Friday, 11 January 2013

Mercies New Every Morning

  When the girls were home out of school for the holidays, it was pure pleasure to sleep in... every morning. :) I could do it without guilt too, because the kids were happy and content. The girls took care of breakfast most days (cereal,  milk, toast), some mornings I'd go soft and let them begin their lazy day with cartoons.
  It was, in a word... WONDERFUL.
  Once Christmas passed, then New Year's, this bliss began to lift, and we all felt the need for life to reclaim schedule and structure.
  Okay- I was dying for the girls to go back to school. There, I said it. :)

  Monday, January 7, was the morning real life returned full swing. Dad to work, girls to school, mom and boys using time thoughtfully at home, the day centered around my husband's and daughters' schedules.
  It was noted that we made it through the day without casualties, and we were grateful.

  As Kevin and I settled into bed that night, he told me he and a friend were meeting early for breakfast and prayer, he'd be up and at 'em by 6:45. As my head settled onto my pillow, I was skeptical that the peace of Monday would grace our Tuesday morning...

  Several hours later, I stirred only slightly at the sound of the shower, Kevin beginning his Tuesday. I turned over greatly desiring more sleep, sinking back into it with no trouble at all. The next thing I knew I was saying good-bye to Kevin's dark figure leaving our dark room.

  I curled up again into the pillows and sheets, in protest to my being awakened. After all, a day that began so early couldn't possibly do any good! I thought about why Kevin was leaving so early, how he and his friend would pray, perhaps open the Bible together, and talk and build each other up and be strengthened. I said a little prayer for them, then closed my eyes to drift off again...

  But something CRAZY happened. (If you know me, it's CRAZY.)

  I was ready to start my day.

  The thought of being showered and dressed before the kids were even conscious thrilled my insides.

  And so it was done.

  Minutes later, I read an article from a friend about the wonderful benefits of a little honey and cinnamon every day, and thought about it as I dressed the girls, eager to make my kids some toast, butter, with a dose of honey and cinnamon. :)

  The kids ate breakfast, chattering excitedly about their tasty toast. I bustled about the kitchen preparing the girls' lunches for school, my heart warm as I listened to my kids share and laugh around the table, so cheerful and eager so early in the day.

  Things were running smoothly... but I was still skeptical... just too good to be true...

  I was stunned to silence when the kids naturally assembled at the door together, exchanging hugs, kisses, and good-byes. I stared at them wide-eyed, I believe my jaw dropped, as I shoved the girls' lunches into their backpacks. When they finished, they stood quietly around me, staring back at me expectantly. I didn't even know what to do, I was in shock. One of them asked me what I was doing, so I shook myself into sense, and we prayed together, for Daddy, each other, our day, and our loved ones.

  And the girls were off.

  The boys went to play, and I sat down for quiet time and coffee, writing this simple sweetness of God's grace in my journal, writing being an evidence of grace in itself for me, having written so little these past months.

  I closed with this:
"Good, gracious Lord- I am speechless at Your mercies new this morning. Thank You, with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength- I thank You!! <3

   And this was wonderful fun to write- thank You, Father. <3"

  It was later this day that I found myself meditating on 1 Peter 3:4. The study guide I was using asked questions that led me to dig deep and draw richness out of this passage, and out of my heart. I read over my answers to these questions again today, and I loved what I read:

  "I have a hard, cynical heart always in need of softening, always in need of God's tender mercy to make it tender again.
   I can be confident in the Rock, the beautiful Rock of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer. I am not left to live in, be ruled by, my fear and selfishness. I am set free and released to love and grow with tenderness and beauty as I behold the beauty and perfection of Jesus."

  These are a couple of things I am thankful for today. And it's only 11 o'clock. :)

  So in case this wasn't enough for today :), I have also been delighted to find a list I wrote out in early November, while I was visiting my sister and family for a few days. I was sad that I had lost it. But I found it folded safely in a book I hadn't opened in awhile.

  So picking up where I left off from a couple posts ago...

Gratitude to God:

November 2012- God's beauty on display the past few days...

160. Watching my 78 year old grandfather take a stroll with his 5 year old great-grandson, my eldest son, who favors my dad, my grandfather's eldest son.
        They walked and talked a short distance, then sat on a bench to watch deer lay and graze at the edge of a field.
        Silas adored Gramps and this time with him.

161. Celebrating my grandfather's 78th birthday with him, enjoying time with him, my aunt and cousins, my sister, brother-in-law, neices, and my own children; all of us singing "Happy Birthday" to him, then eating the homemade cake my sister and I made together. Taking in all of us in that moment, at that table, together.

162. Laughing and joking with my sister. (Teasing her even when she's grumpy :), yet being able to help out when she just. can't. take. it. anymore!!!!! ;D)

163. The depth and wonder of a brilliant night sky away from city lights

164. Breathing in the crisp air, canyons, bluffs, and beauty of northern California

165. The unity of the Body of Christ, how moving and beautiful it truly is to know and experience this family of God, whether meeting for the first time, or fellowshipping with loved ones

166. Rediscovering a bond with friends so close they are family; finding that these ties are stronger than I ever realized they were

167. Relating as an adult to loved ones I knew as a child and teenager

168. Trying to soak in the surreal moments of them meeting my children for the first time, this being so fulfilling and natural

January 11, 2013

169. The way writing and recording a list of gratitude to God for simple every day evidences of grace is healing to my soul. Confessing praise to Him this way leads me to the Cross, which humbles me before Him, clearing my cloudy vision, my inward parts cleansed and renewed by His blood, through His Spirit of grace. I want to carry this song on my lips today, Father- the song of the Redeemed. Put a new song in my mouth today, Lord!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A Cynic Silenced

  Sitting in my bed finishing the last of the holiday cookies I've had stacked in the Christmas tins on top of the refrigerator; glad to be rid of them, sad that they are gone because most of them were consumed by me.
  Obviously, dieting is NOT among my new year's resolutions. Actually, I have no new things I have resolved to do or be that I can think of at the moment. Friends of mine have written posts on their blogs in the past week that have encouraged my soul at the start of this new year. This gave me resolution to write something here again. ...If only my friends had written of dieting, perhaps I would be inspired to diet... wait, three chocolate covered cookies left.
  Writing something is as resolved as I'm gonna get tonight.
  I hadn't realized how long it's been since I last wrote, and I had to ask myself why. I have discovered that I am often drawn to write when I am in melancholy, darker moods. So I have not written when I have been drawn to do so because I do not want this to be my mental and emotional garbage can! (That's what my journal is for! And a very vital garbage can it is indeed, it shan't be replaced!) I don't want my writing here to be consistently associated with my darker side. When I think on all the beautiful things I desire to speak of here, and how infrequently I have stopped to write because of the frequency of my darkened moods, I see, and sometimes mourn, how cynical I become as I age.
  I mourn the loss of innocence in my heart, in unexpected moments, like during Christmas-time so recently, how I fail to wonder and awe at the marvelous, simple beauty and treasures life offers, as I did when I was a child. I want that depth of purity and hope again, a fearless hope for every new day. I hunger for the healthy lack of inhibition children have, to speak honestly and vulnerably with no hesitation, to look a stranger straight in the eyes, smile warm and big, and say "Hello!! What is your name???" because the greeting simply cannot be contained, to dance and sing on impulse, to run, and jump, and leap, and laugh without restraint. Don't get me wrong, I have four little ones, I love some restraint and boundaries ;)... yet, I cherish this lovely, unsullied place in children, I admire and desire it so.
  I see the increase of evil in this whole, wide world- horrifying, wretched, soul-wrenching evil. It tears this world, so many hearts and lives, apart. I grieve, it angers me, I harden.
  This past year, I have become increasingly aware of my cynicism. It is a subtle, sometimes not so subtle, way of thinking, an attitude, disposition, that I default to. I could blame it on my generation, my cheeky age group of fellow Americans, that plays a part in it, sure, but ultimately, it beats within my own heart, I am cynical quite naturally, on my own, with no external influence, it is how I react to any number of horrible things happening in this world, or on a smaller scale, how I react to life when it doesn't go the way I plan or prefer, which is pretty often.
  Recently, on a day I was more aware than not of my cynical attitude, I was struck by the mention of a verse that has always meant so much to me but I had not heard, or meditated on, or prayed for my own heart, in a very long time. "But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." (1 Peter 3:4) In contrast to my hardened outlook, 1 Peter 3:4 reminded me of that vulnerable, tender place in me that I had not given time or attention to in awhile. I was instantly convicted, brought to Jesus' feet, asking Him to take my cynical heart in His hands and make this imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit true of my own.
  I am cold, blind, and selfish but not for His tender mercy pouring over my heart of stone, seeping Redemption into its cracks and crevices, creating a new heart of flesh that beats for Him and reflects His beauty, pointing to His perfection and grace.

  I am not able to resolve not to be cynical. For me, that is impossible. What I can do, and have found myself doing, is thanking God for the grace of His conviction, thanking Him for each and every time I am sorry for and grieve over the hardness of my heart, even just a little. It is a glimmer of hope, a piercing of light into darkness, when I can see how I am gripped by fear, moved so often by nothing but fear and self-preservation. I thank Him for softening my heart, even just a little, making me able to see when I have grown cold to compassion, calloused with pride, deceived by selfishness in all its justified disguises.
  It is in these times, when my heart is broken in humility, that I have joy unspeakable in even the smallest of His graces and glimpses of His beauty, and the cynicism, within and without, is silenced.

  I am very glad to be writing something again. Today, I see His grace for what it is, and it is enough for me.