the abyss and no earthly ground of support. All one saw was two moving chairs, apparently hanging in the air. But they were supported from above!… One had to be willing to trust the invisible power, sit down on a chair and abandon oneself completely.

She doesn’t travel on these chairs the first time she sees them but has arranged a time to go up to this chateau with companions she was staying with. Only the day comes and she misses the group. She arrives at the station only to see that they have gone on without her. She must travel alone or not go at all. Then right when she gets the nerve to go, the operator informs her that the chairs are having maintenance issues. She can go up as they bring down the last group and then wait to come back down after the cable had been fixed. This was her last chance to go. If she didn’t go that day then she would miss the chance. So she goes on alone. No one to talk to her, reassure her or hold her hand. And for fifteen minutes she was suspended in air up to the heights. There was nothing she could do but enjoy it and revel in the creation, for where could she go if she panicked? She arrives at the top and she knows that the Lord brought her through in order to speak clearly to her a message. Had she not faced her fears and gone on as the Spirit was urging her she might have missed it.

So many times in my life I have let fear run it’s course. Instead of listening to that urging of the Spirit I have listened to fear. I have let anxiety and worry and control take over. How many times have I missed a calling because I have ignored where the Lord was urging me to go?

And, oh the times when I have gone or have done what He has called me to do despite the fear. When I have gotten on a airplane by myself and traveled miles into the mountains with 500 women I don’t know? What amazing things did He do then! When I continue to answer the call to stay home. When I continue to write in this space…

Had Much-Afraid not ridden to the heights with the Shepherd she would have missed her anointing and the beginning of her transformation. May I not ignore the places the Lord is calling me to despite the heights for the heights that He leads us too are beyond our imagining.

 

giggles on an April Fool’s morning
“indeeds” on an Easter day
egg hunts through a lens with memories of years past
a week ahead with time to give
a new month
mornings without tears
forgiveness
prayer cards
lessons to be learned
mist in the morning that gives way to sunlight and clearing
cleansing
anxiety washing away into excitement






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multitudes

One of the things that keeps me from writing my daily list of blessings is just the mere fact of stopping. If I were to do what so many others are doing consistently, my day would have to slow down. I would have to stop and look and write. But isn’t that what it’s all about?

This dare to write 1000 gifts is a dare to stare life head on. It’s a dare to not just say in my head, thank you Lord for that grocery bill that exactly matches the dollars in my wallet, but to stop and document it. So for the days that I scream to heaven that I’m a failure I can remember.

It’s a record of God’s promises to us.
It’s a record of the ways that God defeats the giants in our lives…and the mice too.
It’s a way of forcing me to engage with my life and all of those in it.

I praise God for the way that He is changing my heart.
I pray to be filled with the courage daily to move forward in that.

a budget that is met perfectly…only by the grace and giving of God
the reminder that He calls me and equips me for everything in my life
the friendly hello of the checkout lady
finishing a good book, so good I need to go back and reread it
Downton Abbey and a sweet husband
curled up in flannel sheets
sweet faces that the boy makes while he slumbers
painting over the old and making it new
creativity
rain that falls on our roof
a community of worship
the anticipation of a study that is taking me already to unknown places






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my heart sings

Yesterday in church we sang the song Forever Reign by Hillsong. I love this song because of it’s simplicity and I’ve heard it and sung it a million times; yet yesterday was so different for me.

heart tree

When we got to the line “my heart will sing no other name…Jesus” I was hit with the question: “is that true?” And I thought, no it’s not. My heart doesn’t just sing Jesus.

My heart sings so many other things rather than Jesus.
And in my desire to be unrelenting, never ceasing, this year.
I choose to clear out all the other hums, songs, lyrics etc that are filling up my heart and enticing me away from singing His name.
I choose to stand confident in His love for me and run into His arms and into the riches that He provides.

One of the ways I choose to change the song of my heart is through counting blessings. I long to develop this as more than a habit and more than a Monday thing. I want it to be my constant.
That in counting my blessings my heart would sing Jesus

3 graces from people I love
morning coffee with my love
holding a sweet girl waking up in the morning (even though she doesn’t wake up so sweet!)
moments on the phone with a friend






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I’m a words kind of person. I will screw up an quote that I hear and want to repeat and share, but I can remember single words.

Single words can resonate and define my seasons so perfectly.

Right now these are my words…
relief
longing
groaning
emptiness
peace
openness

All of these describe where I am as I sit here on the other side of a deep sadness and frustration. I feel relief as I have met my deadlines and closed up my shop for a period of time. There is a freedom and openness to my days now that I haven’t had lately.

But I am reading about advent. Advent is a period of longing – watching – waiting.
I’m thinking back to the weeks past where I have felt overwhelmed and sinking and I am pondering my response during that time.

Did I “embrace my sadness and frustration?”
or did I “attempt to escape, avoid or deny it?” (Jim Branch)

When I was deeply lonely – sad – separated
what did I do?

Did I recognize that “dagger of desire for Himself?”
For in the midst of the last few weeks He was moving in me – emptying me –
He was “carving out a space for more of Himself and less of me.” (Dana Candler)

Like Peter, I was sinking. But as I’ve been learning lately…I have to sink.
I will never know my need. That space in me will never be emptied out, without sinking.
I will never know my need for water without thirst.
I will never know peace – real peace – without fear.
I have to sink down and be emptied out repeatedly.
For it’s only in sinking that I realize and remember and know my need of Him.

I am not a heir with Him without going through my own suffering (Romans 8:17)

I’ve given up on this journey of counting blessings so often. But when it comes to mind again I am reminded of how that is part of coming up from sinking. That is the focusing of my eyes on Him again.
That is me crying out “Lord, save me!”

When I am shunned by another because of choices I’ve made that differ…I give thanks
When I am covered over by work…I give thanks.
When I struggle with my husband…I give thanks.
When my days are planned out and there is no “freedom” to them…I give thanks.

I give thanks for
people who are different than me
God’s continued amazing provision for us
a husband who is by my side even in struggles
days to plan out
daughters who see Christmas lights and light up
3 generations watching the Nutcracker
expectation of the weeks to come
a boy and his dad who finally win a match
a carving out






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the orientation of my heart

I mull over things.
If something has happened, might happen, or there is someone of a differing opinion than me.
If there is a choice I’ve made that might not reflect well.
If there is a friend who has slighted me or whatever.
I mull.
I have a horrible time letting go.

But as the Lord is continuing to vigorously pursue after my heart, I’m learning that I have to give up the mull.
When my mind drifts and I start to focus over others lives – choices, I’m choosing not to see the Shepherd.
I’m walking through the valley focusing on the darkness….
not on who is walking with me through it.

I’m reading through Paul Miller’s book A Praying Life and it is reshaping my heart.
I am seeking a radical heart change.
A radical heart focus.
A radical orientation to my life in the way that I respond and in the way that I engage.
In that I am realizing that counting gifts, this list to 1,000 (or more) that I’m slowly making, isn’t about looking for Pollyanna. It isn’t about sitting here on Mondays and recounting His gifts in the last 24 hours and then waking up tomorrow and going about my day self-sufficiently.

It is about looking for His touch daily, minute by minute. As Miller writes: “it is restoring the natural order of our dependence on God.” It is more than just a blog post once a week. It is more than just something in my schedule. I want it to be more than that.
So that when I start to mull, my focus would quickly be changed from cynicism to hope.
God is hope.
And I can analyze my life, the lives of others.
I can mull over choices and things that I don’t know.
or
I can cling to the truths that I do know.
I can cling to the Jesus moments throughout my day.

Miller tells a story about this woman who was sitting in his place of business. While he was running around frantic, running back and forth to home and trying to fix this huge problem, she continued to sit and wait. She never looked huffy. She never said anything. She just sat there for 3 1/2 hours waiting for her appointment.
Finally, when the problem was reconciled and he could help her, he blurted out and asked her “if she prayed to Jesus” to which she replied “yes, He is the most important thing to me”.
He realized then that Jesus had been sitting patiently in His office all day and he hadn’t seen him. He had gone through his problem, self-sufficient, frustrated and he was mulling over the mistake that he had made and had never seen who was really sitting in his office.
That has been my life.
I don’t want to move through another day without recording, counting, marking down the places where Jesus is sitting.

451. rain quietly falling
452. a last hug after a hard morning
453. the tug to look for Jesus through my days…not just my Mondays
454. a pursuit
455. painting with a friend on Friday
456. the spark in my children when they see that painting and want to paint one of their own
457. a handy husband
458. big favors
459. God’s continual provision for us
460. listening to my little girl read…so amazed at her
461. walking through Michael’s with my children; how excited the world of art is to them
462. lincoln logs

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