My eldest invited us to an impromptu piano concert last night. Half way through the little one wanted to play something. Then they decided I better play something as well. It's been awhile since I sat at the piano bench. But I hauled out my old books and complied. It made me happy. I'd forgotten.
When I played Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring my heart ached. I wanted so to be able to play it correctly. The few phrases which were correct made me want to practice. It made me want to hear it played expertly. So this morning on the way to work I blasted Josh Groban's version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.
On my desk at work is a jar full of roses. I bought them at the grocery store. Just because they were beautiful. And on sale. They make my heart ache in the same way playing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring does.
I think what's really happening is my soul is recognizing we were created for more than our consumer focused, politically divisive, sexually exploiting, death obsessed and frenzied distraction culture. I think we're created for more than what my phone thinks is important. I think we're created for more than what the very talented marketers at Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook think is important.
Chapter two in KS Prior's new book "On Reading Well" is about the virtue of temperance. Temperance is "the virtue that inclines us to desire and enjoy pleasures well. It helps us to desire pleasures in a reasonable manner, desiring them neither too much nor too little, the virtuous mean between the vices of self-indulgence and insensibility". The virtue is about balance.
When I signed up for SeptemberJanuary to focus on my blog my kids were sad. Because I don't do balance very well. So I signed up anyway but made tracking my own health, connecting with my family and Quirky Faith a three pronged goal. I'm practicing balance. It has been refreshing.
In October I'm going to be working my way through Catherine Price's book "How to Break Up With Your Phone". I read the first half this past weekend. She convinced me I need to address my phone usage. What I loved about this book is it does not think throwing out the phone is the solution. Nor does it think shutting down all your social media accounts is the solution. It teaches balance. Temperance. If you are interested in joining in send me an email.
Pleasures are not bad. We were created for beauty, for depth, and for joy. My phone isn't bad either. I love the ways I can connect with people. I love the camera and music and calendar and occasional game. What is bad is when this good thing takes over and I miss out on piano and flowers and my children's smile. I miss the things that make life good. And my heart aches when I notice.
Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - Howard Thurman
This is what a one mile run after almost three years of nothing feels like. Painful. Slow. Fantastic. It feels fantastic. I've been trying to talk myself into any level of movement for the past couple of months. I have successfully stopped eating full bags of gummy bears on a regular basis. So there's that.
Earlier this week I sent a text to my spouse. "Help. There are cookies and cupcakes here at the office. Remind me why I don't want to eat them all?". His reply "I'm sure there is something you want more. Think of that one thing."
Such. Good. Advice.
I really want my pants to fit. And I want to model good habits for my daughters. And I want to stave off the diabetes in my genetic pool.
I am currently working my way through Karen Swallow Prior's new book "On Reading Well". I just finished the first chapter and I love it already. I've been following KS Prior on Instagram and Twitter for the last two years and I'm impressed with her intellect, her character, courage and wit. She was hit by a bus six months ago and watching her recovery is inspirational. Her book is brilliant. It's about how reading good books can help you live a better and more virtuous life. I love a book that makes me want to read more books.
I underlined this quote last night.
"Prudence is love that chooses with sagacity between that which hinders it and that which helps it". Augustine.
I had to look up sagacity in the dictionary.
Definition of sagacity: the quality of being sagacious
Helpful. So helpful.
Further research revealed sagacity (and sagacious) refer to making decisions with discernment, with wisdom, with slowing down long enough to think through the decision.
I sat in the bathtub last night pondering a life where my decisions about my behavior are based on love choosing what is going to increase love and what is going to hinder love. Hmmmm.
Our pastor this morning preached about the gospel of grace. I loved the message. Jesus died on the cross for you. His death and resurrection took away your sin. You can be given brand new life simply by accepting that gift. No other requirements. No other checklists. Grace. That's it.
So today after church I was curled up in my recliner pondering if I was going to spend the afternoon playing on my phone or if in fact I was going to put on my shoes and go for a run.
My typical pattern of fighting with myself can spiral into a large load of guilt. Not inspiring. Shame makes me want to eat cookies. But the sermon this morning encouraged us to embrace the freedom of grace. I don't live under shame. I'm not on a treadmill of works hoping I balance out the crud in my life with enough discipline to sneak by. God loves me regardless.
The glorious truth is Grace gives me the freedom to choose.
Love wants me to choose what will increase love and to shun what will decrease love.
Playing on my phone all afternoon will hinder love. I'll ignore my kids. I'll snap at my spouse. I'll feel groggy and gross. I'll start to listen to the shame cycle. Putting on my shoes will be a choice to take care of the body I've been given. It'll shake out the sludge in my brain. It'll validate my courageous sister who has been running and texting me her progress.
So I hauled up and put on my shoes and ran a mile.
Not because I had to. Because I chose to.
So my friends. Choose this day. Go running. Call your doctor. Forgive your friend. Cut up the credit card. Burn the porn. Make an appointment with the counselor. Quit smoking.
Try again on that one thing you know is hindering love.
Grace wants to give you a gift of freedom.
This morning I read through the first several chapters of Joshua. You can read my full post about the book of Joshua HERE. This morning though I saw something I hadn't noticed previously. Before the Israelites witnessed the miracles of God they first had to go through some pain. The people would see the river Jordan dry up and they would see the walls of Jericho fall. God was about to end their 40 years of wandering in the desert by delivering their promised land.
But first God called the men to be circumcised.
Does not sound fun.
I think God used circumcision to really get the people's attention. To call them to obedience they would not easily forget.
My family has been through a lot of change lately. Selling houses, changes in ministry, health concerns, adjustments. We feel like we've prayed and considered and weighed the changes. We see confirmation from God with open doors and signs of growth. But there has certainly been pain. So here is what I remembered this morning from the book of Joshua.
Sometimes obedience is painful. God always proves Himself faithful.
I'm almost half way through Jon Acuff's #SeptemberJanuary goal challenge. Pretty simple idea. Pick a goal, work on it every day for the month of September. Think New Year's Resolution smashed together with the momentum of back to school and a little social media accountability. My three goals are;
1. Work on Quirky Faith
2. Connect with my kids in a meaningful way
3. Do something for my own health and soul care.
I was on track on all three up until yesterday. I did sneak in a tiny five minute Quirky Faith blog post which I totally counted as a win.
My family? Not so much. We had a busy day and most of my interaction with my kids was hustling them from one thing to the next, getting after them about various unfinished chores and refereeing bickering. There were loud sighs and tears.
Me? Not so much. I didn't really eat lunch. Didn't do my Bible time, didn't pause to look at anything beautiful. Woke up with a fresh batch of acne. What in the world? They lied when they said skin problems were a teenager only thing.
SO guess what? Today is a new day and I'm moving on. Jon Acuff says that perfect doesn't happen and goals get met when you start again the day after you didn't keep your record.
Yesterday we did have all kinds of dreaming happen on some upcoming projects, we did start a new class with friends for the teens at our church. Life Skills. Not Lice Skills. Although dealing with Lice could certainly be a topic in this hands on practical crazy class. We believe faith is best worked out in our daily life. We believe God cares about how we handle our health, our friendships, the stewardship of our belongings. And we believe people don't know these things innately.
Yesterday I also talked with a dear friend who is in pain. And the pain is partly my fault. I hate that. Change is hard. I'm working on being willing to love and remain and hear hard things. It's okay. Life isn't perfect. Not all the boxes get checked. We let each other down. But we get to try again.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Christ in me. My only hope.
Loving this song. Loving the truth it speaks about the condition of my heart and my hopes for the future. I'm banking everything on Jesus.
Well this is fun! Wycliffe Bible Translators are hosting a fundraiser in conjunction with Annual Bible Translation Day. For each time the hashtag #whybible is used on September 30 on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram a donor will donate $5 towards the Ambonrse Malay Bible translation project.
So I get to talk about why the Bible matters in my life and raise money for one of my favorite non-profits.
Mark your calebdar and join in!
Blech. We. Had. A. Morning. Really it was me. I bought a $1 bracelet at Craft Warehouse last night. It was orange and sparkly and shouted out a welcome to September. So this morning naturally I wanted to wear the new orange bracelet to church.
My closet did not cooperate. Turns out I don’t wear much orange. So I experimented with two skirts, two shirts, two jackets, a pair of leggings and a sweater. And by experiment I mean I put them on, harassesed various members of my family for their opinions, felt frumpy and tore off the offending item. Frustration mounted.
Then rather than getting scissors and taking off the $1 clearance tag I pulled it off. And broke the bracelet.
Down the hall I heard my husband tell my youngest she could NOT wear the red cowboy boots with the sailor dress. She told him mommy said it was okay. Ummmm.
About this point I noticed my fingernails were still sparkly silver. Which didn’t go with my fall color scheme. So I horridly and hurriedly painted them taupe.
My husband steered the youngest into the bathroom where sure enough she had on a blue sailor dress, red boots and a huge hot pink puffy headband. And soaking wet hair.
We were already late for church. I whined and tore yet another layer of clothes off myself smudging the bad nail job at the same time. Goodness me.
The calm one (not me) helped dry the youngest’s hair and gently ushered us out the door.
The children in the preschool at church this morning are learning about Adam and Eve and how God made us each beautiful. Colorful. The lesson included using play doh to form little people. The play doh in the classroom was old and crumbly and yucko. The teachers and kids were dutifully plugging along but gross play doh is such a disappointment.
I noticed a bag sitting on the welcome desk and peared inside. Red and yellow and blue and green brad new tubs of play doh. Oh happy day! I walked the bag into the class and little voices cheered.
Listen. God has brand new mercies for us every single day. Colorful and joyful gifts like joy and mercy and grace and peace. But I persist in trying on old attitudes like impatience and grumbling and frustration instead. This morning I spent way too much time and energy fussing over myself. Never helps.
God is so good to me. Today He reset the color of my heart through the preschoolers. They really are a joy.
This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.
For our eldest’s 12th Birthday we gave her a Boss Day. She’s received this gift before and it’s a favorite. She gets a budget and permission to be in charge of the family for an entire day.
The only rule is she can’t be a bad boss. I had a good conversation with her last night. She laughed at the rule and asked why she couldn’t be a bad boss. Her theory was if she’s the boss anything goes. I grinned and told her if a boss is bad the team quits. Good life lesson.
So this morning I’m sitting and writing and waiting for the non stop action to begin. Sounds like we have OMSI, a picnic, a jump park and some cooking on the schedule. If past years are any indicator she’ll have us running all day and we will fall into bed exhausted. But happy. It’s fun to see glimpses of who she is becoming.
In honor of investing in our kids I have three books to give away. Comment if you are interested in one and I’ll draw winners from the comments.
Dannah Gresh runs a fun non-profit helping preteens and teens navigate body image, social media, safety and self worth. She loves Jesus. You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram. This book is easy to read and can be used in single chapters to speak truth to young women. I liked it.
10 ultimate truths girls should know is for parents of preteen or elementary girls. If you need a refresh in what really matters in parenting this book is helpful. The calls to be intentional about the life lessons we are imprinting through our actions was clear.
She is yours by Jonathan and Wynter Pitts is a hopeful reminder its our job to parent well but results are in God’s hands. A friend and I were reminding each other the truth about how God loves our kids more than we do. Since this is true- we can relax in His plan. If you need encouraged to drop the parenting anxiety and trust God this book is for you.
i received all three books for free in exchange for reviews. Winners drawn from comments on the blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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