Small Things, Barely There

When you walk in the early morning, you hear all the birds. And if you seek the origin of the beautiful songs, you find that the loudest songs that carry over the whole neighborhood come from the tiniest birds

The small, hidden thing up in those branches, barely there, proclaims. With apparently no relation to size, visibility, beauty, or numbers, the sound astonishes with its power. 

And I remember that small things, barely there, often proclaim the most significant, beautiful, powerful messages. 


An Explanation: Disruption Will Come!

I apologize for the missing blog posts these past few days! My site was moving to a new hosting service, and with these sorts of things come disruption and lost posts. I’ve learned it’s all part of growth and good movement.

Disruption, it seems, has become a theme in my life and in the lives of so many people I know. It’s like we’re all in a season of disruption! You, too? Can anyone explain this?

A thought: Just this week, I read Tozer’s comments on the Holy Spirit being an agent of disruption. He discusses a common theme among people whose lives reflect amazing “God stories.” This theme? God’s work usually comes alongside uprooting, discomfort, and disruption. He writes, “When the Holy Spirit moves, He disrupts a person’s life.”

When the Holy Spirit moves, He disrupts a person’s life. 

I realize the truth of it with joy and surrender. I welcome disruption, loss, uprooting, and discomfort. These changes often (though not always) represent great movements of God in a life. Oh, how I love the disruption of the Holy Spirit that shows me the loving, guiding, shaping work of God. I picture myself in His hands, uprooted and disrupted, but also at peace and enclosed by the One who hold us in complete safety.


Clearing the Path

The flair moment arrived early this morning as my daughter and I clung on to one another on the walk to school. We stayed trapped on icy sidewalks. Beside us, the depth of the slushy snow in the yards repelled us from that safer path, and the cars rushing past on the road kept us from walking on the cleared street.

So we walk slowly and deliberately on this dangerous passage.

But then, we approach a house with dear neighbors who always shovel their sidewalks and salt down the path to force the ice to melt. We unlock arms, walk with confidence, and enjoy the strange feeling of gratitude for something as simple as walking on a clear path.

Then, we’re back to a sidewalk slick with black ice.

I think about that cleared section that stood out so starkly amid the treachery of ice on the downhill walk. I thought about how we could breathe easy, relax our shoulders, and continue our journey. We could look up and not down to our feet. We could look at each other and talk about the day. We could smile and hope and dream.

Something about clearing the path resonated deep within me as I considered what it means to be a mother and wife and neighbor. I thought about smoothing out a safe passage, of removing–as best as I know how–obstacles to the journeys we take in life. I thought of identifying and removing the traps of the enemy for others. What would it look like for me to shovel and salt and clear the way–of discouragement, hopelessness, doubt, cynicism, and fear? How can I act as an agent of blessing and healing everywhere I go?

I walked home on the ice, and I couldn’t wait for the relief of that one cleared patch of sidewalk. I want my whole life to feel like that for others; when they come near, it feels like a clear path on their journey with Jesus. Here, it’s a place to rest, breathe, and rejoice.


Noticing–and Thanking–Again

I go back to the beginning of Live with Flair and record all the things I loved in the span of a few moments. I loved, for example,

  1. the thankful face of a student who said a lesson was exactly what he needed right now in his life
  2. the way the snow fell in fluffy flakes all over my coat
  3. the stomping in slushy snow that, at first seemed hard and unforgiving, but then parted into high walls around my boots as I walked
  4. the way a library book arrived from far away because of interlibrary loan
  5. how I’ve never thought to be thankful for interlibrary loan before
  6. the sound of a daughter’s voice on the phone
  7. the feel of hot water on your skin after a bitter cold winter walk
  8. the sight of dinner already prepared, defrosting
  9. the feeling of a completed teaching assignment
  10. the sound of a husband shoveling snow for me

I remember the power of noticing, of thanking God, and of receiving the blessings right here that overflow.


Mostly Listen

As I pray about my day this morning, I remember James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

I think about my meetings today. I think about all the interaction ahead. I think about all the words I usually write on a given day. I’ll probably write 3,000 words. Research tells me that I’ll probably speak 20,000 words today.

That’s a lot of words.

I ask God to help me listen. Would someone ever say of me, “That Heather, she sure is slow to speak.” Never! I pray that I learn what it means to be slow of speech and slow of anger.

Instead, I listen. I measure my words. I stay in the fortress of His peace.

I mostly listen.


“You Have to Hold My Hand Anyway.”

In the parking lot of Walmart, I walk past a young mother with her independent toddler. She takes the hand of her little girl and says, “You have to hold my hand in the parking lot. Even if you don’t see any cars coming, you always have to hold my hand. Hold my hand anyway, even if it doesn’t seem like you need to.”

The toddler resists. The mother insists: “Hold my hand anyway.”

I think of the wisdom of holding on, even though I see no danger, even though I want independence. I think of holding tight to God’s hand, always. He sees what I don’t see.



Pickled Things

I arrive to my Weight Watchers meeting, and a new friend hands me a jar of pickled asparagus. It’s because I happened to mention last week my love of pickled things and my bizarre dream of having a Pickle Closet filled with pickles: pickled okra, pickled beets, pickled everything.

I realize that now, I have a new friend—the One Who Brought Me Pickles—that I only met last week.

I think of pickled things and how they persevere, preserved in that solution that makes them last, that aids against harmful bacteria, and that changes the flavor into something so delicious.

I want to pickle my whole life.


Come and Take

These past few days, I enjoyed writing devotional materials for a children’s ministry event at a church in Texas that blended so beautifully with things I had written in Guarded by Christ last year. For one of the devotionals, I wrote about being at rest with Jesus in the fortress of His care. If you read Matthew 11 and the famous invitation from Jesus, you’ll find two verbs I love:

Come and take. 

Jesus says in verses 28-10, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I ask the children to note how we come to Jesus (in prayer, with our Bibles and journals) and we take from Jesus the yoke that He’s also carrying with us. And it’s an easy and light yoke that’s pulling a cart He designed just for us. Sometimes we pull heavy loads that God never asked us to pull. Sometimes we do this all alone and never come to Jesus in our weariness. We never come to Him to let Him give us rest. We never come to Him and learn.

We never come and receive the very special gift God gives: rest. 

If life isn’t feeling easy and light, I remember to come to Jesus and take the yoke He gives me, not one I–or others–put on me.


A Real Conversation

More and more students come to my office hours because I’ve baited them with promises of chocolates and tasty beverages. And so we sit and have conversations.

A student tells me about her favorite poet–one she insists I will love. It’s David Whyte, so I quickly type in the name, gather his books from the library, and cannot wait to begin reading. Next week, we’ll all talk about poetry and have real conversations.

Meanwhile, I read this from Whyte about conversations:

“A real conversation always contains an invitation. You are inviting another person to reveal herself or himself to you, to tell you who they are and what they want.”

Teaching, I’m learning more and more, is an invitation–just like a real conversation–to reveal ourselves and invite one another to speak about who we are and what we want.

I will buy more chocolate and beverages for next week. We will need them.


Morning Pep Talk: The Possibilities!

The Morning Pep Talk contains a word to remember all day: possibility. We’re walking to school, and I tell my daughter to imagine the possibility of today. She’s listing out all the worries and troubles, and I say this:

But imagine all that might happen! Imagine the possibility of today! You might possibly meet your best friend–the one you’ll share an apartment with in your twenties and call when you have good news when you’re old. You might possibly have the best idea you have ever had in your life today, and it might happen in Science class or during Geography. Consider the possibilities of some great thing that’s been designated by God for today. This day! Girl! On this day, you can live in possibilities. Look ahead to what might be! This day could change everything. Think, just think, of the possibilities. God says we cannot even imagine–even if we tried our hardest–to know the things He has planned for us. This day is here! Go out there and live in possibility. People look back on their lives and note single moments where everything changed. Go and find single moments today of bright and glorious possibility! 

The atmosphere around us changes. The colors look deeper; I note the blackness of the trees and the soft blue sky meeting the rising golden sun. The icy snow squishes under our shoes. Our steps take on a deliberate rhythm. We look ahead into possibility, and the whole day starts shimmering. We train our mind in hope. We train our mind to see possibility.