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)

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Seen & Heard: The Dark Thoughts of a Mother

ABC's of a Godly Woman

I heard you say it. Your voice trailed off and it was quickly passed over, but I heard it.

I caught your words, softly spoken, your mother’s heart seeping some of its life giving blood. A mother isn’t supposed to think such things, but your quiet confession was like a billboard for all to see. I recognized your words, I felt your bleeding heart. Like reading a book, you recited my own thoughts:

“Sometimes, I want to say, ‘Go ahead and take your life'”

I know, it’s ugly. How does a mother get to the place where she thinks such a thought? How does a child get to the place where the one bore them, in her own body, would have such a dark consideration pass through her mind?

Now you’ve said it, I heard you say it, and I want to tell you:

You’re very brave.

I was afraid to voice it. As if speaking could bring to life. As if the condemnation would be eminent if this awful, nightmare became a reality. Afraid, if I said such a thing, it would give my child license; permission, to do as Satan tempts. A mother’s heart readily accepts guilt for the frailty of her children, readily accepts

the weight of her own frailty.

The dark chaos of a desperate mother’s thoughts: At least the torment would be over. You would be free. I wouldn’t have to worry, I would know you are safe.

The One who speaks and brings life will tell you: you’re contemplating lies. Such hopeless ideas have no place before a holy God. To ponder such things is to belittle the pain of mothers, all over the earth, who weep and mourn over the child they long to hold again. These thoughts spit in the face of a God who gave His Son to set our sons and daughters free.

Don’t take the easy road.

Even in your mind, don’t take the easy road. Certain thoughts ought to be taken captive and this is certainly one of them. But,

should you let it slip by in your mind…

Well, it might be best to just say it. Just have it out. Then, we can look it over together; examine it. We could shine the light of God’s truth on it. I know darkness wells up in the weak moments, that’s why we have sister-friends to hold our hand in the storm. We’ll search the scriptures, we’ll pray, we’ll cry. The God who understands such tears – He’ll get you back to the place where you aren’t despairing of life.

You said it.

I’m glad you did.

Find peace dear mother, find strength, find hope to smile at the future: In Christ.

Seen & Heard: Stashing Treasures

It’s a quiet Friday morning. The kids are off this week and so is our schedule. I’ve seen and heard so many great things this week, in the quiet of this morning I find myself calm, my mind blank, still.

I go through seasons where the whirlwind is so great I need to withdraw. I used to be able to do this by simply staying home; life isn’t so simple anymore. There are people everywhere. I often find myself so outside my comfort zone, so much stepping out by faith, so much being who and what I need to be, that I finally have to withdraw.  I find myself an introvert in a world that is seemingly filled with extroverts.

In the chaos. In the people. There are moments, really great moments, where hearts meet; love forms.  I dream of running off to live on a farm with Ann Voskamp where we could wax poetic about anything and everything, but the poem of these lives flowing in and out of my home cause my heart to overflow with love.

MOMENTS THIS WEEK

  • SUNDAY: Standing with my friend with tears in my eyes as she retells how God has been working in her mom. Chills, as I sense we are about to watch God do something amazing. (He did. He always does. It’s His nature)
  • MONDAY: My son explaining that his precious guitar strings, the ones we argue over who will pay for and if they really need to be changed, his beloved guitar strings? They are being worn down and worn out from worshiping God, with those in another country, the same God – in Spanish. What has become of his spare strings? He gave them away. By the way, if he comes home without a guitar strap or a capo, it’s because he plans to also leave those. What wonder is this?
  • TUESDAY: Sitting with 5 women as we finish out a study that drove us crazy with it’s frills, repetitiveness and nonsense, but laughing in wonder as we see how God was speaking anyway. Hearts opening as we share the impossible things in this life, things we have no control to change. Things we lay before The One who is victorious over all. Later, talking with another dear friend who just so happens to be a neighbor. Sharing life, encouraging one another. Days of talking over the backyard fence may be over, but we catch a glimpse of this community, christian community with this moment of encouragement in the afternoon.
  • WEDNESDAY: THIS:
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This little one begs to be played with all day long. These two who stayed late, ate chips and salsa and lived life right beside us. Hurts, tears, pain, weights and all, we lay them before the King and then play Candy Land with a 3 year old. It’s how it’s supposed to be. 🙂

  • THURSDAY: Oh, Thursday. Too many things to recount in the rollercoaster day.  Hard, good talk with my husband. Meeting with a great pastor who lets me run with my ideas, helps me carry them out and helps me think clearly! I left this meeting rejoicing, it’s a beautiful thing when ministries in a church converse, talk, and work together. It’s for the good of the people, the good of the ministry, the good of the mission and it glorifies God, why don’t ministry leaders TALK more. Stop drawing lines between yours and mine and let’s work together already. Snuck out for tea and another, easier chat with my husband. Did my best to encourage some AMAZING women whom I am so blessed to walk this life with. They LOVE and then LOVE some more and I love to watch them LOVE! 🙂

That brings us to Friday and this quiet morning. There have been high highs and low lows, but as you can see, God is so, so faithful. I can’t focus on the drama or the incessant desire to withdraw, I have to focus on Stashing Treasures.

Happy Friday!

Secrets of the Heart

the heart

I was introduced to a woman in bible study the other day; she seemed nice and I was happy to meet her. She’s married, keeps herself well cared for, attends church faithfully, and is always out and about in the city.

I found out, from someone who has spent time watching her, that what is seen on the surface isn’t the way she lives her private life. While she may offer sacrifices in the temple, she also lures and entices men into her home while her husband is away. She’s loud, aggressive, manipulative and nagging. She dresses as a prostitute to aid in her cause of catching the eye of men. She doesn’t care for her home and responsibilities because she’s out in the city, stalking her prey. What appeared on the surface to be a fine, religious, married woman turned out to be a very dangerous woman.

I met this woman in Proverbs 7. 

Speaking to my friends about her, we didn’t feel as though we might become this woman. We don’t see ourselves dressing the part of a prostitute and luring men into our home. This isn’t a temptation for us. The thing we discussed was not the final result of how she turned out, but the issues of the heart, the issues of the mind and character that brought her to this place.

We would never lure a man, but it’s so very easy to respond when a man is friendly. The attention, the smiles, the compliments, they’re all very innocent on the surface, but what’s going on inside? This slippery slope of unfaithfulness is easy to slide down if we’re not keeping our hearts and minds in check. These innocent flirtations are what make up the disaster, ugliness and pain that can result in families, marriages and lives torn apart.

Read about the consequences to the women of Zion:

The Lord said:
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty
and walk with outstretched necks,
glancing wantonly with their eyes,
mincing along as they go,
tinkling with their feet,
therefore the Lord will strike with a scab
the heads of the daughters of Zion,
and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.

In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.

Instead of perfume there will be rottenness;
and instead of a belt, a rope;
and instead of well-set hair, baldness;
and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth;
and branding instead of beauty.
Your men shall fall by the sword
and your mighty men in battle.
And her gates shall lament and mourn;
empty, she shall sit on the ground. (Isaiah 3:16-26, ESV)

I think we would do well, women, to remain modest in our interactions with men and continually check the motives for our actions. Too often, the warnings are given only to married men to remain pure and holy, I believe we would be foolish to not heed the same warnings.

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:10-12, ESV)

Seen & Heard

image

Hosanna calls the ocean her swimming pool.  She can touch the bottom in her giant swimming pool.  When was the last time you stood before something so magnificent and embraced it as your own? God shows His might, beauty and majesty in His creation, jump in the giant swimming pool He’s created and praise Him!

We began a new women’s study on Tuesday mornings, it seemed rather pointless and simple talking about God’s design for women. Then, I shared how I had been willfully disrespectful to my husband just the day before and we all commiserated with one another. It’s easy to believe in godly womanhood, but when you have the choice to actually live it, it’s not so easy!

image

I’m getting my oil changed all by myself for the first time ever. Wondering how long it takes because I need to pick Timothy up from class very soon, but I played it cool like I had all the time in the world to just sit here. The cool air and question of whether or not I wanted the television changed was creeply like the dentist. Oil changes and dentistry, don’t like them.

Which reminds me of a thought I had last night, we go to the dentist for our mouth every six months, but we maybe go for an ANNUAL check up for our entire body. That seems oddly skewed.

Happy Friday!

The Call to Love

20130919_152037

This last month, I’ve been reading through the book The Church Planting Wife, Help and Hope for Her Heart. Two chapters in and I’m looking in a mirror of my experiences and struggles. It’s refreshing to hear that those who have gone before have had similar feelings.

Chapter 1 speaks of the the difficulty and the rewards of church planting. I identified with the mental games and spiritual warfare that can be brutal and I’ve often asked myself; If I’m called, why the deep valleys of depression? I’m reminded: He knows. He cares.

In chapter 2, the author talks about finding place and purpose as a church planters wife. The need to KNOW what to do, what the roles are for a pastor’s wife, can take over all sanity and clear thinking. My book is all marked up in this section, here are some of the notes I’ve written in the margins:

“The search for purpose and practical is never ending. Doing replaces trusting. Being sure of the call is one thing, micro-managing God is another.”

“You cannot live or give what you don’t have. There is no faking it. Eventually, you’ll need substance. When our lives are genuine, then we have all we need.”

On the topic of letting Christ define my priorities:

“I have standards and goals I want to live up to, I also have opportunities I don’t want to pass up. Knowing the balance in these, knowing just what God has for me to do is hard to navigate.”

And finally:

“Choosing to live in ravenous conditions when there is a feast at our reach is foolish and prideful.”

The valleys of discouragement, the emotional and spiritual exhaustion were all topics I identified with well. This past year has been a whirlwind of trial and heart wrenching decision making and difficulty. These weren’t all brought on by church planting, but they were all in the hand and direction of God. I know He’s taught me much this last 9 months and while I haven’t birthed a baby in that season, He’s birthed a new perspective; a different view of life.  I’ve seen deep things and been through difficult experiences that I know will be used all my days. This season has been hard, but for my good.

The one, overarching theme I pulled from these two chapters was the call to love. To love my God, my family, and the church body. This has been a prayer of mine and reading it here has cemented the idea in my heart. My goal, my desire and my top pursuit in the church has to be loving the body. I wish I could say this comes naturally to me, but it doesn’t and so it will continue to be my focus before the Lord.

He Loves Me…

photo by mark lorch via PhotoRee

 

He Loves Me

He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.

Through all of our days,

The same phrase,

The same mantra drips;

Flows forth from our lips.

He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.


And as the petals are plucked,

One by one the blood starts to drip and to flow,

So slow we hardly know.

Until, day by day, tear by tear,

Through the ripping and tearing,

The wound of our hearts become so raw

That we are left with nothing but pain.

Oozing, Festering,  pain.

He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.

With arms stretched out,

Wounded, pleading hearts laid bare,

We claw and we grab for the love that we crave.

A sort of band aid

To patch these holes that we’ve made,

But can our wounded hearts be saved?

He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.

Fingers wrapped like a snake

In the guise of a dove.

Squeezing pressure, sucking the life out of the ones that we love.

Until, we’re found all alone,

True character shown.

And there in the darkness and sin,

The mantra rushes in

He loves me, He loves me not. He loves me. He loves. Me. Not.

Ohhhh, but we are resourceful,

We are fighters,

We carry on

Because we are women –

And we are strong.

We don’t need a man to make us weak.

Hearts locked away,

It’s  freedom that we seek.

Cut off from the touch of a friend,

Freedom rushes in.

Numb hearts laid bare, this is the banner  we share:

I LOVE ME.

love me.

And if we are spiritual, heh.

If we are holy, women of God,

We take that heart made of stone;

We cast it at God’s throne.

Having great passion without great contemplation.

Vomiting strong emotions without deep meditation.

Disillusioned and alone we have been blind.

Tossed by the waves, out of our minds.

We have taken this God become man

And turned him into a man named God.

We get down on our knees,

To show that we love the Jesus that we think that we know,

Because we live our lives in service to him.

Having sermons spoon fed to us at our very whim.

And there, at the foot of the cross, we begin our mantra once again.

He loves me. He loves me not. God loves me. God loves me not.

Women, I ask you.

What have we become?

Are we merely a pile of petals trashed on the floor?

What have our stony hearts been created for?

I read an article the other day,

And I have to say,

It made my eyes roll in my head.

Let me tell you what it said:

“There’s a Growing Passion among women for God’s Word.”

This was the news?

That women are beginning to choose

– to think?

But I have to admit.

The idea brought me hope.

That fires has be lit.

That maybe we had been thrown a rope.

Women beginning to think.

Willing to be led.

Filling the air in their head.

Seeing the truth in the ink.

Truth that we were created for more.

Not to want the place of a man,

Women, able to stand.

Not weak and simple,

But able to control this temple.


And when our flesh grabs hold and our emotions  long.

Let us remember the old wounded hearts now strong

Let our eyes fall upon the cross,

To consider this freedom not lost.

True freedom found in the son,

No longer needing to run.

Broken hearts made whole,

Oozing, festering, pain taken for us.

Strong.

Confident.

Holy women of God, with

Deep passion based on deep contemplation;

Strong emotion, born through deep meditation.

To read God’s word.

Share God’s word.

Live God’s word.

Strength, not of ourselves.

Wholly surrendered, healed hearts laid bare.

To go back to that cross; look into the eyes of our savior, prince charming,

Raise our arms in the air and proclaim with confidence:

YOU love me. You love me still. God loves me. God loves me STILL.