Category Archives: Lent

Angered by the Call

Sometimes I wonder if I have changed, am changing, will ever change. I look back over the blog, read old entries, and think, really? STILL?

Sure, things are not exactly the same, but they are eerily similar. I found one such gem after looking through some old posts from the private blog. Sitting in my drafts folder was this memory from three years ago, almost to the day.

It is a different kind of hard that we sit in. We are always sitting in the hard, and maybe that is what I need to remember and learn as I sit in this Saturday afternoon between death and resurrection.

From March, 2013

It has been a hard day. Week. Season.

Life is so very full, which is a good thing. We are blessed. Work stress means there is work. House mess means people are living. Serving others means we are able-bodied.

It’s still been hard. Tiring. Draining. Exhausting. 

I had been looking forward to Good Friday.

Not in a, “I gave up caffeine for Lent and can’t wait for coffee on Easter” kind of way but in a, “I can’t wait for the school to be closed and to get to sleep in and have coffee with Steve” one. I was looking forward to hanging out together. 

Good Friday morning, Steve woke up and something was wrong. He was sick. It was his turn for the stomach bug that has been passing through our family for weeks. The violent, let me tear through your system and leave you languishing, stomach bug.

And I was angry.

Angered by the call to sacrifice my agenda and desire to have things my way. Angered by the call to suffer, because, after all, now I was going to have to do EVERYTHING myself and how is that FAIR? Can’t I even get a BREAK? A day OFF?

On Good Friday, the day set aside to remember the One who sacrificed his life entirely, the day I am on worship team for a special service, the day I am called in a minuscule way to lay down my own life and suffer and sacrifice for another, and my response is anger.

Not love.

Not Christlike.

Not taking up my cross to follow. Not even on Good Friday.

Only the painful, tangible, heart-rending reminder of why all of this had to happen.

For me.

Friendship Friday ~ Love and Sorrow

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you . No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:13-15

This is where my heart needs to be when it feels desperate to flee. Thank you, Jesus for calling me your friend. For making yourself known. For laying down your life. Help me to walk out your love for me in my love for others and in the laying down of my life for those you have given to me to love. My family. My friends.

Holy Week Psalm 24

The earth is yours, Father,

The world and all people.

Made for your purpose, I can’t understand why.

I long to climb your mountain and ascend your holy hill.

To seek you and worship,

I long to be blessed.

But my hands aren’t clean, and my heart isn’t pure.

I run to my idols.

I cover my tracks.

Thank you for opening those ancient doors.

For riding in triumph through gates that were old.

King of Glory,

Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

Invincible in Battle,

You chose to enter, to lift me from shame.

Allow me to seek you,

to offer up worship,

that I might receive the gift of your grace.

In the Quiet

There is therefore now no condemnation in how I do or don’t work out this whole blogging thing.

I KNEW this was going to be an issue when I started. I KNEW it would be an exercise not only for my head but also for my heart. I KNEW I would say I don’t care but deep down would. Or that I didn’t REALLY want anyone to read it, but then again, I did (blogging ambivalence much?).

I KNEW I would hear the voices of , “Sure, you can sit down to write, IF you have the house spic and span, and IF there is a month’s worth of meals ready to pull out of the freezer, and IF the ironing is all caught up, and IF your kids are well-trained on a housekeeping schedule so that things run like clockwork, and IF you are in-right-out-right-up-right-down-right happyallthetime!”

As it stands, blogging takes time and means being on the computer and coming across other blogs. Or social media. Which means I have to guard against all that raises its voice in judgment and not soak it into my bones.

Taking in what is helpful, releasing what is not. Choosing to confirm what I know is true for me rather than once again becoming swayed by what I KNOW is NOT. Knowing when to engage and when to let go. Recognizing that each person is as unique as the One who created them to fill their niche in the world.

We are not cookie cutters (though some of us have similar ingredients in our dough).

I could write about that.

I continue to wrestle with focus and direction in my writing and blogging. I started a private blog about a week before jumping out to try public blogging for a year back in April, 2013. (That was my goal, if I haven’t mentioned it, before. A year.) So now it has been almost two years. Maybe that is why I’m feeling all quiet and reflective.

Where do we go, where do we go now, where do we go?

I appreciate those of you who read. Who are there offline. Who ask and send words and sit with me in person and understand the quiet. Thank you in advance for loving me enough to show up and help me in sifting through the rotten apple cores and coffee grounds and occasional small animal bedding of my heart.

I am not alone in the quiet.

Words of Truth

These are what have been getting me by, lately. Words of truth.

Spoken to me by God in his word, by friends in text or facebook messages, written by my husband on the bathroom mirror, or clipped to the honeysuckle by birds, words of truth offer hope.

We are loved by a God who does the impossible. Hoping in him.

These words came through on my phone as I was exiting the house Monday morning. I needed to hear them. To read them. Everything was feeling pretty big and impossible, and I certainly wasn’t feeling God’s love. Hope? Not really.

My friend, who knows and cares for my heart, spoke truth, offering me hope.

That is what refuse of the heart needs ~ a hefty dose of words of truth mixed right into it. That is why I started the blog. For me, yes, but also for you, Friends.

It’s not just to chronicle my days, though it’s been fun to look back through old posts and see where I’ve been and things I’ve done and how the kids have grown.

It’s not just to collect and share recipes or tips or projects, though you might find some in here if you dig deeply.

I started the blog to have a place to compost all that is in my heart and to offer you a chance to consider what might be in yours. We all have our fair share of refuse that could use some truth mixed in with it.

Because then it is ready for sprinkling on seeds of hope! Once hope gets a chance to take root and grow, it’s a beautiful thing.

Refuse of the Heart

I have a lot of this surfacing in my heart again. Refuse. The noun.

something (such as paper or food waste) that has been thrown away : trash or garbage

Not to be confused with what I am tempted to do. Refuse. The verb.

to indicate unwillingness to do, accept, give, or allow

I am tempted to refuse to deal with the refuse that is cluttering my heart. To just go along and pretend it is not there. For a long time I tried that route.

It didn’t work for me very well.

So here I sit with the refuse and the reminder of why I chose that word in this blog’s tagline.

mixing refuse of the heart . . .

I chose that word because of all of the unnecessary emotional garbage I had buried. And there still is much there. It’s packed down tightly. Needing space to move and process and breathe.

I can tell when I am short to hear and quick to speak. I can tell when contempt flows freely in the face of adversity or conflict. When kindness is lacking and impatience abounding. When I’m feeling too big and too important in realms that are not my responsibility.


I can tell it’s time to slow down and return to the basics of listening to what is going on inside and processing it with kindness and compassion.

I’m thankful for those in my corner who help me remember. I’m thankful for those who do the dishes and put the kids to bed, giving me space to write.

Birds Bearing Words

Julie, there’s an interesting kind of little bird in the honeysuckle. Actually several of them. Come and see!

I’m busy in the kitchen, sorting groceries, prepping food for the upcoming week. There is meat to process and put away. Marked down for quick sale means taking extra time to wrap and freeze it when I get home.

I’m not surprised that there are birds. We often find the little creatures nesting in the thick honeysuckle that lines the fence. We tease that it is Zephyr’s lair where she hides to pounce on them.

Since this is one of the first spring-like days, it makes sense that birds would show up. It doesn’t make sense that Steve is heading to our room wanting me to join him. I follow semi-reluctantly. After all, there is work to be done!

It seems he is talking about the honeysuckle outside our bedroom window. I wonder if my neighbor, Melody, is having a party. There are shiny silver balloons bouncing in the breeze, blocking my view. That is the first thing that pops into my head as I peer out the window trying to see the odd little. . .what?!!


Sure enough, there are little birds. They are brightly colored and oddly still. I hurry outside, confused.


This sight greets me. These balloons are for me. I notice writing on one and pull it down to read it. Then another. And another. The birds are holding onto words written to me by friends who care.

blue birdIMG_3030

IMG_3029 IMG_3028 IMG_3027

I am overwhelmed.

The first thing that happens inside is I try to figure out and make sense of it. Who? What? When? How?

I know why.

And all clues are pointing to who.

A quick text confirms, and she quickly reassures that she didn’t gossip about me, something that is a given, but that she told some mutual friends I could use some encouragement.

The thing is, every name represented holds a special place in my heart and has crossed my path in a unique way this week, either herself or by means of her husband crossing paths with mine.

I know it’s not random.

This week has been big. It has been hard. There are things in all of our lives going on behind the scenes. In my world I was hit with my word this year in a big way. My heart is in a struggle to believe truth. I was hijacked to a difficult place in my story, and feelings began to return that I couldn’t feel back then.

We are all in process.

Completely separate from the words offered up by these precious friends were those in texts from others who are walking with me through this hard place.

Thank you for battling this out, Julie. You are an amazing, gifted, courageous, war-torn, lovely woman.

Savor the small moments. . .now is not forever.

I am praying for you today. I hear the heaviness, and my heart is aching with you. Be gentle with you.

I know I am not alone. Yesterday, evil wanted me to believe that I. Was. Alone. It was dark and painful and so very hard.

And it is still hard. But I know the truth. In the words of one of my sisters, God is shouting out his love for you out loud.

Thank you for being his hands and feet to me, Sweet Friends. All of you. Those who read, encourage me to keep writing, pray for me, tie balloons to my honeysuckle, text.

You are amazing and help me to. . .

see the beauty

                                                                                            . . . even in the midst of all that is messy.

Seeking the Lost

This post is part of the Chicago Trip series from 2013.

My only “break” was the time spent left behind searching the Shedd Aquarium for my son’s lost backpack while the rest of the group bused over to the Art Institute.

Praise God, I found the backpack, but it would be lying to say there were no tears. Prayers, phonecalls, and detective work revealed the location.


We were at the aquarium rise and shine at 9. When noon rolled around, buses were boarded for a short ride to the Art Institute.

A teacher took attendance, asking in an urgent tone where my son and his friend were. Immediately they came running down the sidewalk and burst onboard.

It was revealed that a backpack might be lost. Yes or no? Is it or isn’t it? What to do? Times like this bring out my inner 10 year old, and I feel helpless.

The idea of getting off to hunt for the lost item myself was met by resistance from our local tour director. While I wanted to be set free to look and then walk or taxi to the museum, she thought it was too far and I should call someone in the other group that was staying a few minutes longer and ask them to look for it.

I didn’t want to compound the problem.

I wanted to understand what was going on inside of me.

I wanted to be there for my own kid like I would be for anyone else’s.

I got off of the bus.

It wasn’t at Ice Age 4D, not at lost and found. I wrote a description of the item and my contact information in a notebook at the information desk. (I’m pretty sure its sole purpose is to placate tourists who lose stuff.)

With strollers and diaper bags everywhere, who would notice a lone burnt-orange backpack and turn it in to lost and found?


The logical, grownup side of my brain kicked in, and I remembered taking Kieran’s picture while waiting for the 11:00 movie. A quick review of the shots on my camera revealed no backpack.

But wait!

I had taken an even earlier picture at the sea lion. I checked it. No backpack.

sea lion

At that time, my child had raved about the time spent with penguins and otters. They were down below, and I would give it one last go and call Steve to keep from losing my bearings in the process.


He listened and talked me through the descent to the scene where the backpack was finally found amidst tears and a fragmented explanation to the young family guarding it.

I returned to the front desk to assure them that the lost had been found. I called the bus driver and waited outside with my ipod for him to circle around and get me.


I texted my mom chaperone friends who met me at the student group entrance of the Art Institute and whisked me in for an afternoon of art therapy, courtesy of Rembrandt, Monet, and VanGogh.



Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace to people of goodwill.

We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,

we give you thanks for your great glory,

Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father,
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Jesus Christ, most high,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,

you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us,
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer,

you are seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One,
You alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.


Chosen Heritage

He chose our heritage for us.
Psalm 47:4

You chose my heritage, Father. That thing that I am struggling with, wrestling with, you chose that.

You chose my parents, siblings, children.

Thank you for the gift of leading Steve and me to choose each other.

You placed me in this generation with these issues for this purpose.

Help me to continue to draw near to a place of acceptance and trust in you that I can release what I am carrying in my chest and lay it down at your feet.