Ann Voskamp's Blog

January 28, 2015

So she looks me in the eye and asks me how it’s going.


And yeah — what are you gonna do but sorta, kinda smile? 


And I tell her that there are pots on the stove and crumbs on the counters and kids loud and everywhere and needing a million things —


and yes’m, wherever we are, there’s always ridiculous grace and good and there are always ridiculously hard things.


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There’s all these lists. And the laundry, the books and the homework and the learning and the pots and pans.


And these kids we’re raising, they keep falling — yeah, a whole lot like their mother.


Nobody ever told me, but, it’s sorta crazy how it just comes down to this: Parenting’s this way of bending over in humility to help the scraped child up because you yourself know it takes a lifetime to learn how to walk with Him.

And then on top of all of that, there’s this fear beast that I thought I’d already wrestled down, skinned, hung and mounted — and it’s the thing that breathes again right down my neck, ugly and way too close.


It’s strange how knots in the pit of the stomach can try to undo everything.


Yeah, so I guess, really, for the life of me?


“I can’t get it all right.” I just tell her straight up. I’m a mess and there’s no getting it all right. 


“Yeah — How’s it going? I guess it’s always just about going to Jesus.”  Women can smile while their eyes are saying a million things to each other. 


Yeah — I’m a mess — and this is exactly why the bruised knees just have to bend at the table of communion, and say, yes — yes,  please.


I need Jesus.


I need His life.


I just desperately need the perfect, sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ who can take all my broken messes and make them into mosaics of Grace.


I just desperately need to come to His table of communion so I can celebrate one ridiculously messy life. Because this is how the dictionary defines a celebrant:  “The person who stands at the table of Communion is a celebrant.”


The person who lives in communion with Christ is a celebrant!  The one keeping company with Jesus is a celebrant — is the one who gets to always celebrate grace! 

A celebrant is one who celebrates the extravagant grace of Christ.


A celebrant is the one keeping her eyes on Jesus and His perfect sacrifice — precisely because she isn’t perfect.


Precisely because: Perfectionism is slow death by self.


Perfectionism is an idol that chains you to yourself  — and blinds you to the waiting embrace of Gospel grace. 


  But grace?


Grace lets those whose messes and wounds are many — simply see Jesus and Him only.


It’s the sinners and the sick, the broken, the discouraged, the wounded and burdened — we are the ones who get to celebrate grace!


The timer’s beeps.


I pull the roast out of the oven. And grin — It’s time to roast the fattened calf of perfectionism and start celebrating the Grace of Living!


There are dishes in the sink and kids’ books and papers and life everywhere. And it’s crazy — this relief of just smiling.


Christ invites us to celebrate the full life as the celebrants — not because we’ve got it all together, but because He’s finished it all at the Cross!


The Art of Celebrating Life isn’t about getting it all right — but about receiving all His Grace.

Regardless of the mess of your life, if Christ is Lord of your life — then you are the celebrant out dancing in a pouring rain of grace!


Because when it’s all done and finished, all is well, and Christ already said it was finished.


When sin threatens to deafen you — listen for the soft sound of His sandalled feet coming to literally hold you away from the lies that threaten to condemn you. 


I light a candle for the table – two, three!


This could be the full living: make every moment communion with Him, be the celebrant and let a celebration of Grace inhabit the days —  let God open the hands, lift the arms and make us even here into praise, a rising incense, a certain song.


Aren’t all the worshippers celebrants? When should we stop worshipping? When should we stop celebrating grace even when all the crazy starts — or never stops?


Grace is sufficient, grace is amazing, and grace is for everyone imperfect.


The only thing you require to get His grace — is that you get that you’re a mess. 


I wipe off the counters just before dinner — cup my hand at counter’s edge for the crumbs and the mess and whatever comes —


and then turn towards the table already set and call everyone just to come.


 


::


::

Resources: Daily Grace Pitcher and Daily Grace Creamer

Related: How to Fire Your Perfectionism so Your Procrastination will Quit too




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Published on January 28, 2015 07:37

January 27, 2015

Why the modern world is bad for your brain

@ The Guardian .... that's something to chew on, slowly...
what happens when you see where your clothes are made....

... worth serious reflection.
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Published on January 27, 2015 00:00

January 26, 2015

Dear Lovely You,


who doesn’t want to play the piano,

take out the recycling,

study for your geometry exam,

get on the treadmill,

clean up the basement,

or do that big thing that feels like an impossible thing—


okay, yeah, boy, do I hear you.


It doesn’t matter a hill of sprouting beans if you’re 9 and stomping your feet or 16 and slamming doors or 40 and distracting on your phone — hard things just keep calling you because you’re meant to answer to higher and better things.


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You’re meant to do hard and holy things because they are the next thing —- to get to the best thing.


You’re made to do hard and holy things because there’s no other way to get to the happy and holy things.


You know how we wrote ti up there on the chalkboard in the kitchen years ago, and we all memorized it? Well, it’s true, and it’s hard, but there’s hope in it:

Life is Pain — and you get to choose: either the Pain of Discipline or the Pain of Disappointment.

Nothing happens without discipline. No music gets played without discipline. No games get won. No finish lines get crossed. No freedom gets tasted.


Yeah, look, we had a kid who scored in the 99.7 percentile on the ACT, and that’s all well and good, but it’s like my Dad always said:


Brilliant doesn’t matter, if you can’t get out of bed.

Talent doesn’t mean a thing, if you let fear be some terrorist that take you hostage.

Potential doesn’t add up to anything, if you get addicted to perfectionism because perfectionism is slow death by self.


Listen: Fire your perfectionism and your procrastination will quit too.

Because here’s the thing:


 


The Presenter

You’re the Presenter.


You’ve been given a gift — and you’re the person who is trying to be present to this present moment, and do the hard work of unwrapping your gift, your talent, your vision, your God-given dreams. Presenters want to be present to life and their calling and the joy and the work — but they know that the path is painful.


 


The Perfectionist Terrorist

Presenters know that the path is painfulbecause behind ever corner lurks The Perfectionist Terrorist. The Perfectionist Terrorist is a liar to the nth degree — he tells you that if you’d just get it perfect enough, do it right enough, be good enough —- that you’ll be liked by everyone enough.


But the truth of it is? Sometimes you have to accept that you’ll never be acceptable enough for some people. And whether you accept that as their issue or yours — is up to you.


The Perfectionist Terrorist claims to have High Road Motives, claims to want to make everything turn out perfect, but his policing pressures you and poisons you and prosecutes you, until you’re paralyzed.


 


The Procrastinator

So The Procrastinator tries to protect you, The Presenter, from The Perfectionist Terrorist, intervenes with distractions, temptations, and interruptionsor pushes you to just pull out and give up.


Honestly, The Procrastinator is just trying to protect you from the bullying of The Perfectionist Terrorist. 


 


The Perfect Love

So Who’s missing in this struggling, messy triangulation of The Presenter, the Perfectionist Terrorist, and The Procastinator?  The compassionate Words of Perfect Love.


You just needs Perfect Love. 


There is His Perfect Love who kicks all your fear to the curb, there is His Perfect Love who accepts you 100% before you perform even 1%, there is His Perfect Love who speaks Protection and Peace and promises the Power of the Holy Spirit so you can fire perfectionism and procrastination will quit too.


You fire your perfectionism every time you let His Perfect Love ignite you.

When you rest in Perfect Love — discipline comes easily because you’re being a disciple of Perfect Love — you’re following Perfect Love.


And Perfect Love says you don’t have show anyone upyou just have to show up.

Perfect Love says you don’t have to impress anyoneyou just have to press on.

Perfect Love says when you mess upHe’ll pick you up… and when you can’t carry on, He’ll carry you.


 


So dear Lovely Kid, Trying Friend, Tired You, who doesn’t want to practice that thing, 
clean up that thing,

study for that thing,

sweat on that thing,

or do that big thing that feels like an impossible thing —

You can do the next thing, because God’s got this thing.


Perfect Love terminates The Perfectionist Terrorist — which eliminates the Procrastinator — which liberates you, the Presenter…. to unwrap your special gift.


There’s snow down in the woods, all down the road this morning, the ice clinging at the edge of things —- and you can feel it if you turn your face toward the sun —-


all those hard things melting in the heat of a greater and perfect warmth.


 


 


 


Related posts: A Doable Plan to Stop Procrastination & Get Living What You Dream Of

Forward!

Daily Printable Work Plan for your clipboard

How not to get distracted online

A 60-Day Journal to Practice Resting in His Perfect Love 




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Published on January 26, 2015 10:53 • 24 views

January 24, 2015

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lets? let’s just go on a little virtual retreat, you and me, five minutes?



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the beauty of all this feels like a soul feast





one word every day for a year — adds up to this



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that moment a 102-year-old rescued a shelter cat & it all seemed too beautiful





(one to share with the kids, any kids, big or small?)



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These are  “4siders.” Did you catch the creative catch?





why a dog’s a man’s best friend?



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 A boy with autism.  A vacuum salesman. And a birthday party that was pretty spectacular



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why your soul really needs rest this weekend





 so the kids & the Farmer wanted to know what I’d do if they did a prank like this? (!!)



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pretty inspiring





seen a better high five?



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I don’t know what mountain you’re facing today.


But I know God can redeem anything.





broccoli anyone?




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Instagram of the week here:


… sometimes you and your girl just have to go see the first light, first thing. It’s like deep relief everyday: When morning breaks, it breaks all the mistakes of yesterday, breaks through our dome of dark, so all His fresh mercies can flood in. #1000Gifts


[join us on the journey over on Instagram?]





hilarious– and oh, my fears could relate



Edythe3


exactly what this exquisite woman said.





really — keep on being just uniquely you ;)



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the most beautiful libraries – all around our world





well, no one was expecting that — friends can be made anywhere




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This week’s Sticky Note for Your Soul: 


One for the Fridge this week?


Free printables to cheer you on through 2015


Simply fill in your email here and the whole library of free printables and tools unfolds right before you:




Subscribe/Sign-up here for immediate access to the whole library of free printables, framables & free tools!



Lists Quiet Relief Near-Daily Quiet Relief in one Weekend Bundle




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What This City Did With An Abandoned Walmart Is Absolutely Brilliant.





Mark Cornell lost his sight 20 years ago after serving in the US Air Force for 18 years. But electronic glasses that let the legally blind actually see, has him seeing his friends for the first time. What if we looked at everyone today like it was the first time?




and Louise receives glasses – and ‘sees’ mom for the first time – !





happy like this is sort of contagious



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Women are being brave & believing God could use them for His glory and the good of others.


It is the start of something  — and we want you to be a part of it. 


Join by hosting (it’s not too late to grab a few friends in your livingroom) or by attending an IF:Local in your area. Only 2 weeks until women of the world gather together. Come, right where you are?


 IF: Local






welcome! always welcome!



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The Law of Guitar Days:


What Your Work, Marriage, Life, Would Love to Know About Stress





what happens when brand new moms get the surprise of their lives on national TV





come be awed





maybe being brave just looks like this?





the question: are you really enjoying your one story?





every mom, every kid— watch this. the falling can make us stronger





ahhhh, yes… setting the tone for all the impossible with this



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print’s free for you here ]

Hey Soul? okay, really — it’s really gonna be okay today.


Because in Him, whatever goes bad, He’ll work it for good. It’s what God does. 


He turned water into wine; He will turn the broken into beautiful.

God’s line of work is transformations — so hold on to Him as your lifeline.

You can’t be undone.

No matter what went down yesterday, today’s your very own fresh canvas and there really is hope: The future is as bright as the faithfulness of God.


He says to you Himself: “…don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new… There it is! I’m making a road through the desert.” (Isa. 43:18 MSG)


Right now through your most unlikely desert places, God is making unbelieveable roads… you better believe it!

Yeah, you can go face the day with brave joy — God’s. got. your. back.

#PreachingGospeltoMyself


[excerpted from our daily devotions in our little Facebook community … come join us?]


That’s all for this weekend, friends.


Go slow. Be God-struck. Grant grace. Live Truth.


Give Thanks. Love well. Re – joy, re- joy, ‘re- joys’ again


Share Whatever Is Good.





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Published on January 24, 2015 06:08 • 17 views

January 23, 2015

Once there lived two mamas, each on opposite sides of the Canada/Michigan border. They were training toddlers, teaching children, and learning to love and serve Jesus more with each setting of the sun over the Great Lake Huron stretched out long between them. Then one day, the mama on the the Michigan side wrote some very good and practical words —  a gracious primer on the tongue: Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It & When to Say Nothing at All.  Today, it’s a joy to invite my very wise friend, Karen Ehman, to the farm’s front porch to share a word or two with us about using our words. 


 


by Karen Ehman


“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).


Iam such a Bible nerd.


I love to not only learn the meaning behind the Hebrew or Greek words in Scripture, I also like to study certain English words that pop up at me, pogo-stick style, drilling down deep to understand why perhaps a particular word or phrase is used.


And so, I grew curious one day: Why does God use a honeycomb to describe gracious, sweet, and healing speech?


I didn’t have to look far for my answer.


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There is a teenage boy who lives in our neighborhood named Jake.


He is an outstanding football player and a wrestler. However, Jake is also a beekeeper who sells his amber jars of honey at local festivals and fairs. I decided to interview this high school entrepreneur one afternoon to discover all I could about the honey-making biz.


Jake told me that the flavor and intensity of honey depends on what kind of nectar the bees drink in. Clover nectar produces honey that is light and heavenly sweet. Another flower’s nectar might create a dark, bitter product, with a lingering, unpleasant aftertaste.


A smart beekeeper will be sure their beehive is strategically placed near a large patch of clover if they want to sell the sweetest, most delectable honey there is.


Jake also told me how crucial it is that the beehive also be placed in a location where the sun will hit it first thing in the morning, warming up the bees and causing them to get to work churning out the greatest quantity of sweet syrup possible.


“So,” I questioned my young friend, “is it safe to say that the sweetness or bitterness of honey is determined by what the bee drinks in and the amount of time it spends in the sun—especially early in the morning?”


“Exactly!” he replied.


DING! DING! DING! We have a winner. I think I found my answer.


Perhaps it is also true that the sweetness or bitterness of our words will be determined by what we drink in and the amount of time we spend early with the Son.


But choosing grace will sometimes cost us.


Spats and squabbles are oh-so-easy to fall into. We will have to resist the urge to lash out in anger. We might even have to bite down on our tongues.


But better a bleeding tongue than a family member’s wounded heart.


We might have to choose to let go of the need to prove our point, choosing instead to do the right thing: to impart grace and deal with the other person in love and with utmost patience.


We can choose to speak honestly—with words that are direct—but that are also strategically tucked inside an envelope of grace.


When we choose to do this—even though it can be extremely difficult—we model to those closest to us a picture of Christ loving His church.


Fights are abandoned. Tempers cool off. Stress simmers down. Our gracious words wash over the other person with love and compassion. We find ourselves faithful to God.


When we lace our speech with grace healing happens.


So when a family member’s behavior threatens to knock the nice right out of us, we can pause before we pounce. (Or better yet pause, pray and then…don’t pounce at all!)


Take the advice I sometimes have to give to myself:


Don’t say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.


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All the humans you encounter throughout the course of the day are “on purpose” people. God plopped them into your life for a reason.


These souls—whether they are of the easy-to-love variety or the scratchy sandpaper kind—can be used by God to mold, reshape, and sometimes stretch our souls as he perpetually crafts us into creations who are becoming more and more like his Son.


Our people are watching, sizing up how we behave. What will they see? Stirred-up strife—or lovingly covered offenses? Words that incite spats and squabbles? Or speech that soothes and heals?


You choose.


Pssst.… The correct answer is “g.”


Grace.


 


 photo credit


[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership of today’s devotion ]


Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and a writer for Encouragement For Today. Mom of three and married to her college sweetheart Todd, she resides in the boondocks of central Michigan. There she enjoys antique hunting, cheering for the Detroit Tigers, and feeding the many teens that gather around her kitchen island for a taste of Mama Karen’s cooking.


The author of seven books including LET. IT.GO. and A Life That Says Welcome, her latest, Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It & When to Say Nothing at All,  is packed with biblical wisdom, self-tattling stories, and practical ways to make your speech laced with grace, as sweet as honey, and yet seasoned with salt.  (Click here for a quick view of a sample portion from the book.) I’m reading these pages gratefully — and thinking it’s a book my whole family will thank me for reading (warm smile).




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Published on January 23, 2015 05:36 • 2 views

January 22, 2015

In the middle of a stiff winter wind, Mama, she asks to go to the beach.


That’s where she says she wants to celebrate the turning of her calendar year.


To stand on the frozen snow and turn her face directly into whatever is coming this way.


We’re the only ones there.


Nothing can mean nothing.


And everything means something. Yes — everything.


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We walk the long boardwalk, our footsteps echoing hollow. She will be 61 this year.


We stand on iced sand hemmed with white snow and Mama says nothing, just gazes out at bared waters. I don’t ask her what she’s thinking.


The sunlight seems paled, hardly there in the numbing cold.


I do watch the way her hair moves in the wind, white waves of their own.


We wander down to where the waves crash on the stones. The water breaking its way on the unwavering.


Does her silence say this, that this was the way to live? Is there anything more beautiful than the wild surrender to the rock?


The song is always found in the surrender.


Mama knew there’d be days like these, when I’d see. How many more years do I have Mama to walk this winter shore?


 


 


Continue Reading “Why Thinking About Losing Is Really How You Win” over at (in)courage? I’d love to exhale with you…




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Published on January 22, 2015 05:28 • 10 views
Why does everyone have cancer?

@NYTimes.... well, that's food for thought?
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Published on January 22, 2015 00:00 • 6 views

January 21, 2015

So when the guy in the plaid shirt got up there with his guitar to croon about love?


Right off, he broke a string.


String just snapped like a mother of boys can — or so I’m told.    


(I actually have no first-hand knowledge of such things as mothers who snap at their boys …. sort of.)  


And the smart-aleck kid beside me grins like he swallowed the proverbial canary without so much as a squawk:“Don’t  you think maybe the guitar guy’s trying to tell us that he’s looking for love with no strings attached –” Goofy teen grin. “Get it?”


Oh yeah, sweet boy, all you boys keep serving up the crazy and I get it, you can bet on it, do I keep getting it. You betcha, non-stop riot happening here, 24/7.


So then the guy in the plaid shirt traded up guitars, (yeah, but no trading in of boy-comics — because they’re free! I get all this crazy hilarity completely for free!) and we all got to the hymns and there were voices rising and even some raising of hands, because honest, who could help it, when you get to those two lines:


Were the whole realm of nature mine, even this, the raised hands, the bowed head, the murmuring of thanks — it would be an offering far too small.


I had thought that then, all the guitars hitting their notes —


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I had thought that standing there worshiping with guitars and teasing boys and all the stretched and taut strings:


A guitar is really only empty space — and yet it sings.

Oh yeah, I get that. I get days of feeling empty.


I get days of feeling empty from ALL OF THE HE STOLE THE BOOK I WAS NOT DONE WITH READING YET AND THAT’S MY HEADSET AND GIVE ME BACK THAT PENCIL and all the WHY DOESN’T HE HAVE TO and IT’S NOT FAIR THAT I HAVE TO AND SHE JUST GETS TO and …and… and… — and boy, oh, boy, child, thank your Jesus in heaven that we all don’t get fair and just give the pencil back to your sister and if you don’t high tail it done on this math lesson we are going to be here when Jesus in heaven comes back… 


And there are days that you can feel so empty that you feel heavy and full with the emptiness.


And the guy with the guitar, he’s playing and you can see it: Each note touches the others, and vulnerable strings tremble and resonate in emptiness. Its whole empty body resonates in sympathetic sounds. The guitar is all metaphor: There’s this beauty in fragility, there’s this way to carry emptiness, there’s these songs to be made in the emptiness.


And it sort of startled me, standing there watching hands raised during the hymn, listening to the guitars all singing: In the willing hands of the believing, the emptiness can sing. He means to fill our emptiness with song.


Some kid elbowed a kid in the back seat on the way home. I’m not going to lie to you — there were tears and hollering and it was not the sound of music and we’re definitely not the Von Trapp family round here.


And by the time the whole teeming ruckus of us heads to bed, I’m ranting something off handedly. And the Farmer says — nothing.


Crickets.


The man doesn’t have to say anything. I turn and you can see it in his eyes and it’s so loud. Hollowness can have a language of its own.


Behind a closed bedroom door, he turns his back and I shake my head. Fling my hands about ridiculously confused. Okay, so it gets about as ugly as the back seat of the van did on the way home.


So yeah, I want to raise my voice and howl a bit and I have absolutely no idea where the boys get all their ridiculous drama from. I get the irony of this — and irony, it can hurt like swung steel.


What I don’t get? Is how he’s not getting me.  And I’m not getting him -– and how in the world did we get here so fast?


Yeah, maybe, just a bit, I get that: The greatest distance in the world can be the empty space that can wedge between two people who’ve promised to be one.


Forget guitars


Bedrooms can be dark and hollow chambers.


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Someone had told me that once —  told me that about strings and empty space.


About how to make music. They said that:


Music is made in stress. A string has to be stressed, it has to be pulled tight, to make music.The string has to be moved from it’s comfortable, resting position if it’s ever going to be make music.


The bending of the string, this induces stress. And as the string bends, as the string arches in stress, and then releases, it vibrates — and there is the practiced offering.


This one clear note, high and long.


When you’re like a guitar —  empty and stretched taut and strings stressed tight — you’re the perfect space to be made a song. 

In stress, there can be song.


The days we feel stressed, the days we feel empty — these are our Guitar Days. These are the days that could make music.


The resonance of sound is always in the surrender.


After the lights are flicked out, I lay there in the dark, in the empty dark.  In this tight silence between us.


This is ridiculous — Music could be made here.


I whisper to him that I’m sorry, ridiculously sorry and I have no idea where all that came from but I want to understand. I want to resonate with understanding him.


And he speaks quiet into the dark, into me, into the space of me. And I listen, make the chambers of my heart into a willing space to listen and I try to echo back his heart, to show that I have heard him, that I understand, that I’ve listened to the notes in him.


And I turn to him, bend, move out of my comfortable position, out of the rest of self-protection — and I reach for his hand.


And this bending, it’s a stretch, a stress — but where else can the songs be found?


In the dark emptiness, I find his hand.


And he squeezes mine.


The resonance is always in the surrender.


The spaces right full of emptiness, these, like guitars, these can be song makers. There’s no need to fear days that feel empty or stressed — these are Guitar Days. They hold the possibility for music — sacred sounds. 


Maybe that’s how to make a messy life into worship: When you let God hold you tight in the midst of stress, you empty of fears and surrender to the music of God.


God means to make songs out of stress.


God means to make songs out of emptiness.


In the dark, I shift a bit closer to him, retuned. Returned.


This is our conscious covenant coupling. 


And he nudges me and I grin in the dark and nudge him back — and he laughs and pulls me into something like a prelude of our own.


And it’s there in the shadows, you can hear it like a refrain — this sonorous offering of grace —


two surrendered strings attached to the chambers of the heart and the music of God.


 


 


Related: Unlock Your Marriage? The Daily Vow of a 10 Second Kiss for Wedded Bliss (The Conscious Coupling Series)




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Published on January 21, 2015 07:46 • 4 views

January 19, 2015

Inviting  Mr. Jon Bloom, President of Desiring God, today. When I met Mr. Bloom at his office — I was deeply moved by his humility, his genuine warmth and down-to-earth grace — this was a man who genuinely, gently, walked with Jesus. Mr. Bloom authentically lives what he so compellingly writes.


 


by Jon Bloom


What do you not feel like doing today?


You know what I mean. It’s that nagging thing weighing on you.


You know you should do it.


If you did it, it would honor God because it obeys his law of love (John 15:12), or it’s a work of faith (2 Thessalonians 1:11), or it puts “to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13).


You know it would be good for your soul or your body or your family or your vocation or your neighbor or your church.


But you don’t feel like doing it.


At all.


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You know that God promises you more blessing if you do it than if you don’t.


But you’re struggling to believe that promise because it feels difficult.


It’s like you have weights on your ankles and wrists. You don’t want to muster the energy it’s going to take. And every distraction glows with attraction.


 


The Strange Pattern of Progress


While it’s true that this feeling has its roots in our remaining sin nature and is a weight we must lay aside (Hebrews 12:1), the experience of “not feeling like it” also can become for us a reminder of a gospel truth and actually give us hope and encouragement in this battle.


Think about this strange pattern that occurs over and over in just about every area of life:



Healthy, nutritious food often requires discipline to prepare and eat while junk food is convenient, tasty, and addictive.
Keeping the body healthy and strong requires frequent deliberate discomfort while it only takes moderate indulgence to go to pot.
You have to make yourself pick up that nourishing but intellectually challenging book while flipping on the TV or popping in a DVD is as easy as coasting downhill.
You frequently have to force yourself to get to devotions and prayer while sleeping in or cleaning that clutter or checking Facebook just has a gravitational pull.
Learning to skillfully play beautiful music requires thousands of hours of tedious practice.
Excelling in a sport requires monotonous drills ad nauseum.
Learning to write well requires writing, writing, writing and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. And usually voluminous reading.
It takes years and years of schooling just to make certain vocational opportunities possible.

You get the idea.


The pattern in everything is this: the greater joys are obtained through struggle and difficulty and pain—things you must force yourself to do when you don’t feel like it—while brief, unsatisfying, and often destructive joys are as inviting as couch cushions.


Why is this?


 


Why the Struggle and Difficulty and Pain?


Because God, in great mercy, is showing us everywhere, in things that are just shadows of heavenly realities, that there is great reward for those who struggle through and persevere (Hebrews 10:32–35).


He is reminding us almost everywhere to walk by faith in a promised future and not by the sight of immediate gratification (2 Corinthians 5:7).


Understood this way, each thing we don’t feel like doing, great or small, becomes an invitation from God to follow in the faithful footsteps of his Son, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).


Those who are spiritually blind only see futility in these struggles.


But for those who have eyes to see, God has woven gospel hope right into the futility of creation (Romans 8:20–21). Each struggle to overcome becomes a pointer saying, “Look ahead, past the struggle itself, past the temptation of the puny, vapor joys to the great, sustained, substantial Joy set before you!”


 


Endurance, Not Indulgence


So, back to that thing you don’t want to do today.


Don’t let “not feeling like it” reign as lord (Romans 6:12). It’s not your master; you don’t have to obey it.


And even though it’s counseling comfort for you, it’s not your friend either. It’s a whiny, lying joy-stealer. It’s pointing you to feeble joys and away from deep delights.


Instead, through this feeling see your Father pointing you to the reward he has planned for all who endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). Transpose it from reluctance to a reminder that God is calling you not to indulgence but endurance.


Then lay this weight aside and run with faith the race he has set before you. God will meet you with the grace you need (2 Corinthians 9:8).


And the thing is:


This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)


Do it for the joy!


 


 


 




When he sent me an early manuscript of his book to read, Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith, I read slowly. Captivated by the stories of Scripture all over again. I made notes. I re-read. The chapters, 35 imaginative retellings of Bible stories, made me hungrier for God, His Truth, the company of Christ. Mr. Bloom’s Scripture saturated lines stirred a trust in God’s promises instead of personal perceptions. 


I humbly encourage you to pick up Not by Sight… penned by a man who quietly, authentically lives what he so compellingly writes. Perfect devotional reading for your morning cup of espresso or tea — for a joyously productive 2015!




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Published on January 19, 2015 05:12 • 11 views

January 17, 2015

Only the Good Stuff: Multivitamins for Your Weekend [01.17.15]


come exhale? the amazing of this



Only the Good Stuff: Multivitamins for Your Weekend [01.17.15]


and then this: lets go together, you and I, and visit these





Five years ago this week, Haiti shook with a catastrophic earthquake. Britney Gengel was killed.


But did her parents ever make her dreams come true….



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I read this one out loud to the kids. Don’t leave the internet without reading this.


Absolutely unforgettable — the judge said he’d never seen anything like it before.


This is the Gospel. 



Only the Good Stuff: Multivitamins for Your Weekend [01.17.15]


we’re thinking the world need a whole lot more of these … Amazing, huh? 





you’ve gotta see what this man does



Only the Good Stuff: Multivitamins for Your Weekend [01.17.15]


yeah, really – maybe the happiest rescue dog in the world?





the kids wanted to see one of these — and really, there are canvases for masterpieces everywhere



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absolutely extraordinary what this dog did





Oh, this about nails what it’s been like this winter, don’t you think?



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seven months, an incredible amount of yarn, 50 artists: knitted kitchen anyone?



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The Farmer and I read this one together & were slack-jawed. A story of never. giving. up, ever





maybe there’s no such thing as a disability? Only a special ability? Beautiful.



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well known napping boy (Theo) and puppy (Beau) welcome…. baby sister Evvie!



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a special championship win. And one teen that will never forget it – tears at this





a 7-year-old that can do this with no formal training? amazing! Try new things!



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or — at 42? What she is able to do? And how she is giving back… Don’t ever give up!



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You’ve got to read out loud to the kids you know:


fascinating new research? and who would have guessed?





wow — all in a day’s work? now that is perspective



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so what happens when a dog takes weekly public bus rides to the park by herself  ?



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The Farmer and I talked late into the night about this one.


You’re going to love — and be deeply moved — by what this family does here





okay, we didn’t see that coming: a speeding hippo?



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Family’s holiday card goes viral — for all the right reasons





huge grin



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over 3 yrs,  he took a photo every time he saw someone reading a book on the NY subway -


because someday maybe books will be all digital?


powerful and beautiful 





feel the wonder of this?




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This week’s Sticky Note for Your Soul: 


One for the Fridge this week?


Free printables to cheer you on through 2015


Simply fill in your email here and the whole library of free printables and tools unfolds right before you:




Subscribe/Sign-up here for immediate access to the whole library of free printables, framables & free tools!



Lists Quiet Relief Near-Daily Quiet Relief in one Weekend Bundle






flower girl and ring bearer? who get married to each other 20 years later?!?



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Mom with cancer refuses treatment — to save newborn child What a Gospel picture



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What’s on the Stack here at the Farm


The Answer to Our Cry: Freedom to Live Fully, Love Boldly, and Fear Nothing – It’s what I want at my very core for 2015: a freedom to live fully, love boldly and fear nothing. These pages just don’t throw you the whole set of keys — they swing open the door so you can have as much freedom from fear as you want.


I’ve been underlining slowly. Returning and revisiting pages. I’ve stayed up late listening to Rick McKinley’s sermons — and his book is no different: each page is vulnerable, transparent, warm…. and startlingly powerful. Hard to put down. Who puts down keys?


Paul says the story of sin’s devastation on the world started and continues through the power of ungratefulness (Romans 1). Sin’s devastation begins when the beloved ones forget the Father and focus inward on themselves. They forget they are loved The great invitation of the gospel is that all of us prodigals get to come home because we are beloved of the Father. What are we to do after such a powerful reception of grace? Saying thanks is a great place to start.


This is not only a beautiful book, this is a practical, transformative book, one to rereadand one I can’t recommend highly enough for a strong start to 2015. 



The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption – The Farmer and I are reading this book together, out loud:


” ‘Set me as a seal upon your heart,  as a seal upon your arm,  for love is strong as death…’ “


For the record, the word for “love” in this passage is that word ahava. It’s the clinging love, the “I’m not going anywhere” love.


Ahava is as strong as death. All the oceans covering the earth cannot drown ahava.


If we’re going to be faithful to the end, we will often have to lean into the covenant that we made with our spouse and with the Lord. We will need to access again and again, by God’s grace, this devoted ahava, which says, “It’s not an option for me to go anywhere because Jesus would not abandon his bride.”


Praise God that the love we trust to keep us from falling apart is ahava. Praise God that as miserable and messy as I was, my wife was a regular reminder of God’s grace to me. She didn’t turn and run. She stayed with me, helping me, loving me, and carrying me. Lauren demonstrated her love toward me in this: that she lived into an ahava love even when I could not reciprocate.


“Love says: I’ve seen the ugly parts of you —  and I’m staying.”


The Mingling of Souls will forever change how you view and approach love.  I’m not sure that you could make any better investment in a marriage than this book? Five star, highest recommendation for any marriage.


Dear Real You — Meet the Mirror of You #RealYouMeetMirrorYou


well, yeah, did this whole revelation shake me right up:


Dear Real You — Meet the Mirror of You


#RealYouMeetMirrorYou





even how we breathe? Could be saying yes … yes, God, yes. Try it? 





whatever looks impossible? Promise: You. need. this





ahhhh, yes… setting the tone for all the impossible with this



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print’s free for you here ]

Hey Soul? yeah, sometimes it’s bafflingly hard to know how to live through the stuff we’re facing & it’s crazy easy to just want Someone to hand us a map, a way, through everything.


So maybe this is it: 1. no matter what, 2. all the time, 3. no matter what happens, just these three things, because He says this is the way He want us to live today:

“(1) Be cheerful — no matter what;

(2) pray — all the time;

(3) thank God — no matter what happens.

This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” 1Thess5:18


This. is. the. way. God. wants. us. to. live. There’s your map through right now —


because this way leads you closer to His heart.


Being intentional about being 1.Cheerful, 2. Prayerful & 3. Thankful —


keeps the day from unintentionally becoming 4. Awful.


Unless we are *intentional* about *giving God glory* throughout the day, 

our days *unintentionally* give way to grumbling.


[excerpted from our daily devotions in our little Facebook community … come join us?]


That’s all for this weekend, friends.


Go slow. Be God-struck. Grant grace. Live Truth.


Give Thanks. Love well. Re – joy, re- joy, ‘re- joys’ again


Share Whatever Is Good.





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Published on January 17, 2015 06:46 • 3 views

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