Saturday, May 7, 2016

Old friends, older enemies

Just revisited this blog after considering starting a new one. Man, rereading these posts.... tears for all kinds of reasons. Tears for remembering the fire that first was burning in my belly to write. To share. To remember. To get out what so often wants to come as I learn. Tears for remembering that sweet season that had its joys and challenges with one baby boy, and to realize I had no idea that the Lord would send us another son and a beautiful daughter before I would pick up and write again. As I read the penned words I can remember, so freshly, the excitement I had for what God was revealing. And, with the same freshness I can remember the sting of defeat and frustration of living in a broken world. I can - unfortunately - say that I have lamented some of the same fears and frustrations from nearly four years ago in the past few days.     Today, I pick up my pen again. Not because I'm any wiser; if anything, the farther I go, the more broken I realize I am....  Which I'm hoping ends well because it leads me more and more to my *need* for my Savior.

Lately I've become an over-poster on facebook. You know the kind. Every moment that should be personal - I snap a picture and post it.  I've begun to think of my life in posts. Like, I'm crafting the slashtag (I'll explain that some other time) while my life is unfolding. I've been aking myself; WHY??? Why do you feel the need to write and publish your life, in real time, for a bunch of "not really friends" to see?   In part, it is for me. It has become a scrapbook of our lives; an exchange for the pictures I don't print, the books I don't create, the baby books I don't fill out, and the journal I do not keep. I often look back -- at the pictures, the words and I remember the happy. Another part of it is to document the blessings, to underscore the happy - as if writing that part of our story will cause it to be more imprinted than the horribly off-key moments of struggle and anger and defeat that I never record. Some days are long and hard and lately it seems I can easily think of the struggles and defeat before I count the joy.  Writing on facebook also gives me a place to speak, so to speak, uninterrupted.  (Apparently life with three kids five and under can make a person feel.... not seen, not heard, and completely incapable of constructing and then expressing a complete thought without being interrupted. Recently my  mom was here and I literally yelled at my children to be quiet so I could just talk to my own mom, for literally, one minute!)  It's also quick.  A facebook post is not overwhelming to assemble. A picture with a few words that I can either keep simple or craft as I desire. I'm completing something. Motherhood can feel like a string of incomplete tasks. When I hit "post", I feel this tiniest sense of accomplishment (have grace with me, I see the sadness there).   Then, the question follows - why do I look back to see who "liked" what I posted?  Perhaps to see who is reading - who cares? who understands? who approves?  That's a whole other topic.

With all that being said, I realize facebook is not the enemy. A strategy of the enemy - in *my* life, perhaps, but the actual enemy it is not.  I still love that Grandma is online and can so easily see and comment on her Hannah Iline. I love that I can see an old classmate's new born babe and have an opportunity to reach out in joy. I love that it can connect someone whom I haven't spoken with in fifteen years, and allow me to pray for them and with them.

I'm not really sure what I'm doing here. I think only one person knows this blog even exists, so I feel safe in stopping by. There's certainly a stirring to write. I think I'll try on the old "uniform" and see how it still fits with "Today's Praise", "The Wrestle" and "The Still Small Voice."  Three kids can really change a woman, though, so no guarantees that I won't have to have this thing altered. ;) 

Writing always feels a bit like home for me. A place to breathe a bit as my fingers click over the keys or glide across the page. Baby girl is stirring. I am needed and so I'll go. I think she's having her first battle with teething - I may get to spend the wee hours of Mother's Day holding my girl. Lord, thank You, and help me to hold it with the tenderness I desire.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Today's Praise:
This afternoon, on our way to a haircut, the car died... what, you wouldn't praise God for that? :) He took care of Cooper and I so perfectly. It was when turning onto a busy road that I realized I didn't have much acceleration power. But He slowed traffic here and there, and gave us just enough of a budge to get us safely landed into an empty parking lot. The sun was shining, and it was a balmy - if not windy! - 60 degrees.. Cooper had wanted to take a book along, so he flipped happily through 'Corduroy' while I called my mama, who had yet to put her other grandbabies down for a nap. "We'll be on the way!" she says, and I just know she will come as fast as she can with all her heart to help her baby.

The Wrestle:
'The car died' can seem like a big thing in my little world. Yet, just today I've looked at a blog of a mother battling cancer, read a news report on a 16 year old beauty who passed away in a car accident, heard the heart of an aching friend who has suffered loss, prayed for a couple desperate to have babies and holding to hope four years later ... Perspective. While others lives seem to be spiraling out of control, at a glance I am simply- parked. How do I wake each day and shrink my frustrations into the size they really are? And how do I magnify the glory, grace and love?

The Still Small Voice:
It's good to cry for others sometimes. Let the love you feel motivate you to live your life to the fullest. And to love others extravagantly, always. You don't know everyone's story. But you do know I've created everyone.  There's not one person in this world who doesn't need to be shown love and grace. Ask Me for eyes to see the hurting, to meet others needs, and when to send a perfectly-timed phone call, email or text. I love to reveal those things to people who really desire to know. They'll know you love Me by the way you love them.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Me & The Israelites

Today's Praise:
Oh how I'm so grateful that God's promises are new every morning, every moment. No matter how far off the path I've wandered - even if I've been down that path, seen it goes nowhere good .. and STILL go back to check out the souvenir shop - as soon as I turn back, Jesus is waiting to pick me up, turn me around and set me on the path to righteousness. Hang on, actually He just takes me to righteousness; I don't have to pass go or collect $200. This may be part of my problem... I keep thinking I need to make my way back... Christ IS my way back.

The Wrestle:
I've been doing some reading in the Old Testament, and becoming familiar with the fair-weather faith of the Israelites. As I continued to read the words "Once again" and "again"  - again and again - describing their disobedience,  I wanted to shake my head at those people. Come on, wake up! How many times will you have to hear the stories before your belief will no longer be shaken by an impostor?! But before I can even finish that thought, I start to wonder why those words sound so familiar to me. It's sinking in. That's been my spiritual story: Victory!!!! defeat.  Victory!!!! defeat.

God speaks to me, to be sure. Sometimes I know I miss the boat. But other times, I hear Him; by His grace, I get it! I may get it, but I don't 'got it'. Because the next time a situation presents itself - to stay calm, to speak respectfully, to refrain from judgement, to forgive quickly and fully, to do God's agenda over my own - the strength, power and truth seem to slip through my tightly fisted hands. I'm not as open to receiving Christ's instruction, nor claiming His promise or power, in the heat of the moment. It becomes quite apparent that I still think my way is the best more often than I'm proud to admit. (I think I can hear Dr. Phil asking me, "How's that working for ya?").  

I don't think I'm anchoring on Christ. Sure, as I'm passing by on the current of life I see Him - and I reach out and grab, holding on with everything I've got. But life's moving too fast, and I'm not strong enough. The minute life calls me to do something else besides hold onto that rope, it's gone. I've got to drop anchor; let Him hold ME. Decide that abiding in Christ -- THAT'S where I want to stay.

The Still Small Voice:
I love you. Keep reading My Word. Keep asking Me. Keep after Me. Taste life with Me. My love is never disappointing. Go to bed, dear. It's late. You need rest for all I have planned tomorrow.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Oh, Sunday

Today's Praise:  
We were back at church today, after a three week hiatus! We had missed it! Having a little one who struggled with colds and viruses for three weeks made it near impossible for us to keep our regularly scheduled programming. I just couldn't bring myself to drop him off in Puddles Pond (our church's children's ministry), where he could infect other precious babes... I'm *trying* to teach him to cover his cough, but it seems in vain right now. :)  And walking around the atrium with him for an hour hardly seemed engaging for any of us, so we attended Bedside Baptist for a bit.

Today, Pastor Cal finished a series on marriage, focusing on the single community for this sermon. At the end, he asked the singles who desired to be prayed for by our church family to stand up. Whoah. I was a single for what felt like forever, and I dare say I would not have been so brave. But lo and behold right behind us, and right in front of us, two women stood up, along with many others across the room - boldly asking to be lifted to Jesus. So Shane and I had, along with another family, had the privilege of laying hands on and praying over Tina. Following prayer, we shared a hug and a quick word, and I'm so excited to pray regularly for her. Maybe God will bring her in our path again, or maybe that was just the season of need He had for us in her life, but either way I know that God will bless her desire to seek Christ, and her boldness is reaching out for support from those around her.

The Wrestle:
Sunday, a day of holiness.. made for peace and worship, right? Why is it that in the times directly before and after a church service I can so weakly battle against (and lose) my patience, kindness and calmness. My spirit of love seems especially challenged in moments when I feel as though it should be strengthened. If I had a dollar for every car ride either to or from services that involved silence or the near brimming of tears.. I'd have enough... to send myself to counseling! For heaven's sake!

While it seems crazy, maybe it makes more sense that I realize. We're about to go and get strengthened from Christ and His family, or we just have been - and of course the enemy wants to take out our hearts at any point in that process. If he can steal our peace before or after a time of worship, it will hinder the message. And maybe more frightening, start to plant a seed of doubt that there is any protection, power or freedom in Christ's name. This is not a battle I want to keep losing - which means I must keep fighting. I need to learn to pray over Sunday - and the attempts to rob our peace and joy that have proved themselves time and again. When Satan was trying to tempt Jesus in Luke 4, it says in verse 13 that "When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time."  I'm beginning to learn the day set apart for His holiness can be an 'opportune time' for our family. If I can recognize it, it's high time I start preparing ahead of time for battle. I know how the story ends - and I'm walking with the Winner.

The Still Small Voice:
It's the little stuff that can become the big stuff, Leslie. Pay attention to the slightest hints of disobedience to Me, whether it's in your tone of voice, or the look that you are about to give. When you decrease the importance of obeying Me fully, it becomes much easier to turn your eyes away from Me in light of any choice you are making. I am more than enough, completely able to bring even those ingrained habits and behaviors that feel like second nature under My control. But I cannot and will not do anything with it until you tell Me you're ready. It will be hard at first, but the more you stop yourself, and invite Me in, the more you will see yourself speaking, acting and living the life of power I intended. I promise you the life I designed is much sweeter than the bitterness and regret you are feeling frequently after losing control of your words and emotions. You long for stability; you'll find it with Me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Blog Fog

You can see its been a few months since a post. I had great ambitions and visions for this blog, but alas once it was created, I simply didn't know what to write. Maybe I was thinking about it too much. Looking for an angle to take when really I'm more of a circle girl... I'm not crafty, not healthy, have no secrets for excercising, or cooking. I struggle with silly thing like coupons, getting up early and staying up on housework -- and relationships. I'm a master of nothing and generally feel like I'm just trying to soak up the goodness and wisdom of those around me. Reading Ann Voskamp's online journal may have stymied me as well; the woman breaths truth, whereas my resounding theme seems to be: I messed up AGAIN?...

Then an old friend (you know the kind with roots deep enough to hold up years in between visits, and still be healthy) wrote to say, among other things, that she had started a blog.  I was honored that she shared it with me, thrilled to get to regularly 'hear' from her amazing heart in this new found way, and inspired to maybe give mine a go -er, a second go. After all, while I may not be able to categorize myself or my thoughts in the way I think I should, this day-to-day life I'm living is really overflowing with love and grace. And that's good enough for me.

So I began thinking on it through the day.. And what came out seems perhaps to be a combination of what my life IS and what I so sincerely hope it would be. So for now, I think I'll try to capture my thoughts, my heart and my soul (and those of my little family - whose hearts beat in time with mine) in this way: 

*Today's Praise :What am I thanking God for today?

*The Wrestle: Where am I struggling with fears, failures, hopes or questions?

*The Still Small Voice: What do I hear God speaking into my life?

That's where I'm heading for now - not that you were asking, or needed directions to this ridiculously simple blog. I won't be tagged on Pinterest, no one will hash tag me (#canthatbeaverb?),  and I'm going to (try) not to care that I won't get 'liked' by one of my 243 "friends" on facebook. This is just the heart of a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend - trying to do life with more of Him, and less of me.

Oh that I might see, hear, think, speak and love (and therefore WRITE) more and more like my heavenly Father. Afterall, the only words worth penning (uh, typing) are the ones He is writing on my heart.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A day full of little, giant reasons to close my eyes and thank my God for the blessings He is pouring on our family. A no-school morning, which equaled a laid back awakening... laying in bed in my husband's arms talking about our day, our life. Listening to our beautiful son say hello to the world with "da-das" and "oohhs".

We went out as a family raking leaves. It was a cool, crisp morning. Trying to rake with a sweet baby in your arms is far less efficient, but the whole experience is more fun.  Cooper bundled up in camo chasing his daddy wanting to be just like him. I even jumped on the tarp for a ride across the lawn, much to Shane's amazement and Cooper's smiles.

I love my little life. I feel like I am just beginning to really see my life for the beautiful thing God is making of it. I spent so long wishing for what I thought I always wanted, practicing smiles and imagining my life when I would be truly happy. It became a way of life, to put on a fake smile and nod, to try and makeself sound grateful for what I had when secretly I envied the life of so many others. I have all the things I thought then that would be the keys to that real, deep down smile: an amazing husband, a beautiful son, a cozy place we call home ... and yet I know that the real reason I'm beginning to smile from the inside is because I'm seeing more of God. He is revealing to me that He IS the source of my life, and all that is in it.

Thank you, Lord, for drawing me close and beginning to teach me to desire to give you not just a part, but all of my heart. Put your hand upon families who are without loved ones today as a result of their sacrifice to serve our country and you on this Veterans Day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is this thing on?

This is a test. For me. No one else but God knows I'm starting this blog (yet). He's the reason I'm starting it, and the only way it will continue. (shout out to Judie Blume: Are you there, God? It's me, Leslie :)  ). Here goes my nothing, as I'm just beginning to figure out that He is my everything ...