Saturday, October 27, 2018

Inside and Out

I'm an extroverted person. I always have been. I talked very early, my parents tell me, and I haven't stopped talking since. I never run out of words I could say.

So, it may be a surprise to learn that I also truly, deeply, enjoy alone time. Quiet. Cozy. Settled. With blankets and slippers and coffee and candles. And NO speaking. 

I'm doing it right now, in fact. Curled up in my sitting room, with only one lamp, two candles, and a half cup of coffee as companions. Oh, and my laptop.

Because clearly I need to talk even during silence. 

I can hear better in the still moments. That's the thing. I hear the Lord differently in these spaces.

Not that I don't hear Him in the chaos. I do. He speaks to me of His love for me every time my kids smile. I hear the Father reminding me of His goodness every time my husband tells me he loves me.

He testifies of His faithfulness toward me in the LOUD.
 He whispers of His presence WITH ME in the silence.

And so I am both. An extrovert and an introvert.

Sometimes He speaks to me in the transition from one to the other. Like this morning. As the dogs and the boys descended on the family room, turning on cartoons and cuddling with each other (rowdy cuddling, because that's the only kind dogs and boys know) I grabbed my laptop, my coffee, and the lighter, and retreated to the front room. 

When you first light a candle, it burns bright, doesn't it? For several long beats its a high flame, and it throws sparks and sputtering sounds before it settles into the simmer. The it flickers, and gives off a lovely fragrance, and casts a glow across the room. But if you blew it out and lit it again, it would flame high again before settling.

The candle is me, people. Loud and bright, slow and quiet. Both at once. The way I was meant to be. Speaking loudly of His glory. sinking quietly into His lap. 

One without the other...just wouldn't be complete.

But, (and here is the part that has me going "hmmmm" into the stillness of my solitude) candles spend way more time being the simmering, scent-dispersing, flickering, peaceful glow than they do burning high and bright and throwing off sound. And their best work is done in the low burn. 

Oh Lord, let that be true of me too. In the silence, in the moments alone with You, let that be where the best work of my life is done.

I love it when the Holy Spirit shows up in a big way, and I get to testify of His goodness and faithfulness and glory. I love it.

But I CRAVE the silent moments with Him. Its where I am renewed, and soothed, and warmed. If it weren't for the intimacy of the quiet times with Him...the loud times would have no purpose.

Because what good is a candle that is lit, and then as soon as the bright light slows and the sputtering stops, its blown out? Then there's no lovely smell, and no flickering, perpetual glow.

The same is true of us. We can sing loud, and testify long, and holler about seeing His glory in our lives...

But do we sit, alone and silent, in the glow of His fellowship, and just soak it in? Listen to the whispers? Enjoy the solitude that never really IS because He's with us?

Oh, its the sweetest thing. Its LIFE to me.

I'm not really sure how a candle became a metaphor for my walk with God...but there it is.

"Lord...today, in each moment, will You be the light within me? Burn brightly if You want to, for Your glory. But the slow simmer, the continual glow, of Your presence...that is my truest desire. And when I forget...when I neglect the quiet and instead choose the outside things...draw me inward, toward You, once again.

I see you, Lord. Inside and out. Cause me to see You more. Amen."

Friday, October 26, 2018

To do or not to do...

I wonder sometimes why I even bother to sit down with this laptop and try to string words together into anything resembling coherent thoughts. 

It seems so easy for all the movie bloggers. They write, people read, they get famous, life is grand. And their hair and eyebrows and thighs and wardrobes are perfect in the process. 

Why is it that whenever I have a "hmm, that would make a good blog post" thought, it is almost immediately followed by one of my children breaking a toe? Or using the bathroom outside? (not #1, by the way, and he's also WAY too old for that to be an honest potty training mistake) Or being so hungry that death is imminent if I don't get up RIGHT THEN and fix food? Or having an essay writing brain block that requires me to sit and brainstorm for an hour? 

After all of those things...who can even remember what the heck I was planning to say in that blog post?

Its a little bit comical to me, right now, that the sentence I almost wrote was "WHY do I bother doing it at all?"

Why is that so comical? 

Well, I have kids, that's why. 

Just last week, during a discussion about an upcoming geography quiz, I informed the boys that I wanted them to be able to name at least 10 countries per continent on a blank map. I even offered them cash for each right answer. (within reason, clearly. I'm not paying them a dollar if they can find Russia on a map. But for Uzbekistan I would totally pay that amount) Anyway, the horrified look on my 14-year-old's face...it was something to behold. "WHY do I have to do that?" (please read this with a) all the love I have for him and b) a total awareness of the tone of voice that gets under a mom's skin like nothing else in the world) 

"Because its part of your school," I responded calmly.
"BUT WHY?" he pushed.

And here is where the calm ceased. Why is it that only a teenager can push the buttons that lead to moms losing their cool?

As he stomped down the hall, my voice carried behind him. "Because I am the mom, I know what is best for you, and also I SAID SO."

Sigh...I could edit this story to make myself sound like a better mom, or my kids like the perfect kids, but honestly I'm way too tired to be that dishonest. And it wouldn't make anyone feel better anyway, so I'm really just hoping for some extra grace on this story.

I tell it for a reason. I tell it because, as mad as I was at him for pitching a fit about what I had asked of him...I literally almost typed that exact same sentence a few minutes ago. "WHY do I even bother? What is the point? Why do I have to do that?"

The truth is...I don't have to write. And I don't always. Because I'm busy cleaning up backyard bathroom incidents and bandaging toes that may or may not be broken, and cooking for three man-children on a near-constant basis.

And my son doesn't HAVE to know geography. It isn't a life requirement, or even a skill that will be particularly useful in any job he pursues.

So really...WHY DO WE HAVE TO?

And my answer to him is the Lord's answer to me. "Because I know what is best for you..." And, even though He isn't yelling at me when He says it, my good, good Father has absolutely said "Because I'm your Father and I SAID SO," to me before.

Obedience. That is the real rub, isn't it? Doing something because it is asked of you, even if it makes no sense, and doesn't fit within what you can understand or figure out.

And not just obedience when you know it will be hard but you can see that it will be worth it one day. No. I'm talking about being willing to do TODAY obedience, when tomorrow could have no payoff whatsoever. 

Because I don't think the Lord gives out dollars for correct answers to geography questions. Nor does He often show us all of a picture when He asks us to walk in obedience to Him.

Sometimes He just says, "Because I said so."

And you know what? I don't like it when He says that to me. Just like my kids don't like it when I say it to them.

I am still giggling a little bit. And also, I'm apologizing to my Father for all the times I stomped down the hall, mad about what He was asking me to do. Because even though I know He doesn't have skin for me to get under, or buttons for me to push...if He did, I would TOTALLY be the rage-inducing teenager.

This blog post has gone nowhere conclusive Further evidence that sometimes things don't make sense. 

But...He says for me to put my fingers on these keys and say words. (err...type words...whatever) So, I do it because He says so. And even if it makes me sound crazy or like a terrible mother or in need of a waste management team in my backyard...He knows what's best for me. 

Because He says so.

"You go before me, and You follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand." Psalm 139:5-6