The Gift of Time

T&J

There is a certain safety, a quiet comfort that comes with time. Lately, there’s been a quiet contentment settling in my heart each time I spend time with him. I can’t explain why this is different than the awe and marvelling that we’ve done all our married days at how easy this comes for us, and maybe that’s it, it doesn’t always come easy anymore.

This man knows me more intimately than anyone has ever known me. I carried his children in my body. He was there as I delivered each of our 6 children, stayed by my side, strong and steady. He’s seen me in my most vulnerable state and been a pillar of strength to draw from in it all. We’ve only been at this for 15 and a half years and I am starting to sense this steady comfort that grows with having a protector of my life, my body, and my heart . A man who fears God and leads me to Him again and again.

I was merely a girl when we married, 18 years old, insecure and unsure of who I was. As I discovered who God was making me to be, he was always there to cheer me on, push me a little; support me a lot. There’s been a new transition as I’ve turned thirty and discovered my voice, my opinion that doesn’t always match his; as I learn to assert myself with respect and love. This dance becomes more complicated as our days go on, our life together is more detailed, intricate, complex and full. But, dance we do, stepping on toes and reorienting ourselves to dance in sync.

There’s something unique and special in being blessed with time, extended time, with the same person. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience, and I’m not promised length of days, but I’m thankful for the days I’ve been given. I’ve truly seen the goodness of God in the land of the living; I rejoice.

I’m thankful for you, Anthony Huy.

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The Woman Who Came to Dinner

Observe and Understand His Lovingkindness

I saw her standing there with the baby strapped safe to her chest, snuggled in, on that cold afternoon. Her small son stood beside her, in his little black hoodie, looking well cared for and loved. Standing beside her man, like we women do, for better or worse, we do. Most of us anyway, those “unenlightened” ones of us. She stood there beside her man who was holding a sign. I couldn’t see the sign, but I could see them. Sometimes that’s all that’s desired, to be seen, truly seen.

I considered buying her dinner, drove right through KFC and considered it. There was a pause as the man waited for the rest of my order… don’t buy them food, they aren’t homeless, invite them to dinner. “That’ll be all, I don’t want to order anything else.”

Invite them to dinner. I don’t invite my friends to dinner, I can count on my two hands how many times I’ve invited a friend to dinner in the last 15 years. Invite them to dinner.

I didn’t feel safe inviting them to dinner myself, call it wisdom, call it fear, I don’t care much what you call it. I was getting that feeling, you know the one where you know that you’re about to be swept away in the will of God and you best just go with it?

So, I drove home. I went to my husband who was studying for his sermon the next morning. Minutes are critical on Saturday, I’ve blocked them off, considered my husband gone on a retreat every Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. But, I was a woman on a mission.

“There was this family… they were holding a sign…”

He knows me. This man who has walked with me for 15 years, he knows me.

“You think I should go down there?”

“Yes, or something. I’m about to make chili… there will be enough… if you feel like you should, you know, invite them to dinner.”

So off he goes with our daughter to see this not homeless family in front of Taco Bell.

Shortly after, I received a phone call, they’re coming, 30 minutes. They’re coming to dinner. Ok.

The kids jumped into action, this was all of our routines and schedules in action, this was in large part, why we do all of these things. The ministry of availability, this was it.  Make a salad, add chairs and leaves to the table, make room, pick up, put away those electronics, bake a batch of brownies! They were champs, I praised them for it afterwards.

These kids, they too were caught up in the random adventure that God laid out for us. We didn’t know what He had in store, but we were being obedient. “Loaves and fishes, loaves and fishes” they kept repeating it and giggling. Loaves and fishes, a cry we learned from my friend Melissa, a wild cry for God to extend our hand of giving and provide in a wild way.

Then she came.

She brought her little one year old daughter, her son, the child she carried within her, and her husband. She came into my home and ate my food. We cared for our children, we fed them, corrected them. When her daughter took my daughters cup, she made her return it. Often, we would look across the table at each other and smile, nod, laugh a little.

We invited our friend and he came to join us. He came after being woken up from a nap, this friend who has never been to dinner at our house, this friend whom we’ve talked to only a handful of times. On this night, he was a welcome protector, rescuer, friend. Forever after this night, he is a dearly beloved brother.

After a while, she went home. She took her little family and went to her apartment home 2 miles away. I looked her in the eye, I hugged her. We were women. Wives. Mothers. We’d shared a meal together, lived a bit of life together. With this hug I wanted her to know that I saw her not as a woman asking for a handout beside her husband, but as a sister who came to share a meal, a moment of life together.

We hugged and she left.

Our dear brother stayed and talked for a while, there was a comfort, knowing we had done this thing together. There was no physical reward, no grand stories of redemption, there was just the deep, lasting fellowship that comes when believers gather in His name.

And that’s what happened when the woman, a real, live, self proclaimed gypsy, came to dinner.

Seen & Heard: Random Phone Photos

wpid-0127141616.jpgThis guy got new glasses on Monday. Every time I looked at him, I laughed out loud. That made him self conscious, sorry about that. :/ The truth is, I love this guy and wouldn’t be the same woman without him.  I sometimes blame all of our issues on his wild passion for God, but ultimately I know that he seeks God wildly and I would be so frustrated with anything less. 🙂 Love you honey, and your new glasses too!

wpid-0127141652a.jpgWe went to the park, we’ve been stopping in at the park for an hour here and there more often these days. The poor 3 year old at the end of this clan hasn’t had enough park time and we all do better with some fresh air. These two brothers are discovering some commonality as one is finally old enough to engage in the pursuits of another. They still keep a safe distance, but they are finding their way. God works in all things.

wpid-0127141802a.jpgWe were having dinner and I was thinking what a blessing it is to have the entire family together at the table. This is a common occurrence these days, but I know it won’t always be the case. I took this to capture the normal moment of “dinnertime” and they all thought I was strange. That’s ok, they always think that.

wpid-0128141919a.jpgOn Tuesday night we celebrated this guy’s 7th birthday with my mom and no cousins.  It’s a new normal and we miss our cousins, but we are taking full advantage of having grandparents all to ourselves!!! 😛

wpid-0128141333.jpgThis guy wisely removes himself once a day to swing on the swings by himself. He’s done this everyday for years and years. It’s for all our good, I need to find my own swing – for the good of all!

wpid-0130140701a.jpgThe three middles successfully made it a night in their new tent. It’s so fitting that all of the gifts that Maury chose this year were things he could do with his brothers, he loves and adores them.

wpid-0129140933.jpgOur baby boy turned 7, he loves to make people laugh and he’s good at it. 🙂

 

wpid-0129141900b.jpgWe have great friends that come over every week for community group. It’s been neat to watch the kids bond and grow to love each other as they spend time week after week. Look at those guys back there standing right in front of the TV…!

 

wpid-0130141216a.jpgThis girl’s reading level is higher than mine was at her age, a book and a tree, is there anything better?

That’s a week in our life in random pictures. 🙂

Happy Friday!

Seen & Heard: Navigating an Extrovert World

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There’s such a thing as being too introspective.

It’s called being a highschooler.

That’s how I’ve felt this week, like a highschooler. Every feeling, every thought, all my interactions have gone through the filter of feelings, attacked by my worldview, looked at from every angle. After going through this process, they’re plopped out in haphazard fashion to anyone who may be nearby.

It’s there. Leave it there. Don’t think about how you feel about it, just let that thing lie there!

I’m an introvert. Filtering and processing is what I do and it takes time.  My extroverted counterparts also filter and process, but their system works at lightening speed and rather than internalizing every encounter, they process it on a high level and carry on with life.

See what I’m doing? I’m being introspective about extroverts/introverts.

Some weeks, like this past one, I spend all my days living an extrovert’s life. Moving at the speed of life, no time to stop and process, lots of putting myself out there. The result is me trying to find a rock to hide under while also trying to discern why it is I need a rock so badly.

I share with my husband how tired I am of having to live in my weakness. Why can’t God give me something to do that I’m good at?! (I know, pride and God’s glory and all that, I never said I was being rational this week, I said I was being a highschooler.)

I shared with him, and he just looked at me. That was probably best, but terribly frustrating.

Maybe I just won’t share anything with you anymore.

Then, he said what is my favorite quote of the week: “No! Honey, don’t worry I have DEEP WELLS of emotion!”

Sure. that’s what we need, two of us feeling feelings. 🙂

Yeah, it was one of those weeks.

🙂 Now that I’ve filtered and processed it, I can laugh about it!

Happy Friday!

Seen and Heard: 3 Things in 3 Days

Three days into the New Year!

1.SOMETHING NEW: I learned something on New Years Eve, if you say you want to go to bed early, you should specify how early. A certain man in my home went to bed at 9:15 and that made me very discouraged.  I watched Monsters University and then headed to bed myself. Happy New Year! :/

2. SOMETHING BORROWED: I sent my husband on a personal retreat to pray and plan for the new year. He was there only ten minutes before he called and asked if I wanted to join him. 🙂  Our dear friends gifted him with a beautiful room that turned out to be an excellent workspace with plenty of room.  I sent along some good books for inspiration, a couple of personal notes and this list by Kevin DeYoung. The list has useful questions like this: “Have I done anything out of the ordinary to cherish and help my wife?”

While he’s gone I have the job of entertaining the teenagers after the youngers go to bed. They just sat there looking at me so I decided to learn how to play their game:

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3. SOMETHING READ: My 2014 book reading plan is in full force right now, I’m currently reading through a couple of great books and thought I’d share quotes from each, but there wasn’t really anything quotable in them, so here are some thoughts:

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung: He sounds a lot like my husband. Driven, doing many things at once and not daunted by the many tasks coming at him at once. I figured it would be best to read this one at the beginning of the year in case it had something useful in it, rather than getting more Crazy Busy and then back tracking.

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax: I have hopes for this book. I am skeptical that a writer of theology can write a good novel.  Is that terrible? I am. Skeptical I mean, but I’m probably terrible too. After reading part of the first chapter I went back and read all of the good reviews of this book just to remind myself that this is going to be great, really great!

The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover: I’ll be blogging on these next 2 chapters (5&6) as this continues to be a good book. This book, along with a study of Judges I’m doing, along with one other thing I can’t remember right now, all talked about full obedience to God without making a plan B out of fear. 3 (or maybe 2?) of the same messages in the same week,things that make you go: hmmmm.

Judges for You by Tim Keller: My sister and my husband both say if Tim Keller writes it, you should read it. I read his book Galatians for You and loved it, this one looks to be the same. I have only read the introduction, but I’m doing the study guide in preparation for our women’s study this February. This is good stuff. I bought a stack of books and poured and prayed over all of them and this one floated to the top.  I’m already learning from it as I shared in the previous section above. Tim Keller = Good Stuff

Systematic Theology by, Wayne Grudem: I read the 1st chapter this week, which means I’m ahead of my schedule! 🙂 This one is going to be good, I already know that. For the first chapter this was an application question that jumped at me:

What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer?

Well… I have lived this. As a teen and young adult it made me very frustrated to be in a system that didn’t teach systematic theology. Not that I knew what that was, but I was always discouraged when older christians and pastors would talk about the apostles creed and various doxologies because they had been taught them in church as children. Here I was in a system that didn’t believe in teaching such things and yet I was surrounded by older christians who had benefited from systematic theology, catechisms, creeds, etc.  I didn’t know where to obtain such information, my parents were not saved as children and were also trained in the same system.  As I began to have my own children and sought to rectify this situation, I found the pertinent information very difficult to find.  It wasn’t until I reached beyond my borders, went into forbidden territory, that I found the information I had been seeking for a large part of my life. To be sure, there were a great many blessings that overshadow that portion of my experience, but that was what I experienced and how I answered that application question.

Al Mohler has a good article out today on reading books: Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books.

Ok. So that’s what I’ve been doing the past 3 days, a lot of planning, preparing, cleaning up… We’re back to school on Monday!

Happy Friday!

Battle for the Souls of Men

soldier

Battle for the Souls of Men

Go forth, valiant warrior of the King
Answer the noble call
Take up your sword and fight
He’s given freedom for us all

The warriors are few
The courageous fewer still
Sound the Battle cry!
You fight in His will

 Gird yourself in armor
Leave everything behind
Stand firm in His power
He brings healing to the blind

 Victorious is the warrior
That rises again and again
Rise up valiant warrior
You battle for the souls of men

The story: God gave me this poem for my husband as he embarked on pastoral ministry. He had an experience with a man who was demon possessed and as he prayed over him, he sensed this spiritual battle. It was then God cemented in His heart this desire and call to “battle for the souls of men.”  I thought this was an appropriate reminder as to what and whom we fight for as we enter into this new year.

Seen & Heard: A Year of Grace & Stashing Treasures

There are so many things that happened in this past year that can’t be spoken about yet. The situations are too fresh, too near, so – unresolved. These things can be wrestled with, spoken about, cried over, before God in prayer. I think that’s the way He plans it. Quiet dependence on Him.

January

18120This year was definitely a lesson in dependence and 30 days into it, I was already Arguing with the Almighty.  My family dynamic had changed, the neat and tidy had been thrown off and I was struggling to line all my ducks up in a row again. I never did get those ducks lined up, but I learned a lot through that trial/blessing.

T&J

February
The stress of 2013, the decisions to be made, huge, greater than us, philosophical, moral, life-altering decisions had to be decided and we didn’t always see eye to eye. February 14 rolls around and a day that’s supposed to be full of love – wasn’t. Learning to live out Marriage in the Trenches was difficult, 2013 marks our hardest year of marriage so far.

March
FAMILYWORSHIPBy this time, we had started to gain our bearings a bit. Books certainly have an impact on me and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together made huge impact in how I view community and family life.  Out of it came the Family Worship Experiment, a practice that didn’t stick, due to life schedules, but was fruitful in the trying and I suspect will surface again.

April
Some time in April, I joined a book club. I’ve never been in a book club before, this one was good for me, until I made the mistake of reading someone else’s blog post on a chapter before I read it. It was talking about making furniture out of leather. That was more than I could bear, I’ve made unblogged progress in this book, but sadly, it is on the 2013 unfinished books list. I’ll finish it, I will, it’s too good not to.

Mayjojo
I was still reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking in May, blogging through chapters 3 & 4, who knew there was a Hidden Art of Doodling Prayer? This really was a good exercise for me, blogging through that book, maybe I’ll pick it up in 2014.  A better picture of what has had an impact on my own life and more specifically in 2013 is the post Child-rearing: It Takes Community. A special thank you to those very important adults who have impacted and poured into my children.

When your child hits a wall and turns their ears from you, when there is no way to get in, get through, make way. Then, friendship steps in, community steps in, life on life daily living kicks it up a notch and makes paths where the brush and weeds and thorns were too thick to pass through.

June
wpid-2013-06-11-16.56.08.pngAre you tired yet? It was tiring to live this year! We celebrated 15 years of marriage in June, moved in June, our hearts broke in June, I can only pray that in time God will restore and heal all broken things. So Life Goes On…

So I take my boxes and those dear to me and I venture out with all the exhilaration and hope that comes with new life. A fresh start. With all confidence in the One who has been faithful, and will be faithful again, I smile.

I embrace the future.

July2013-07-26 13.27.02
In July the struggled continued. 2013 was a year of changes and rediscovering who we were. It was as if the rug was pulled out from under us and we just couldn’t gain a steady footing. These two posts this month are very dear to me. One was the passing of a dear girl Amanda Wright and the other was regular life with kids, but as I look back now I see that we were making specific and pivotal decisions during this time that we’re reaping the blessings from now. God does that, He takes you through the pain to bring you to the joy, sometimes it just takes time.

August
I was studying for our Women’s Conference in August and I had biblical womanhood on my mind in The Old Worn Soapbox.  Being on the other side, I find myself tired of talking about this. We’ve gone through the teaching stage for now, it’s time to start living some of these things. I’ve been praying about how to provide opportunities for women to live out their call  in the body. We’ve made progress, God’s not done with this yet.

September
wpid-20130906_151341.jpgGuess What? In September, I posted my first Seen & Heard post. They’ve come to be my favorite, I love to act silly and say whatever I want in them. Sometimes I have too much to say because something has gotten me all fired up, but mostly I try to keep them light and funny and not LONG like this one. I also began blogging through The Church Planter’s Wife, a book that has been good for me, another book not completed in 2013. (Grace, Grace!)

October
I began blogging twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays in October. Yeah, I know, it’s a lot of Julee in a week. I have to live with me all the time so just be glad you can close your browser and walk away.  There were funny moments of Identity Crisis, moments where God spoke in A Still Small Voice, just reading books with the kids in Wrapped up in Rhymes, there were even battles over Halloween. The instance that had the greatest impact on me and greatest response from women was A Call to Connect where I discovered: “It’s possible to crave community yet also crave privacy.” I learned that it’s ok to have a small circle I’m close to, I don’t have to extend deep friendship to every person that seeks it. I scratched the surface on a topic (friendship) that is the cause of ache and hurt in  many women, it was interesting to see the response.

November2013-11-01 09.04.52
We’ve almost made it through the year. If you’ve made it this far in this post, you’re a trooper. I honestly don’t expect you to read the linked posts (Not even my husband or my mother would do that), but it’s been a great exercise for me to look back through this lens of written word. I can see God’s hand in all of these difficult days and in the great days too. November 2013 brings a look at my Unconventional Life a dream In Visions and Dreams that I thought was for one situation, but as it played out, was for another situation.

I also wrote about The Dark Thoughts of  a Mother, I understand not everyone has been to this place, which is why it needs to be written about. If you haven’t parented a child like this, you just can’t know what it’s like. I wanted to give the mothers that have, some relief.

December
I wrote two posts in December about a boy who was killed for his faith. I understand that a rich christian man losing his reality TV show job is more important, but this still burns in my heart. Dear America, This is Not a Game and Dear America, Actually  were like the Dark Thoughts of a Mother post, me saying what I really think and have lived. Both posts were misunderstood by some, that’s ok.

I wish I could say that at the end of all of these 2013 posts, I didn’t need to write and work through ObSoLeTe – The Pain in December, but I did. There are still pictures and Facebook posts and memories that remind me of the sting. It is what it is. My prayer is still this:

And I know I shouldn’t care
If I’m out or if I’m in
Cause if I am dismissed
Oh you always take me in

Take me in God. Take me in and shield the pain of what was, the pain of what could have been. Take me in to the next year and close the chapter on all that once was.

Take me in your love and heal me, make me new.

After writing that post, it stings less, just a bit less. Most the time.

On to 2014
Congratulations! You made it to the end! Now it’s time to start 2014! I’ve gone back and forth about studying the book of Nehemiah this year, but after writing this wrap up, I see that it’s time to begin purposefully rebuilding the city.One foot in front of the other, here we go. We go with grace, hope and peace – We go with God.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

 (Psalm 91:1-2, ESV)