Monthly Archives: January 2010

Peace is a state of being

I read Susan Gaddis’s blog yesterday morning about formational reading and began to explore my thoughts about the devotional book I’ve been trying to get through for the last few weeks, “God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos: Bringing Peace Home” by Keri Wyatt Kent. This is one of those excellent books that I could have written (I swear, I’m not trying to be prideful!), but it is so good to reread lessons that constantly struggle to remember.

First of all, I have to say that I was raised with a very idealized view of daily devotions (in our home, they were called quiet times).  Mom would wake us up early so we could read our Bibles, pray and journal before breakfast. What started out as a daily chore in my childhood became essential to my morning in my teenage years. As my relationship with Jesus deepened, I enjoyed spending an hour or two in this time of intimacy every morning. My pattern changed a little after I got married, shortening as my home responsibilities grew. However, after the birth of my first child, quiet time was only a dream. I was so exhausted that any quiet time became sleep time, and when I did try to pray, I was usually fell asleep mid-prayer. For the longest time I felt so unspiritual, too enmeshed in the routines of family, home and school to spend the hours of contemplation with my heavenly Father that I had been accustomed to as a younger woman.

Two things happened early in my mothering career that made me realize that, although my quiet times with Jesus had changed, the time spent in His presence was no less significant. One was discovering the FlyLady, a home management system put together by a sweet, Southern Christian lady. In one of her essays, FlyLady Marla talks about how when she sticks with the same routine of cleaning her house every morning, her mind and heart are free to meditate on scripture and listen to God speak. That jarred me! I thought I had to sit in quiet contemplation to meditate and hear the voice of the Lord, but this lady was saying that in doing her daily chores, she was spending time with Jesus!

The second discovery for me was studying the “Ancrene Riwle” in my Medieval Literature class. This rule book was written for women who had devoted themselves to the church and cloistered life, becoming Ancoresses of the church (these women eventually became known as nuns). This crazy little book had a prayer for every single activity in the woman’s life, from the second she opened her eyes in the morning to when she fell asleep at night. Prayers for putting on socks and brushing hair, prayers for cooking and bathing and sweeping. Prayer was built into their daily chores!

I began to realize that I have always compartmentalized my life: mornings were my “spiritual” time, and then I would start real life. Sunday mornings, youth group and Bible study were spiritual parts of my week, but other gatherings were unspiritual. As the Lord continued to work on my heart, I began to realize that it is all spiritual because I carry the Holy Spirit in my heart as I go through my day.

So now I don’t worry when I don’t get to have my actual, structured quiet time in the day. Often, as soon as I wake up, at least one of my sweet children is needing to be fed, so my first activity is usually supervising the pouring of milk and Cheerios, closely followed by requests for cartoons, books or games (anything but getting dressed and ready for school!). But once the initial morning mayhem has settled down, I start into my routine: wiping down the bathroom, washing dishes, making beds, laundry, sweeping floors. I pray in the Spirit as I bless my home and family. Gratefulness fills my heart that I still have a warm bed to make, that I have food that dirties dishes, that I have happy children that track mud in (every. single. day).  And I’m learning to maintain a state of peace within, even as my hands and body are busy. The things that God talks to me about in these mundane tasks are interesting and no less revelatory than they were when I had the time to sit in quiet contemplation.

I may be a busy wife and mother, but I am a spiritual giant. Chaos often surrounds me, but I am not shaken. I am the Anchoress of our home, maintaining the lifeline into  Christ, our Solid Rock.


Washed clean

The sun came up this morning! I know it comes up every morning, but I haven’t seen the sun all week, and watching the sun rise over the rain-sodden trees was especially beautiful this morning. Sun rises make me think of this scripture-song:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end!
They are new every morning! New every morning!
Great is Thy faithfulness, oh Lord! Great is Thy faithfulness!

Because each morning comes with it’s own set of challenges for the day, it so reassuring to know that God has fresh mercies for THIS day, blessings I didn’t need yesterday. He has mercy for me, even when I lose my patience with the kids, or selfishly ignore my housework. TODAY, He has given me a new portion of love and mercy. I am so thankful!

Three Things

About three things I was absolutely positive. (~Bella Twilight 195)

Something about the rainy weather is making me want to read my favorite YA fiction for the fifth time. I’m trying to resist.

First, I can barely function when my husband is gone.

Second, I can’t go more than 24 hours without getting on my computer.

And third, my kids are the greatest, most amazing blessings I never expected.

OK, your turn: what three things are you absolutely positive about?

The Giant Dipper

I grew up in Santa Cruz, and visiting the Beach Boardwalk was often a weekly excursion during the summer. I loved riding the bumper cars, the carrousel and the cars. As we would walk through the carnival-atmosphere, I was regaled by the sounds of The Giant Dipper roller coaster: the great rumble as the cars swooshed down the wooden tracks, people screaming and laughing. It looked so fun! I couldn’t wait until I was tall enough to ride, so I could know what all the yelling and screaming was about.

If I sat and watched, I could see that the first hill was high, but it didn’t seem that bad from the ground. At last, the day came when my curly ponytail was above the hatch mark that divided the children from the adults. My time had come! It was mid-afternoon and I was there with my best friend and a bunch of our friends from youth group.  We had ride passes for the whole Boardwalk and were making ourselves silly riding over and over again. I couldn’t wait to get on the Giant Dipper and eagerly pushed through the turnstile into the building where the cars were loaded.

There was no one in line, so we ran screaming up the ramp, through all the back-and-forth bars that contained the lines on busy nights.  Since it was our first time, we sat in the very front car.  My excitement began to die down as I looked ahead and realized that the first part of the ride would take us through the rest of the building. In the dark. The ride operator came through and checked our harnesses and then spun around and smacked the release button. We were plunging into darkness!!! I hated not being able to see where we were going and we were moving SO FAST. When we finally emerged into the light, we had this ridiculously enormous mountain of wooden tracks in front of us. The chains under the cars rattled and shook like they couldn’t hold our weight, and I had visions of our support just snapping and we would be rushing backwards through the darkness, out of control.

About halfway up, I stopped worrying about the chains breaking and started freaking out about how high up we were. It never seemed this high from the ground! Click click click click we drew higher and higher to the summit. I couldn’t stand it and started screaming like a crazy person. This was, of course, accompanied by laughter from the older kids behind us who had done this ride a few times before.

I wanted off. This had seemed like such a great idea before, a right of passage, a grand adventure, but we were above the Santa Cruz fog, for crying out loud! How much higher could this ride go?  Then, sitting at the top, I had an awesome, terrifying view of the seemingly-vertical drop the tracks were going to take us. My first genuine cuss word was screamed at that point, a threshold I was not planning on crossing that day. The clicking of the upward tracks stopped and there was dead silence for an instant before the brakes released and we plummeted down the hill. I had stopped screaming and went to sheer silent terror at that point. We were out of control! We weren’t going to survive! Why had I thought this was such a good idea? The photo afterwards shows my best friend and I white-knuckling the support bar and looking like we were going to be sick.

The majority of the ride is based on inertia after the initial drop, and the hills get smaller as the cars move back to the end. It honestly was a great roller coaster. After the first Giant Dip.

Maybe the reason why so many people use the roller coaster metaphor is because there is just nothing else like it. It fits situations where the unknown is involved.

I had a first-time-on-the-Giant-Dipper-summit moment this week.  There was so much work and effort involved in getting us up to the top, but right as the brake was released, I began to wonder if this was really a good decision after all. Teetering on the edge, about to swoop down on the ride of our lives, I’m putting my faith in the Builder of this roller coaster. He won’t let us fall.

Don’t freak out if you hear me screaming.

Today’s Song: “Whisper” Evenescence

Quiet-time musings

Leviticus is a book of the Bible that most people (including me) tend to skip. But I’m trying to read through the Bible this year and not just jump around to my favorite parts, and this morning I read through Leviticus 5-7. Yesterday morning, my eyes were glazing as I took in words that had little to no meaning for me, and seemed boring and repetitious. All the offerings and procedures and scripted motions. Today I was determined to get something out of my reading, and tried really hard to pay attention to what was happening.  Here’s what struck me:

If I had lived back then, I would be broke because all of my animals and grain would have to be sacrificed. Everything, intended sins and unintentional sins, required a sacrifice. Lev. 5:4 says that if you even swear rashly (something I frequently do), a female goat of lamb must be sacrificed for atonement. Wow.

I would not want to be one of the sons of Aaron. They were butcher-priests. All day long, they had to kill animals, clean them, sprinkle blood on everything, and burn them. I hate the smell of meat cooking (at least ground beef… it makes me want to puke). The Tabernacle didn’t have smoke alarms built in for a good reason: they burned fat and entrails and blood and flour all day long. Can you imagine how disgusting that would have smelled? They weren’t cooking steak medium-rare. They were burning it. Mixed in with the awful smells would be the frankincense, which would be mixed in with the flour of some of the grain offerings. Frankincense is a fabulous aroma, kind of a mix between Christmas pines and cayenne pepper, but I would think that something that pungent, mixed with all the other smells of death would just be overwhelming. But this aroma was a pleasing fragrance to Jehovah?

I used to say that I couldn’t believe how the Israelites could stray to false gods when they had the presence of God in the Cloud and the Fire during their desert wanderings. Now I can’t believe that they would sin when it would cost them so much… and I bet the sounds and smells of the sacrifices could be heard throughout the camp.  But they did sin, and stray. Is there any hope for me?

A Person, Jesus, died. Sacrificed Himself because of the horrible things I have done and will do. Yet I CONTINUE in my sin! Every day! He is so much greater than a pet lamb or goat, and yet I spit on His sacrifice everysingletime I choose to be selfish, I choose to have a bad attitude. No wonder the sacrifices were sin offerings. They were disgusting because our sin is disgusting.

I understand the theology: it is impossible for us to be perfect. Restitution must be made for the wrongs we have done, and that price has been paid by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Because he defeated death, we can walk the path of victory over sin that He paved. I can never earn it, I don’t deserve it, but I am so loved. So amazingly, incredibly, infinitely loved by this supernatural being (and He’s way better than sparkly Edward).

I’m glad I read Leviticus today. My sin is real. It has a real price. I am so grateful that I don’t have to pay the price. I am so overwhelmed by grace.

The Wondrous Cross
Isaac Watts 1707 (ancient Gregorian chant)

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my Lord;
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet? Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all

Version by Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin

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