Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Word for the Weary Soldier

Every day feels like a battle - a battle against the flesh.  His Word sinks deep into my soul, cuts deep through my hard heart and reveals the sin inside.  And I battle.  Guilt and shame thrust me into the battlefield and I swing a sword and throw up a shield only to be hit again and fall into a muddy pit of pride, anger, and self.

Why do I lose every battle?

How do I win over sin?


The word falls over me as I lay wounded and muddy.


I don't have to win the battle over my sin.  It isn't my job - not mine alone, anyway.

He comes to my rescue, lifts me out of my dirty sins, cleans me off and reminds me that if I would just rest in the knowledge that He's there beside me. . .  Well, He fights the battle for me when I put down my sword and let Him shield me. . . 

For the soldier of God, fighting in the battle against sin, perhaps victory comes not to the one who fights sin the hardest. . .  Maybe it comes to the one who falls the hardest into the arms of the Savior.

Praying for the grace to just invest more in my relationship with God - the every-moment-of-the-day time spent praying, reading, meditating, seeking, praising, and seeing Him - my only hope in the battle.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dancing in the Storm

Having lived, for many years, in Savannah, Georgia, I know my way around hurricanes.  I've weathered tropical storms, heard the stories of tragic storms of the past, and evacuated for hurricanes that ended up hitting South Carolina or Florida instead.

Being hit with Irene's fingers, here in south-central Pennsylvania. . . it was a different perspective.

A mild earthquake a couple days before caught my attention.  The rumbling under the chair, moving me about like a small boat on a rough sea was hard to ignore.  Not tragic, but hard to ignore.

And then, just a few short days later, we sat outside and watched her wave.

My husband led us in clearing the yard and securing our outdoor toys and furniture.  Then we stood and watched.  Having always been busy helping to board up windows or pack treasured goods and sit in a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic in past hurricane experiences, I was amazed when I finally got to see what the storm looked like.

Dark clouds, so many you could hardly see sky, quickly spinning in a south-west arc.  It was amazingly beautiful.  And when my three year old daughter looked up at me, so concerned, wondering what my response to these scary clouds and rough winds would be. . . I picked her up and danced.  We danced with the trees. 

God is awesome, His creation is awesome; and in the midst of natural disaster - earthquakes and storms - it is impossible to turn a blind eye to His power and sovereignty.

So, why live in anxiety and worry that the ground will open up and swallow me whole or that the wind will wreck our home or floods destroy our belongings?  God's creation belongs to Him; I belong to Him.  He will do as He pleases, and I can sit in anxiety and panic or I can sit in holy fear as I watch the beauty of it all.

* Watching Irene's farthest reaches.
* Dancing with 3yo and the trees.
* Cold windy wetness reminding me of years of coastal living.
* Family - staying in touch, letting eachother know all is well.
* A night spent in prayer.
* Church the day after the storm.
* A sermon I needed to hear.
* Precious baby smile and talk.
* Garden in shambles. . . but nothing worse.
* A chance to help a friend with a sick child.
* Every north east family member safe and accounted for.
* "Mom, I like you."
* 3yo morning giggles.
* Garden time - picking up the pieces.
* Sunflower heads hanging with grape vines.
* Lots of hot peppers. .  . to do what with?
* Father-son outing after a tough 8yo day.
* The color of grape jam on toast.
* Seed catalogues - eye candy.
* Big sister reading aloud to little sister in bed.
* The way they look when sleeping so peacefully.
* Playful teasing with husband.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Post-In-Law Slump

They came.

And you just never know what to expect when they come.

I always expect the worst and occasionally enjoy the surprise of a fun visit with no confrontational letters later.

But I knew this time; I could tell.  Just two days in and she was frazzled, and he was rescuing her as well he should.  The next day political spats began and came to a teary climax the next morning.  And that afternoon the daggers shot from eyes and words began to me murmered under breath and "going home early" was overheard.

I stayed buried the whole time in the protection of a good book.  But I knew. . .  They were leaving and the letter would come - the letter that would trip me up and land me on my backside, hard on the ground, sore and shaken.

They left early on Sunday morning.  We spent the day relaxing, recovering. 

And then it came that night, after promises of no hate or anger or drama - the note.  She must have written it as soon as she got home and then pushed the "send" button before we could even get in bed for the night and sleep peaceful.

A tyrade of anger and rage, it questioned my parenting, my faith, my homemaking, my integrity.  Everything from false accusations pointed at my children to criticism of my reading all week. . .  I knew in my heart that it was all wrong - all an attempt to make me cry, make me grovel, make me apologize for nothing I did wrong. 

But my head kept telling me there was something to it.  And, as always, I gave into the guilt.  My stomach knotted and my eyes burned in secret moments over laundry, in the shower, in the dark in my bed.  I didn't want anyone to know; didn't want to make the situation any more horrible.

How do you recover from that?  How do you pull yourself out of the pit made for you by someone close?

You look to God for the lesson in it all:  Be content with what you have, where you are, who you spend the moments with.  Because lack of contentment and joy-in-the-moment lead only to bitterness and a biting tongue.

And then you sit back contented in the place He's placed you.  You look around and find the joy-moments, the love notes from God worth oh so much more than the hate mail in your in-box.  You let Him hold you with each moment and rest in His grace which is greater than every real and imagined short-coming.

* 3yo in a cowboy vest hand-stitched by my Mother-in-Law.
* Seed shopping with my kids at a local farm store.
* Bees on smiling sunflowers.  Resident monarch on the zinnias.
* Laughing with my chidren.  Laughing with my husband.
* 3yo gripping a lollipop in a tight fist - eating slowly, one lick at a time.
* Slurping noodles - big smiles and laughs.
* Bright striped pants and polka-dotted shirt with blue Mary Janes - a look only a kid could pull off.
* Blanket forts in a tree.
* Small, sweet tomatoes from the garden.
* Easing a younger mom's mind.
* 3yo:  "I want you. . . mom. . ."  and  "Is that the cross God died on?"
* The serene scent of a book.
* Sweaty bare toes in sand.
* That I always have a choice in how I react.
* A purple pepper found in the garden.
* Cherry tomatoes:  "These tomatoes are making me happy, mom!"
* A second small crop of tomatoes.
* Falling asleep to cricket-chirp and waking to bird-song.
* The sound of the wind.
* Watching 7yo create, thought to paper.  And coming to understand her a little better.
* Warm, moist kiss on my forehead.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Remember He Provides

The Lord provides!  Rest in the midst of pain. . .  Friends in the loss of family. . .  A quiet place in a crowded yard. . .  A reminder of how much He's blessed and continues to bless - lest we ever forget.

* Health through the night. . . why do I fear?
* Psalm 91 - memorized - and such a help to my anxious soul.
* Hummingbird in my garden!
* Sun-speckled leaves.
* Cool shadowed spots on the asphalt - relief to summer feet.
* Shady spots under bushes and trees, just perfect for hot puppies and cats.
* Every individual mother - each one different in some way, many ways.  I see that finally.  Lord, help me to show this lovely, liberating reality to other young moms. . .
* Open windows, if only for one day.
* Knowing I'm a newbie gardener and not the first to make these newbie mistakes.
* A possible solution and plan.
* Headache relief.
* Feeling decent after not falling asleep till after 3am.
* A good morning after a rough night.
* A broken possession: reminder of what's really important.
* The crunch of walnuts.
* Eebee
* Butterflies on zinnias. . . the big monarch that lingers.
* Mom on the phone.
* A better day - much better.
* Kids excited, counting down days, hours.
* 3yo smiles.
* An exhuberant 5yo Happy Birthday!. . . a day early.
* A great friend who loves my kids - their pseudo-grandma.
* A BBQ full of strangers that wasn't so bad. . . quiet corner found.
* Time alone to dig for book treasures at a thrift store.
* Baby grass.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flowing with Milk and Honey ~ All Over Nourishment

"He brought us to this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. . ."
~ Deuteronomy 26:9


The day He saved my soul, He brought me out of barren land and set me in a place flowing with milk and honey.  It is there for me - always - waiting to be enjoyed, savored.  It flows; will I drink?

The Word of God:  milk and honey to the soul.  Regular time, set apart to read, to drink it in. . . nourishes my soul and grows me up, builds those spiritual bones and makes me strong.

The Word of God:  milk and honey to my soul.  I meditate upon those Words, let them saturate my day and coat my soul with the sweetness - let them stick like honey.


As I drink in milk, I drink in Calcium and Vitamin D - the bricks and mortar of my body.  They make the bones strong, replenish all I lost during four childbirths and years of nursing, depleting.  I drink so I don't break.

And in those winter months, when energy lags and throats sting and sniffles and aches hit with a vengeance, honey soothesIt coats the throat, soothes the belly, builds up the body.  I swallow it down in all its sweet goodness so I don't fall.


Once a week I stand at the kitchen counter and stir it up - my bowl of beauty.  I squeeze about a tablespoon or two of honey and mix it some cream or milk. . .  Stir it into a sticky liquid and head to the bathroom.  Before I turn on the shower I coat myself in this honey-milk.  From head to toe - covered in a thin, sticky film that smells so rich.  But I save some.

After I get in the shower, I rinse hair and pour the rest of my concoction over my head and massage it into scalp and locks.  And then I rinse body and shampoo hair.

As I dry off, I see it - all that dead skin just flaking off so easy.  And my skin is soft and glowing once more.  And my hair curls up and thanks me for the rich drink.

Milk and honey:  body and soul.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saving Me from Myself ~ A Personalized Telling of Psalm 91

When I step outside my hectic day to spend a quiet moment with Him,
I find the way to stay with Him. . . all day.
Then I can say, with laughter on lips, "He's here!
A refuge for me. . . all day!"

He saves me from myself: the sins that trip me up and throw me down,
The sins that make me sick in mind and body and soul.
When I'm most deeply submerged in those sins, He spreads His wings and beckons.
I can hide there, in Him.
I can find protection in Him, in the truth of His Word.
I can find relief from my sins, the anxiety that makes me watch the night clock,
The worries that go right to my heart when I rise,
The panic that makes me weak and stomach sick,
And the fear that wrecks my day. . . if I will just take that moment with Him.

All around me, they fall in their sins. . .
Family and friends, even, collapse in a pile of sorrow and self-inflicted grief;
But I can be saved from this - I need not be swallowed whole.
I look around
And I see what comes of sin - of giving oneself over to the pull of it all.

I must make the Lord, alone, my refuge;
I must dwell in Him, dwell on Him.
For with my mind set on God and my soul finding rest in Him
I am saved from myself - that sickness, that sin, no longer has a hold on me or my home.
Angels around me, surround me
To keep watch over me, to help me.
Just as I fall, I call out and they catch me,
Providing a buffer - saving me from myself.
I can face these anxieties!
From the greatest fear to the smallest worry, I can face it all. . . if I'll just take that moment with Him.

May the Lord say of me, "She's oh so human and falls again and again;
But she loves Me.  I will help her; I will love her.
She calls on My name each time she falls; I will lift her up out of this. . . again.
I will be with her through every temptation;
I will deliver her.
I will show her the satisfaction of a life lived in Me.
I will save her from herself."

Monday, July 25, 2011


Fear, anxiety, worry, depression, sadness. . .  All these emotions, these regular plagues. . . I fight them with gratitude. . .  I make the choice to set my mind on His gifts:

* Red, metallic nail polish on little bitty toes.
* Being listened to.
* A husband who tells me to "say no" to myself.
* A cuddle after discipline.
* Time alone - quiet - slow thoughts.
* Gray, hot haze.
* Sunflowers coming into bloom.
* What to do with all those tomatoes!?
* Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. . .
* Spouse and children. . .
* Cheap treasures at the thrift store.
* A found bike.
* Faith:  it's all that holds me up sometimes. . . Even when I doubt, I cling to faith.
* Knowing myself.
* Borrowed books.
* Listening to a good dad. . . gleaning.
* Hammocks.
* Sweaty, red child faces.
* Child-rigged tree swings.
* Pyrex - a new old love.
* Feeling slightly more refreshed than the day before.
* A belly-ache that turns out to be nothing.
* Kids telling the days of the week by family rituals.
* 3yo bringing me the prayer book.
* 5yo asking me to do morning prayers again after he wakes late.
* A rough day that finally comes to a yawning end.
* Weekends.
* Benedryl.
* 3 skillets to cook Saturday-morning pancakes on.
* Time alone with my 3yo.
* Answered prayers.
* Lightening that just missed - up-close - pretty awesomely beautiful!
* Milk and honey.
* Finally getting to talk to my mom.
* A cat nap on a Sunday afternoon.
* Warm popcorn, fresh of the stove.
* The loud clap of thunder that scares me into the arms of God.