I find myself talking to a woman who has suffered through chronic pain and fatigue for most of her life. She tells me all the ways she’s adapted; mostly, she’s learned to rest well and accept her limitations. This means she doesn’t live the way others live. This means she lives with the acute reality that while others live very productive, fast, and high-capacity lives, she has the energy for maybe two or three good hours a day.
That’s just how it is.
She doesn’t push herself. She listens to her body and swims in a completely different current than all the rest of us. She doesn’t push against the current; she leans back and lets God pull her through.
Sometimes, I think that’s what our bodies are telling us, and we don’t listen. We don’t know how to lean back into the arms of God, rest well, and let Him pull us. We’re too busy pushing through.
Can you rest well this weekend?
My husband reminds me of Deuteronomy 8 this morning, in particular this part beginning in verse 2:
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna,which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
I spend a few minutes this morning recalling all the ways God “caused me to hunger” in my life. I remember all those things that humbled me and forced me–out of real desperation–to cling to and depend upon the Lord because I had no where else to turn. I remember the wilderness of my own heart. I remember those years of wandering.
All these years later, I can thank God for those times of humbling and hungering. Does God want to teach us how to need Him? Out of that Great Mercy, he allows the wilderness of the heart so we turn back to the one who loves us and truly meets out needs.
Can you look back and be thankful for hard times?
I love easy and fast, so here you go:
You get two ready-to-bake pie crusts from the grocery store and put one of the crusts in a pie pan. Mix two cups of chopped leftover turkey, a can of cream of chicken soup (or mushroom or celery), a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (or a can, or whatever leftover veggies are in your fridge), 1/4 cup milk, and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix well, and then fill the pie crust with your filling. Then top with the second crust.
Bake about 45 minutes on 350 degrees. Children love it!
Serve with sliced apples and a tossed salad. Yum!
What’s your favorite leftover turkey recipe?
Today we walk to school with a little boy who has never seen the snow. He moved this year from Texas, and today is his very first day seeing, tasting, and touching snow.
Seeing the morning snow through his eyes fills us with wonder again. It’s amazing to think about: fluffy flakes of white fall from the sky and cover the ground. You can eat it, roll around in it, shape it into balls, and slide across it.
We experience it again through him, and what seemed like a cold, dreary morning now becomes magical.
If fact, at one point, we lose him on the walk to school because he’s playing in the snow.
Living with flair certainly means recalling our joy and wonder. Maybe we’ll get lost on the way today because we’re too busy delighting in the snow.
Do you need to experience something through new eyes today?
Today, I ask my students to describe their childhood backyard. It’s a lesson on setting. I don’t give any instruction other than to use as much sensory detail as possible. “Just write and see what happens. See what your brain does with this.”
I’m fascinated by the results. Students write about things they don’t expect: the way the grass felt on bare feet; the jagged edge of a fence; the sound of a mother calling them in for dinner; the slope of a landscape; the shimmer of a creek in the sunlight.
They write for five minutes, and then I ask them to interpret what they remember. Do the objects or the sensations have symbolic meaning to you now? Is there a reason why you remember what you do?
Writing down our memories of places helps us understand something about ourselves. We gain insight because of what we remember. I love just putting the pen to the page with no other instruction than to “Just write and see what happens.” I want to do this every day just to see what happens.
Do you ever begin writing just to see what your brain does?
My two favorite games to play with my children are Memory and Jenga. During the holidays, it relaxes us all to just sit and play games. After all the doing and going, I love sitting down in the living room–amid all the holiday decorations and smells of pine and baking things–and play games.
I used to detest game playing. I wanted to go be productive. But now, I just love laughing and relaxing to these two games in particular. I love how everybody shrieks when the Jenga tower topples, and I love how I always lose Memory because I don’t pay attention!
Do you have favorite games to play with young children?
This morning I read a verse I don’t remember reading ever in my life. Deuteronomy 33:27 offers this wonderful promise:
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
I try to imagine God’s everlasting arms underneath me.
Even if I fall (or am falling), the everlasting arms are underneath me.
They will catch me.
I love that He catches me, don’t you?
It’s arduous: We’re driving up the mountain to go hiking, and my youngest tells us all how much she loves chugging uphill in the car.
“It’s because the uphills mean the downhills later.”
She knows it’s a fast, twisty thrill ride downhill. The arduous task affords us all the ease and joy later.
There’s something true in it all; the uphill battle rewards you with a thrill ride down. It’s just how it works.
I consider all the hard things–the strenuous labor of life–that, if we just persevere on the uphills, we get the downhills later.
Keep on with the arduous. You’ll crest soon and enjoy the downhill.
The downhills are coming!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to stop trying to impress people all the time? Wouldn’t the holidays be so easy if the motivation behind our behavior was genuine love and not a desire to impress?
Recently, my friend and I laughed about all the things we fear folks finding out about us. We carefully construct ourselves to manage everyone’s opinions; we wear the right clothes that make us look thinner; we clean our homes so everyone delights in our organization; we boast of certain accomplishments so everyone thinks we are. . . perfect.
What if, instead, we just announced this: I’m afraid you will think I am fat, disorganized, or unaccomplished (or whatever it is you really fear people thinking about you). What if we just let people think the very worst and we stopped trying to impress? Maybe then we could really serve people over the holidays. We could think about them and not our images and reputations.
That would be impressive indeed!
Sometimes, characters in novels take on lives of their own. They do things that deviate from the originally storyline. It might be a small detail (the time of day, a food she eats, a piece of clothing she wears), but it ripples through the story.
Sometimes, this small change easily folds back into the story, and other times, I have to write entire chapters just to accommodate the detail. Whether it takes a sentence or thirty pages, eventually, the plot moves on as planned.
I find myself weaving the tale in new ways when something changes. Eventually all the characters end up where they’re supposed to. There’s a plot line they come back to, no matter how far they’ve strayed.
Writing novels teaches me so much about a life of faith. I love thinking of God as the Author of my life’s story. It comforts me to think that God weaves all the details (and even the mistakes) right into the master narrative. Eventually He knows how to get me where I’m supposed to be. It might be in a minute or in thirty years, but I know for certain He “works all things together for good.”
He’s the only one who can. He wrote the story.
Did you ever make a mistake you felt like God couldn’t use for good? I’m amazed that He can and does work it all out for good.