I do think about blogging everyday but finding the time to sit down and actually put words to my thoughts seems near impossible most days. My friend Ginger made a list of what her life is made up of...honestly I was getting even more tired reading it. I know that if I made one for me it would be just as long...whew! Turner Classics here I come!
So for a quick update...the highlight of my crazy month of August is that I have backed out of the part time job I was doing from home. The call came from a Beth Moore DVD where she simply said "some of us are just so overloaded we can't go on to the next thing with God." As I sat in a room filled with women I tried desperately to hide the tears that would not stop pouring down my face. All I could think about was how in 20 years it would absolutely not matter to me what I had done with creating spreadsheets or mailing packages or the myriad of other things I was doing, but what would matter is what I done with and for Jeremy, Zoe and Matt. As I wrestled with giving up this job I thought but what about the money? Almost instantaneously I sensed the Lord's kind whisper "and do you think I can't cover that?" Long story short, I am no longer doing the job. I am a wife, a mom, a friend, a sister, a cousin, a daughter and not to mention a child of God who is rediscovering the Love of Jesus through His word and listening for His voice. That is just enough for now and I am so grateful that I have the ability to do just that.
In the meantime...may you be gaining ground as you journey toward Him.
Jeremy did his first wedding this weekend! I was SO proud of him! He did an awesome job. We took the opportunity to make it a weekend away. Jeremy's dad and stepmom had given us a Bed and Breakfast giftcard so we took advantage of having my mom here overnight and had a night away!!
Here are some pictures...
Me and Jer in front of the B & B.
Having our morning coffee on the front porch.
Breakfast by candle light! A first for sure!
The message centered around Psalm 84 and in essence was on how to be regarding "work."
Perhaps the most powerful word I received was based on the part of the passage that says "as they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs." Dr. Shugart talked about the fact that we live in the "valley" we don't live on the mountaintop...yes, we have all heard this concept before...but I have to say hearing on how to live in that valley and not just to survive but thrive and even change the landscape (making it a place of springs) I admit I haven't heard too much on this subject. What I heard was stunningly simple and recentering. First of all we draw our strength from God. It is He who is in control and any strength we will have for our valley of Baca will come from Him. Secondly, we must adopt the heart of a pilgrim. WE ARE ONLY PASSING THROUGH!!!! Travel light. Stay focused on the Desination (Zion) or in our case the Presence of God...ultimately face to face. If we adopt these truths and allow them to change us THEN as we pass through Baca, the springs, the refreshment, the blessing will come through us! I want this!
We all live in valleys. Yours looks different than mine. Mine may take on the form of a beautiful 4 foot tall blonde haired blue eyed two and a half year old. Or maybe her 3 1/2 foot, white haired, counterpart who likes to keep mom in full view every moment of every day. While I am so in love with the precious children God gifted to me and my husband and SO grateful to be home with them it is nonetheless a valley in the every day caring of little ones. (if you are a mom of small children you will need no explanation here I trust:)
I just want to be a conduit of springs in my valley called my sweet home. This is my place of work and this is the place I desire to bring the greatest blessing. I want my children and my husband to be filled to overflowing in this place, not with me but with Jesus...the Spring of Living Water embodied.
I want you, friend, to bring blessing and springs of life to your valley too. So let's pray for one another...and encourage one another in these...our valleys. Let's set our hearts toward Zion and bring blessing along the way. Knowing that our destination is HIM; a person, the God of the universe, and the lover of our souls.
Coming home and living out the call that He absolutely spoke over me has been another thing all together. Basically, I felt that God wanted me to back out of some wonderful things that I have been a part of to focus on the best; HIS call on my life, specifically my being His first and foremost and the relationship that goes along with that and then my being Jeremy's wife and Zoe and Matt's mom. Every thing else comes after those core callings in my life. I believe the journey away from those things was subtle and somewhat unnoticeable until the Lord literally had to push pause on my treadmill in order to get my attention. Oh how glad I am that He did. Although He has asked me to let go of some things I really dearly loved I am expectant that by doing so I will experience HIM in a way I could not have I held on to those things. And see HE is IT. Knowing Him is the goal of life. Just as Paul said "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Philippians 3:8)
Psalm 16:11 says "You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forever." The Lord brought that verse to my attention last week in the middle of my struggle with some of these decisions. How inspiring is it to know that as we give up our own ideas, goals, pleasures, etc... which are in fact counterfeit (so close to the authentic it is easily mistaken for it) we are actually gaining the real deal...fullness of joy, pleasures forever. This was a comfort to me...and a reminder, let the motive of your heart be HIM and His presence, not even "doing it for your husband or your kids," but because your relationship, your fellowhip, your oneness with your Father in Heaven is SO important that you just can't afford to do anything that may threaten that relationship.
Thank you Lord that you love us so much that You will not settle for us being mostly Yours...You want all of us. And why? Because as John Piper says "When we are most satisfied in You, You are most glorified in us." So may we dwell in your presence always and there gain the power to live out our lives in Christ.
I realized just how divine an appointment when I called home to let Jer know I had made it safely and he tells me that Zoe (my 2 1/2 year old) was sick and throwing up (I had been sick several days earlier). I knew at that moment that the Lord wanted me just where I was because had Zoe gotten sick the day before I totally would have cancelled the trip to be home with her. It got worse: Jeremy ended up sick and Zoe ended up in the hospital needing iv fluids. All the while leaving me with this knowing that I was right where I was supposed to be and there was nothing I could do otherwise.
Long story short, the 48 hours I spent with my cousin were filled with sweet words of encouragement, inspiration, instruction and excitement. Sarah Ott is not only my cousin but my sweet sister and kindred in our Lord. There is such ease in being with someone who speaks your language, someone with whom no explanation is necessary. Such a sweetness and restfulness of no expectations and yet a mutual expectation from the One who can fulfill every dream and thought of the heart.
We met with HIM and HIS words are still coming to me in reflection. Perhaps the most crucial truth I took away with me is this: it is not "how" but "why." not "how" but "who." In Christianity it is so easy to get caught up in the "how" of things, the formulas to being this way or that or becoming more Christlike. In the midst of all of those well-meaning activities do we miss the point or should I say Person?
As Sarah and I drove the Blue Ridge Parkway I had a vision. As clear as day I just saw me, arms outstretched reaching towards sunlight, just me. Maggie. Stripped of all the "hows" all the "doing"; just me, desiring Him. I was truly happy in the simplicity of His call to me. "LOVE ME, KNOW ME, MAKE ME KNOWN." No formula. No mile long to-do list. Simple. The who. Jesus. A person. A reality.
Thank you Lord for this weekend. You are forever faithful to simplify my life and to radically shake things up at the same time.
"And this is eternal life, that they know YOU the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3
Whew...okay Lord. Just to know YOU. That's it. Your to-do list for me has but one item.
-KNOW YOU. Thank you Lord that it is that simple. Help me to keep it that way. And now let me step back into the whirlwind of demands and look for ways to know you through them and then to experience "eternal life" here and now.
Donald Miller kicked the whole thing off with a simulcast out of Seattle. I LOVED Miller. I have only read Blue Like Jazz and loved it by the way. Miller spoke on leadership but not in the conventional way (THANK YOU). He talked about relationships. He talked about going for the absurd. I want to be that way...not afraid to imagine the absurd and totally committed to having really great relationships. I mean the kind that breed friends that would die for or with eachother (sound familiar? maybe like the early church?). I want to show my kids that kind of life. I want them to have absurd visions and the relationships all around them that empower them to go for it.
Margaret Feinberg was one of the other speakers. Her book The Organic God looks great, I will let you know what I think.
This weekend was also my first time hearing Erwin McManus. Mcmanus speaks in a language I so understand and of things I have thought about for years. He ended his first talk on Acts 17 with a q & a time. One of the questions asked without having to go into too much detail, was about how to live in the world but not blow it. His answer was SO ON! He said (something like) if we are blowing it we aren't doing anything important enough and then he said if you are pulling drowning children out of the water you probably aren't looking at the girls in bikinis on the beach. YES! This resonates with me. I have so been there. I have been the one that Christianity did no good. Christianity mind you. Not Jesus.
Anyway, I am out of time but I just had to share some of what was going through my mind though I am wondering if I really even got a quarter of it down tonight. The bottom line to me is this: when you are in conversation with God chances are the things you are hearing, other people engaging with Him are hearing as well. When that is confirmed and you hear things coming out of the mouths of other followers of Jesus, things you've thought and wrestled with, it becomes all the more apparent that He is real and that He is inviting us all to take part in His story. How absolutely... well... FUN. For those of you who read this you are probably some of my dearest friends, friends who are in the conversation as well. I love you. It is being on this journey with you that excites me. Goodnight!
Jeremy and I had such a great time just being "Maggie and Jeremy" and not "Mommy and Daddy" for a few days (though we love those roles). Uninterrupted conversations, long prayers over strong cups of coffee (great coffee I might add!), out of this world food, an amazing movie that I am still thinking about today (Into the Wild http://www.intothewild.com/ ) among other things like writing mission statements and discussing the vision for our family. I just have to share a funny moment about our mission statement time. Mind you we were on the 3rd floor and right as we settled in to our discussion a ladder landed on the palm tree next to us which quickly lead to a tree climbing military style man with a chain saw strapped to his belt peering into our "family meeting." Funny, yet ironic.
We did accomplish a lot. We shed tears. We prayed. We took in creation. We breathed deeply. We SLEPT! Most importantly we reconnected. We connected in our Maggie and Jeremy way. The way that gets pushed aside by diapers, dishes, and deadlines. We were reminded of the awesome sense of purpose and destiny that had drawn us together in the first place. We were captivated by the fact that it's not about us, there is something greater, something we can be swept up in. If we choose to. If we persevere. So here we are, bliss realized (for a few days at least). Now we are back, back in the swing. It's hard. But here we are and we're not the same.
One more picture...bliss I tell you!
The strange thing about this little mini-vacation is that we have been met with SO much opposition in the past 24 hours. Opposition that I know is very intentional. Jeremy and I NEED this time. We just need to reconnect, reorganize, revamp, rediscover. Relationships get lost in the busyness of life. Which is why the Man I cling to the tightest looked at two of His followers once and said, "Mary has chosen the better thing and that will not be taken away from her." You know the story. The Martha story. I have become one of those. A Martha. I didn't used to be. I used to be the one to chuck the to-do list to sit at His feet. But somewhere along the way I joined the ranks of "doers" and left the realm of just "being." Now it seems my life depends on what I "do" or "don't do." Honestly, that is just not me, but here I am "doing." See I think this can happen with all of our relationships. We get so busy that we fail to choose or for that matter even notice the "better thing." For instance, my kids are the happiest when I just stop what I am "doing" get on the floor and just "be" with them. I have watched this happen SO many times. I need to do this with my husband. I need to just BE with him. SO that is how I am going to go into this time away. I'll let you know how it goes.
One such thought swimming to the surface at this time of quiet (also known as naptime) originates with a song titled "Bartender" by Dave Matthews. One line inparticular gets me everytime I listen to the song. It goes "when I was young I never thought about it now I just want to run and hide." In these words there is a sense of desperation that I know I would feel if not for the Lord and have in fact felt at different times in my Christian walk. I love to settle down into the feeling in order to better know know and remember how so many in this world (Christians and non) may feel.
Death comes to mind. I know it never crossed my mind much until I was married with kids. Thoughts about bad things happening to good people. Again, never crossed my mind much in the days of ignorance I call pre-"real world." The list could go on to include things like scandals involving the church and ministry leaders, war, disease, genocide, hunger, childhood sickness, greed, political issues, poverty, cruelty, etc. Things that you just don't spend a lot of time thinking about when the most pressing issue of your life is what you are going to do with your friends that weekend, or whether or not you should go to the prom. Please hear me, I am not saying that there are no struggles when you are younger, there are and Lord knows I have had my share, BUT still I never thought about things that now I find camping in my mind from time to time.
SO what do I do with this??? Not watch the news? Lock myself (and my kids) in my house in fear? Allow a melancholy cloud to settle over my head? Oh may it never be!!!! What I am intent on doing with all of this is to feel it, to know it, to experience it and to go no, run, to the one Who said, "I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly," (John 10:10) and "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33) or "Many or the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him (or her) out of them all" (Psalm 34:19) and not to mention "I sought the Lord and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4).
I can't help but picture Jesus sitting across from me, intently looking into my eyes not missing a word of what I am saying, tears dancing in His beautiful eyes, head nodding, hand reaching for mine. One of those encounters where you know the person you are speaking with KNOWS just what you are talking about. He is that person. He knows. And I know He weeps right along with us.
Dave Matthews also says in the song "Bartender please, fill this glass for me, with the wine they gave Jesus that set Him free after three days in the ground." I don't claim to know what exactly he means by that but for me it speaks of life, truth, power and spirit. All things we are promised as children of the Father and Christ followers.
Let it sink in Lord. Let me never forget the desperation there in this world all around me. How did you put it? Tribulation. May this drive me to my knees and make me more than compassionate with the lost and with those of my brothers and sisters who may be feeling desperate as well. It's okay to feel that way sometimes. We aren't home yet. He's not wiped our tears away like He will on that last day. It's okay. We can "think about it" and we don't have to "run and hide."
Why "Ruined" you may ask? Let me explain. In the description of this blog is a line from the song "Friend for Life" by Watermark. "Come and ruin me with your love so no other is enough come and leave your mark on me, Jesus more of thee." I have cried these words out to God in my search for/journey towards HIM many many times. These words are now a reality for me.
Do you know what it means to be "ruined." To have no where else to go? To have tried it all and been left wanting? This is me. And this, this is my wonderful reality. Why wonderful? Because I AM ruined. Ruined by the only ONE who measures up to the gaping need deep within me, that abyss of want that haunts me. So now no other person, thing, substance, whatever...nothing will ever, nor can ever be enough. It is HIM or nothing. I pray this for you dear friend, though it is the path marked with suffering. No more anesthesizing the pain, no more denial, no more hiding, no where else to go...ruined. It is the quiet knowing that nothing else will do (even when secretly you may wish it would). Jesus. He does something to you or you haven't really met Him. Ruined. Yes, I am.