It Takes a Jackhammer Sometimes

The walkway in front of our home has sunken into the earth. In order to rebuild the path and provide an entrance into our front door, the jackhammer arrives to break up the concrete.

All morning I hear the loud blows cracking open that path.

I sneak out to watch, and it’s not pretty. It’s a total upheaval.

IMG_2211Breaking up concrete isn’t fun. I stand there, and I remember the verse in Hosea 10:12

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

It’s a strange verse if you consider that perhaps Hosea discusses the heart here. We sow righteousness, reap love, and break up hard ground. But what is the hard ground in the heart? I think of the rocky places in Jesus’ parable of the sower (Mark 4) and how nothing can take root in rock. The soul needs that rich, nourishing soil, not hardened places. What has hardened in my heart through pride, bitterness, or even ignorance? What has grown stale and cold in terms of compassion and service?

I know that any hard, stubborn places in me prevent the full reaping of what God wants to sow in me. And I know that the process of breaking apart this place inside might be long, hard, and chaotic, full of loud thoughts and protests. But it’s worth it to submit to whatever it takes to break up the concrete.

If I thought it would be easy, I remember the jackhammer and the concrete. Eventually, the jackhammer slows, the concrete’s removed, and the new, high path comes.

 

 

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Keeping Some of the Past

It’s the end of an era. The Walk-to-School campaign, thriving for eight beautiful years, has ended for me. With girls in middle school and high school, it’s a new rush to meet the school bus and gather my things for early morning office hours for students on campus.

But I can’t help myself this morning: I walk down the sidewalk and notice the dappled sunlight, the acorns, and the red-hatted mushroom. I think of all those mornings of greeting neighbors and experiencing the seasons: the muggy cloak of late summer, the crisp chill of autumn, the bitter ice of winter, and the hopeful slosh of spring.

Mushroom

I stroll alone and take a few pictures. I might be older and in a different season of life, but I can still walk and observe.

Acorn Green

I’m back to where I began; I’m isolating beauty. So much changes, but some things stay with you no matter how your life evolves. No matter where I am, there’s always something to marvel over, to notice and capture in my heart, and to enjoy in silence and solitude. I might not have a crowd of children around me walking up the hill to school, but I do have all this.

PS: The oven sun-dried tomatoes are DELICIOUS! It did take four hours, though.

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Drying the Tomatoes 

This takes hours in a 200 degree oven. It’s going to be worth it!  

I actually moved the tomatoes to a glass pan because I’m told the foil reacts with the acidic tomatoes. So they’re in there, drying out. 
We shall see. This isn’t an immediate process. Like most things, I’ll wait and report back the results. 

Patience is the word of the day. 

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That It Would Feel Like Home

Tomorrow marks the Big Day that my daughters each attend new schools: middle school and high school. 

The oldest hopes it will feel like home, and the youngest that it will feel peaceful and comfortable to be there at school all day. They want that home feeling even at school. 

I know what they mean—that longing for home—though it’s so hard to articulate. I think about how there’s nothing better than that feeling of shalom peace–that all is as it should be, that you are where you belong, that everything feels “right,” and that you’re surrounded by love. 

I pray that their days of school pass within the fortress of God’s peace that goes deeper than even their mind’s thoughts. May it feel like home. May they have peace. 

Peace: It’s a rightness in the soul, an alignment deep within to God’s love and presence.

With this prayer for peace, I’ll send them off away from this home and into their home within God. I remember Psalm 90 and how God himself is their dwelling place. 

All day long, away from here, they’re still home. 

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Unlimited Comfort

Today I read aloud the verse from Psalm 94:19: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

I think about the “consolation” of God and all the various forms His great comfort take. He’s the God of All Comfort! (2 Corinthians 1:3) 

The greatest evidence of this consolation is the presence of God Himself, but I also wonder if, along the way, God brings visible demonstrations of comfort in the midst of our worry. 

“When you feel anxiety, begin to look for the comfort God sends. The comfort might come in an unusual way, but look for it!” I tell my youngest daughter who feels nervous for school. 

I like thinking of the day in terms of a treasure hunt for God’s comforting ways–through Himself, through others He sends, through some circumstance, through a gift, or even an experience in nature. His unlimited comfort is always available. 

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The Support You Need

I’m learning to ask: “How can I support you in this?”

Try asking this question to new friends, spouses, students, neighbors, and especially children. It’s an empowering question that takes the focus off of me and puts it back on them.

Tell me what you need, and how I can help? is a different approach from I know what you need and this is what I’m going to do for you.

The theme of this month has been all about me learning to listen to people, authorizing them to live their own lives (imagine!), and encouraging them in the manner they choose, not what I choose.

I ask my youngest daughter, “How can I support you best this year as you start middle school?”

Do you know what she said?

“I would like to have peaceful, less rushed mornings.”

That’s it! So now, to support her best right now, we’re changing up the morning routine to create more time (rising earlier), more organization (everything packed and put out the night before), and more positive, loving speech.

Ask your spouse! Ask your best friend! It’s so loving and reveals so much that you might not realize.

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Are You Sure That’s You? And Other Things I’m Glad I’m Not Saying

The unimaginable has come.

My oldest daughter, Sarah (who gives permission to share this), has found her thing.

Marching Band at State High!

She loves Marching Band! It’s a home for her! It’s a joy! She loves playing music together with her friends; she loves the exercise; she loves the energy. This girl, the one who loves to sleep in and lounge about, is now up at 6:00 AM to get ready for marching and playing her flute.

She’s even thrilled to wear the uniform.

When she told me this was her plan, I was hesitant and skeptical. In my mind, I’m saying this: Marching band? Are you sure that’s you? Are you sure you want to do all the work and be at all those football games? Who likes football? This doesn’t sound like any fun at all! The hot uniform! The away games! The marching! Oh, the marching! This is crazy! No! No! 

But the point is that she absolutely loves it. And I’m learning that I can’t picture many of the directions these children choose to go. Just because I can’t see it in my head or imagine it might be great for them doesn’t mean it won’t be. My little world is limited and full of words and activities related to words (debate, forensics, writing). My world is not their world.

So I have to step back and let these people in my family make their own decisions about their lives, even if I can’t see it at all at first.

And so this means I’ll now be attending Friday night football games and shopping for the school colors so I look cute in the bleachers. This means I’m suddenly in community with all these Marching Band parents that are wonderful and will sit beside me at all these games, in all these parades, and at all these events. I’m feeling myself get a little excited, but don’t tell anyone!

Parenting Tip of the Day: Let Them Find Their Own Way.

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God Wastes Nothing: A Fun Story From Inside Publishing

Thank you for all the kind comments about the beautiful cover of my new book, Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us. I absolutely love it, and it’s a sweet gesture that God sees me and knows about my whole life. And He doesn’t waste anything.

Let me explain the coolest thing! The first cover design Moody sent me was stunning; they captured a forest of aspen trees to symbolize our strength in God’s guarding care (since aspen trees have a nearly indestructible root system among other wonderful facts). I was happy! It was a beautiful cover.

But my editor wondered if something wasn’t quite right about it, so the team tried again, this time focusing more on how much my book talks about God as our guarding fortress as described throughout so many psalms.

So the team sent this new design, but they weren’t sure I would know what it was or what it meant. I laughed when I realized it was Tintern Abbey in Wales, the very abbey I studied in my graduate school days of earning my PhD in Romanticism. I studied William Wordsworth–the very poet who wrote so famously about this same abbey staring at me from my cover. The poem “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”  meant so much to me for so many years. One of the design team members even asked, “Have you ever heard of that poem?” Ha! Yes! Yes, I have!

GuardedByChrist

It felt like a little wink from heaven! And now, all those years later, I’m talking about that poem and that abbey again.

I remember that God knows what we love and what will delight us, and He also knows how to bring back things we thought were now wasted or long gone.

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A Special Blog for Special Readers (An Invite!)

Hello, friends! I have great news! After I finished Seated with Christ, I was captivated that next summer with Psalm 97:10 where I read, “God guards the lives of his faithful ones.” I became so curious how a person who knew God’s guarding care would live. I compiled everything I was learning from the Bible about God’s guarding presence in our souls.

On October 6, my next book, Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us releases from Moody Publishers. I’m so excited about this book! My dream is that it helps us understand how Jesus guards our lives even when we feel so unsettled, confused, and disappointed with life. His guarding presence means that at all times, we live with confidence, peace, hope, power, and as crucified with Christ no matter what life looks like. 

This is my most vulnerable book yet since I talk so much about my own journey with anxiety and depression. I pray it blesses readers with similar battles and connects them in a fresh way to Jesus.

GuardedByChristMoody’s marketing team is using a Launch Team idea for Guarded by Christ. This launch team is a group of friends who will receive a free advanced copy of Guarded, get a behind-the-scenes look at a book release, and join a private Facebook group to learn more about Guarded’s book launch and how they can help promote this book! It’s going to be so fun, and the images you can share are beautiful!!

 

LaunchTeamSignup-3

If you agree to join my launch team, you’ll read the advanced copy and post reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and share some shareable images with quotes on your social media accounts once a week throughout September and the first week of October. I would be so thankful! Would you prayerfully consider being part of the launch team for Guarded? You can sign up with this link: https://goo.gl/forms/PA25G8TlUgSnqrrp2

Thank you for being such great readers and friends.

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