Tuesday, January 3, 2017

#wordoftheyear

I have always loved, but never before participated in the tradition of choosing a Word for the Year as part of a New Year's resolution. It seems a fitting addition to the mental list of goals I make every year-- something to ground, or shape my plans for my year. Something to remind me of what I aspire to, or have learned in the past year and wish to apply to my coming year. So this year, I decided to participate.

After a lovely discussion on Facebook, much consideration and a serendipitous devotional reading last night, I've chosen. My word for 2017 is 

Steadfast.

Lamentations 3:22-24

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

These words come in the midst of a chapter describing great turmoil and trial, the like of which I've never experienced, and the attitude described here is one I covet for myself--turning heavenward in the midst of difficult circumstances and remembering and praising the faithfulness of God.

I choose this word first of all because I want to be reminded of this aspect of the character of God as I walk through my year. He is an inexhaustible fountain of mercy, provision, and loving care. I want to remember daily in 2017 the expression of His steadfastness throughout my life. I want to meditate on my Ebeneezers-- those piles of stones in my life marking out His particular attentions.

I also choose it because it is a character trait that I want to assimilate. Steadfastness. Faithfulness. This is the first concept I pondered that seemed relevant to every part of my life-- personal, mothering, wife-ing (is that a word?), homeschooling, business. 

"A long obedience in the same direction."


stead·fast
ˈstedˌfast/
adjective
  1. resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.

    "steadfast loyalty"


My husband beautifully exemplifies this trait. It is something I have noticed and admired in him since we first met in high school. His steady, thoughtful way of approaching life has provided our family with security and peace in the midst of some pretty intense moments over the years and I want to emulate that part of his character. His loyalty, too, is something that has protected our marriage relationship and served him well in his professional life. Those who have counted him among their friends know that he is a rare friend indeed. I want to be like that.

The serendipitous devotional reading was from "Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work" -- a book that I highly recommend any time I get a chance to recommend a book. Another of Kathleen Norris' books, "Acedia and Me" was a life-changing read for me in 2011, after Jamie was born and I was stranded in a new city with a newborn and two other small children, missing my friends and feeling as though I had forgotten who I was outside of Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. I highly recommend that one, too. It was Norris who sent me to that passage in Lamentations and she goes on to speak of the application of steadfastness in our daily tasks:


Laundry, liturgy and women's work all serve to ground us in the world and they need not grind us down. Our daily tasks, whether we perceive them as drudgery or essential, life-supporting work, do not define who we are as women or as human beings, But they have a considerable spiritual import, and their significance for Christian theology, the way they come together in the fabric of faith, is not often appreciated. But it is daily tasks, daily acts of love and worship that serve to remind us that religion is not strictly an intellectual pursuit, and these days it is easy to lose sight of that as, like our society itself, churches are becoming more politicized and polarized. Christian faith is a way of life, not an impregnable fortress made up of ideas; not a philosophy, not a grocery list of beliefs. (emphasis mine)

I want my daily tasks to be acts of love and worship; work, teaching, mothering, wife-ing (I'm just going with it-- it's probably a word), being who I am in Christ-- everything I do...


 ...in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col 3:17


Here's to a New Year in the Faith! 






Sunday, December 4, 2016

Courage and Valor

We had a guest speaker of sorts this morning in our Sunday School class. She brought to light, almost as a side note, the story of God's call to Gideon. Gideon is threshing wheat in hiding from the Mideonite oppressors and the angel of the Lord appears to him and says, "The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor!" The incongruity of his situation and emotion with God's greeting to him has stuck with me all day...

My sister posted a confessional about her weekly Sunday night dread of the return to the homeschooling routine of Monday morning on Facebook tonight and I responded with one of my favorite quotes, "Courage, dear heart" It's Aslan's voice, speaking to Lucy in the depths of dread darkness. Those words echo frequently in my heart when things seem dark and confusing...

Mothers, wives, sisters... If you are facing this week with a feeling of dread, inadequacy, fear, or heartache; if life beyond the relative comfort of the weekend feels just a little beyond your ability to manage or direct, remember that He bids you be of good courage. If you are hiding in a wine press, frantically trying to thresh out a little wheat before the marauding Mideonites come to devastate and destroy, remember that when He looks at you, because of Christ, He names you a Mighty Woman of Valor.

You are a Mighty Woman of Valor, dear heart.

Also, remember the marauding Mideonites are cute some of the time.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Storytellers

I hosted a party tonight for a friend who's recently started marketing for KEEP Collective-- a jewelry line from Stella and Dot. The mission of the line is to help women tell their stories through symbolic charms and symbols that you can personalize. When I first heard my friend talk about this concept, I didn't really get it. I mean, the brand is basically a grown-up version of the charm bracelet. The pieces are cute, but... Lots of jewelry is cute. But during the course of the party, I got it. And, as I am wont, I found a deeper symbolism in what they're trying to do...

My friend gathered us all together and started the introductions. She told us about her life and her twin daughters, she showed us her necklace and told us the significance of it. Then she had each person tell how they met me (I was the common denominator in a group of women who mostly, but not all, knew each other) and give three words that described me for them and then three words that they felt symbolized themselves, or this particular stage in their lives.

At first it was awkward. I do not like being the center of attention unless I am teaching, or telling a funny story, performing-- in control of the script, so to speak. But as each friend, most of them new, in this new place, in this new part of my life; as each friend shared their experience of meeting me and then affirmed verbally to me, in my hearing, that they saw this thing in me, that they saw this or that part of me, that they knew something about me, I felt a spreading warmth and confidence that I did not realize I had been missing in this new place...  And I gradually began to see another piece of this truth about women needing women that has been a part of God's teaching in my life ever since I can remember.... We need this from each other. We need to tell, not just our own stories, but each other's. We need to deliberately affirm for each other who we are, what we do, what we think and believe, what we are doing and why. We need to remind each other often of who we are, and why. 

Women, in the daily grind of housework, office work, mothering, infertility, loss, moving, never going anywhere, having no place to go, laundry, cooking, yard work; whatever it is that drains you of identity and makes you forget who you are, and why... we need to have someone who will look into our eyes and say, "I see you. I know who you are. Remember this? This is who you are, this is why." So much of what we do goes unnoticed, unseen. A large part of our daily activity is cyclical, unmade as quickly as it is made (cooking, cleaning, laundry). I believe we crave, sometimes unconsciously. a witness that we exist outside of those things: that there is something continuous, something linear in us that is essentially Us. We sisters ought to be that witness to each other.

I ended the night with the deep urge to text all my friends and tell them; I see you. I know you. You are a reader, teacher, artist. You are a musician, teacher, creator of beauty. You are strong, vibrant, loyal. You are warm, caring, welcoming. You are driven, articulate, creative. You are gentle, loving, humble. You are curious, intelligent, caring. I see you. I see each of you. I name you. Thank you for being in my life.








Friday, August 26, 2016

Refelctions on a story he told me about game time at Trail Life

My straight-as-an-arrow son
The black and white one
He stops in the relay race when he stumbles
To regain his balance and then continue on, 
Hopping one-footed because to touch the other to the ground is against
The rules he lives by, the rules he breathes, 
He understands them, they make him feel 
Safe. Fair. Secure.
He will have a hard life in this gray world of in-between 
Neither right nor wrong
Where his own thoughts never go
He will be hurt, I fear, by never quite being able to comprehend 
The thoughts of a mind other than his own.
Never being able to stoop a little sideways and see it from their point of view.
He may be lonely. Alone.
Few people can match the stride of the straight-as-an-arrow man.
He must learn to bend a bit, to allow himself to be somewhat molded, to stoop
But, please God, not too much
Let him always keep his knife's-edge, unwavering honesty
His slow-pacing, dogged determination to be correct, to know
His black and white self, hopping on one foot only 
All the way
To the finish line.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

written one spring, in a moment of loss and longing

god is the ocean and the boat

my life swells and sinks to the rhythm of his providence
safe in his will, i float above the unpredictable tempests
protected alike from storm dangers and the whispering doldrums
that suck men's souls out of their bodies

I sail along a steady course, every tack and jib secure
my every line written on his hand
my future safe, my harbor sure

and yet

should my boat seem to sink beneath me,
deserting me, helpless, to the fury of the roiling deep,

god is the ocean, too.

should my limbs fail me, should I seem to gasp my last breath and slide at last
beneath the waves of grief, loss, indecision, pain and parting,
surrendering in my struggle
should my lungs slowly fill and my body sink

I would find myself still cradled in his wisdom
I would come to rest on the ocean floor
and there see that I laid at last still in his caring
in the very bosom of his love for me

god is the boat and the ocean