Comfort and Release

Lessons learned from my daughter in the early hours of the morning

It is late, pitch black, but the sounds of the party downstairs still break through the thin barriers of our dark room. We are so happy to be with old friends during the day, but nighttime, as the only parents in the group, is a struggle. Our little social butterfly has finally surrendered to sleep when, bang! “Happy New Year” rings throughout the house. Body tenses, eyes snap open, a whimper turns into a pitiful wail that speaks volumes of her exhaustion. I lift my warm, heavy bundle who, somehow, still fits perfectly against my chest. As I settle into bed, she struggles against the restraints of comfort, wanting to fast forward to morning, to action.

Read the rest at The Life of Faith

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My Beloved is Mine,

And I Am His

Song of Solomon 2:16a

Yesterday, November 25th, marked the day, four years ago, when my husband proposed to me.  In honor of the day, I thought it might be fun to share our engagement story with you.  It’s so much fun to look at some of the meticulously planned out (and sometimes musical) proposals, but I wouldn’t trade my engagement story for anything.

It was Tuesday, such an ordinary day.  My birthday had been five days ago, it was the last day of class before Thanksgiving break, and I was leaving the next day for Georgia.  Joey and I had been dating for a little over a year at that point (less than that if you don’t count our 3 month courtship). Continue reading

Common Blessings

{Reflections on the Sabbath}

Rainy window

A day that showed every sign of being as dreary as the weather reflected the light of the Spirit through the small gifts of common blessings.

I woke up early, much too early, to the cries of the baby.  It was more difficult than normal to get out of the warm blankets, my stomach was heavy and acidic.  Outside, it was cold, wet, and grey.  The greyness crept inside, inside of the room, the house, my heart.  Burden, selfishness, sickness.

Slowly, I pulled the baby out of the crib.  She is getting so big, where has the time gone?  She will not be calmed easily today.  It is obvious that she is hungry – more time away from my pillow.  We settle in on the futon, and I drift off as she eats.  When she finishes, she nestles into my arms and suddenly I am happily stuck.  My child, who usually yearns for space to stretch out and sleep, has curled into my body and rests.  My frustrated thoughts of time dissipate with every sweet smelling breath.  The grey in my heart is replaced with the red of the blanket I pull over us as we rest together on the Sabbath the Lord has set aside for us.  What common but wonderful gifts, blessings. Continue reading

Surrender

I am the type of person who really likes to be in control.  My desire for control encompasses pretty much everything in my life – obviously this is a kind of good, mostly bad characteristic.  I love a good schedule and checklist; I am most happy when things are fairly predictable.  Don’t worry, I’m not completely lacking in spontaneity.  As long as I don’t have a lot of pressing things in my week, I love it when friends drop by or canceling a prepared meal to go out with Joey.

Anyway, one of the areas that most suffers from my need to control and be in control is in my faith and worship.  Trust is hard for me, laying it all at the foot of the cross.  My most earnest prayer tends to be for God to take something from me, to help me give Him the problem and then let go.  I am most sad about how collected and aloof I am during worship.  In the past, I have envied those who lose themselves in worship, who raise their hands in the air, who feel emotion of the songs, who agree deeply in their soul with the message of the sermon and must send out an Amen.  If I were to really analyze myself, I know that there would be a large part of me that is concerned with how I would look to others (Which I know is ridiculous, because worship isn’t about me or you, but about praising our Father.  Worship is not a performance but an offering.).  I also tend to overthink and fear doing things out of the power of suggestion, and then I don’t end up doing anything at all (a small tragedy in and of itself).  But mostly, if I am most honest with myself, I don’t want to lose myself in worship.  I want to continue to people-watch, to plan dinner, to prepare for the lesson I will be teaching later, to be in complete control of my heart and mind, to rest on my Sabbath day in my way.

I believe that I have had three completely-lost-in-the-moment times in my life – I feel confident in the number because they tend to be the most vivid memories.  The first was when I married Joey and choked on emotion during our vows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second was right after El was born and all I could do was laugh with tears streaming down my face.

 

The third was last Friday at the Living Proof Live conference.

As far as I can remember, last Friday is the only time in my life that I have completely surrendered to worship.  It wasn’t Beth Moore, it wasn’t the band, it wasn’t even the group of ladies with whom I went; it was the Holy Spirit, with groanings too deep for words, moving within me, pushing me out of my comfort zone into joyful praise.  The funny thing is that for all of my previous protestations, this surrender was the easiest and most comfortable thing to do in the moment.

It was after the message.  Over 9,000 women were singing In Christ Alone in glorious unison – I was sitting on the floor of the Coliseum, so I was literally enveloped in praiseIn Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song. This cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.  I was singing, but not praising, yet. What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease. My Comforter, my All in All. Here in the love of Christ I stand.  I closed my eyes because I found the band and the images on the screen too distracting.  Besides, I knew the words anyway.  In Christ Alone, who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless babe.  This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save. Then, it happened.  Rather than just parrot the words that I’ve known for most of my life, I began to sing.  The lyrics suddenly had meaning ‘Til on that cross as Jesus died.  The wrath of God was satisfied.  For every sin on Him was laid.  Here in the death of Christ I live.  I was lost in the wonder of the revived meaning in the ancient words of a contemporary hymn, discovering that God had been there all alongThere in the ground His body lay, light of the world by darkness slain.  Then someone hit the drums for emphasis – Then bursting forth in glorious day, UP from the grave he rose again – it would have normally pulled me out of my thoughts but I was too lost.  And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.  Rather than bring me back to the Coliseum, the striking drum reverberated within me, and I cried tears of joy.  No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His Hand.  ‘Til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

The song soon ended, but I was left with that tingling feeling of something wonderful.  I wish I could tell you that I still feel it.  I don’t.  I wish that I could tell you I’d surrendered myself to worship the following Sunday.  I didn’t.  I know that I will not always experience that high every time I worship, but I can tell you that I have had a taste of what it will be like to be in the presence of God, and it makes me hunger for more.  This world is only a shadow of what is to come, and I cannot wait to see the substance.  For now, I will pursue my walk with the Lord with new vigor.  I’m still learning and growing, but I know that I am the daughter of the most amazing King.