it's fine

every now and again, God speaks when we are not expecting it, and i'm finding that those moments in which He "interrupts" me - mid-sentence, mid-activity, mid-prayer, mid-life -  are some of the sweetest, most ordinary moments of profound depth for which i could ever ask (if i ever remembered to actually ask for them).

it isn't that i'm not trying to listen.  but sometimes i'm listening for the wrong thing.  sometimes i'm waiting to hear Him say something i want Him to say.  to answer a question I've asked.  to speak into a situation i want resolved.  instead of simply waiting to see what He wants to talk about.

and in His grace, and maybe sometimes with a slight degree of amusement at my inability to get it yet, He speaks anyway.

i had an email this week from a dear friend i've never actually met.  (we are friends because we ran into each other in the blogosphere, but our real lives have yet to intersect anywhere offline.)  i'd written to her a few days before - poured out some of my troubles in vague detail, and written cheerily about some of the things that are going well - and there were seven glorious words in the middle of a sentence in her reply letter that were the word of the Lord to me this week:

"...that everything is fine like it is..."

i burst into tears.  the good kind.  the kind that come from that deep-seated place of "yes.  i needed to hear You say that, and i had no idea it was true or how much i needed it."

everything is fine like it is.  i don't have to change anything.  i don't have to control it.  i don't need so-and-so to repent for the harm they've caused.  i don't need such-and-such to happen in order to be happy.     everything is fine the way it is.

i am loved by an amazing God, who knows the plans He has for me, and who will not allow those plans to be thwarted, long-term.  i am forgiven.  blessed.  cared for.  i have rich friendships that i treasure.  rejection does not define me, nor determine my worth.  what He says about me is my definition.  there is food on my table, a roof over my head, gas in the tank of the car that is still actually, miraculously starting (most days).  i am able to give to others without experiencing too much lack.  i am truly and amazingly blessed.

any shadow over this blessing is simply that: a shadow.  it is nothing of substance.  not really.

everything is fine like it is.

and i am blessed.

this season

every year on the first of the year, i take some time to get quiet and listen, to read the Word and pray over my coming year, and ask God what He wants to do in it.  i try not to have an agenda - not to spend too much time telling Him what i want out of the year - tho we do talk about that, too - but to really listen.  and then i journal about it, so i will remember.  

today i was reading through that journal and found this, for 2011:


"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."
 - Ecclesiastes 3:1

as i read through the verses following this one today, i found myself picking out the times and seasons I'm hoping for this year:

a time to be born.  a time to plant.  a time to heal.  a time to build.  a time to laugh.  a time to dance.  (
i'm not so sure about the whole stones thing...)  a time to embrace.  a time to search.  a time to keep.  a time to mend.  a time to speak.  a time to love.  a time for peace.

i know we can't pick our seasons.  they come to us as God wills them, and we learn and we grow through all of them.  but so much of the past two years have been so hard, even in their goodness, and i would so just love a year of Jubilee.  a year when debts are cancelled and work is less intense and joy and celebration abound.  it would be such a gift.


Isaiah 61:
there are so many things in this chapter that resonate with my spirit and give me hope.

the Year of the Lord's favor brings: healing for broken hearts, freedom, release from darkness, vengeance we don't have to take (because God handles it), God's favor, comfort, beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair.  we go on display, showing God's splendor.  things long ruined are repaired.  devastation is reversed.  we see and experience His faithfulness.  we are saved.  good things grow.

it is a beautiful season.  and i think it is what You are promising me this year.

and so my word for this year is HOPE.

God, You know all the things I am hoping for.


He does.  

it hasn't been QUITE the Year of Jubilee i'd hoped for thus far - but there have been amazing moments in it.  new friendships.  amazing conversations with some awesome women of God. bursts of sunshine every now and again between cloudy days.  today i am counting my blessings - because sometimes we just need to.  it's that whole "remembering the deeds of the Lord" thing from Psalm 77 again.  the Israelites rehearsed the story of God's faithfulness SO many times - it's told over and over in the Scriptures, especially in the Psalms.  "He came and rescued us.  we walked across the sea on dry land, but Pharoah's army drowned beneath the waves.  the Lord saved us!"

if God can part the sea and make the sun stand still and raise His Son (and a handful of other people too!) from the dead - then He can do anything.  everything broken in this world can be set right, in time, somehow.

remembering that today gives me new hope, and makes me happy.  :)

random ramblings, vol. 9

it's late, but one mocha coconut frappuccino six hours ago might seem to be responsible for that.  (there are definitely drawbacks to living largely decaffeinated.)   which could have been item number one for this week's edition of random ramblings, but it isn't.  (you just get that pointer for free.)  ;)  so without further ado - MORE random ramblings:

1) i've lately become completely addicted to YA fiction.  there are some really good books out there right now.  if i ever have the privilege of having daughters, a book i read this week (which i am ashamed to say i almost didn't bring home because of the cover picture - it's a little scary) will be assigned reading during their teenage years.  written by a children's librarian (who are, btw, some of the most under-appreciated but most influential teachers of any child's life), this book is a MUST-READ for any girl junior-high or older AND their moms.  set in feudal times and dealing with the fantasy world of mermaids vs/and islanders, it subtly but powerfully deals with coming-of-age issues, managing peer pressure, the importance of character over popularity, and self-esteem.  all while creating an incredibly believable, historically accurate picture of the feudal system.  it was amazing.  and the cause of a very short night of sleep this week.  i've GOT to stop picking up new stories at night....

(like that's going to happen...)

2) Madeleine L'Engle is still my hero.  i'm reading Walking On Water this week, and again, learning so much from her about my faith, art, their interplay, and myself.  i cannot wait to spend countless hours in eternity talking with this amazing saint, and am so grateful to her for her transparency and wisdom in all her books, both fiction and non-fiction.  her writing and what i've learned from it is part of why i dare to write anything at all, ever.  i would have given so much for one meal with her at Crosswicks.  someday...

3) i am a horrible correspondent.  this is something with which i am slowly coming to terms.  i currently have at least EIGHT people who are waiting for long newsy letters.  (some of you are among them.)   they're coming, really.  REALLY.  it's just that i can't write shallow personal letters.  i suck at them.  (and it takes a lot of emotional energy - and time - to produce a non-shallow letter.)  so when it finally shows up in your inbox, brace yourself.  and schedule at least 1/2 an hour to read it.  :)  (and if you're not on that list and want one, please leave a comment with your email address.  i suggest using the so-and-so (at) such-and-such (dot) com methodology, to avoid spam from web-crawling whatnot.  i will add you to the list.)  ;)  For those of you who ARE on the list already - I promise, I haven't forgotten!!!

4) have i mentioned lately that i'm glad it's summer?  there are so many things i am grateful for with the advent of summer:
     - a slower pace of life (Thank You, JESUS!!!!)
     - sunshine  (why do i live in the mid-west again?  oh, right.  summer)
     - road-trips.  most notably to Michigan and BFFs in Indiana.  plus a variety of others.

5)  Sabbath.  on-going learning process.  on-going revelation.  on-going quest.  i began a new phase of it today.  one of the dimensions of Sabbath which i find to be sorely lacking but incredibly important to/in my life is the dimension of community.  the Sabbath was meant to be celebrated together.  and to that end, hospitality - which is one of my gifts, but one i do not engage enough - is something i need/want to amp up, especially on Saturdays (my current Sabbath day).  so, unto that end - i am investing in new dishes.  i know that might sound silly, but the truth of the matter is, a well-set table isn't snobbery to me - it's investment.  it's visible proof to my dinner guests that "i'm glad you're here."   i'm not going all-out right away - but once a month, i've given myself permission to ditch a few more pieces of the $2 dishes i once owned (but of which i have now succeeded in breaking the majority) in favor of slightly more pricey dinner dishes.  i bought 4 dinner plates today.  June's purchase will be 4 dessert plates.  July's: a 2-tier serving dish.  etc.  until i have beautiful place-settings and serving dishes for four.  (which is all my current table can seat - down the road, that will change, too, i hope!!!)  and in the meantime, i intend to (at least once a month) have people over for dinner.  which requires cleaning my apartment.  which is also on the task list for this weekend.  ;)

6)  i'm pretty sure that frappuccino is finally wearing off...   (yay!  just in time for Saturday....)  ;)

7)  if financial stewardship has EVER been something with which you've wrestled (or especially if it's something you wrestle with now), PLEASE: check out Andy Stanley's podcasts for "Balanced" - via Northpoint Ministries (dot) org.   (also available on iTunes).  Andy's wisdom is straight from the Lord and from His Word - and most definitely worth pursuing.

So there you have it.  Random Ramblings, vol. 9.  and on that note - good night!  :)

walking towards spring

Today was an incredible day.  Good friends, good stories, good food - beautiful weather (warm and sunny!) - a 15-mile trek thru a nature preserve on my bike, and a 2-mile walk.  I am rested for the first time in I'm not really sure how long.  And it feels amazing.  I can tell I am still not yet where I need/want to be - but a day off was a great step in the right direction.

It was a long, hard winter.  Juggling two jobs that hit busy seasons at the same time was no easy task, but the real truth is that in addition to that, there's just been a lot of "hard stuff".  Things I can't really talk about.  Things I can't do anything about.  Things that weren't my fault, but affected me deeply....

It's been a long, hard season, and I feel battered and bruised - and exhausted to the core.

But I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago, who was sharing a little  about the metaphorical winter season she's been in - watching objectively as God has blessed her family amazingly, yet feeling very disconnected, and wanting to feel the joy she thought she should - and she said something incredibly profound.  It was something to the effect of: "I was looking out my window the other day, and there's this field that in the summer, you can't really see much of except for the trees, but right now, you can see everything.  And it occurred to me that this is what God is doing, even if I don't understand it right now.  We need these winter seasons in order to see anything clearly.  He's as much at work now as He is in any other season, and what He's doing will bear fruit later on."

Her words gave me so much peace and consolation, knowing that it's true: in the midst of all the sorrow and heartache of the past few months, God has been at work - and I don't know what He's doing, but I know that He's good and that He knows what He's doing.  I don't have to figure it all out.  I just have to stand still in the middle of this field that is my life and look around to see what's here, and where new life might spring into being any moment.

It can be hard to imagine in the winter of our souls that spring will ever come.  But I drove through vibrant green tunnels of trees over the roads near my house today, and realized that life has come back to the world around me suddenly, and enthusiastically, and that the same thing will happen to my soul, maybe when I least expect it.  And being at rest today, caring for my soul by feeding it with things that make me whole and happy,  I saw glimpses of the summer to come.  And it is going to be glorious.

So I will keep on walking towards spring, choosing to hope even when I feel completely hopeless - because I'm not.  My hope rests in the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, who designed all seasons, and is no stranger to the one I'm in.

And I will continue to rejoice in every single glorious, sunny day that comes my way.  :)

random ramblings, vol. 8

How is it possible that it's been a month since I've written anything?  I knew it had been awhile, but wow.  The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy - lots of demands on my time at work (and outside of work!), with very little down time that has corresponded with coherency.  But that season is almost over.  Three more weeks, and summer officially begins.  My days will still be full, but not quite so crazily paced, and I am grateful for the coming respite.  In the meantime, another edition of random ramblings:

1)  It's Kentucky Derby Day, and while I generally prefer sunshine to cloud cover, I'm actually almost glad it's not a beautiful sunshiny day.  Staying indoors to watch/listen to pre-race coverage is harder when the weather's amazing.  I like "Twice the Appeal."  Hoping he wins.  :)

2)  I was unexpectedly given a gift yesterday: a canister of Azteca Fire tea from Teavana.  It's chocolate and decaf and tea = bliss in a cup.  Just opening the canister and smelling it makes me happy.  Ah.....

3)  My favorite farmer's market (here, anyway) opened last weekend.  Yay!

4)  I'm seriously looking forward to dinner tonight.  I bought bok choy and spinach and zucchini and squash and baby broccoli at the grocery store last night, and am making a ginormous stir-fry.  I realize that in true Sabbath keeping, I would have done the shopping Thursday night, and the cooking last night - but it didn't happen, and I like cooking (tho I don't like washing all the dishes that inevitably result from it), so it doesn't feel like work.

5)  Sabbath keeping remains an ongoing, positive challenge in my spiritual walk.  There a piece of it that might be slightly legalism-tainted - I want to figure out how to do it, and do it well, all the time - but it is so much less about rule-keeping than it is about communion and fellowship and rest and celebration.  Preparation is key - remembering to order my days in a way that makes the Sabbath fully possible is one of the challenges I'm not meeting well - yet.  The end of this busy season and the beginning of summer will help - and it is my hope to establish a new and better pattern that is sustainable long-term over the next few weeks.  Falling into Sabbath so exhausted that it takes most of the day to start feeling like a real person again isn't the way this is supposed to go.  But more on that in another post...

6)  I have been reading, in the midst of this insane season, often when I ought to have been sleeping - somewhat voraciously.  I've discovered new authors that I absolutely love - Julie Berry, E.D. Baker, and others - and picked up books I hadn't read yet from authors I already knew I loved.  I haven't been able to bring myself to read Sunshine yet - I've never been comfy with vampire stories - but I read Robin McKinley's Deerskin this week, and it was hard to put down.  It's sad - there's some really tough stuff in it, and years ago, I wouldn't have liked it at all - but it is also a story of hope and healing and love, and it ends justly and well.    It may not make the re-read list as often as The Hero and the Crown or Spindle's End - but it's definitely one I will read again.

7)  All the reading I've been doing is having a very positive effect.  I am so much more me when I'm reading good stories.  A good story is so much more than words on paper or a set of ideas in a logical order.  It's art, and as such, demands that you interact with it, and becomes a part of your story - affecting you, influencing you, challenging you to define what you think and feel and why, and sometimes pushing you to understand things you didn't or didn't want to.  (Deerskin did that for me - I think that's why I liked it so much: I learned some things about healing as I read.)  Stories have always been central to how I learn and think and spend my time - and if I am reading, I find I am more centered.  I don't know how to explain that, or why it is, but it is what it is - and I have felt, in spite of my tiredness, more myself over the past two weeks as I've been plowing through fantasy and faerie stories in time I didn't really have to spare.  For all that I can logically say that getting a good night's sleep would have been a "wiser" use of time... I'm not 100% sure that it would have been.   (Though both would have been awesome.)  ;)