Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dear Blogger

Dear Blogger,

I hate to do this to you, and I hope we can still be friends, but I think it's time we went our own ways. I've been thinking about this for a while and every time you let me down when I need you most, I reconsider the options I have.

I only have a small amount of time when I sit down to take advantage of what you offer me. I've been grateful. Truly, I have. But, in those few, rare moments I get to show my gratitude, you let me down and have become consistently unreliable and unhelpful. You freeze up, you won't let me upload pictures and finally, you're starting to not even letting me publish simple text posts.

So, as hard as this decision has been, I'm moving on.

I wish you the very best of luck in the future and hope that we can continue to remain close friends.

Yours Truly,
Laura

Moving

I'm all packed up and headed over to my new blog...

If you're looking for me, you can find me here:

(www.quiethereandnow.wordpress.com)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Promises

As I continue to read Kathleen Norris' Amazing Grace, I am soaking up a little bit from each chapter - each one has a sentence or paragraph that totally stands out to me and is resonating somewhere deep inside....

"But they [the Israelites being led out of Egypt], as any of us might, began longing for the devil they knew, rather than face the unknown road ahead." – Norris on salvation

How often I have looked backward at what was comfortable and familiar, as opposed to looking ahead at the scary and unknown. No matter that the comfortable and familar had been outgrown or was harmful, it was simply known. And that was easier than walking into the unknown. That's where I was the summer of 2004. I had left friends, family, a great job, a great church, fulfilling ministry, single life and moved with my new husband six hours away into the desert. At first, as all journeys are, it was exciting. But then, the desert-ness of it all set in. The isolation and lonliness and eating manna day after day, not being entirely sure on some days if there would be manna the next day and not being sure if I cared. I longed for the days "before."

I'm reminded of the song Sarah Groves sings called Painting Pictures of Egypt"

"I don’t want to leave here, I don’t want to stay. It feels like pinching to me either way. The places I long for the most, Are the places where I’ve been. They are calling after me like a long lost friend...The future seems so hard And I want to go back. But the places that used to fit me, Cannot hold the things I've learned. And those roads closed off to me, While my back was turned."

After two years of walking in what seemed like circles in the desert, God had done some pretty miraculous changes on my heart. The quietness I was surrounded by helped me hear His whispers. So much so that sometimes it seemed (and at times really was true) that He was hiding His face from me. That He had become silent and I was in some waiting room. But silence and whispers have a way of getting one's attention better than all the yelling and talking in the world. Have children? Both "the look" and oh-so-quietly instructing a child as you look in their eyes does wonders for obedience. It has a way of getting their attention. God did the same with me. I had so much noise in my life before the desert that I don't know if I would have heard Him completely or well enough, had He yelled and jumped up and down. So full of my "ministries" and activities, life and myself. So He was silent and whispered at times lessons of unconditional love, patience and humility.

Moving into the desert, causes one to really feel the ugliness of who you have become and it either changes you or reduces you. Sometimes I went back and forth between being changed and being reduced. In the end, the desert experience did both. I was reduced in the sense that God became bigger than me, more mysterious than I thought possible and immeasurably faithful. That has a tendency to promote humility and oh how humility changed me.

I haven't "arrived" or anything. I have a long way to go on this spiritual journey, but there are less days when I seek the "devil" I knew and more days when I long for the adventure of the unknown.

I heard this great message one time about the silence of God. The speaker referenced Jeremiah 29:11 - you know the one:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

So often we cling to that verse as a promise - and it is - but we neglect to see what is on either side of that promise. On the initial side of that promise, in verse 10, is God telling us that He will be gone for 70 years. 70 years. That's a lifetime to us these days. And I'm sure, even though they lived for two and three and five times that back then, 70 years was a long time to have God be silent and seemingly gone.

This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. (Jeremiah 29:10)

Hemmed in at the end of the famous 29:11 promise is a two-fold "then you will-then I will" scenario which to me, is an even greater promise than verse 11 tells because it lays out the "plans" referenced in 29:11.

First my response is required, which is initiated by the years of silence and brought on by missing God's presence:

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me...(Jeremiah 29:12a)

And then God responds:

and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." (Jeremiah 29:12b-14)

Here's the real promise I find in Jeremiah 29:

God will listen to my prayers.
I will find God when I seek Him with all my heart. He will be found.
He will bring me out of captivity.
He will gather me together with all those that have been banished.
He will bring me out of the exile He carried me to.
His silence will end and His presence will be made known.

I'm sure that the times of silence and waiting aren't over. I imagine that there will come other times in my life when it will seem (and maybe rightfully so) that God is hiding His face from me. But whether the silence is for 2 years or 70, I will hold onto the promises found in Jeremiah 29:12-14, knowing that He will hear my prayers and be found when I seek Him with all my heart. That He won't leave me bannished or in exile and in the desert, Life can be found even in parched ground.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I heart TiVo

Ok, so it's not really TiVo, it's the local cable company's version of it called the DVR box, but it rocks.

I couldn't keep my eyes open past 8 p.m. last night and I missed several good shows I might have normally tried to watch. So, what's a girl to do at 3 a.m. when she can no longer sleep? Turn to her trusty DVR, that's what.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

D24's Response

Watching my husband grow as a father has been such a joy. He's been a bit of a pro from the start, but as Lou grows up, so we must also grow and learn. Just when we have one stage of parenting down, she morphs into a toddler that stands frozen in the doorway screaming and crying for no apparent reason.

WonderMan takes care of our after-dinner, bathtime routine about 99.9% of the time. It started out as a way to give me 20 minutes of time to myself and now as become more of a blessing in the whole please-don't-make-my-whale-of-a-body-all-big-with-baby-boy-bend-over-and-tend-to-the-bath-event.

Plus, I love hearing the two of them together. He teaches her colors and numbers and where her "pits" (armpits) are. He makes her giggle harder than anyone else can and the watching of the two of them, her in his lap, all scrubbed and clean, wet hair and all, reading a bedtime story is enough to make my heart melt.

Then, the other day, he put her in timeout for being disrespectful to me. Listening to him correct her after timeout was over in such a gentle, loving but firm way, made me so proud and grateful that he's in this parenting thing with me.

We've had some disagreement over how to discipline and when and I imagine those won't necessarily go away, especially as it only gets harder the more Lou learns to do, but he's great at communicating with me and coming to a resolution and decision as a team.

He already has his daughter's heart and total adoration...I can't wait to see what he's like with his son.



Monday, October 23, 2006

Thinking

I'm thinking too much lately. It's starting to get on my nerves. The thoughts simmer in my brain until they reach a boil and start pouring over into everything else.

It's also possible that I have too much time on my hands these days, which is weird for one moving across the country, 32 weeks pregnant and raising a fiesty toddler. In my defense, I'm only getting four hours of sleep each night (pregnancy woes) - making my days longer, we're looking for a church family and wondering what that even means or what it should/is supposed to look like and I signed up for this Fall Into Reading challenge that's actually forcing me to return to an old beloved hobby.

I've just started reading Kathleen Norris' (author of Quotidian Mysteries) Amazing Grace - A Vocabulary on Faith. I am absolutely hooked. I like the way she writes. It's written poetically, brilliantly and not at all on my level. It's taking me an embarrasing amount of time to read through each small chapter. And each page has spoken volumes to me in short, small sentences, confirming so many of the thoughts that have been boiling over in my head.

On prefaces:
"The monks it seemed, were in less of a hurry, less frantic to fill the air with a quantity of words. They allowed for silence, room in which the words of scripture and Christian theological tradition might be more readily taken in, digested, absorbed."

and:
"And I also find that the long struggle to sort out a genuine Christian vocabulary has made me much more wary of religious language that strikes a false note - the narcissistic babble that masks itself as spirituality, the conventional jargon of evangelism, which can narrow all of Christendom down to "Jesus and me," and preachy gusts of sermon-speak, which, in the words of the great preacher Gerard Sloyan, "is the language of a land with no known inhabitants."

On the Antichrist:
"What the pastor said was so simple that it will remain with me forever. 'Each of us acts as an Antichrist,' he said, 'whenever we hear the gospel and do not do it."

On Silence:
These children had so many little rules barked at them all day long by a burned-out teacher that they had stopped listening, which surely is a prerequisite for silence."

I'm only into the second chapter and I'm so intrigued. Something to appease and organize all these thoughts in my head. Or maybe something to stir them up and out of me. Either way...you'll find me curled up on the couch at 2 a.m. on my sleepless nights reading a good book.

Heartbreak

I've been posting just the responses for the last few days because I was so behind on posting at all. The thing about living in the "here and now" is that there are times when the "here and now" doesn't allow you to do everything on your list. In fact, that's how it is most days. My to-do list is never completely checked off. So priorities have to be shifted regularly and sometimes this blog is at the bottom. As hard as it may be to believe, the world won't stop if I don't post for a few days. My brain may explode, but the world will keep turning.

I've had a heavy heart the past few days, partially, I am sure, due to hormones. But the bittersweet part of this blog world is the ability to read and know about the amount of heartbreak so many sisters are experiencing. I don't know that in a blog-less world I would know about half these situations. I mean, sure, I would know that these "things" happen to people, but I wouldn't know their names, I wouldn't see their faces or pictures and hear their detailed stories. So while I am grateful for the blogdom for the amount of support, friendships and wisdom I've gained from the other women I've met around the 'sphere, I'm also heartbroken lately for the amount of grief it seems so many of them are facing in the severe illness of loved ones, severe stress brought on inside families and homes, broken marriages, storms (physical and emotional) that take away precious lives - of those we hold dear as our children in hospitals and of those we only read about in the papers after the storm has passed. It's the deadliest month in Iraq with 85 soldiers dead and families everywhere mourning those lost and fearing for those still there.

Then there's some family stuff going on in our extended family. (Isn't there always?) And it's painful and as time goes by, the pain cuts deeper and healing seems farther out of reach.

I'm grateful for a God who holds us all in His arms and cares more than any of us possibly could for each other's pain. I'm grateful for the hope and promise He offers inside His love, as hard as life may be to understand or navigate in certain situations. The "why won't He just..." comes so easily and the "He is good and faithful" can be so much harder when something seems so unfair. So wrong and so painful. But my comfort is found in the One that holds the future, trusting He knows far better than I, how everything should happen. I often think I know better, but my trust in Him wins out over my knowledge (thankfully), so even in the pain, with what little our hearts can feel, the collective cry I feel and hear going out and upward, is one of trust and prayers for comfort and healing.

And even in the heaviness, that collectiveness, the community of Christian women reaching out to the same Father, there is comfort and blessing indeed.


"the very Hand that shields our eyes from understanding is the Hand that will be holding you for miles" - Nichole Nordeman, lyrics from "Miles"

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
Revelation 21:3-5