if i’m not blogging you should pray for my husband

We did this weird thing about a month ago. We got rid of our internet.

We were bluffing at first. I had read about how you just say, “No, I really don’t want one million channels thank you, and no I won’t pay that much just for your slowest internet, and we’ll cancel if you really charge us how much?!?

And they said oh, okay. And all of the sudden, we didn’t have the internet.

Now, of course anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that we still have limited access to the internet via our smartphones, which is nice and probably necessary.

Anyway, the no internet thing means that blogging has to be a little bit more intentional (and that we have to check Arrested Development DVDs out from the library). And with a baby who has decided she hates sleeping again and a house that just will not stay clean for. the. love. I haven’t really been writing at all, privately or publicly, and I am like a starving person.

I don’t like living like a starving person. That sentence in my little bio, about not missing the fullness of my life because of the business of my life? It’s not a cutesy phrase that I found on Pinterest or something that I thought sounded nice. It’s the real, serious, honest and true truth.

We were recently talking with our care group about what it means to be at peace, living in God’s rest, even while our lives are busy. For me, writing is one way I abide in Jesus and in the truth. It helps me make my home in all the goodness and peace and quiet no matter what the practical details of my life actually look like. Writing helps me to see my circumstances rightly as a means of beholding the Lord of all creation and glorifying him.

My last month or so has been spent trying to make a home in my circumstances. Kind of like staring at smudges on a windowpane rather than looking through the window to see what’s on the other side. Writing helps me to look, it puts me in a place where I can really see. And, for me, a life without writing is sad. And exhausting. And hard. I’m just really, really not good at it.

And that’s why, friends, I’m still here. I’m going to keep pressing on and continue to follow through this year. Because I have to. Because just as I learn with my successes: from organizing a 9 week blog series, to getting some kind of food on the table for dinner, to simply making sure my kids don’t eat all manner of the ground up food that carpets our floor; I also learn by my failing: from completely neglecting to abide in Christ, to losing my patience with my children, to being a really difficult person to live with.

As I look back on the last month, and I think of all of it together, the failures and the triumphs, I find that I’m really learning (slowly, so slowly) the same thing in all of it: that Jesus is sufficient, supreme, King. The only home for my heart and the only hope for my family.
Back in the dark days, we changed churches. It was a difficult decision, but it had kind of been a long time coming. One of our first Sundays at the new church, after months of feeling alienated from God, broken, and tired, we sang this song. When the chorus began, I wept. This song still brings me to tears on the regular.

Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.

Hallelujah, Jesus is my life.

At that time, our lives felt so empty. And now our lives feel so full. And the truth is still the same:

All we have is Christ.

Jesus is our life.

Hallelujah.

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. 

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

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

the best future and abundant life

The moment we saw our sweet baby’s profile on the ultrasound, we just couldn’t wait any longer.  We’d kind of been telling people along the way anyway.  The last several weeks had been a mess of joy and worry, anxiety and exultation.  I had surprised my dearest friend over (virgin) cocktails, given a Father’s Day card to a new grandpa, blurted it out at a family gathering, and my smile had spoken the truth for me when we met some soon-to-be parents at church.  If there was one thing David and I were learning, it was that we were horrible at keeping secrets. Especially secrets that seem too good to be true.  Every time I told someone, though, my joy was tinged by a little bit of fear, a little bit of worry. A rule follower for as long as I can remember, a sneaky, tiny voice whispered in the back of my mind. You’re not supposed to tell people yet. You’ll regret this. You should wait as long as possible.

Because if there’s one thing the devil would like, it’s for us to sit quietly in a closet and hide our joy away where no one else can see what awesome things God is doing in our lives. If there’s one thing that will make us just like the rest of everyone else, it’s that we are afraid to share our joy because it might not last forever. If he could have his wish, we’d be spending what should be exultant days of thanksgiving and celebration with our community crying behind our locked office doors wondering if this baby “counts” yet.  We’d be fighting to learn to trust alone because we’re isolated in our joy so that we’ll be insulated in our sorrow.

I’m not just talking about having babies, people.

I’m talking about everything in our lives that we don’t tell because we’re afraid. Afraid that our joy might cause someone else sorrow, afraid that letting other people in might make life a little bit messier. We do this with joys and with sorrows.  When we have the chance to come to our communities with blessing and brokenness, why do we choose to keep to ourselves?  Why do we choose to hide from the people in our lives when we could share with them?  Do we really love neatness more than we love togetherness?  Would we really rather carry our heads high than carry one another’s hearts?

The tail end of a verse in Romans has stuck with me since I read it over 2 years ago, riding a Metra train home from a job interview. Paul is talking about food sacrificed to idols, warning his readers about sin, and he says “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” That means if my decisions about what I share and what I keep close come from my fear that things won’t turn out how I want, from the desire to have a tidy life, from the anxiety that other Christians will accuse me of “over-sharing,” I’m sinning.  In a sermon about this passage, John Piper says,

“Faith rests in God to shape the best future for us.”

Maybe your decision to keep your pregnancy, illness, job situation, marital discord, new ambition, exciting news comes from a belief that as God shapes the best future for you, he asks you to be quiet.  That’s between you and the Lord, and I’m not suggesting that this is always the way it has to be.  What I am suggesting is that we are missing out on so much of what Jesus intended for us to experience as Christians because our fear that God isn’t really shaping the best future for us–or for the people we care about– cripples us into silence.

But trusting…

Trusting that God is at work now and will be at work tomorrow and next week and six months from now, inviting people into our lives to rejoice with us in each gift he gives on the day that he gives it,  to mourn with us each sorrow we bear on the days he asks us to bear them, choosing the messy life, the I-can’t-promise-this-will-be-a-happy-story life– I think this might be the kind of life Jesus intended for us when he talked about the “abundant life.”

I think he might have been thinking of a sister who starts a blog so that she doesn’t miss a millimeter of spiritual growth, so that she can give glory to God in the midst of cancer, so she can learn how to suffer, so she can teach people how to suffer.  Of people who honestly answer the question “How are you?” instead of offering platitudes.  I think he might have had in mind parents who carry their sweet baby girl to her delivery day and immediately release her into the arms of Jesus, then give him glory by praising him for his care of their little girl, by telling people how he cares for them, heals them.  I think he rejoices every time someone is honest about their doubts, every time another one of his children chooses to enter into the suffering and celebration of another wholeheartedly. I think he might smile when a husband and wife are so eager to share his goodness with their community that they announce their pregnancy 3 weeks in, not because they’re careless, but because they’re careful, because they have chosen to celebrate and mourn in community.

These people change our lives because they believe that God is shaping the best future, even though they cannot yet see it, and because they believe that he has given us community for blessing and for burden.  They rejoice where we can see, they suffer where we can see, and their lives invite us to join them in  a life that’s not afraid of what might come tomorrow.  A life where joys aren’t tainted by fears of future sorrows, but where hope grows from the soil of God’s promise that he is doing what is best for us. Today. Now. In the blessing and the burden.

when you kind of can’t believe it…

A week ago, I didn’t have “Bradley Conference” marked on my calendar.

A week ago, I was wondering what I was going to do with my free time.

A week ago, I downloaded an application and forgot to read the fine print.  I was thinking of how I should come up with $400 and realized I needed 4 X $400.

A week ago, I set up a crowdfunding website with shaky hands and a tummy ache.

100

A week ago, I think I started a pretty exciting adventure.

I have tried to be honest through this whole process. I hope I haven’t suggested that being a childbirth educator is something I dreamed about doing when I was 5 years old. It wasn’t. I hope I haven’t suggested that I feel like God woke me up in the middle of the night and said “Lindsey, learn to teach The Bradley Method.” He didn’t. (It’s Ellie who wakes me up in the middle of the night.)

I hope I’ve communicated that The Bradley Method had a profound impact on my life, on the way I think about birth and pregnancy and hospitals and doctors. I hope I’ve communicated that I care deeply about future mommas and daddies and their babies.  I hope I’ve made it clear that this isn’t just a job or a hobby to me–it’s an opportunity to love, care for, and serve people in one of the most important times in their lives.  I hope I’ve made it clear that this isn’t just something I thought up one day.

The thing I think I love most about this adventure is that I didn’t sit around looking for an adventure or waiting for one.  I was going along, living my life, trying to be faithful to the things I think Jesus cares about, and something just started to happen.  I was talking with a dear friend smack in the middle of this fundraising adventure, and he kept commenting on how this just seems to make so much sense for me, for David, for our family. It just seems to fit. And that’s what I love.  I love that this is like a great-big present that the Lord has said “Here, open this. I want you to be a blessing.”

You know what else I love about it? You. You people. You generous, encouraging, caring people. Who have loved me through some of the hardest parts of my life, who have prayed with me, cried with me, laughed with me, and read my blog.  The last week has brought me into contact with many of you.  Thank you. Thank you for being generous. for sharing your time. for sharing your stories. for sharing encouragement. for sharing your prayers. for sharing your money.

I am so grateful you were willing to participate in the crazy-exciting thing the Lord is doing in our lives.  Each time I hopped on my computer and another one of you had taken the time to share a story with me, each time I saw that little green bar go a little farther, each time one of you sent me a piece of encouragement, I thanked God for you. I thanked God for his faithfulness.  In addition to making it possible for me to embark on this adventure, you have been a part of the Lord’s work in my life as he heals my heart and teaches me what it actually means to obey. I am humbled by your obedience to whatever the Lord prompted each of you to do.

Thank you.

I feel like I can only end with yet another quote from Eliana’s story Bible.

“Well, Jesus did many miracles. Things people thought couldn’t happen, that weren’t natural.

But it was the most natural thing in all the world. It’s what God had been doing from the beginning, of course.  Taking the nothing and making it everything. Taking the emptiness and filling it up. Taking the darkness and making it light.”

To the praise of his glory.

On Moving.

How do you prepare your heart for a move? When echoes bounce off bare walls and brown boxes take the place of table and chairs, when the packing tape roll runs thin and the long-settled dust gets caught up in the air like dandelion seeds on a summer afternoon.

How do you secure your heart against the rising doubts while you secure the four corners of each brown box? How do you roll off a length of tape and gently smooth your hand over it, not knowing where or when you will remove it?

What are you supposed to feel when you tuck that box of chamomile, 3 months from expiring, between the grinder and the coffee canister and breathe a prayer that it doesn’t go to waste? Not for the tea’s sake, but for yours.

How do you walk out those glass doors that once opened, now slowly closing on people and a place that you love? How do you remain faithful when your place is so changeable? How do you anticipate when your way is so darkened? How do you hope when disappointment has marked your heart the way you marked each brown box?

What do you do when the to do list seems so long and the laundry has piled, when every day the phone doesn’t ring is another day waiting? What do you believe when you can’t believe that everything will always be alright? How do you hope when you cannot see your way? How do you get excited when you know that you might be on the verge of the hardest thing you have ever done?

When the move is exciting, we can hope in the destination. When the destination is unknown, where do we hope? And how do we hope? When the searing memories from the last time still burn deep? When we know that he is always faithful, but sometimes life is still very painful?

I sit down and lean my head back slow. And the peace washes over me like the slow morning waves would. Be still. And know. And there in the quiet, those familiar words come join the questions swirling in my head. Not loudly but quiet. It is a whisper I hear as I sit.

Lord, you have always marked 
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe. 
 
Lord, you have always spoken
when the time was ripe;
and though you be silent now, 
today I believe. 
 

And I breathe in and I breathe out. I close my eyes on boxes and tape and dust bunnies playing there on the floor. And I hope, not in the destination or in a promise of future happiness. Not in an occupation or in a new place to unload our belongings, paint walls, and hang curtains. I hope in the one who has always marked and has always spoken. And my mouth forms the words that my heart is still learning, “today I believe.”