The school year has ended. And Marty and I are being hit with the repeated question, “So, are you enjoying your summer?”
And the line from Toby Mac’s song, “Love Feels Like” often goes round and round in my head — “but empty’s never felt so full”. Smile. (ps — get “This Is Not A Test” — it is absolutely AWESOME — it’s G and I’s rock out album of the summer — “Mom, can you turn it up?!?!?!??!” YES! I can’t dance, but when the Spirit moves you, you MOVE — smile)…
I don’t think either one of us have truly been able to digest that this school year has come to a close as our schedules are still running us — Marty is daily working in his classroom with cross country stuff, running to Fourth of July meetings, and baseball is every day — multiple games — along with practices and all the other tasks we’ve taken on that we signed up for and had forgotten — I do that — really well (smile). However, we are not contending with homework (middle school math is over for an entire summer, y’all — woot woot!!!!!!), reading minutes, and getting to bed on time mixed in with all this crazy — so that — THAT is awesome. We are truly blessed and THANKFUL!!! We fully acknowledge just how fortunate we are!
Marty ran his 18th or 19th or something-‘th’ Dam to Dam this weekend also. Proud of him. Bless his heart. He’s amazing. And persistent. We also decided to take on our first garage sale. Remind me to do that NEVER again. Not only are they a giant and colossal expenditure of time, but introverts just should not participate in such events. My husband is a wonderful people person. He delights in small chit chat and banter and is so graciously good at it. To me, it is the.most.painful. And I’m awkward and awful at it. Abysmally. A garage sale is two entire days of the.most.painful. I opted for sidewalk chalk and bubbles with my eight year old and any other child who wanted to join in with us so that I was present when it got really crazy, but could avoid being in the thick of things when I wasn’t needed. I know my strengths. I’m also very keenly aware of my weaknesses. Talking about the weather or that one game or politics with strangers whilst going through our collection of home goods is not one of my strong suits. Chalk and bubbles. I freaking ROCK those!
We managed. Late nights and a tad bit stressful, but we did it. Now we know. My husband actually kind of loved it. Being around a constant ebb and flow of different people is rather energizing to him. I enjoyed getting rid of some things as I really can’t stand all the clutter we’ve amassed through the years. But it still seems a tad simpler to just drop it all off at Goodwill. Marty is already planning next year’s garage sale. It’s going to be epic, ya’ll. Perhaps we’ll grill hot dogs and have pony rides and Hawkeye tattoos and face painting? We’ll make it a venue of sorts. I’m trying to think of an excuse to be gone that weekend — whenever it is… Sara, Summer, Karen — I think we need to have a girl’s weekend in Wisconsin?
And Griffyn decided to spilt his head open to start our summer off with a bang — literally. Like, blood everywhere. Like three dishcloths full and I almost fainted. He was constantly begging me for yet another freezie pop before we were headed off to Norwalk for yet another day of baseball with Max, and I was telling him ‘for the love of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, NO — you can not have ANOTHER one!’ and he comes running up to me gushing red stuff out of his head because he had turned a corner too sharply and hit the molding on our wall with his head… It was just.so.other.worldy. G said I kept using my “super soft, sweet voice”. I honestly don’t remember. I do remember asking him if we could please sit down because I was going to fall and opening the door to the garage to rather firmly ask Marty to come inside to help me.
Plus side, our doctor is phenomenal. Andrea got us in right away, our nurse, Sonja took amazing care of us — we couldn’t LOVE you more. G got all cleaned up, I was reassured that “heads bleed a lot” and we were off to the ball fields in Norwalk (which I was not too happy about, but we survived). No stitches necessary. And Sonja called a few times to check on G and see how we all were doing — because they are just that amazing. G missed a baseball game because he couldn’t have any pressure on his head. He couldn’t have it split open again or he would need stitches. Who wants those to start your summer? Ibuprofen for a few days and he’s good to go. Still looks a little rough, but he’s one tough kid. Still is begging for freezie pops. Hasn’t deterred him one single bit…
G has also been begging to start Bible journaling with his Momma. We haven’t had a second of free time, and now that we don’t have to worry so much about bedtime — we can! My girlfriend, Daphne, made both of these beautiful journals for me — check her out on Facebook at Papercake Creations. There are lovely lined pockets inside and a few pages of the books in the front and back of the journals. She is so talented. They are treasures (as is she)!
I’ve also begun re-reading more of the obscure books of the Bible. Time with God has been more than calling out to me lately — it’s been more of a scream to my heart. I can’t put the Bible down and it’s a craving — not just a routine or ritual in my day. It’s been such a huge blessing to have the extra time to linger in His presence.
The New Testament gets a lot of wear in my Bible, but lately I’ve been drawn to the books of Esther, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Obadiah, Micah (my third baby boy’s name — smile), Nahum, Hosea, you get the idea… tiny books with names we really don’t hear mention of all that often in sermons or anywhere else — but they pack quite a punch. I found myself writing, praying, crying, and having fervent conversations with my husband — whether he really was all that into them or not — about these books as they shook up my heart so vehemently these past few weeks. We hear bits and pieces of their messages in pithy little Pinterest quotes here and there or etched on our Christian calendars or planners, but to grasp them in their entirety, view them in their historical context, and hold them up to our here and nows — it was just so much for this girl… I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of God — and that, well, that is just so many things, isn’t it? #nowords (I don’t know how to use hashtags — but this seems legit…).
What I found especially striking about every single one of these books, was God’s use of the every day man — in some cases, what we would think is even lowlier than that — the commoner, the country boy, the shepherd, the farmer, the fig picker (which was about as menial as you could get in those days–and the evidence was stained all over your hands). And yet, he called these every day Joes and Josephines, to be prophets — often of not so pleasant news — to stand up to great kings and leaders, to walk right into their kingdoms, courts and castles and to preach the word of God. It’s all rather mind blowing when you stop to think about it for two seconds. It goes against everything the world looks at in terms of qualifications and greatness, doesn’t it? It reminded me, once again, so resolutely, that God looks solely at our hearts. He doesn’t see us as the world sees us. The world may see us as weird, unimportant, and maybe even as completely insignificant — just as it saw some of these people — but God, our infinite creator, had great plans in store for all of these men and women. He saw straight into their heart space. And what He saw there sent them on journeys they could never have fathomed…
One of the greatest promises of all hope, I believe, is found in the Old Testament in the book of Joel — his name just happens to mean “The Lord is God.” And maybe that’s the point of the entire book. That the Lord is God. And that we must repent — to a God that desperately wants our hearts. All of this in the midst of a locust plague. And the verse that enveloped me, held me, froze me and stuck in my head and heart for days was Joel, Chapter 2:13 in which the Lord declares, “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
Rend.your.heart. Rend. What does that mean? It’s actually quite aggressive. To tear apart violently, to split. God wants our all. He wants ALL of our hearts. Not just a piece of it or the part we think we don’t need or want — all of it, and all of us. And the equally awesome and amazing thing is, He just happens to love the all of us too.
In talking about this verse and journaling with G (Max just wanted to write about it), we also talked about how God doesn’t want us to dress, or just ‘look’ the part of a Christian. Our transformation is from the inside out, and not the outside in. Rend your heart, not your garments. And the GREATEST HOPE in this verse? Yes, I had tears. It is SO beautiful — if we return to Him, He is gracious, He is compassionate, He is slow to anger, He is abounding in love — and He relents from sending calamity. I know that these promises were made for the people of Israel who had turned from God — but they are oh so true for us as well. Transformation, restoration, healing, new beginnings, in fact — all things new — are possible because of grace. And what a tremendous hope that is! What a tremendous hope we HAVE — if only we will rend our hearts…
Obadiah is about the shortest little book that ever was but it also spoke to my heart in a way it hadn’t before — okay, so when I read Obadiah in the past it was more of a segway to Jonah then an actual preponderance… But if ever one needs a lesson in pride, this is about the biggest admonishing one can get. It also rocked me. In all of my “openness” to others, I can get very judgey — I can get easily hurt — I can read all kinds of meaning into things that are said that were not intended to be — and I can create so many things out of nothing due to this one feeling — pride. It doesn’t matter if it’s something I feel behind the scenes or in the quietness of my heart — the fact is that it exists and that it is there and that it’s quite ugly. And Obadiah doesn’t mince words — “The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” 1:15 If I sit and sincerely think about coming before the throne of my Father tomorrow, five minutes from now — let’s just say soon — will I be comfortable with what I’ve given of myself, the thoughts I’ve processed, all that I’ve done for others — or will pride have gotten in my way? Will I have gotten in my own way of being everything God has intended for me to be? Have I given myself completely over to my God? It’s a little sobering. Again, rend your heart, Ang.
I won’t go through each book as some of you may be falling asleep by now, and I love you for bearing with me — but I can’t not mention my Micah. This book has my heart. Micah means, “Who is like the Lord?” Micah was a country boy — but he wasn’t afraid of people that had great power or wealth. He wasn’t afraid of much when it came to the opinions of man. He also had a very soft place in his heart for the poor people of his land and he called those people out that took advantage of the poor. I also love this Old Testament book as it prophesies the coming of our Savior in Bethlehem! It is so exciting to read this in Micah and be able to nod our heads and say, “I know EXACTLY what he’s talking about!,” right? Okay, just me (smile). And in the heart of a chaotic world, where life and religion and theories and philosophies and rhetoric can make things all blurry and confusing — Micah breaks it down for us so simply — “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 There it is. And that should keep us busy enough.
In the midst of all of this, I am reading a few of Dr. Schaeffer’s books (old school evangelical for you). Having lived in the heart of L’Abri growing up and knowing the history of this man and his family and his work, it’s like a little trip back to family that wasn’t blood, but that was family none the less. These books of the Bible remind me of many philosophical discussions held by Dr. Schaeffer who vehemently held that there were “no little people” in the eyes of God. This was a man who invited children into his discussions concerning metaphysical, moral, and epistemological necessity–because children were just as significant as adults. I’m having flashbacks of knickers, goatees, and turtle necks with tea — there was always tea.
I also came across this quote by Madeleine L’Engle (she was such a gorgeous writer–I have a notebook full of her quotes) that brought it all together somehow…
“In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own.”
He takes our brokenness, our weirdness, our crazy, our hurt, our lacking — our everything the world sees as wrong or not good enough or messy or just not cool — and guess what? He makes it beautiful. All in his time, he makes it beautiful. And the miracle, for this girl, wasn’t that he made it beautiful to other people — because I stopped caring about that when he took hold of my heart — but was that he made it beautiful to me. To a very messy girl who has always felt broken, weird, strange and wrong and needing to be fixed. Yeah…. He made all of that beautiful. Because He made that girl.
And He made that girl to do some pretty amazing things. And they may be small things. But they’re HIS small things. And that is just pretty awesome to me, that I would be even considered for such a task–any task at all. It’s all for His glory, loves. For Him I shine.
And you shine too, child of God–magnificent, beautiful and fabulous child.of.God. And it’s really okay if you’re weird or quirky or not a cookie cutter Christian. In fact, it’s quite perfect. People thought those prophets and disciples in the Bible were pretty weird and crazy too. We’re not of this world. Why should we so desperately seek to be so like it? To fit in… To act or look a certain way so we don’t stand out or freak people out or make them uncomfortable? Maybe we can shake their world all the way to Christ! (psssst — spoiler alert — THIS reality? it isn’t IT! smile!)
Here’s the thing… we’re all made the way we are for a purpose, for a reason — and it’s His. I can’t do what you do, and you can’t do me. And damn — that’s awesome! It really and truly is! That’s God given uniqueness, people — not something man made or fabricated — and there’s a dignity in that too. He’s got a place, a purpose, a walk for all of us. My steps may not be yours, because my gifts, my talents, my calling — well, it’s not going to be exactly the same as yours now is it? How precious, how amazing, how infinite, how divine… And PRAISE God for that! We all have to find our own hallelujah with the help and breadth of the Holy Spirit… Man doesn’t dictate that for us… That’s encouraging! And we can encourage one another IN this — to shine and shine some more in the way God intended for each of us to shine…
And when we place a little less importance on ourselves in this “saving people” business — when we look at the mighty hand of God in all of this and give Him the praise while we take on the prayer — I think we can be a little gentler in our definition of ‘how we should appear to others’ as well. “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (7) We speak the truth to an unbelieving world because it IS the truth, and then we pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts. Only God can truly bring a person to Him. This is not our doing. We bring the word, He brings the life changing power of the Holy Spirit — so let’s just take a step back for a minute and remember our place in all of this. He is greater. Always greater.
And then maybe we can pause and remember our authenticity to our calling and to who He made us to be and the voice that He created with that human being is vital to His message. It all becomes so much simpler, doesn’t it? “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Thanks for bringing it home, Micah. Much love to all of you lights. Keep shining, keep loving, and keep being exactly who you are called to be. That takes brave in a world, and often in a church, that wants us all to look and be the same! And we were called to be courageous!
And if you get a chance, check out those lesser known prophets in the Old Testament. Those country boys and a Jewish girl who lived in Persia, just might speak to your heart. An ordinary life can become so extraordinary when God takes hold of it, can’t it? Rend your heart, loves, and find your hallelujah… ❤
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will rise from another place, but you and your family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 3:14