Wednesday, May 18, 2011

of swallows' eggs, visa runs, and peace

The word God told me to write down on each day of this week in my visual journal.  I wasn’t sure why, but now I know… Yesterday: a full-blown team meeting at our house for 7 adults and 8 kids.  Today: transitioning our sweet short-term teammate to her local family. Tomorrow: packing and preparing for a 10-day excursion to a neighboring country to renew our visas, and then a 4-hour ladies’ chai in the evening, before getting up at 5:30am to leave on our trip...
In the midst of all this hurry-scurry, hot humidity, windstorms, wet beds and hurting 3-yr-old fingernails in the middle of the night, waking up to no power, a whirring generator meaning no laundry two days before a trip,
how do I find peace?

Waiting in my inbox this morning from Ann: this link to New Zealand’s Hayley Westenra singing this clear, soaring hymn...  A link which, astonishingly, downloaded in its entirety, even on our slow connection, and injected our morning (including my boys, who watched it with me) with peace.  (Feeling prophetic, I bought and downloaded her whole Celtic Treasures album, wanting her voice with us on this trip as we unwind and regroup as a family.)

1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; 
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. 
When other helpers fail and comforts flee, 
Help of the helpless, O abide with me. 
2. Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; 
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away; 
change and decay in all around I see; 
O thou who changest not, abide with me. 
3. I need thy presence every passing hour. 
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power? 
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be? 
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me. 
4. I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless; 
ills have no weight, and tears not bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory? 
I triumph still, if thou abide with me. 
5. Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes; 
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies. 
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee; 
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Abide.  Dwell.  Stay.  Don’t go, don’t hurry, don’t rush.  Deep down in that wellspring of our being, stay put.  Stay connected.  Please, Lord, abide with me.  An acknowledgement of my utter inability to do the abiding, a request for Jesus’ stronger arms and steadier pulse to surround my feeble flutterings?

Abiding leads to {peace}.

P ause.  
E xhale.  
A ttend.  
C enter.  
E nter.  

Pause.  To pause means: to stop, with the intention of going on.  A long slow breath, a respite - a brief ceasing, to gather oneself for the going on.
Exhale.  When someone is hyperventilating, one cure is to exhale longer, to just breathe out.  A laboring woman is encouraged to breathe out in short puffs to alleviate tension.  A reliable relaxation technique I love is to breathe out long and slow, for more counts than you’ve inhaled.  Breathe in for 4 counts, exhale for 6.  Breathe in for 6 counts, exhale for 8.  In for 8, out for 10.  Make each breath longer and slower than the last.
Attend.  Notice the moment.  Notice your context, notice the gifts this moment contains.  Listen: birdsong?  Smell: woodsmoke, fresh bread baking?   See: a feather-lined nest?  Touch: a child’s cheek?  Taste: garden mint?  Gather, collect treasures with your senses.  Be.  All.  Here.  Now.   
Center.  What is at your core at this moment?  The god of hurry?  The god of the to-do list?  The god of “the next thing”?  Or Jesus, through Whom and for Whom all things were created?  Like a lump of clay on a whirling wheel, allow yourself to be re-centered in the motion, without stopping the motion.  Feel the Potter’s hands nudging you, hollowing you out, drawing up your your smooshed, slumped sides into graceful curves.  Stand as tall as you are (or lie down as long as you are).  Align your ears with your shoulders, hips, knees and feet.  Tuck your chin.  Press your shoulders back,  (right now, reading this).  Sit up straighter.  Expand your chest.  Center yourself, your thoughts, on Jesus dwelling at your core.
Enter.  “Enter His presence with thanksgiving.”  Those details you attended to earlier?  Give thanks for each one.  Each bit of life, savory or not, truly is a gift.  Giving thanks, out loud or in your mind, is a doorway into His presence.  He is with you in this moment.  Right now.  Here.  “Before Abraham was, I AM.”  See Him, in your mind’s eye.  Hear Him breathing gently beside you, smiling at you.  Loving you.  Suddenly, there He is, in you, and you are flooded with Joy. 
Peace leads to {joy}.

Hectic-ness of life notwithstanding, 

there are {five speckled eggs} in the swallows’ nest on our porch light, 

and I am choosing peace.

Abide in me, and I in you. 
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, 
neither can you, unless you abide in me.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  
Abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, 
just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. 
Not as the world gives do I give to you. 
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
“These things I have spoken to you, 
that my joy may be in you, 
and that your joy may be full.”
John 15:4, 9-10; 14:27, 15:11

Abiding in Jesus 
welcomes His peace
from which springs joy!  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Five-Minute Friday: Deep Breath...

{So every Friday (or Saturday, in my case this week) Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama offers a prompt for 5 minutes of unedited, stream-of-consciousness writing... a good chance to turn off the internal Editor breathing down our necks, and just write.}

This week's prompt: 

"Deep Breath..."


Deep breath, and here we go... into a day of extra kids, weddings, wonderful short-term teammates, ripped fingernails, stressed out three-year-olds being very brave, insistent toddlers who can't get enough face-time, touch-time, talk-time, interaction... 

Deep breath, and here we go into blustery, sunny spring in Central Asia, with complications and relationships and not offending and meaning to bless, birthdays and long sunset walks.

Deep breath, and here we go... into mothering and wife-ing and Jesus-loving, into all the things I want to be and wish I could be and am, into art and creating and trying to relax in the midst of it all...

Deep breath-- in, then out.  ::sigh::  And falling back into Jesus, like an armchair of Grace, like a hug,-- and comes  the sound of my toddler shaking something rattly at the front door, and I use a minute of my writing-breathing space to relieve him of the container of crayons he would take outside and draw all over our white-washed walls... 

Deep breath... into my life, into loving Jesus today, into finding grace in this moment, into moving forward.  One. Step.  At. A. Time.  Filling the form.  Finding the next thing, and doing it bravely.  Into being faithful.  Into being real and authentic.  

Deep breath... in, and out.  Dori, from Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

of rainbows and glory

Last night after dinner, the sun came out while the sky was still black and misty.  I whispered to Will conspiratorially, “Let’s look for rainbows!”  And when we opened the front door, there it was:

We called everybody to come look, took pictures, gazed on glory, filled our souls. 

As I was explaining how rainbows can only exist when there is rain and sun at the same time, I thought about holy moments, and how finding thankfulness through the rain of the everyday chaos miraculously produces a rainbow of joy in my heart.  Christ in me, the hope of glory.  

When I opened the front door again a few minutes after taking those photos, the glory had faded, veiled in cloud.  Ephemeral.  Like all we have, all we are.  Just grasses, here today-- tomorrow withered and faded.  

This morning Will woke up, came in to the kitchen, and said, “Is the rainbow still there?” 

And of course, yesterday's glory was yesterday's.  Today the slate is clean for finding new glory...

This is what it means to live as sojourners: finding glory in each new moment, always moving yet always at home, always grieving yet always at peace, always sorrowful yet always rejoicing.  
Living always with the hope of glory.  

And these shining words: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” resounding in my soul, last week, this week (continuing on with Colossians in a Year: 2 Verses a Week)… this hope resounding, remaining.

My dad loves to say, “Life is hard, and then you die!”  

My adaptation: “Life is sometimes mud puddles, but if you look there are glimpses of glory, to make you long for heaven... and then you die and are enveloped in Christ and His glory for always!”  


“...Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Colossians 1:27

Friday, May 6, 2011

Five Minute Friday: "Motherhood should come with...


Motherhood should come with... instruction manual.  A book that tells you how to change diapers, change your idea of personal space, change your idea of how many hours of sleep you actually need, versus how many you want.

...a healthy dose of humor, and a warning against perfectionism.  A list of unending ideas of how to learn to play, for those of us who don't naturally know what to do in that area!

...a lifeline to God, that keeps you connected to His strength day and night, that allows you never to get impatient or "yelly" with your kids, no matter how exasperated you feel.  An intravenous of peace.

...a measure of wisdom beyond what you normally possess, that enables you to choose between impossible decisions like "rescue the boiling pot on the stove or wipe the blood off my son's lip?" or "quick bring the laundry in from the rain or break up a rolling tumbling fight?"

...another measure of wisdom, more visionary this time, that lets you see into the future like a prophetess and provide for your children exactly the tools they'll need to succeed at what God is calling them to do... a special second sight that lets you identify gifts early, nurture them perfectly, encourage them faithfully, and see your children become all they were created to be.

(Hmmm... interesting that most or all of this I already have, and His name is the Holy Spirit?  What if I'm just not appropriating it?  ...)