Tag Archives: truth

Water and Manna

Yesterday I woke with overwhelm and anxiety. Some of it stemmed from the eight kid factor, a common theme in my story. Other was from an over-responsible, irrational carrying of the weight of the world, not mine to bear.

Naming the feelings to the one lying next to me and releasing what was not mine to carry back to the one who holds the world in his hands helped. I still felt grief. Sometimes there is just sadness over all that is broken, and I weep.

Reading Exodus 16 and 17 brought me to water from a rock and manna from heaven. God’s people were being led the long way through the wilderness to prepare them to enter the promised land. This journey brought supernatural provision.

I was reminded of daily sustenance provided to me, physically, spiritually, emotionally as I walk with others (any myself) the long way through the wilderness. I felt gratitude and confidence to move forward in the day.

That feeling lasted all of an hour, before reality struck in the form of unexpected bills and adult responsibilities. Things that I am responsible for.

Fear rose in my core and erupted in the form of anger. I lashed out in frustration over all that feels too muchyet continues. Gratitude fell away replaced by entitlement and expectation. Confidence gave way to doubt and insecurity.

It felt unfair to be losing my grounding, even as others depended on me for theirs. I had an appointment to keep, a visit to make, kids to pick up from school, volunteer responsibilities, more work to do.

I did the next thing, because someone needed me to. This found me in a waiting room without any of my usual comforts. I had my art journal in a tote bag but no books to read or markers to draw with or writing instruments to use.

Nearby was a basket of books. I pulled out Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon and out of curiosity opened to February 4, morning. Would God meet me here? In stunned silence I read this.

On a coffee table covered with magazines was a coloring book and package of Crayola Twistable crayons. Picking up the crayons I took out my art journal and began drawing water from a rock and manna from heaven. I focused on this quote,

He has opened the rock to supply thee, and fed thee with manna that came down from heaven.

It was such grace to be reminded of daily provision, to feel seen, and to create. I felt a settling in my soul and a rest in my spirit.

Water and manna.

Makeshift Mocha

Returning from half of my usual morning drop off, I carry breakfast up to a sick child, only to find her fast asleep. She is sleeping so hard that the sound of the door opening, the clinking of dishes, and the barking of an unruly dog cease to wake her.

This is how I know it is not a ruse, the hope of a day off, a continuation of the holiday. It is the real deal.

Back in the kitchen, not wanting to waste her cocoa made with warmed milk and Nesquik ® powder, I pour it into the remains of my black coffee, creating a makeshift mocha. I take this warm beverage into my room and open the laptop.

I want to write something. The sound of another daughter’s fingers flying over a computer keyboard inspires me. I want to mirror that diligence, transfer chatter in my head to the screen and then into cyberspace.

The problem lies in where to begin.

Lately, things have felt heavy and hard, the act of opening the laptop, a chore.

I am not alone in the heaviness. Even as I ponder what to write, dear friends face greater health issues with their daughter and head to the hospital, hoping for answers. I say I will pray, and I do.

It feels so small, so helpless, prayer, yet we are to do it without ceasing. We are told it avails much. So I pray, trusting that the same spirit that nudged me to text my friend is with her now in her uncertainty.

This morning I read Psalms 137-139. If you haven’t spent time in the Bible, lately, or even if you have, it’s a great place to visit. These verses especially met my heart in its struggle.

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. Psalm 138:3, NLT

The Lord will work out his plans for my life ~ for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. Psalm 138:8, NLT

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single one had passed. Psalm 139:16, NLT

In the space of my own uncertainties, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to answer prayer. Encouragement comes in the form of strength for the task at hand ~ whatever that may be.

God created me. He chose, named, and wrote down my days. There is a plan, a method to the madness, even if I cannot see or understand it. Especially then. I long to remain curious and open to what has been written for this day.

I want to step fully, confidently, faithfully into the life written for me. What if I truly believed God’s unfailing love? What if I openly embraced his encouragement?

He says I can ask for things. I ask now.

I ask for light, guidance, direction. I ask to be led into truth, for a way to be opened. I lift up requests both known and unknown. I thank.

I thank him for where I have been led this year, for faithful love generously given.

My makeshift mocha is almost gone. Cold dregs remain in the bottom of the mug, signaling that it’s time to wrap up writing in my corner and get on with the day.

Thank you for being with me in this space this morning, Friend. May you be blessed as you walk out this day written just for you. No one else can take your steps!

Unfailing Love

For he loves us with unfailing love. The Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.
Psalm 117:2

Creating a page on Unfailing Love carried me through the day. It kept me grounded through difficult parenting situations and challenging conversations.

The process of creating closely mirrored how my heart was feeling during the process. I began with a base of orange, yellow, and gold paint which I covered in black. I began using various brushes and tools to create movement bring up the hearts from the bottom of the page.

I scratched the words with a pointed skewer.

This painted page needed lots of drying time, so it was a perfect one to leave out and come back to throughout the day. I was reminded that this is a luxury while talking to a mama of littles who shared that her creations these days are made with twistables colored pencil/crayons.

I think it is wonderful that she is creating and honoring this season of her life in that way! Seriously, wherever you are, just jump in. You will be glad that you did.

Next I added the picture that inspired the page and accented it (and other areas) with my favorite metallic paint. Of course I put a leaf sticker on it, because it belonged there. I thought this was the finished work. . .

UNTIL. . .

I placed two cut out leaves on the page.

THEN I was finished.

I think.

Unfailing love shines into and through dark places, reveling the truth of what is hidden underneath. It calls forth beauty and invites hope to rise.

Unfailing love has kept some things from me and given me others. It has taught me to trust the goodness of the process. It is what has brought me to this day and given me strength to believe that Jesus is with me in and through it.

What do the words Unfailing Love prompt you to ponder or create? What does this page stir in you? I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings. Do share!

More Good Things

I felt eager to get out of bed this morning which is most unusual. I’m paying attention. It had to do with another day of creating in my art journal and wondering what prompt would come during my morning reading.

Tuesday readings are from books of history, and today’s was 2 Chronicles 11-15. Right away I felt doubtful of any meaningful prompt coming from that space of wars and invasions and turmoil. Instead I looked at the verse printed at the top of my prayer journal page which read, He fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle. Psalm 103:5

I drew a box around the words good things, considering that to be a pretty solid prompt should another not present in 2 Chronicles. I began reading. I soon came to these words in 12:12,

Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger was turned away, and he did not destroy him completely. There were still some good things in the land of Judah.

Oh me of little faith. This is part of the exercise, trusting that each day I will be met with exactly what I need. Today it was the invitation to ponder and focus on the goodness offered in everyday life, even when it feels hard. Good Things.

Here is today’s page.

Since I already blogged about Good ThingsI titled this post More Good Things. 

Where do you find goodness and what does the prompt Good Things mean to you? If you care to share, please do! I would love you to join me in your own creative way.

Three (More) Years

 

Morning coffee at my parents with my uncle. Glad to be here while my heart misses there. #allendercenter #theseattleschool #morningcoffee

This update graced my Facebook status Saturday morning. With a full heart I continued to wrestle and sort out all the feelings surrounding the Externship program and not stepping into it this year. Among hugs and sympathetic remarks, a dear friend commented, Give it three more years.

Though an inside joke for us, in that moment I realized that I had grown, am growing, will continue to grow through this process! My ability to read and hear her words as a statement of hope and not despair was a huge indicator that good work is happening in my heart.

The last time she mentioned three years , I was not hopeful. I was angry, stuck, and lost. I felt forgotten and left behind. Now I believe that I am right where I belong, and that it is a good place. I know that three years will look both better and worse, and that I can plan and dream but there are no guarantees surrounding outcomes.

Earlier this week another friend texted a picture that she took during my first weekend in Seattle. We were at the market downtown enjoying Sunday afternoon together before my flight home.

I was caught off guard by how well the image depicted exactly how I was feeling the moment it came through. Wistful, longing, ponderous, contemplative. All of the above. I remembered how I felt in that moment as I let settle all that had stirred in me after that first weekend.

I remembered her kindness to offer space while showing me all of the best downtown places and sharing her beautiful heart with mine. It was such a kind time. Neither of us knew what we were stepping into at the beginning or how it would look in the end.

I only know that she and her husband were the first I told I was considering the program. I was curious to see if they would be willing to host me. They enthusiastically cheered me on, welcoming me into their home and life on the realest of real terms. This family became mine as they graciously opened their home and hearts each of the four weekends.

We sat together on Tuesday, separated by thousands of miles, joined by technology for a brief time of texting as I responded to the picture. I expressed gratitude for her following the prompt to send it to me. It was perfect. She jumped in as we caught up on life and shared heart space in the midst of mothering.

Three years. I will be 50 then. Another son will be 18 and my youngest will all be teenagers. Things will look very different. That intention sounds promising. It allows space for presence, not wishing away the time but fully engaging it.

None of us knows what the future holds, but I will hold to the hope of three (more) years.

Fall’s Promise

It’s the first day of fall. The kitchen calendar reads Autumn Begins, and my autumn begins with an early morning appointment. Stepping outside, a rainbow greets me through the gray, a reminder of faithful promises kept.

I need all of the reminders.

I need color breaking through the gray.

My early morning destination offers space to walk outside near a calm lake surrounded by trees. The bench near the water is wet with mist. I embrace every moment of the present. There is beauty in the sunshine and in the blue sky that peeks through the clouds.

Afterward, I visit my parents to catch up with an uncle who is here from out of town. Laughter surrounds the breakfast table as he shares stories of my cousins and memories of his own. I drink my coffee from a mug I brought back for my parents after a Seattle trip, a token gift for help they offered while I traveled.

I think of my friends who are there now and offer up a prayer. I remember the early fall day two years ago when I walked to The Seattle School for the first time.

I continue to cling to the color, to remember that the gray passes, even as it swirls around me. Heaviness is not as easily shed as I wish.

Back home I supervise chores and help with homework and prepare lunch. I simmer fall scent on the stove and light a pumpkin candle on the table. A squirrel plate replaces the plain saucer underneath.

I fold and lay a leaf-covered fall tablecloth over the buffet, replacing the cream-colored one of summer. I cut up carrots and potatoes and put them into the crock pot with chicken broth, the beginning of fall chowder.

It is all very ordinary, and there lies the promise.

The promise is that I will be met in the ordinary places.

I struggle to embrace ordinary and to settle into the space. It feels foreign to not just forge ahead to the next thing, which is what I have done for most of my life.

Texting a sister turns into a phone call where we jump in together to catch up on life. Her words speak truth and our laughter lightens my heart. When we hang up, colors are more vivid.

Fall’s promise is that I can trust God’s faithful care in this season, just as in the 47 that came before. The work in me is being completed, and I can rest in that. Life is full of color in unexpected places if I choose to see it.

Sometimes I don’t have to look very far. For those moments I am grateful.

Welcome, Fall!

Morning Joy

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5, NLT

I cried myself to sleep last night. Sitting in bed at the end of the day with journal in hand and tea on the nightstand, I began writing.

Where to begin I don’t even know. 

Words poured honestly and incoherently from my pen. No editing, no polishing, letters on the page strung together finding their place. I ended with a final question.

What do I need to just grieve?

Tears flowed from somewhere deep inside. From the heart of a much-younger me, cries of loneliness and pain began to escape, first silent, then sniffles, then sobs. I could not be comforted, as much as my dear husband tried. I just needed to cry.

Sleep finally came and with it the dreams. Tornadoes, crowds, a pack of dogs that all looked like Dewey, these were the themes. My overloaded brain downloaded and sorted and shuffled. I woke puffy and groggy and rested.

Coffee left by dear husband in my Seattle School mug replaced the empty tea cup on the nightstand, reminding me of where I was not. It also reminded me of a journaled prayer from earlier in the week,

God, You are faithfully loving me through the work you have given me in this season even as you faithfully love my friends through theirs. As the new group of externs comes together, help me to be content that I am here in H’burg and not boarding a plane to Seattle. Help me to be fully present with my family. I don’t know what you are doing, but I am trusting the work to be so good and kind that you can make a way for me there in my absence.

Shortly after waking, I saw my writing on the Red Tent Living blog. Overwhelmed with joy I linked it to my blog wall with the comment  I’m not in Seattle or Austin this morning, but I AM in the Red Tent today. Such kindness for my heart. Stop by for a read. Happy Friday, Friends!!!!

It is a happy Friday. I am thankful for new mornings, new mercies, and for joy that follows the tears.

Make Us Glad

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Psalm 90:15, ESV

Yes, Lord. Please make us glad for that number of days and years. It’s been a long time, and gladness feels far away.

I sit on the couch in my living room, feet propped, listening to my daughter’s playlist of gaming music and the click of her mouse. She does schoolwork online. I attempt to do my own work, assembling thoughts racing around in my head. They are difficult to catch.

Bright sunlight and blue sky shine through open blinds. Anticipatory autumn sun returns today, casting long shadows, giving a warm glow to the brick house and mature trees across the street.

What can I say? I long to be glad.

Are you glad to walk the dog? I ask my girl as she walks in the room. It is that time of day according to the schedule we are trying to create.

She laughs at my choice of words. I explain that meant to say ready and am writing about gladness. I send her to find the dog so that we can walk him. We are still finding our normal together. Our daily routine.

Write something is again written in my planner, the only thing on the list of Today’s Top Three.

I am writing. Something. In the snippets of time that present I sit with words, fighting forward for gladness. It comes to me in sunshine on the other side of a window, in a sky brilliantly blue, in a dog curled on his bed, in laughter at a distracted choice of words.

I am made glad in the moments that I choose to see goodness and receive as gifts what can also feel hard. When I feel the gladness redeeming affliction, I know I am growing and growing is good.

This makes me glad.

Still Summer

I know it feels like fall. School is back in session. Football games have begun. Life has resumed routine. Morning drives to school find me facing a blinding low-rising sun in the eastern sky. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back.

But it’s still summer for a little while longer.

Today I celebrated that truth by stepping off into the deep end of my daughter and son-in-law’s pool and swimming to the other side. It was my first time in the water this summer. The sensation was lovely.

My intention was to try to turn around the funk that seems to have settled around my shoulders, pressing into my heart. Surely water and sunshine would wash it away.

It was worth a try.

Several of my kids and my husband joined me. Others sat on the edge. We talked and laughed. We played games.

It was a relaxing space to regain perspective.

I wish I could say I left my troubles at the bottom of the pool with the leaves that have begun dropping, but it is not that easy. I wish I could say that I have leaned from Dewey to just live in the moment.

I am still practicing and being given plenty of opportunities to do so.

This afternoon brought laughter and connection and escape. It brought exercise and fresh air and a son-in-law who grilled hamburgers while we swam in his pool.

It brought goodness and kindness and another reminder that even when life is hard and unpredictable and wearisome, there is beauty and joy and love.

It’s still summer.

Change of Plans

I’m sorry I don’t have any quarters.

The cashier apologizes while fishing through her drawer for $.58 in coins to add to the dollar bills handed me as change for my $6.42 purchase. I quickly pass the paper money to my husband and prepare my hand for the pile of coins she is counting.

That’s okay. I actually prefer dimes.

I am speaking truth. I do. Dimes remind me that I am seen and that there is enough ~ enough money, care, resources. I watch for them and notice where they appear. On the floor of a closet I am cleaning, in the dryer, on a walk, there they are. I collect them.

We say goodnight as my husband, dog, and I exit the neighborhood Dollar General. I am grateful for its re-opening in time for the start of the school year. It is my go-to for last-minute necessities that arise. Along with the needed item, I feel care in my hand, heavy with coins.

Would you keep these coins in your pocket for me until we get home?

My husband obliges, and I pick up the pace, eager to see how many dimes I will find when we arrive.

This Sunday night is different than last when I was anticipating back to school week for my children. They headed back to school, then one returned to do school at home this year. With this change of plans came uncertainty, sitting in the tension between withdrawl from one program and application to another.

I know this  unexpected turn of events is for the best this season. That is how we do it, year by year. I am thankful for resources, space, and time. For knowing my focus.

I am thankful for an unexpected handful of change containing no quarters and four dimes reminding me again that I can trust.

All will be well.