guard the good deposit

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This year, the year of my yes, has nearly undone me in ways that’s hard for me to express. I’ll take the easy way out and quote Amber Haines (and if you have time to read a blog, you should be reading hers, not mine) from earlier this week:

“This has been a season of unravelling from myself, and though I knew the unravelling was good, I was terrified. It’s hard to let go when you don’t know what you’re becoming.”

Saying yes has stretched and broken me, and fear and trembling have become part of my daily vocabulary. Calling and authenticity and authority and opportunity crashing together in ways that I hadn’t anticipated, yet longed for all the same. Breathing in, I feel settled and full; jagged breath out leaves me terrified and still every breath is grace.

With a vulnerability that I didn’t exactly anticipate feeling, I share a small piece of my yes with you today. I was and am reluctant to share this anywhere at all. Anything that smacks of self-promotion, whether it’s me or others, makes me slightly nauseated, and even though this isn’t that and I know in my head the feeling is unjustified, it still feels a tiny bit distasteful. In spite of this small internet space where I share sometimes too much and sometimes the wrong thing, public platforms also make me uncomfortable…and yet this is all a part of the yes. I’ve been entrusted with a message, and hiding behind shame and pride that I’d prefer to spin as ‘humility’ isn’t the way I keep faith with my calling. Today, I’m taking the verses that I have taped to my desk, the ones I look at every single day, to heart. By faith, and all of it grace.

…But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me…by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
2 Timothy 1:12

 

Foster (short) from Jon Morton on Vimeo.

come thou fount

Saturday, September 14, 2013

If there was just one song I could listen to for the rest of my life, it would be this song and this version of it. This is my heart's cry, and it never gets old.

all you need is love

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

IMG_1452Tonight, for the first time since she moved in, our sweet M is asleep upstairs in her bed, and I am downstairs with no children. The in-her-bed sleeping thing is only a week old at this point. I am grateful to move on from the carseat/mama’s chest/papa’s chest/carseat rotation we were stuck on. I think we’ve turned a corner into a more routine, less demanding sleep cycle, but I don’t regret these past ten weeks. Not the dirty house nor the endless tv watching nor the indentation in my couch cushions because I sat there the bulk of every day. Not that it doesn’t cause extreme exhaustion. Not that there weren’t plenty of frustrated tears. Not that I don’t feel that all-too-familiar pressure to schedule this baby, to make her sleep all night, and the pressure doesn’t end there, does it? Then it’s the pressure to put my littlest in preschool, to ease up on the nurturing care because ‘isn’t he too old for that kind of thing?’, to allow more freedoms, less freedoms, different discipline…pressures from this world to achieve visible success with your children are unrelenting. I feel all those things and more, but there is no regret.

“And so we measure our success not with statistics or growth charts, but with love. And we hold our ground, refusing to be moved by what the world tells us we should be doing. Even when we trip over disappointment and set-backs, we regain our footing in the sure and ever-present promise of hope in Jesus. Because the darkness will not win, and success neither belongs to us nor can be measured by us anyways.”
-Rebecca Stanley

I read those words today and it rings so true in my heart tonight. I know so much of what we do cannot be measured. We may never see results. Not from this foster care thing, not from the years we’ve spent pouring into the lives of teenagers, maybe not even from the hours upon hours upon hours that we spend nurturing and training our own children. But I still have hope.

Some days, on days like today, I see that hope realized. I have children who continue to look for the marginalized in their classes, who continue to give their whole hearts to whatever child we bring into our family even when they know it might end in extreme pain. I have a littlest who will pray with all the sincerity and innocence that her three-year-old heart can muster that this sweet baby will be in our family forever, and alternatively, I have a youngest son who prays with the same amount of fervor that this baby will someday be reunited with her mom.

And then there are those magical days when I get to look at the growth chart of this tiny born-too-soon life and see the scientific evidence that proves this whole thing. I can watch the doctor and nurses’ wonder over the growth chart, over a baby that has grown steadily and gradually from birth, the whole time she was in the NICU until she moved in with us. Just a steady increase at about a 5-10% incline.

Then: love.

She moves into a home. With a family. The line takes a sharp turn upwards – about a 50-60% angle increase. The medical professionals took visible pleasure in that increase, showing me the results on a couple different charts. I don’t know their medical conclusions, but I know mine: love wins. It wins every time. Sometimes we don’t get to see the victory, but that just makes me more grateful for the moments when we do. Sometimes we get the actual scientific proof that everything that we’re doing is important. That these past ten weeks of newborn craziness and family adjustments and tears and joy really do matter. We are literally changing a life.

Whenever we pick her up and soothe her crying, we teach her that mamas and papas are here to take care of you.
When you cry, you are heard.
When you’re uncomfortable, we will ease your pain.
When you’re hungry, we will feed you. Enough. Every time.
When you need to hear a heart beat, we will hold you close.
When you hurt, we hurt too, and we will work our hardest to help you feel better.
When you are lonely, we will be there to hug you tight and shower kisses over your sweet head.
We are here.
You are loved.
And oh sweet girl, whatever the coming darkness may be, there is no darkness in this world strong enough to overcome this hope we have in Jesus.

Love wins.

500 miles

Saturday, September 7, 2013

If you follow the same crowds I do on Twitter and in various blogs, then you’ve probably already seen this posted several times in the past week. If not, you’re in for a treat.

friday link love

Friday, September 6, 2013

Some link love from these past couple weeks. All three of these are things I wish I’d written, things I could’ve written if I were a better writer because all three are my heart. In different ways, but still my heart. I am daily grateful for this online space that allows me to read and breathe in beautiful words of truth.

 

The Truth about Adoption: Two Years Later - Jen Hatmaker
”Parenting wounded kids is terribly challenging, which you know in your head going into adoption, but starting your second year, you really know it in your life. It’s hard, like maybe forever hard, and you feel that because you are a human, not a robot, and that’s just true.”

 

The Ministry of Funfetti - D.L. Mayfield
The older I get, I realize now that the ministries I once thought so trivial I know think are the most radical. I spent the last year being stripped of anything that would make me feel lovely to God and I came out a different person. Because I discovered that he always loved me anyways.

I’m not Joan of Arc, it turns out. I’m just somebody who likes to bake cakes.

If I had said that at the beginning of this post, it would mean almost nothing. But because I am writing out of a place where I know that God loves me, my ministry of Funfetti is different. It’s radical. Anything that asks us to walk in our belovedness and extend that to other people is the best kind of madness there is.

 

In the Time That's Left - John Blase
I want to live Lazarus-like, resurrected in the sudden poetry of autumn, perfecting what the old-timers called
the trick of quiet.

prayers for Syria

Monday, September 2, 2013

https://storageuk21.transferbigfiles.com/files/preview/6cb8af11-d02c-4c43-99c2-a4e4250bbc54?ft=imageIf your heart is also broken for the people of Syria, then you are also likely to be confused as to what the best response is. I’m not naïve to the needs of governments to use force when necessary, and as a human, I want someone to be held accountable for the destruction of innocent life. I cannot bear to look at those pictures and think that nothing will be done. I also understand why not intervening causes a world-wide political issue. All of that. BUT as a Christ-follower, I am committed to Jesus’ way of non-violence as a primary response, at least for myself. I can’t speak for governments, but I definitely can speak to government and ask that we explore every non-violent, humanitarian course of action possible.

Here’s some aggregated resources in case you’re interested in joining me in the best response we, as believers, currently have – concerted prayer for the country and people of Syria, for our country and her leaders as they decide whether to intervene, and for the body of Christ as we seek to respond with the love of Jesus.

My own denomination’s response for the Middle East Crisis: this accumulation of resources is first-rate. I am immensely proud and grateful to see Mennonite Central Committee taking an important role in the Church’s response to this crisis. I have seen their resources cited on a number of different sites and in various articles throughout the online Christian world.

…We ask that people who have been driven apart by violence may come back to each other in love, tolerance, cooperation, and wisdom. We pray that changes in the region respect principles of justice, freedom, and human dignity…

Prayers for Peace and Justice from Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

For Peace Among the Nations
Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sign up here for SheLoves 25 Days of Prayer for Syria. Daily prayer emails will be sent to your inbox, and you can join with others in united prayer for this nation and region.

Transformer Jesus, make my heart break to be more like you,
make my eyes see others as you would,
make my feet walk softly on the earth,
make me a wind of change in my lifetime.
Make me a channel of your peace.

Join with the body of Christ worldwide on September 7th for a day of fasting and prayer as called for by Pope Francis.

"The world needs to see gestures of peace and hear words of hope and of peace.”

 

Lord, have mercy.

what I’m into: the rest of the summer edition

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Probably best to start this whole thing with what I did do during July and August. Fed the baby. Changed the baby. Changed my clothes after the baby threw up on me. Showered. (who am I kidding? regular showers have become laughable). Played Song Pop while I fed and burped the baby. Took the baby to visits – both medical and parental. Yep. Summer of the newborn. Thus, even my two month list is looking a little sparse. Fortunately, I think the fog is finally lifting, and I have some serious reading goals for the fall.

what I read:

I managed to read a few books, but none of them struck me at all. Probably due to my unfocused state but also I might just have a hit a string of unremarkable (at least to me) books.

Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple
Love Walked In – Marisa de los Santos
Unfinished - Richard Stearn
Glorious Mess – Mike Howerton

 

what I listened to:

The Civil Wars. Obviously. I’m a white, 30-something who wears Toms and enjoys local produce. Whatever. We must do what we must do. (It’s terrific, and I think it’s better than their first. Even if it makes you want to drive off a bridge after awhile.)

Top 40. I haven’t yet reconciled my love of the raunchy party song with my obligations to feminism and motherhood. This year’s hits are like a whole playlist of early JT music, and I love me some JT. SexyBack anyone? Conclusion: 2013 summer music is fun, y’all.

 

what I watched:

Parks and Rec: I quit this series the first series because my TV docket was full, and it wasn’t all that funny. I should’ve stuck with it, because it gets progressively funnier every season. Also, one episode is the perfect length for me to time how long to hold the baby upright after her feedings (minimizing reflux around here).

Orange is the New Black: The MA label is no joke, but this show is exceptionally well-done. I loved every minute of it even if I did have to shut my eyes for a few scenes.

The Bridge: This FX murder mystery/cop show takes place in El Paso/Juarez, and it’s really quite good. It might not be the most exceptional show out there, and perhaps the ‘detective with some mental issues’ thing is overplayed, but it’s an enjoyable series that explores some important territory of which most Americans STILL seem to be unaware.

USA shows. The summer line-up for USA is fun. We love Covert Affairs, and Graceland is becoming a new favorite as well. Burn Notice is past its prime, but I feel compelled to finish out the series since this is the last season. I love USA’s sunshiny approach to TV shows. They feel happy and light and completely unlike the dark, brooding shows I’m watching a lot of in other places.

Breaking Bad is back. For the end. I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about what is going to happen. If you love it like I do, then you’ll enjoy these links:
Hank and Marie react to Miley Cyrus at the VMAs
Breaking Bad Easter Eggs That Will Blow Your Mind

As always, we’re in love with Fox Summer Reality TV: Masterchef and So You Think You Can Dance are perennial favorites in our house.

So there it is, in all of its non-intellectual glory. I hate that I watched so much more TV than I read, but in the past two weeks that has already been changing. I think we’re on our way out of the newborn stage. Finally. While I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, I look forward to the return of time to read a good book, the ability to take a walk and listen to some great music, and most of all, watching less TV in the middle of the night because I’ll actually be sleeping. Good times are ahead.

What were you into over the rest of the summer? Share in the comments or link up with Leigh below!

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh
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