The waters

We made it to Ohio’s ocean this past weekend and it did not disappoint.  I’m not sure what it is about being near water that calms the soul but I’m so glad it does.  I’m glad God created numerous waters when he made the earth, and put this innate desire within us to go there and be refreshed

It’s no wonder that the Bible speaks so much about the Living Water the Lord has for us.  If even earthly water refreshed our souls, how much more will the heavenly springs within us keep our bones from drying out.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.   Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.  John 7:37-38

71% of the earth is covered in water.  I find it so fascinating that even though we cannot live in it, and much of that water we cannot even drink, God knew it needed to be there.  He knew we needed the mystery of the depths, and calm of the waves, the blue reflected off the sky to embolden our souls to hope instead of despair.

Water is dangerous.  There are currents, rip tides, storms, gales, and drowning to worry about.  It is not easy to be on the water, yet we take the risk to be near it, to be on it because it refreshes us.

Life with Jesus is risky.  There are no guarantees of a simple, carefree life.  In fact Jesus promises persecution and hardship and a laying down of our lives if we choose to follow after Him.  But we are drawn to Him as we are drawn to water knowing He truly is the only refresher of our soul.  He is the only one who will give us peace.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

If you are in need of refreshing, ask Jesus into it.  It won’t always be easy, it won’t always be pretty, but soon those streams of water will bubble up inside you and you will never, ever thirst again.

 

(day 7 of Blogtober)

An October swim

Today at the count of 3,2,1 from my oldest son I plunged into the cold October waters of Lake Erie.  It was a summer like day and the waters refreshed and invigorated my soul.

I sat there on the shore and watched the children frolic with joy in that chilly water for close to an hour.  I told myself, “Before we go I’m going in”.

At some point, despite the absurdity and coldness and knowing I would have to take a shower for a two second plunge into the water I got up and jumped in.  Because truly how many times can you say you swam in Lake Erie in October?

We each get one glorious life, and I’m weary of living mine boxed in by what I “should” be doing as an adult.

One life, let’s live it.

“Can I?”

The questions never ending
The “Can I’s?” often exhausting
My instinct is “No” “Never”
“Of course not” “You don’t know how”
But instead I back up
compose myself and say,
“Sure, go ahead and try”
As I watch and go about my tasks
I am overwhelmed at the beauty of an
Ordinary moment turned extraordinary-
A daughter learning how to peel carrots
And she did it with nary a scratch

(Blogtober day 5)

I “get to”

I’ve spent the morning cleaning the same things I spent yesterday morning cleaning.  Life is a cycle of cleaning, picking up, cooking and cleaning again and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Often I forget what a privilege it is to live the life I do, and I start to become a complainer.  But when I step back and evaluate the home life we’ve created and I get to tend, I know there’s really nowhere else I would rather be.

I get to watch my kids be best friends, and too often each other’s worse enemies.  I get to hug them when they’re hurt, either physically or emotionally.  We get to talk about what God wants for them and read books and watch shows.  I get to bake with them and get frustrated when they spill milk for the 100th time that day.

Even now in what is supposed to be my quiet time the youngest has escaped and is trying to draw in my journal and climb on my lap as a write.  I will keep going, and gently move her along.  It’s not ideal, but its beautiful.  It’s the life I get to live and it sure is a brilliant one.

In the summer I get to grow beautiful flowers and food and in the winter I have time to bake sourdough and ferment kombucha.  How fun is that?!

I get to teach my kids their letters and the sounds they make.  I get to provide them with the tools to create and invent new things and prod and poke them along when they become discouraged with learning.

It’s not the life I thought I would lead, but it’s all mine and it’s beautiful.  I may not get a lot of time to myself, and I might spend most of my days in sweatpants, but it’s the most beautiful life I could ever ask for.

I often feel pulled between wanting to take more time to work on my own projects and also knowing that this time I get at home with my children is so fleeting.  It’s already over half gone with my oldest.  I know for sure I will have 6 more years of him at home, and I want to provide the best environment I can for him during that time.  Ministry and mission are important, but they cannot be more important than these 5 gifts God has given me.

And, like God told me this summer, I am a missionary of LIFE and this life I’m living deserves my best.

So when I want to do my own stuff, and be known for doing something cool, I have to remember I already am known by the best five pals I could ever ask for, the most wonderful and caring husband, and best of all, the CREATOR of the universe who loves me beyond measure.  I need nothing else but to know that I am stewarding what has been given to me.  And if God asks me to do more, I will absolutely be His yielded vessel for Him to pour into.

(Blogtober Day 4)

October fifth

I sit at the dining room table, strewn with 4 year old’s paintings and schoolbooks and, weirdly enough, an old set of silver flatware that my kids keep looking at.  My husband sits across from me with the baby on his lap zooming with our students.  We have been highly adaptable in the past week, managing the school even amidst sickness.

If it wasn’t already, it’s really clear to us now that the Lord is in charge of this school.  Even when we’re sick and not as available, God is working through these women.  He’s forming and teaching them, and they are already doing the work of a writer, one month in.

I’m amazed at what He is doing.  I’m amazed that even though we’ve been yielded vessels during this time, that this mission is all still wholly dependent upon the Lord.

I would be lying if I said there weren’t nights of despair over the past 3 years, wondering how in the world we’re going to make all the pieces of this mission fit together.  There have been plenty of evenings that we’ve sat and ruminated on how something is going to get done or paid for, and every time the only thing we can come back to is prayer.  We call out to the Lord and He always comes through.

It isn’t always the answer we want, and it isn’t always as easy or clear as we would like, but God has built this school from the ground up.  He has made every piece fit and work just the way it should.  He is already building these amazing women into amazing Kingdom writers, and the fruit of their work is showing us just how important this mission is.

So even amidst the mess and uncertainty life can bring we will plod on joyfully, knowing that God has called us to greatness and is teaching us how to be just the right vessels along the way.

God doesn’t demand perfection but obedience.  I am yours, Lord, use me as you wish.

Blogtober day 3.

Holy Innovation

Recently, God helped me to see two places in my life in which things were not running smoothly and causing more stress than they should.  Both were laundry related, and I continue to be amazed that God cares about all the things in my life, even the amount of smelly laundry we make.

I’ve tried lots of different ways that I’ve seen other moms talk about making laundry easier, but it wasn’t until God creatively revealed what works for me that I saw fruit.

God inspired me with the two simplest solutions.  The first was that I get a different colored towel for each kid (ridiculously simple, right?  It has eliminated so much extra towel laundry because they can keep track of it) and the second is that each kid gets a basket that their clean laundry gets sorted into and they put it away at their convenience (or when I finally have to make them).  Once again, this isn’t rocket science, but they were just the solutions I needed to alleviate stress from the massive amounts of laundry that a 7-person family can accumulate.

God gave me these creative solutions to make my family run better.  He wants us to do all our tasks with excellence.  My work as a wife, mother, and homemaker should always reflect His brilliance.

Creativity is seeing the world with limitless God opportunities.

Imagine what could happen if the body of Christ steps away from thinking creativity means paintbrushes and canvases, and into believing that every single person is called to be creative.  If we are made in the image of the ultimate Creator who made EVERYTHING out of NOTHING, then we certainly can do our daily tasks with holy innovation.

Creativity is looking for divine solutions for the big and little problems of our days.

God desires to inspire each and every person to holy innovation, but often we lack the ability to believe that we are indeed creative and immediately dismiss His wisdom.

Instead of partnering with God, how often do we just bring Him our “buts”?

“But that could never work.”

“But that solution is too easy”

“But that would be too hard”

“But that’s not something I could ever do.”

God doesn’t want your big “buts”, He wants your yes.  He doesn’t reveal these things to you to make your life harder, but easier.

When Mary did was told that she would carry and nurture the Son of God she answered, “May it be to me as you have said.”  She didn’t give God her big list of “buts”, even though she certainly could have been entitled to them!  God asked her to be a part of His creative solution to save the whole entire world.  What if instead of being a yielded vessel, she talked her way out of it because the challenges were too large?  God would have certainly used someone else to bring the Savior into the world, but it wouldn’t have been Mary.  She wouldn’t have received eternal blessing for the great responsibilities and risks she took here on earth.

God’s solutions are divine GIFTS!  How rude we are when we give him our big “Buts” instead.

So let us be the ones willing to surrender to even the crazy ideas of our Lord, to be the ones willing to tell him, “May is be to me as you have said.”

(Post two of Blogtober)

Logic or Jesus?

The funny thing about anxiety is that it evades logic, right?  No matter how many times you go over the rationality of said thing happening (always nill to zero, right?) your brain will still throw you for a loop so hard you have to get up off the couch and run outside until the panic subsides.

I KNOW that it’s silly to worry about this or that.  I can look at the evidence and know that this scenario is extremely unlikely to happen to me, yet at times the anxiety still invades and panic present.

God has been showing me that I can’t just look at the rational side of things to solve my anxiety, but I have to look at the Kingdom side of it.

When I’m spiraling, looking at what Jesus said as truth is the only way to calm my overworked mind.  Once I reflect on the Truth of who He is and the goodness he certainly has for my life, I can begin to finally relax into the trust He wants me to find in Him.

Jesus is my best friend, and the only cure for anxiety.  Only in Him will I find peace and solace for a soul that is weary of the world around it.

(Post one of Blogtober, in which I write a blog every weekday in October.)

Extraordinary days

Class is in session.  This thing we’ve been waiting for and working towards for the past three years is here and it feels so normal and extraordinary at the same time.

As I was driving to orientation I was praying and heard the Lord say to “Expect the extraordinary to become ordinary”.  This has become my prayer: that these four amazing women who have stepped out into new territory will begin to experience extraordinary things so often they become ordinary.  That over and over again in their lives will they level up to new experiences and places in the Kingdom.

It feels so right to have them here.  While we absolutely needed the three year building period, it was also hard to not actually be doing the fun stuff.  Up until a few days everything was theoretical.  We’ve been telling people that this will work based on what God has shown us, but now we get to see it play out in real life.  Now we get to see them go out and change the world with the message of Jesus.

Brad came home for lunch today, day two of classes, and said “They’re praying, reading, and writing, what more could we want?”

These students are diving right into the work.  They are diving into spiritual development.  They are forming relationships and community amongst themselves and others in our town.  This is real life and it’s finally here.

Thank you Jesus.

Time for the new.

I’m sorting through every single thing in our kitchen today.  We are preparing to fully gut it tomorrow, a project that is happening about 5 years later than we thought it would.

Life has been a little rocky lately.  We’ve had some strange medical issues, along with some normal but annoying sicknesses.  It feels as though we’ve had every common ailment over the past few weeks, and at times like it may never end.

We are embarking on a new thing, the School of Kingdom Writers is just a few weeks from launching its first full time classes.  Students are actually moving from all over the country to little Zanesville, Ohio to learn how to disrupt the media with Kingdom values.  This tiny seed has grown so large in the past three years.

Our kitchen, once my grandma’s kitchen, has now gotten to the point where the sink constantly drips, several cabinet doors are missing, appliances are partially broken, wallpaper is half hanging off, and the floor breaks off in pieces every time I sweep.

It’s time for the new thing.

We had a drywaller scheduled to come out, but after all the medical issues and ailments, along with some poor planning on our part, we were left feeling very unprepared for this undertaking.  We knew we could push it back if we needed to, so we sat down and asked God about it one evening.

I went into prayer under the assumption that the best choice would be to reschedule.  There’s no way we could accomplish all of this with the chaos around us.  Thankfully God thinks so differently than I do, and I immediately heard that there is “grace for August”.  So we sat our butts down, figured out all the details, and amazingly got everything ordered so that it will be here in time to make this kitchen brand new.  The gold medal goes to Brad who did the majority of the measuring and ordering while fighting off a painful ear infection.

Today I am tasked with taking everything out and deciding where it needs to go for the next few weeks.  Is it useful for now, later, or does it just need to go into the trash?  I’ve been surprised at how little stress I’ve felt.  Sure, there are things I would rather be doing than rearranging our house, but for the most part it has not been hard, difficult, or overwhelming to prepare the kitchen for this project.  I fully believe the rest of it will go off without a hitch, and if you’ve ever done home renovations you know what a rarity that is.  But because we asked, and God told us there is grace on right now, I believe He is going to pour out his goodness onto the work of our (and our drywaller’s) hands.

This morning I was listening to Ecclesiastes in the Message version and loved this is worded:

“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” Ecclesiastes 3:1

God truly does have a time and a plan for everything.  Sometimes we rush ahead, sometimes we lag behind, but when we ask him and are obedient to HIS plan then grace will follow.  That doesn’t mean we can’t do things at different times, it means that it will flow easiest and most according to His will when we are walking in obedience.

Over three years ago we were divinely given a timeline to follow for launching the School of Kingdom Writers.  We were to begin in September of that year, and three years later classes were to start.  We always held onto that, and made plans accordingly.  I remember that several people thought we could launch quicker if we wanted to and, with a very get it done style husband, I knew we could too.

Several times over the past year I have reflected on the fact that if we had been in charge of the timing of the school, we almost certainly would have launched in 2020.  What a disaster that would have been trying to figure out what to do in the midst of that COVID madness.  God knew everything that was to come, and that the world is ripe for change and more fully aware of how troubled our media and culture really is.

It is time for the new thing.