beauty.

 

Beauty.
It soothes my soul.

And its everywhere.

This past weekend I planted flowers and “beautified” our deck with plants.  There are hanging baskets on our front porch, pots on the deck, and impatiens and cosmos in the flowerbeds.

There are fewer impatiens and one less pot, because …puppy.

I am not known for my green thumb, and in previous years I haven’t been quite as obsessed with flower-beauty as I am this year.

I’ve gotten hanging baskets before, but always thinking, ok, all four alike, keep it matchy-matchy. This year, though? I picked four different baskets, loud and wild, pinks and blues and reds and whites and yellows and deep purples. I want all the variety and crazy combinations. I don’t care if pink and red clash. It’s just all beauty.

And I am enthralled.

Recently I’ve been aware not just of beauty itself, but how it soothes me. How it brings me back to truth. How it shows what reality really is – a kind and Good God who is orchestrating every detail of our lives, and showing us in all the showy ways just tiny glimpses of His own beauty.

This morning my youngest was up early, (6:30 these days..) and I wanted some quiet and time alone before I began parenting (amen?), and the thought skittered across my mind as I sent her to my bed to lay down….

“Cherish this time, don’t wish it away, she won’t be 3 and snuggly forever.”

And the words of my mother-in-law just this past Sunday evening rang in my mind, in reference to this time of our lives…”Just enjoy it,” she said.

So the coffee stayed in the coffee pot and I crawled back in bed with my delighted girl.. and this is what I heard:

“You take a nap with ME, Mommy?”

“Mommy… I love you too. I love you too.”

And she told me all about Aunt La-la coming last night while I was in town, and chattered and wrapped squishy arms ’round my neck and kissed my cheek and my arm, whispering her “I love you too’s”.  My heart filled to overflowing for this treasure, this time, this sweet one. This beauty, with her loud stomping everywhere she goes (Bull. China shop.) and her penchant for sweets, her stubbornness, her long, long, hair with wild curls, and how dearly she loves.

We read a story and she surprised me by picking out the e’s on the page, and I melted into one last 10 minute sleep while she wallered (is that a word? I think it must be. It’s what she did.) and talked and attempted to hijack chapstick and my phone.

It’s a summer-slow morning. And everyone else trickled out of bed, enthralled with the new library books and always, always holding kittens.

That’s beautiful to me.

And the fresh, rain-soaked blueberries coming in last night from our patch by my dear second son, so excited with his find and asking if I want one. They tasted delicious, more so accompanied by the smile of the giver.

The rain-drops glistening on the bright green of lavendar and succulents on my deck this morning.

My whipping cream, pouring into a steaming cup just 10 minutes ago.

Fresh sheets, slipped on late at night with the help of the husband I love, and crawling in, the coolness and the weight of the quilts, and the knowledge that he is still loving me, almost 14 years since he started, and the beauty of love that stands through hard and harder. Sickness. Health. Vows that were hushed and quiet with all the strength of the love we shared then, and knowing that the love we share now is more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed. That even when we misunderstand  each other and get frustrated, when we are tired and clueless about how in the world to parent or what we are supposed to do, that our love is rock solid. We know so much more about each other and so much less about parenting than we ever did before. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Then the way the carpet looks after the vacuum has worked its magic, and feeling like surely this time my room won’t get messy again.

Knowing that in just “one more sleep” my mom and dad will be here, and we will talk and laugh and drink coffee in the afternoon because why not? and hug and not think about saying goodbye again. We will enjoy the beauty of the moment.

The sound of the washer and dryer humming, cleaning the dirt and grime off the summer mountains of laundry.

The way my shampoo and conditioner smells, and the sense of luxury in having a new bottle and inhaling it’s unfamiliar and intoxicating scent.

Starting our new read aloud (so what if we don’t finish the others..) “Streams to the River, River to the Sea” by Scott O’Dell, about Sacajawea.  And yesterday, going to the library, just my boys and I, and filling our bags with books for all. Then taking french fries and coke up behind that subdivision in our small town, all the way past the houses to the very end where we were way up high and we could look out and see the valley where we live, with the mountains capped in wispy white clouds. We parked there, enthralled by the view and pointing out Grandpa’s silo, and the weeds and tall grass framed the bottom with bright and sun-caught green. We sipped our drinks and I read aloud and we were all captivated by the story. The view. The sun. The taste of McDonald’s hot and salty fries.

And the kitten who traveled under our vehicle to the library and who pitifully meowed loudly as we were trying to order French fries. The rescue attempt commenced with great excitement and we hoped the people behind us understood while my boys ran wildly around the van looking. Soon the little yellow kitty was safe and sound and gifted with the first french fry for his bravery.

A bath with oatmeal and Epsom salts to (hopefully) soothe the poison oak that’s taken up residence on my leg.

A word, fitly spoken while on a last minute rendezvous with my dear friend last night.. sitting in the motel parking lot that should have had a sign that said “scenic overlook” on another mountain. This time looking at the twinkling lights below and the other mountains we know are there but couldn’t see, while rain drizzled on and off on the windshield. She spoke truth to me that I didn’t even know I needed, but keep coming back to over and over again since we talked.  We spoke of grief and pain and when your mama goes to see Jesus and leaves you behind and what it looks like to step into a future that’s uncertain and maybe even thrilling at the same time. What faith looks like and how sometimes what you really need is just to make sure you get enough sleep so you can get up a bit more refreshed and not quite stretched so thin.

The fresh cucumbers found in the garden, and brought inside with great fanfare.

When you can pray and you don’t even know what you’re going to say, but Jesus brings the words and they flow and you know you wouldn’t have wanted to come up with words by yourself anyways.

And this verse the Lord led me to yesterday:

“I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.” Psalm 71:14.  So much beauty when we praise more and more… it increases our hope. It magnifies our hope. And it’s the only way to continue in hope.

So much beauty. So much overflowing of a cup that isn’t half empty, and isn’t even half full. It spills and runs and drenches everything, and the more I praise Him the more I hope and the more beauty I see around me.

More.

And more.

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All is Well

These days.

They are so fleeting and the lump in my throat bears witness to how I feel about that.

Quick, rush, chaos, dirt on my hallway floor.

Laundry piles in moldering mountains and there are fingerprint swirl smudges on every surface.

I break up the arguments and kiss the finger and close my eyes when she does what she always does…

Those two tiny girl-hands wrapping soft and pulling my neck in so her kisses land on my face.

She is all fire and glorious honey curls. Sweet as they come, and just as strong-willed too.  Or maybe more.
Freedom, space, relief when the daddy walks in through the back door, home from a long day and I’m twofold glad to see him.

Glad because he is still my love, more than ever, and glad for the relief of not being the sole parent in the moment.

….

I’m learning the art of savoring the small.  Just a newbie in that, though, but I’m grasping hold of the moments and closing my eyes more often in thanks-giving.

Our days continue the tightrope walk of breathless wondering at what behavior challenge might be next, (and there is so.much. I am not saying when I say that) my thoughts continue to come back to the fact that I wasn’t ever promised a perfect life, or always lovely days.

So as I learn to savor the blessings I’ve taken for granted at times, it helps to remember that I’m held and kept safe through the hard, and the hard things are gifts in their own right.  Hard is a blessing, it amplifies the blessing of what’s seemed insignificant, but most of all, it draws me to Him.

Draws me to look up, not in.

To look away from myself, and to know that my sufficiency and my okay-ness never once has to come from whether things are easy or fun.

 

True joy comes from my Saviour.  From obedience to Him. It comes from knowing, nodding yes to the truth that He never leaves, He always carries, and my worship and heart is all He desires from me.

So I’m thankful for the hard things, thankful for the small things, thankful for the heart-stopping beauty of children playing carefree together.  Each moment where there is sunshine, enough food, savory and sweet treats, hugs and clean water, the kiss and strong hand of my Dear Man, the admittance of wrong and “I’m sorry”, the gas in the car, the shoes on our feet, the Bible.

Most of all, I’m thankful there is a Giver.  And an Enthroned Majestic Ruler of all of life, who isn’t surprised, disturbed or dismayed by any of the things that so easily attempt to do so to me. He is the Giver of all Good, so I’m taking deep breaths and knowing that all things work together for just that.

Thank you Jesus.
All is Well

I’m looking up, You’re reaching out.

With outstretched hand and knowing smile, 

You fill me up, you make my cup

Just overflow and all the while…

I know my pain is felt by you,

The bitter tears, the fear that shakes

My quaking heart, but it is true – 

You’re never shaken, never moved

You’re never caught off guard by what I’m going through.

All is well.



I look to you, and lift my eyes

To One whose heart was broken first

By what breaks mine, and now I find

That when I let it go and let my soul

Take rest and find it’s home in You

I’m not alone, I’m never left —

A blessed refuge, oh, it’s true.

Jesus, You’re not shaken, You’re not moved.

You’re never caught off guard by what I’m going through. 

All is well.



You formed me, You know all my days –

You knew this morning what I’d face

In chaos rush, or quiet hush,

The truth you arrow-spear my heart,

All things, yes all things can be done

Through You, the God of  Earth and Sky

The power that raised you, rolled the stone

It lives and dwells and breathes in me.

You’re here, this Holy Power, it reigns…. 

In heaven above and in my heart and home….

Never shaken. Never moved.  Your Holy Sameness, making all things well.



What You went through, the cross that crucified True Love

And then the grave and death that couldn’t hold You there…

And now the Spirit whole and filling me,

Whatever I walk through has first been walked by You –

That I may know You.

Fuller, wholly, well and true.

And  Resurrection Power and Suffering Fellowship…

If what I’m going through makes me conformed to death,

Then Saviour, send whatever You deem best.

Send rain, send storms, send sunshine, warm and soft

But most of all, keep sending Power that overcomes the dark, 

You’re never shaken, never moved. 

And You do all things well.

a wretch His treasure

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Click the above link and listen while you read
..So yesterday I was reading in John as the sun peeked up over the hills out my living room window… My coffee was in hand, and my littlest was doing a decent job of sitting quietly with a book.   I opened to John 14, where Jesus says these words in verse 23.

“…If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him.” 

My Father will love him. 

Will. Love.

I looked up the meaning of love here and the word is agapao.  

Agapao :  

To take pleasure in.

To long for.

To esteem. 

To regard the welfare of.

To prefer.

To prize above other things.

To be unwilling to abandon or do without.


My heart got swollen with a type of near-disbelief as these words sunk in. God the Father, he takes pleasure in me. He longs for me.  He esteems me (Webster’s definition of esteem is respect and admiration).  He regards my welfare.  He truly cares about me.  He prefers me.  He prizes me above other things.  He was unwilling to abandon me or do without me. 

My other children were trickling into the living room as the sun climbed a bit higher and shone soft and bright through my window and on the grass that’s bright green by now. My coffee was cooling, I got another cup and resumed my study amid several conversations with the 4 year old and 9 year old. 

Almost breathless, I contemplated what this meant.  And how in the world have I missed this all these years?  Oh I have always known that He loves me.  

Jesus loves me, this I know.  

Oh love of God, how rich and pure.  

Oh, how He loves you and me…

A love that goes from east to west, and runs as deep as it is wide…

Did the authors of these songs have the same awestruck realization? That this God is a lover? That He is passionately in pursuit of my heart?  That as He creates and forms each new life, He does so with such intensity of love that we cannot even begin to imagine the plans He has for us? 

Slowly, I realized that this basic truth I had stumbled upon has been shrouded and covered up in my heart as a doctrine.  The doctrine of God’s love.  It’s been hidden under deflated expectations.  The hard things in life.  You know, when you know God’s good but life isn’t? And it’s all too easy to mesh the two underneath the idea that if God was good and He loved me then this awful things or that diagnosis or whatever wouldn’t be happening.  Oh and then… the other illlusion. That when I’m good, I know he smiles.  (And thinks ‘It’s about time‘.) When I’m not, He surely is frowning.  Or frustrated.  Or maybe indifferent and moving on to pay attention to the other child of His who has a lot better handle on loving their children well, ministering cheerfully to the needy, the one who is sweet and kind to their husband so much more often.. 

This is outright deception

The accuser, the Lucifer of condemnation and darkness has blinded the eyes of our understanding. And somehow shone this twisted thinking into our minds in such a way that it’s what looks like true truth.  

A God that longs for me?  That refuses to abandon me?  That prizes me above all else?  This is the God that thought of me and chose the cross for His Son.  This Abba Daddy God chose nails and lashes and grief and blood and piercing for His precious Son… because He refused to be separated from me.  

Oh, my heart.  This is why the cross.  

He saw me, filled with Him, and even before that, while I wasn’t – He sent Jesus.  His Beloved.  And longed for me. Longed for me to see.  To see Him with arms wide, running as only the Master of the Universe can run towards His daughter… 

And planned my destiny while His Son hung broken, ragged skin, eyes glazed in pain.  Everything that hangs on a tree is cursed.  Jesus became my sin, became my yelling, my anger, my self-lashing, my misunderstanding.  He became our murder and pornography and lust and stealing and selfishness and pride.  

He became this because He saw the value of who I am and who you are when His holiness is on us and in us.  We don’t have to try harder or be better, we simply need to begin to believe that He has filled us.  That all that He is, is ours. 

 His love and righteousness has made us beautiful.  He says so.  

We aren’t slaves any longer and I’m not interested in the lies that the deceiver has whispered for so long that says who I’m not.  This understanding of how God thinks about us is the key to everything. If I know who I am, if I understand my position as a loved and valued and healed and admired daughter, it changes it all.  This is who I am now.  This is my birthright, adopted into the family of the Most High.   

This is a love I haven’t even scratched the surface of.  But I’m newly determined.  And even in that determination, I know He’s cheering me on, whispering truth and love-words and excited to share more with all of us.  He wants us to know. 


To see how deep the Father’s love for us.  

And how vast beyond all measure.  
….The sun’s up now, my children are riding brooms like horses  and planning picnics, reading books, carousing like the carefree and loved littles that they are.  

We are too, you know? Loved.  

And we can become as little children too.  And be carefree. Because He’s got this.  And He’s got us.  

If He’d let His son do what He did for the express reason that He couldn’t abandon me or you, we can run wild and close our eyes. We can know that the future is held and our welfare is secure in the capability of a Creator and a Lover whom in our wildest dreams we can’t fathom the aching depths of His love for us. 

That He would give His only Son, 

to make a wretch – 

His Treasure. 


a truth to transform the mundane.

For years I’ve been waiting for The Day. The Day when I wake up, refreshed and mentally, spiritually and emotionally whole . I’ve bought a lot of books (many are very good.) on how to organize, pray better, read better, study better, mother better, wife better, friend better, daughter of God better.

I’ve made resolutions, (many are very good.) had accountability partners, furiously wrote notes from sermons, had a lot of conversations, cried, been depressed, and tried to do it well again and again and again.

None of these things are bad, in and of themselves.  They just miss the point.

The point?
Well. I’m learning some new things lately.

Jesus didn’t just die to save me from my sin.
He didn’t just die so we could be reunited in eternity.

He didn’t just die for me to be baptized, and be blessed for it.

He died to transform me into His image

Notice that He didn’t die so  that I could transform me into His image.

He does the work. He did the work.  The work that He did is finished.

When I accepted Him, He made me pure.  Whole.

Completely complete in Him.

And yes, He had to die because I sinned – but the thing is, He saw my worth and your worth when He hung there.  He never once lost sight of what we look like when we are transformed into His image.  And it isn’t something that we get an accountability partner to make happen –

It simply means that I fall on my face before Him, and ask.

Now.  I’ve been taught all my life about the simplicity of the Gospel.  But I never understood that it was really this simple.

And that my whole self/selfishness/life/everything has to be recognized by me as DEAD.  All dead.  Lifeless.

Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure none of these thoughts are that profound, but I’m just now wrapping my mind around a lot of this. 

What if the problem I have – we have – is that we really don’t understand the depth of the worth that Jesus sees in us?  That we have value Actual VALUE?

He made us to be His image -bearers, walking around on the earth, knowing how much we are worth in Him (mind you, not anything we have done). So that we could in turn help other people know how much they are worth.  and that none of us were created for the destiny we have created for ourselves and bought into as normal of struggle, overwhelm, anger, ISSUES, unkindness, etc.

What if you and I were so completely undone by the magnitude of our worth in Jesus that you couldn’t make me mad?  Yeah, I get all ramped up inside when (like this morning) one child is angry because he has to do a chore, another one is crying because breakfast didn’t happen soon enough to suit her, and PLEASE CAN I HAVE A SHOWER?

I did get a shower.  (It does help one’s perspective.)  And somehow knowing my worth in Jesus calmed me down and helped me breathe “Thank You, Jesus for a sunny day and children who are alive and healthy” while I calmed everyone down beforehand.  Somehow knowing that Jesus values me helped me encourage the one who grouched his way through a chore before breakfast.  Somehow the fact that I got up late and was exhausted from two girls who took 2 hours to go to sleep last night and were up again in the middle of the night with various poddy/drink/mommy needs hasn’t completely derailed my day and I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that….  Jesus actually thinks that I truly matter, and that I get to wake up every morning pure and whole and holy because He totally has me and it’s not my job to fight every battle I face.  

Why do we make complicated this simple grace?

Why don’t we start today with a laugh and a grin, and an adoration-song on our lips for the beautiful grace He’s given us?   Why don’t we notice the sparkling dishes out of the dishwasher, the fresh laundry smell, and the giggle of the girl-child, and let it be a love letter from our Papa?   Because it is – it really is.

He says you’re worth it.  He says you’re still worth it. He says you’re worth it no matter what you’ve done, how you’ve acted, or what you do tomorrow.  Because He’s got that view of what you look like when you fall on your face before Him and say “Jesus, make me like You. Do it all.  Because I can’t do it well any other way.”

The truth is – we don’t have to wait for The Day… it’s already here. He’s already said we are worth more than the world to Him.  And anything or anyplace we come to that is good and right comes directly from His transforming work in our lives.  All the books, all the accountability partners, while good, are nothing in comparision to the Holy Spirit alive and moving and whispering in our hearts.  He is all we need.  He is everything.  And He says we are worth everything to Him.

Let’s let this transform our mundane.