Friday, October 31, 2014

Noisy Bird

"How rude. I mean, doesn’t this bird know I am trying to spend some QUIET time with the Lord on this beautiful gulf coast beach morning?” 
That’s what I was thinking at first. 
I really did try to let it go and concentrate, but my ADD tendencies got the better of me and I full on immersed myself in the unfolding bird drama.      
This solitary bird standing on the shore in the dry sand was wailing…incessantly. 
As in shrill, ear piercing shrieks. 

Once I realized it wasn’t just chirping or doing its regular thing, I got a little concerned:
Maybe this bird is hurt? 
Can it even fly? 
Maybe she is a mama bird attracting away predators in ultimate sacrifice. 
Maybe she is warning her bird friends of impending danger. 
Maybe I should help this wittle birdie!

My curiosity was peaked…so I watched.

All week, I had been fascinated with birds that would fly over the shallow coastline and dive bomb the water to catch a fish. The precision and commitment was intense.
So I noticed that this noisy bird, still standing on and never moving from the shore, continually screeched at another bird flying nearby over the water as it fished. 
The fisher bird would come to the noisy bird and go back to the water again and again.
Noisy bird never missed a beat. Ever. 
It constantly cried out to the bird fishing.

And then, it happened.
The other bird caught a fish and took it to Noisy bird and fed it.
Then it happened again. And again and again.
The only time Noisy bird was silent, was in the 3 seconds it took it to swallow that fish, then it went right back to the wailing.

The fisher bird went out and back, out and back, over and over.
I was beginning to be inspired! 
Here is this bird willing to feed a fellow bird-injured and impaired-who is unable to fish on its own! 

But then, to my surprise, Noisy bird, who had seemed so bound to the shore-seemingly physically unable to do what would sustain its life- just took off in flight! <insert audible gasp on my part>

Now, this was no baby bird. 
It was full grown, just like the one feeding it. 
It had no impairments.
Yet, it pierced the atmosphere, demanding to be fed. 
And this fisher bird complied.
Then, Noisy bird got its fill of the whole ordeal and took off. 

But I kept thinking: what will happen when this bird gets hungry next time? 
Because, the funny thing about hunger is that it will always come again.
So what then? 
Will it make another scene, shrieking demands to be fed? 
Will some other bird be its fisher? 

The very hunger that gave rise to Noisy bird’s shriek could have been satisfied in beautiful stillness if the bird itself would have pursued its source of nourishment.
There would have been no need for the drama.
No need for the squawking.
Just focus. Then food. Then nourishment….and repeat.

This very bird who stayed noisy on the shore was created with vision to see into the ocean depths, to find its sustenance and strength in the vast ocean, and wings to rise above waves and dangers that could drag it down.

And so are we.

We were knit together to pursue our Source of sustenance and strength, to rise above.

But it’s so much easier some days to stand on the shore where we feel safe and pitch a fit and make noise.

The reality is, the most distracting and paralyzing noise in my life comes from my own mouth.

Instead of letting my soul hunger drive me toward the use of my uniquely given gifts, talents, and personality in the relentless pursuit of the Person of Jesus, I plant my feet and wail about my self-imposed emptiness.

Following Christ isn’t just about holding eternal death at bay.
It is about embracing the abundant life Jesus died for us to have.
It is about the soaring, the diving, the hunger…understanding that the more I seek Him, the more I find Him.
And there is growth in the pursuit.

Pursuit begins with choosing to move.
Choose to embrace all He created you to be and died for you to receive.

If you stay noisy on the shore, the joy of pursuit will never be revealed, the reward of encounter and fulfillment never truly experienced.

Staying hungry is a good thing. 
Waiting for somebody to bring you a meal on the shore? Not so much.
Yes, life is noisy. 
But let’s resolve that the noise that distracts ourselves and others from their pursuit of Jesus won’t be coming from us.

Take flight, friends.
No more noisy bird. 


Monday, October 27, 2014

I Know You, Mom.

I know you, mom.
I know you feel like you are never enough.
I know you feel like you never hit the mark.
I know you because I know me.

There are no forms or formulas. 
No legitimate handbooks for the myriad of scenarios you face. 
Just you, feeling around in the dark, hoping that you don't break your neck or strangle somebody else's on any given day dealing with cranky little ones to mouthy bigger ones. 

I know you, mom.

I know you wake up each morning searching for how you can do it all with excellence, and then lie down each night only able to see where you did not.
I know you want to sear moments into your mind, into the mind of your child, but fear that you're both only going to remember all the wrong ones.

I know you go to work and feel like you've handed your heart over to the world.
I know you stay at home and feel like you are handing your children a worn out, used up version of the person you long to be.
I know you stand peering into their grown up lives, wanting to hand them nuggets of wisdom that they don't think they need.

I know you, mom.

I know you never stop worrying about what you haven't done and never stop wishing you could undo some of what you have.
I know you sit in the middle of the longest of days and wonder how you can do this.
I know you think about the short time you have left with them close by and try to find a way to breathe through the panic.
I know you sit lonely and worry and pray for the choices they are now making for themselves.

I know you, mom.

I know you are covered in baby food and Cheerios hoping for a shower this week.
I know you are surrounded by a Lego minefield wondering if your house will ever be clean again.
I know you are confined to your van taxi on countless afternoons.
I know you are waiting on the phone call from the kid who was supposed to call when they got there.
I know you are cooking meals and offering to babysit, because no matter where they are in life, your heart is never uninvolved. 

I know you, mom.

I know you love.
I know you dream. 
I know you hope.
I know you expect.

But I also know you hurt.
I know you despair.
I know you worry.
I know you ache.
I know you break.

But those shattered pieces? 
You are not the glue that holds it all together.
It is the Grace of Jesus.

In every place, mom, He knows you.
In every place, mom, He equips you.
In every place, mom, He empowers you.
In every place, mom, He is WITH you.

Wherever you are, when you want to be precisely what your child needs, press into the heart of the Father.
It isn't your perfection they's your pursuit of Jesus.

So keep showing them.
Show them real.
Show them love.
Show them forgiveness.
Show them grace.

Show them, mom.

Laugh at your crazy and you won't lose it at theirs.
Unashamedly make time to breathe, so you can find peace in the pieces.
Respond to mama guilt by choosing to give thanks.
Quiet regret with small intentional moments today.

Live your days, mom.

Live your days with praise that you had breath to do it, and His ever-present grace to flood where you were less than.
Because HE is greater than. 
He is greater than your biggest fear, mom.
Even in that panic thought that rises in the night, He is greater than.
Live your days with His greater than, mom.

I know you.
I know you are thinking it would be nice.
I know you are thinking you can't.
I know you are inspired but feel inadequate.
I know you, mom.

But I know Him.
I know He says He will make your strength perfect. (Psalm 18:32)
I know He says He will be faithful to do what He has called you to.(1 Thessalonians 5:24)
I know He says nothing is impossible with Him.(Luke 1:37)
I know Him, mom.

And He knows you.

"For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

I know you, mom.

I know you are chosen, beautifully broken, with power to shape the next generation and courage to do it with grace.
And I know you will.

Take heart, mom. 
I know you: 
YOU are a world changer powered by Grace.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Give Thanks

I realize now that I didn’t initially put it on my porch for me.
It is the cutest little wood framed chalk board you ever saw, which I added last minute to my front porch Fall decor.
I wrote simply: “Give Thanks”.
Then, I hung it on the back of one of my rocking chairs for approaching guests to admire- amongst my vintage cider jars, an endearing sign about pumpkin spice and lots of burlap….but I digress.
It hung there on the side of that rocker facing toward my steps up to the front door at just the right angle…at least for a while.

Today, as I sat in my favorite chair in my den, I looked out the windows toward the rocker and staring in at me were the words, “Give Thanks”.

My first thought was simple: I need to go turn that sign around. 
A few moments later: Man, I know I am going to forget to turn that sign around. 
A few minutes after that: Stop staring at me, sign! You’re freaking me out!

So I stared back.

And that is when I realized that the words were facing in exactly the right direction.

So many times I only give thanks from the outside in, when I really need to be first giving thanks from the inside out.

We stand on the front porch of other people’s life and circumstances and think how thankful they should be.
But we rarely stand on the inside of our own life mess and give thanks in the middle of it.

We are willing to wear thankful as a logo- a sign hung on the front porch of life for the world to see, yet never knead thankfulness into the fabric of our own heart.

Because somedays, that takes excruciating effort. 
Somedays, it takes looking beyond the crazy of what our eyes see.
Somedays we all need a sign staring at us through the window: Give Thanks.

So today...
Sitting in the middle of your mess, give thanks.
Sitting in the middle of your lack, give thanks.
Sitting in the middle of your loss, give thanks.
Sitting in the middle of your questions, give thanks.
Sitting in the middle of your pain, give thanks.
Sitting in the middle of your loneliness, give thanks.
Sitting in the middle of it all, give thanks.

Give thanks inside out.

Acknowledge Jesus as the Giver and trust Him with what He has given.
Not because it will radically change your circumstance, or even the way the world views it.
Give thanks because it radically changes YOU. 

When Jesus sets your feet on a path, He equips you to walk it with victory.
Give thanks.
When Jesus allows tearing down, He is about to do some building up.
Give thanks.
When Jesus seems silent, He wants you to listen hard for game changing truth He is about to speak.
Give thanks.
When Jesus allows rejection in your life, He is ushering in His protection over your life.
Give thanks.
Give thanks, not because you want Jesus to work in your life...give thanks because He already is.

Give thanks inside out and have your perspective transformed, your life empowered, your mind renewed and joy restored.

Thank you, little chalkboard sign.
When you turned around, you turned me around too. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Ending Place

Have you ever thought backwards
Have you ever taken the time to mentally stand at the end of your journey- parenting, homeschooling, career, fitness...and the list goes on- and asked,

"What do I want to be able to say of the journey when I stand in this ending place?"

It isn't easy. 
Because it reminds us that day WILL come. 

I recently did this for our home educating journey. 
Why? Because there are days I need to remember what I want my future self to say, so my present self will make decisions and keep her emotions in line with the ending place truth I want to see. 

I keep them ever before me. 

As I read them today, I realized that maybe you could use some of the truth tucked inside these Spirit words for your journey? 

Your journey hasn't ended yet...but it will. 
What do you want to say in that place of journey's end? 

Praying these words spur you to think backwards from the ending place so you are powerfully fueled for your today place:

"At the end of this journey:  There will not be perfection...there will be beauty in every broken moment. We are not seeking to create a product...we long to disciple a person. We will look back and see that we got it wrong A LOT- but that when we surrendered to our Savior, HE always made it right. When it is all said and done, may we always remember that where intimacy with Jesus is watered, true intelligence always flourishes. 
We loved. 
We laughed. 
We found Grace...and learned  a whole lot along the way." 
-Julie McNeely, Romans 12 Academy, Mama to 3, Surrendered to the One.