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Worth Repeating {5/13/16}

13 May

It has been a LOOOONG time (ahem, almost an entire year) since I did a Worth Repeating post here on this little blog of mine. This is a weekly whenever-I-feel-like-it series where I share quotes, sayings and verses that I enjoyed and found to be worth repeating.

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A month or two ago, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. While her notions about creative living and life in general are not overtly Christian, I found her book fascinating, and with a few giant leaps (like Inspiration being the work of the Holy Spirit), I think her ideas can apply to Christians too. Her book reiterated a message I’ve been hearing from sources on all sides over the past 6 months: We were created in God’s image. He’s a creator. Therefore, we are creative people. We won’t thrive unless we’re consistently creating.

To that end, I’ve been writing almost every day–mostly working on my book, some writing in my journal, and a little of putting thoughts on this blog. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book has inspired me to take writing seriously, entrust the results to God, and enjoy the journey, even when writing is hard and progress slow. Here are my six favorite quotes from her book (click on the images for sources):

what is creative livin

 

courage for treasures

authenticity vs originality

interesting

inspiration partner

creativity is sacred

Worth Repeating {6/2/15}

2 Jun

Often when I find that I’m learning the same old thing yet again, I pull up old blog posts that I’ve written. I’ve been thinking lately about my propensity to prioritize “getting things done” over serving people. What I realized is that the whole point of getting things done (in my case, laundry, dishes, house cleaning, dinner, etc) is serving my family! How often I lose sight of the purpose of those tasks, and just focus on checking them off my to-do list. I pulled up the following blog post and it was so exactly what I needed to remember that I thought I’d share it today. Enjoy!worth_repeating

{First posted on 12/13/11 as “Life is a Glorious Mess”} 

I woke up yesterday morning wanting at least 4 more hours in bed. Instead, I got up to make coffee – an hour after my alarm went off the first time. The kitchen counters overflowed with dirty dishes; the table drowned in Christmas presents, mail, and other things used over the weekend but not put away. The cupboards were conspicuously bare from my lack of grocery shopping. The fridge held potatoes from our garden and spinach from the store, wilting and rotting before I could use them. The dogs wagged their tails in hope of a walk. A temperature of 63 degrees revealed that the furnace wasn’t working again.

I was frustrated. Mad. Why is life so hard?

I do better when life is organized. When things are in their place. When I’m on top of what I need to be on top of.

I could have been there this morning – except I chose to relax and watch Christmas movies last night instead of doing chores.

And I’ve realized that my affinity for order and perfection has a price tag – it costs me Life. Joy. Peace. Patience.

When I admire people in movies (like J. Lo in The Wedding Planner) who have every piece of their life in place with predictable schedules and unvaried routines, I fail to realize that they’re paying for that perfection – with human relationships. I mean, how often do those same perfect people have an intimate marriage, loving kids, and open their homes to others?

To truly embrace the presence of others in my life, I have to let go of perfection. Because a life filled with relationships is messy. As Emily Walker wrote in her post The Messy Table:

My table is not perfect, but it has done the job it was meant to do very well. Life has been lived at it. Lessons have been learned at it. Memories have been made for decades, right there at that table. It tells the story of lives being lived, not life missed out on in the name of perfection.

That. Exactly.

When I think about what kind of mother I want to be someday, do I want my kids to remember how well-kept our house was, elaborate our dinners were, and how we were always running around doing stuff?  Or do I want them to remember how I played with them in our backyard, dropped whatever I was doing to listen or laugh, and didn’t get mad when they trampled little dirty footprints all over the carpet? Obviously, I want to be the latter.

And here’s what I’m learning: I don’t become the peaceful, patient, loving woman I want to be by being perfect and on top of things. Rather, I grow to be that woman as I learn to let things go. If I expect the house to always be orderly, I get frustrated when something is out of place. If I map out my schedule for the day and a wrench gets thrown in, I’m mad.

People who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit aren’t isolated from problems and frustrations. They have just learned to embrace the messiness of life. Be content in chaos. See each moment for what it’s really worth – not a time for getting things done, but a time to connect with and serve others, and to be filled with the joy of knowing Christ. Instead of running around checking off my own to-do list, I need to walk through each day with God, trusting that His grace is sufficient – He will provide the energy and wisdom to work when I need to, and to rest when I need to.

A comforting idea I’ve had in my head for several weeks now is that God is more realistic about my abilities than I am. Like QuatroMama writes in this post, I tend to set up my own (perfectionist) standards and then beat myself up when I fall short.

But God is realistic. “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”He doesn’t ask me to be Mega Woman. He understands that I only have so many minutes in a day and if I spend time doing this thing, I don’t have time for that thing. If I’m exhausted and want to veg instead of clean, He doesn’t accuse me of laziness and not being productive, like I do to myself. Unlike me, He is full of grace, understanding, and patience.

This is where the Gospel makes all the difference. The Gospel allows us to admit that we fall short of what we wish we were, but reassures us that we’re loved anyway. And God’s love for us isn’t despite how we’ve disappointed Him, or failed to live up to His standard. Because when He sees us in Christ, He sees perfect beings. We are completely and utterly righteous in His eyes. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgression from us.”

He doesn’t mutter “I love you” through gritted teeth while trying to not be mad over all the things we’ve done wrong. God’s love abounds for us. He lavishly pours out grace upon grace into our lives with delight.

In the words of John Piper, remind yourself, “I am holy and I am loved.” Even when life is messy.

Worth Repeating {11/10/14}

10 Nov

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Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. I struggle with loneliness (because you’re alone, and yet not) a lot, even though I’ve been getting back into the swing of normal life. My kneejerk reaction to emotions that I don’t like is numbness – going through life on autopilot. But depending on God during the hard times meaning acknowledging the hardness, and trusting Him to be sufficient in the midst of it all.

That’s why I like this quote that I found on Pinterest. Such a great reminder that the hard times have their purpose.

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Worth Repeating {11/4/14}

4 Nov

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Scripture memorization has always been one of those things for me that I struggle with. I have grand ambitions of memorizing a verse a week but I peeter out before a month has passed.

I have memorized verses more organically though. When I was first learning about joy coming from accepting what God allows, my ‘mantra’ verse was “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD.” When I was training for my full marathon and wanting to have faith that God cared about my running, I recited “My God in his steadfast love will meet me; he will let me look in triumph on my enemies [the marathon].” But I didn’t memorize the book or verse number – just the words.

Back in August, I had the idea of memorizing a single verse every quarter (every 3 months). It seemed like a good compromise between intentional and organic memorization.

So far, it has worked really well. The verse I choose is related to an area that I feel I need particular encouragement in or to focus on.

My verse for July, August and September was Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary of doingmo good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” That verse encouraged me to keep making dinner, cleaning, taking care of Emma, etc because it will produce a harvest in due time.

My verse for October, November and December is Ephesians 5:15-16 – “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Wisely managing my time as a stay-at-home, pregnant mom is often challenging. It’s a thin line between laziness and relaxation. This verse reminds me that time is limited and days are fleeting. One result of focusing on this verse has been that I started getting up around 6 am everyday for coffee and time in the Bible – I haven’t voluntarily gotten up that early since before Emma was born!

I have plans to write each quarter’s verse out and hang it up in a place where I’ll see it often. That way, it’ll remind both me and my family of truth! I haven’t gotten that done quite yet but hopefully soon!

How do you memorize Scripture?

Worth Repeating {10/27/14}

27 Oct

Now that I am finally emerging from the first-trimester exhaustion and can actually do something during Emma’s naps other than take a nap myself, I’m hoping to get back into blogging regularly! It’s been a while since I posted a Worth Repeating post, so to recap, this is a weekly series where I share quotes, sayings and verses that I enjoyed and found to be worth repeating.

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While up at elk camp, I re-read C.S. Lewis’ classic book The Screwtape Letters, and loved this description of how God wants his creatures (us) to embrace who He created us to be – and even, dare I say, like ourselves. Like David said in Psalm 139, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

I think that sometimes Christians confuse the idea of hating our sin with hating ourselves. Yes, I am sinful. Yes, I have a long way to go in the process of sanctification. But God created me to be who I am, and I can only reach my true potential in life when I learn to embrace and accept all of Me, instead of wishing I were different. When I can embrace and rest in who God created me to be (sin aside), I can stop trying to prove myself. And when I stop trying to prove myself, humility and servant-heartedness become possible.

In case you’ve never heard of The Screwtape Letters, it’s a novel in which an uncle demon is writing letters to his nephew about how to win a man’s soul to their side (Satan’s).

“The Enemy [God] wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour’s talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible; but it is His long-term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love—a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours” (71-72).

Worth Repeating {8/25/14}

26 Aug

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I’ve been discouraged from reading the Bible lately because “it just seems like so much work.” When I thought deeper about that rationale/excuse, I realized that I’ve been approaching time in the Word as a means to transformation, instead of simply time with God – and when I don’t feel like I have the energy to study deeply or really focus, I write it off completely, opting for a book or nap instead. 

But Jesus made God as accessible as He possibly could, so whenever connecting with God seems hard, I know I’m missing something. I think that “something” is captured in this quote that I loved from Soul Craving by Joel Warne:

“There are times, though, when transformation simply doesn’t come, times when our hunger for a new way to be remains unfed. At those times… simply rest with God in your problem. Simply be with him in your sin, your emptiness, your failure. Rest quietly with him in your confusion, your paralysis. Sit next to him in the wound that won’t heal, the pain that won’t subside, the desert that never ends… Here the still center of your love affair with Jesus Christ rests steady, unmoved, unquenched, unconquered by your unresolved messes. Here your love for God really does take precedence. It is no longer a means to an end, a kind of convenient tool to work your own liberation…

 

Sometimes, our very desire to be transformed into the new creation God wants us to be must be considered rubbish in comparison with simply knowing Christ. Is it enough for you to simply love him? To draw close to him, to offer him your affection? If intimately abiding with Jesus produced no change at all within you, could you be satisfied to simply remain with him in all your painful, unresolved stuff?” (199-201).

Worth Repeating {8/19/14}

19 Aug

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One of the most influential books in my life has been Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It was while reading her book that my eyes were opened to the immense ingratitude in my own life, and I started to learn that true joy comes through accepting.

It is a daily lesson, as my first reaction to situations or circumstances that I don’t like is to reject them. And as I sit with those emotions of anger and frustration — knowing that if I just accepted what God was allowing, I would find joy — I am reminded of these apt words from One Thousand Gifts:

“In this wilderness, I keep circling back to this: I’m blind to joy’s well every time I really don’t want it. The well is always there. And I choose not to see it. Don’t I really want joy? Don’t I really want the fullest life? For all my yearning for joy, longing for joy, begging for joy–is the bald truth that I prefer the empty dark? Prefer drama? Why do I lunge for control instead of joy? Is it somehow more perversely satisfying to flex control’s muscle? Ah–power–like Satan. Do I think Jesus-grace too impotent to give me the full life? Isn’t that the only reason I don’t always swill the joy? If the startling truth is that I don’t really want joy, there’s a far worse truth. If I am rejecting the joy that is hidden somewhere deep in this moment–am I not ultimately rejecting God? Whenever I am blind to joy’s well, isn’t it because I don’t believe in God’s care? That God cares enough about me to always offer joy’s water, wherever I am, regardless of circumstance…

The well is always here. God is always here–precisely because He does care.