how we’re observing lent.

In typical Lindsey fashion, I’m thinking well in advance running around like a crazy person, wishing I would’ve remembered that Lent was coming a week ago. I’m not going to argue for participating in Lent in this post, because I’m firmly convinced and it wasn’t the words of any human who convinced me, it was simply in the doing that I realized how much I need it. And every year as I look forward to it, I remember when it seemed like an empty practice, and how it wasn’t until the first time I observed it that I realized how much missing out on Lent can mean missing out on Easter.  But if you’re interested in it or you want to know more about it, Ann Voskamp has some helpful words.

I know Eliana is young. I know Phoebe is even younger. I know that they don’t yet grasp the meaning of the church calendar or the things that we’ll do during Lent, but I also think that it’s important that we observe this season as a family, so I’ve made an effort to find a few things that will help us talk about Lent and participate in it in our daily lives.

For the Grown Ups

The first is something that’s just for me. I’m going to be making an effort to follow the She Reads Truth Lent study. I got the first day half-way done while I was feeding Phoebe this morning, and I’m really excited about this. You can get access to it on the app for a small price, but if you follow it online or via email, it’s free. Just visit the link above to sign up.

David and I are also going to be going through Reliving the Passion by Walt Wangerin Jr. When we were engaged, we went through another of Walt Wangerin’s books with some dear friends who were mentoring us.  We read yet another of his books aloud to one another after finding it at a thrift store on our honeymoon. We love that guy.

For Our Family

For our family, I found this resource, which is a reading plan that takes you through the Jesus Storybook Bible (up to the resurrection) during Lent/Easter. We have been trying to start (or end) our day with a reading, song, and prayer. I think Lent will be a good opportunity to build that habit.

I also found this calendar and this “Lenten Path” for children. My plan is to print out the path and then add those activities from the calendar to my copy, adjusting to make them applicable to our family. Each day we’ll color a square of the path and talk a bit about the activity for the day.

Also, I can’t believe I actually nearly forgot this one. Have you heard of The Brilliance? They’re brilliant! (I couldn’t resist.) Their Lent album is one of my favorites. Those songs made up a significant portion of my labor playlist. Because labor is kind of like Lent to me, but that’s possibly another post for another time. We’ll definitely have this one on repeat for the next 40 days.

Also, I was thiiiiis close to trying to hurry up and make an “Alleluia” banner, so we could bury the alleluia, but for a few days now, I’ve been trying to consider the meaning behind that tradition and decide if we’re going to do it, so we’ll see- maybe I’ll just try to have it done for the Easter season, and we’ll have until next year to consider it.

I would love to hear how you are planning to observe Lent with your family.

Advertisements

act your age

Well someone might as well have whirled right around and punched me in the stomach the way the air rushed right out of me and that sickish feeling started churning around right there in the very core of me.

It isn’t a nice feeling.

The last time I had that feeling it was looks across tables and harsh words whispered in ears so the teacher wouldn’t hear what those girls really thought about me. It was the mean looks and the harsh whispers and the “you can’t sit with us,” just like Regina George would say. I was 10 or 11. I write that now and I’m thinking I was that young? And the hurt felt so big.

It didn’t feel any smaller at 25.

But at 25, you have to do something. Because when you’re 25, you’re big and you’re grown, and you are supposed to act your age.

 

When, in the name of the healer they hurt you.

When the place that should bring wholeness brings brokenness.

When gentleness is replaced by recklessness.

 

Even then, especially then, you have to act your age.

 

And the next morning, when I woke up with that sickish feeling still churning and I sat in that rocking chair with my baby girl in my arms and my big girl sprawled on the floor reading books, And I wondered how on earth am I going to act my age? And I started singing because it makes baby girl smile and big girl giggle. And then the words coming out of my mouth wrap right around me like the sweet Savior’s warm arms.

 

“Jesus Christ

Shine into our night

Drive our dark away

Till your glory fills our eyes.

Jesus Christ

Shine into our night

Bind us to your cross

Where we find life.”

 

This is what it means to act our age, to grow up in our faith. That when that sickish stomach feeling is churning and those words are echoing, begging us to feel that hurt all over again, to cling to it and remember how someone did us wrong, we choose to look at Jesus. Because we know that the very same way Jesus’ love covers our own ugly sin, it covers those sins that get done to us. And when we think about and we wonder how we will ever address that situation or how we will live in peace, we remember that Jesus’ sacrifice is just as sufficient for those sins done to us as it is for those sins we do. And that his grace fills us, even when hurt tries to empty us. And that in our very dying to that ugly desire to make them feel that very same hurt they made us feel, that very same breath-emptying, heart shredding, stomach churning ache, we join Jesus right up on that cross, and he breathes that air right back into us, draws that heart right back together, and calms that stomach churning the way he calmed the salty sea all those long years ago.

And it turns out that act your age doesn’t mean that we pretend nothing bad ever happened. It doesn’t mean we ignore injustice or we go around justifying meanness. It means that we choose to say yes to everything that Jesus did. That we choose to believe that the wounds of our sweet Lord are just as much for the things done to us as for the things we do to others. We say yes to everything he promises he will do, even when the story doesn’t look like it could possibly end well. It means we say yes to letting that gospel light be the thing that fills up our senses when we want to gaze at the masterpiece of our own self-pity. It means that we say no to a grievance story and yes to a nourishing story.

Act your age means that we believe that Jesus knew what he was doing when he showed us that running to death is really running to life. 

On Waiting…Part 2

I don’t want to say I wasn’t honest yesterday, because I was.

It’s maybe more accurate to say I didn’t paint the full picture. This is probably true for two reasons:

1. I panicked when I looked at the clock and realized that nap time was only going to last for another hour and if I wanted to sleep, I better start sleeping RIGHT AWAY.

2. The rest of the picture isn’t really pretty.

The rest of the picture is me in my PJs (which are actually my husband’s clothes, because so few of mine fit) on the couch at 5:45 am next to a growing mound of tissues because I’ve been awake for two hours and I can’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep.

It’s spending those two hours alternating between praying for friends, worrying about a possible induction, analyzing every gas bubble and baby kick, and praying both for patient endurance and that I would go into labor RIGHT NOW, PLEASE. (also, reading dumb stuff on the internet.)

It’s sharp words spoken to a gentle and patient husband.

It’s the overwhelming feeling that there’s no way I can possibly wake up pregnant one. more. time.

It’s the struggle I feel to make the most of my last few days as a momma of just one baby outside my belly, and the fact that I am literally so tired, I can’t make it through the day without at least one and usually two naps.

I am so bad at waiting.

I don’t like it.

And yet, even though I’m failing…miserably, even though I am not as disciplined as I would like to be or as patient as I feel like I should be, the Lord is working. And it doesn’t require my pretending as though I’m somewhere I’m not.

I feel like this applies to so many areas of life because we live in a fallen world as citizens of a kingdom that is already here but not yet here. And we’re always waiting. Waiting for the day when death dies, suffering stops, peace prevails.  When people don’t wage wars, speak harsh words, rip families apart. The day when all the bad things finally, finally come untrue. When the night ends and we don’t need artificial light because everything is illuminated by the Shining One.

We’re all waiting.

My prayer as the early morning turns to the regular morning, and my toddler gets ready to wake up and say, “Chase, Momma, CHASE!” and I have to figure out how I’m going to do that when I am 40 pounds heavier and 3 hours of sleep lighter is that the Lord meets me in my waiting. That he meets you in your waiting. Whatever it is for: children, jobs, homes, reconciliation, answers, healing, peace.

May this waiting birth in all of us a hunger for heaven, for the day when we see His face, are known plainly as his children, and live in the light of his unhindered brilliance. (Rev. 22: 4-5) Let us anchor our hope to Jesus and to his kingdom as we wait, when the picture is pretty and when it isn’t.

On Moving, Part 2.

I unpacked that box of tea a few weeks ago.

I cried a little bit.

I remembered the girl who packed it up. I feel like I hardly know her anymore and I feel like I’m still just like her, all at the same time.

The girl who dreamed of feeling “settled” and thought that trusting would just be easier if things were consistent. The girl whose heart was so sure that if that box of tea expired in some forgotten corner of a storage facility, her hope would expire right along with it. The girl who chose to trust because God was gracious to give her the courage to trust.

I think about her a lot.

I think about her when I watch my baby girl growing up and my mind starts to race with all the ways I could mess up.

I think about her when I consider the complete lack of control I have over either of my children’s lives, born or unborn.

I think about her when bills stack up on the counter, when it gets late and I’m home alone, when I remember just how much it cost me to get a degree I don’t use.

But it’s different now. In my heart, there is a stillness and a quiet that the Lord started growing the day I packed that box of tea and breathed that prayer for the millionth time. Today, I believe. 

The way the Lord has tended the garden of my heart– there is no word for it but grace. The way he has grown up that seed of faith into peace through gentle, tender care and attention, not giving me everything that I want, but patiently giving me the things that he wants.  It is beautiful. And I am grateful.

And as I sit here and think about heading to the doctor’s office tomorrow to catch a glimpse of our second sweet baby, I remember these truths. And there are so many unknowns and there is so much that I can’t control.  And worry and fear want to rise in my heart, but they can’t. Not like how they used to.  The Lord has been gently, graciously tending a garden of peace where there used to be a brush pile of worry.

And I write all of this because I remember how that girl sat on the couch and cried because she just knew she wouldn’t be able to muster up the strength to hope and trust and believe for that long. And she never had to. Because the amazing, wonderful, beautiful thing about the Lord is that, while the one thing he asks us to do is to trust, He never ever asks us to do it alone. That tea expired, but my hope and my heart are thriving.

Friends, the Lord has been faithful, not only to provide us with jobs and a place to live, but to continue to grow the garden of peace in our hearts.  To call us into uncomfortable places and fortify our hearts with his faithfulness as he meets us in our need, not always (not even often) in the way that we prefer or imagine, but in a way that will make much of him. And the delight in that place? One of the best gifts I have ever received. There is no word for it but grace.

Wondering, Wandering, and Why I Sometimes Don’t Sing in Church.

I feel like I should be sorry, but I’m not really.

I know it might look like I’m angry or ambivalent or something, but I’m really really not.

Please don’t take my quiet consideration as judgement or condemnation, a bad attitude, or a warning sign.

It’s just that several months ago now, I made myself a promise. A promise that has changed my life, the way I think about other people and the way I think about my faith.

I promised I would start thinking and stop lying.

And that’s why, on Sunday? When we sang that sassy song about how changed we are because we’re Christians, I didn’t sing most of the words.

I’m a sassy girl. I love sass.

It just doesn’t feel right in my worship songs. I don’t like sass when it comes to the blood of Jesus. And I think it’s because it hits too close to home for me. Please don’t hear me saying this song is bad. All I’m saying is that I can’t sing it right now.

See, I know how it goes with me.  For me, that sass quickly turns into pride, into me thinking that I somehow earned or deserved my salvation and my righteousness.  Into me thinking of the world as us and them, not people covered by the blood of Jesus, but people separated by our behaviors and our beliefs.  It turns into a teenage girl who filled journals with arrogant words because she didn’t know what it meant to be grateful for the Gospel.  It turns into a woman who thinks she deserves something from God.

And that’s why, church. When we sing that song, I’m not going to sing along.  It’s because I know my own heart, I know that it’s prone to wander.

It’s because when I see the words “I won’t go back again/That’s just not who I am” on the screen, my heart breaks a little and  a tear falls down my cheek because I know that the opposite is true.

I will go back again.

That’s exactly who I am.

And Jesus knows it, too. Better than I do. And his grace extends to me anyway. His righteousness covers me anyway.

So please give me grace. Because I’m still learning how to live this way. I still feel like I’m playing “Real or Not Real” with everything I know about Jesus and the Bible and what it means to really follow Christ.  And if I’m going to be faithful to the work that God is doing, that means thinking and no more lies.

It means I don’t have to pretend that God’s grace extended to me when I “was” a sinner, but that I now keep my end of the bargain, so I’m basically ok. Because I don’t.  And I’m not.

And it means that I don’t have to pretend that my sinful heart always wants what God wants, that I don’t have the assurance I will never doubt or make mistakes or choose the wrong thing.

I am finding that to truly live in the good of the Gospel, I have to first accept the fact that I’m sinful, through and through. There’s no good in me, and there’s no use pretending like there is.

But in Jesus? All the treasure, all the good, all the freedom.

Let me be confident in Jesus, and his powerful hands to hold me, not in my ability to follow him.

Ten Weeks of Tuesdays: Wide Open Like a Lake

Dear Eliana,

I hate that I have to write to you about this, but I know that one day, you will need it. You will need to hear about how things break and how they are mended.

there is sin. and sin can hurt. it can rip babies from mommas and daddies from homes. it can mean thousands of people dead. it can mean long nights of crying and sharp stabs in your heart. it can break hearts and homes and people.

it can mean bitterness. it can mean a tight heart and clenched hands and darkened eyes.  it can mean isolation and insulation and grasping at brokenness.

dear daughter, there is also forgiveness. it means an open heart and hands that mend and eyes that are full of light.  it means healing and grace. it means trying and forgetting. it means peace and stable and steady.  it means stillness and wonder and a peace that you can’t fake.

Like a Lake

I know that sounds hard. I know it sounds hard to be open when someone has hurt you. I know it is hard to mend hearts when yours feels broken. I know the ache that wants to be healed by clenching.

But I also know that clenching doesn’t work. I know that a barricaded heart and clenched hands never did anyone any good. I know that we aren’t healed by closing off but by opening up.

I know this because it’s how Jesus forgave. He didn’t clench up, he opened up. He stretched himself on that cross, wide open and vulnerable and begged forgiveness for us.  for us.  who killed him. forgiveness. before we asked.  His grace extends to us, and the best way for his forgiveness to heal you, sweet girl, is by opening yourself up and letting him use you to extend grace. He doesn’t ask you to come up with it. He freely gives. He only asks you to be open for it.

“when everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake”*

I love you, sweet girl.

*Like a Lake, Sara Groves

Ten Weeks of Tuesdays: Hope Not Wasted.

It was inevitable, really. If you’ve been anywhere near me, or even if you’re my friend on Facebook (which most of you are), you’ve  gotten an earful about Derek Webb since I went to his concert last weekend.  Sorry about that. Except not really. His was one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a while.  But that’s what I expect from D-dubs.  So, obviously, I’ve had his stuff on repeat for the last week-ish.

“It’s hard to keep from giving up

It’s easier to just close up your heart.” 

Last week, I wrote this post about not running away.  I was a little dissatisfied with myself, because one of my biggest struggles these last few months has been what now?  How do I go back to being a part of Christian culture without buying into the stuff that just. isn’t. true? How can I integrate what I’ve learned into my life?  It’s hard.  It seems a lot easier to just try to go back to the way things were or to walk away entirely.

It’s hard to trust in anyone

It’s easier to just fold up your arms. 

Preach, Derek.  I think this has been my response of choice.  You know what I’m talking about?  I’ll be here, but I won’t like it. I’ll participate, but I won’t really.  I’ll show up, but I won’t volunteer any details about myself. I’ll protest with my indifference. I’ll withhold myself from you and you won’t even know what you’re missing. It’s hard to open yourself up again, especially if it was Christians that hurt you the most. I get it. I really do.

It’s hard to keep on showing up

It’s easier to run away from home.

I love extreme reactions. You don’t have to know me very well to know this.  I love things. I hate things. And I decide pretty quickly which it’s going to be.  When I was right in the midst of getting my world shaken up, I tried to have discussions with other Christians, and about 1% of them turned out well.  The rest ended up being complete disasters. (Lindsey, what was that you were saying about extreme reactions?)  People didn’t know what to DO with me, so it was just easier to run away.

Even now, chances are, I’m going to be the one with the unpopular opinion, and for whatever reason, we really, really don’t like it when other Christians disagree with us.

Is the church broken? Yes. Do Christians make hhhhuuugggeee deals out of things that don’t matter? Yes. Are there things about church that annoy me? Yes.

Is this body of believers, this broken place filled with broken people my home? Yes. Yes. Yes.

I belong there.

And it’s my pride that wants to close my heart, fold my arms, and run away.  It’s my pride that wants to tell my own story rather than God’s story. It’s my pride that tells me that “going it alone” and perpetual dissatisfaction is the only way to honor the growth that God has brought in my life.  It’s my pride that says that the church is beyond the kind of restoration and insight that God, in his grace, gave to me through suffering and crisis.  It’s my pride that forgets that all of this– the last 3 years of struggling and crying and learning and growing– is grace.  I didn’t arrive here (where exactly?) because I’m super smart.  It is what God has done.  It’s all grace.

And like Derek said at his show, you can’t tell both stories.  You can’t tell the story of your own indifference, hopelessness, and pride while telling the story of God’s redemption and ultimate shalom.  You have to choose one. You have to choose what story you’re going to tell with your life. You have to choose what story you’re going to tell yourself. Especially on the days when it’s easier to close your heart, fold your arms, and run away.  Telling this story is harder, I know that.  I’m feeling it every. single day.  But it’s true.

Everything is going to change 

And nothing’s going to stay the way it is

One day you’ll wake and the curse will break

And even you won’t be the same

Your hope is not wasted on the day

When everything will change.*

*Everything Will Change, Derek Webb

P.S. Check back tomorrow for my first giveaway! 

Ten Weeks of Tuesdays: Instrument of Peace

I have to start by saying that I found out today that I’m a part of the launch team for a Jenny & Tyler covers EP that’s coming out in November. I’m super excited because a) I LOVE J&T (but you knew that already) and b) because 100% of the money they make on this album goes straight to fight human trafficking and c) because it means that I got early access to the album.  So, check back for more info on the album in the next few weeks.

Anyway, Ellie and I were dancing around to a certain U2 song included on the album and she kept grabbing my face and kissing me.  It was awesome.  Not only because baby kisses are the greatest, but also because I usually have to beg, beg, beg for them….and that really has nothing to do with the short post that follows. I just couldn’t help myself.

I repeatedly notice this tendency in myself to run away from things that make me feel uncomfortable. Just human nature, I guess, but when I don’t like a situation, I usually just leave… That’s not entirely true. I usually mock on my way out.

I don’t think college helped this tendency at all.  Every semester, things changed. I loved that. I loved that if I hated something, an escape was just a few months away. At all times. During the last few months that we were at Trinity, I started to ache for consistency. The temporary-ness of life was wearing on me. I had gotten to the point where every 3-4 months, I was experiencing significant life changes, and it was exhausting.  I dreamed of the day when I would know, with reasonable certainty, where we’d be living, working, etc. for longer than a few moths.

And now we’re getting there.  And it’s terrifying. It feels like suffocation.

And I realized why. It’s because I’m not going to be able to push the eject button. I’m not going to be able to just run away from a situation if I don’t like it. I’m going to have to stick it out. pray it out. live it out.

And if I can be honest, my attitude is going to have to change. A lot. I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit while I was listening to this song on the way home from church the other day.

“All that we do without love
It means nothing
Grant us the courage to give
As You’re calling

Make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is darkness let me shine light and
May Your love cause us to open up
Cause us to open up our hearts
May Your light cause us to shine so bright
That we bring hope into the dark”*

The first half of the chorus of that song is from the Prayer of St. Francis.  His prayer continues:

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Oh, friends. I don’t think this is something I can do in my own strength. I don’t think this is something that can come from a heart of pride.  Friends, I think only a broken person can live like this.  Only a broken person living in the strength of the one who was broken first.

*Open Up, The Brilliance

Mourning into Dancing: a late night reflection

I used to think sleeping through the night was most important. And my body’s tired and the floor is cold and my space in bed is empty and I would love a full night’s sleep. But I have already forgotten my feet and my arms are full.
And it’s longer tonight because she’s not just hungry, she can’t sleep. And I know how that is. I know what it is to have thoughts swirling and days replaying and I know all about please-just-stay-a-little-longer.

So I bend my head over hers and I close my eyes and pray for peace while her wide eyes search corners of the room, fighting sleep. I stand up again and start to sway and her thumb finds her mouth and those blue eyes look up at me.
From beneath heavy lids, those eyes look up at someone who almost bought the lie that babies are something you get after a diploma and a wedding and a job and a mortgage. And those eyes belong to a person. Not to an item on a checklist. And this person sees me. And it’s good enough, so she sighs and lays her head on my chest. My arms are full of her.

image

And her eyes close and mine wander. And I see pictures of the days when I could measure head to toe on the length of my arm. When downy fuzz still coated chubby cheeks and when naptime meant an hour of couch cuddling bookended by more cuddling. And now she moves too fast and there’s so much to explore that these late night  minutes are the stillest we have.
And her breaths are deep and warm and her free hand pats my side. And I don’t care about jobs or degrees or titles. I don’t care what people think stay-at-home-mom means. I am living what it means. And it is full and it is rich and it is hard and it is beautiful. And gratitude rises in my heart and the tears fill my eyes.
The Lord has given me what I didn’t know I wanted. What I couldn’t have thought to ask for. He tenderly tore me from my dreams to give me his. He turned my wailing into dancing; he removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing his praise and not be silent.

Lord my God, I will praise you forevermore. (Ps. 30:11-12)

Broken and Grateful

This post is the first in a ten week series called Ten Weeks of Tuesdays If you’re participating, share a link to your post in the comments. 

I recently bought one of those mirror things you mount in your backseat so that you can see your sweet baby’s face in your rearview mirror while you’re driving.  And today, I was driving and thinking. And obviously listening to music.  At a stoplight, my eyes wandered to that rearview mirror and misted over.

“I can’t help but reflect on what it was I almost lost
What it was I wanted, what I got instead
Leaves me broken and grateful”*

I almost feel like I don’t even need to add any more to this post.  Anyone who has read more than one of my blog posts probably knows what happened to me after I finished college. What happened to my dreams and my plans for myself. And I bet some of you are ready to shut off your computer and say, “just get over it.”

But I tried to.

I can’t.

And I don’t want to.

I don’t ever want to forget how I made what was supposed to be service and obedience and mission an idol to my pride.

I don’t want to forget how it hurt to have that deep love for and devotion to something other than Jesus ripped from my heart.

I don’t want to forget how dark it was when my eyes were focused on my pride, and how bright Jesus was when he finally, finally revealed himself.

I always want to remember how, right there, in the middle of my pride and confusion and sadness. Right while I was struggling and crying and praying, Jesus finally answered. When the time was ripe. Just how he wanted to.

I want to remember that it wasn’t in line with my plan.

It didn’t make financial sense, success-oriented life sense, human sense. But it was just what Jesus wanted.

I don’t ever want to forget the joy of living in the good of God’s great gifts. How he heals, protects, provides, and strengthens, even when we have no. idea. where we are going.

I don’t ever want to forget how he turned my wailing into dancing.

I don’t ever want to forget the way that He taught me. So gently, so patiently, so faithfully. That he is good and he is holy and he is enough.

I’m not talking about living in the past. I’m talking about living in the fullness of the faithfulness of God. Every time I look at my daughter, I’m reminded of God’s grace, his faithful discipline, and his great love.  I don’t ever want to slip into thinking that this is commonplace, that I somehow deserved this.

We talk a lot about how God can heal our brokenness. But there are at least a few places in the Bible where things were broken for good. Jesus’ body, for one example.

I don’t want to be afraid of living broken.

“I want to be broken, peaceful, faithful, grateful, grateful”*

*what I thought I wanted, Sara Groves