Monday, February 25, 2019

Endless Beauty.

I love thinking about eternity. As a kid, I would sometimes sit out on the sidewalk in front of my house, staring at the sunset, imagining what eternity would be like. I'm not exactly sure why sunsets and sunrises seem to trigger my mind in this way, but I do have a few ideas.

A few weeks ago, I saw the most amazing sunrise. It was not in an amazing setting though. I was in my car, sweaty and stinky from my morning workout, when I saw the brilliant orange light textured upon the underside of the clouds for miles and miles across the sky. There were electrical poles, stop-lights, too many cars and trucks to really enjoy it as much as I wanted. But it was such a lovely few minutes, gazing at the vastness of our sky while I tried to drive my car, intermittently gaping at the beauty of reflected light.

I have a deep inner desire to make something beautiful. It doesn't often matter what it is. My bed, a painting, a lettering-project, my nails, or even my eyelids. I can't explain why, but seeing something beautiful brings such great pleasure. Does it do the same for you?

My theory is that beauty shows God.




The whole point of us being in eternity with God is to enjoy Him forever. And I believe a large part of our enjoyment in eternity will be experiencing the beauty of God and everything He makes.

Think of the most beautiful sunset or sunrise you have ever seen. What was the one thing that made it bittersweet? That it ended.

Now think of a glorious photo or painting of a sunset. What is the one thing that makes it bittersweet? That you cannot actually be there, where that sunset it happening. You can view it, but you are not fully immersed in it.

And that's where the seed of eternity is planted. We see it in our longings.

Can you even contemplate the initial joy of a sunset lasting forever? Our minds cannot even go there. We cannot comprehend being that intensely happy for all of time... not even just all of time, but beyond the end of time!

When I started thinking about eternity in this way, I was kind of astonished. Why do we not talk about this? Why isn't the endless beauty that is God something we never mention? Granted, it is kind of unfathomable. But who wants to think about things we can fully comprehend anyway :)

The endless beauty that we will experience in eternity is just a part of the joy we will dwell in forever. That's a truth we can count on, that we can bring out on rough days and look forward to. It's a truth we can savor in the small, fleeting moments of boring, dull days (of which there are far too many, right?).

So take a few minutes to listen to a lovely song. Go smell some fragrant flowers. Look at pictures of exotic, fantastic places around the globe, and let the immensity of how great God's beauty is and will be soak into your soul.

God is the most beautiful thing we will ever experience. And if we take just a few minutes to think about what a glorious promise and experience enjoying His beauty for all eternity will be, we will walk with more joy in our todays.


"One thing that I would ask from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 
To behold the beauty of the LORD 
And to meditate in His temple."

Psalm 27:4

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Called to Glorify God.

"The heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the work of His hands."
Psalm 19:1


I have definitely been avoiding writing this post. I avoid writing for many reasons these days, the most recent one being,  I am just not ready to say a lot about this topic. How does one summarize the Call to Glorify God? How long would I really need to read my bible to get a good enough grasp on it in order to inform you accurately of the importance, and then have some great practical tips about living it out? I'm pretty sure that amount of time is infinity. 

We all admit that we don't pretend to be perfect, but we all kind of try to. At least, we try to minimize our sin by calling it flaws or hangups or struggles. We put our best foot forward on social media and don't speak up about issues until we are certain we have the correct stance, worded in a way that will prevent any backlash. When we do admit to our sin or fallenness, it's usually done with an attempt to relate to others, to show we are real, and to make sure people don't put us on a pedestal. 

But these things aren't helping us live out our calling to Glorify God. We don't glorify Him by tucking our sin away, or by only admitting it without any intention of dealing with it. I haven't been meaning to hide, but I also haven't wanted to admit that I just don't know that much about how to Glorify God. 





I like to think I do, but while trying to wrap my mind around it, I just felt kind of lost. I know things the bible says to do, and I can think through why certain actions do not glorify God, but when I intentionally sit down to consider what it looks like to pursue glorifying God, my answers seemed pretty simple. 

I think this might all actually be pretty simple, but I cannot "prove" all it to you. I have some bible verses, and a heap of thinking I've done, along with some praying and studying, but I still have a long way to go. 

The hardest part about walking down this entire Called journey for me has been the way it pushed me through the different trials and problems a person needs to encounter in order to really take advantage of all these tools and practical lessons I've put out here. I could not explain to you why we need to know God until I saw my deep need to know Him too. Unless I had struggled through learning to obey God in small ways that seemed totally purposeless for the desires of my own life, I would not have been able to offer any type of advice, comfort, or encouragement for you while you tried to walk that path. 

While I wish I desired to glorify God as earnestly as the bible calls me to, I have to admit that I often want my own glory more than God's. I want people to see how good I am, how excellent I have become, and how much I can do. It's so easy to think our abilities lay within our own flesh, and a reliance on Him has to come long before we can glorify Him. 

Maybe that's a Call I missed, the Call to trust Him. I believe it comes naturally from knowing Him, as do all the other Calls I've written about. And that's part of the problem with the place I'm in today. While I've been searching for understanding in many ways, I've slipped in my pursuit of knowing God personally, daily, forgetting that holding communion with Him in all my moments is worth the effort it takes. I forget what a relief it is to forget about my agenda and only seek Him. 

I will be reading a huge, fat book my pastor loaned my about this topic, though it might take me a while to get through it. It's called Recalling the Hope of Glory by Allen P. Ross, and while it has a lot to do with worship, I think it will have a lot to say about our purposes in glorifying God. 

I do have a few thoughts, despite all my rambling and confession of inadequacy :) 

The earth declares God's glory. 

But why? This is not any type of scholarly insight, but rather my mind trying to find the root of how the earth does this. 

One thing, is that it's beautiful, just the way He made it. We too glorify God when we live wholly as He made us to live, each uniquely designed for the purposes and good works He is bringing before us (Eph. 2:10). Peter reminds us of this too, telling the Jews to conduct themselves in ways that are honorable, so that those on the outside will see their good works and glorify God alongside them (1 Peter 2:12). This means we work, we love, we honor, we DO things. It requires an active participation in God's redeeming work. He made your life beautiful, but striving to live in ways that are outside of His grand purposes only taints the image He is creating in you. 

Another reason, is that creation obeys. Creation lives out the exact purpose God designed it to live. Rocks form, plants grow, planets spin. Existing in the order that God designed creation to exist in glorifies Him. God commands the earth to spin, and so it spins. He commands the fish to swim, and they go right along. We too glorify God in our daily obedience. It's not always other people watching that bring the glory either. There is a spiritual realm we cannot see and when we obey God in all the small ways, we help fight against that darkness and oppression. Peter agains calls us to do all things unto Christ (not just so everyone can see) so that Christ will be glorified in all we do, big or small (1 Peter 4:7-11).

Lastly, I see that giving seems to be a visual testament of God's glory. The earth gives of itself without hesitation - it's simply made to do that. With God, it was His love for us that propelled Him to give His only son that we might become His children (John 1:12). We know that the greatest act of love that exists is laying down one's life for another, and that we are Called to love one another. Therefore, we are Called to give of ourselves, and that sacrificial giving glorifies God. Like the earth does. Like Jesus did. And like Jesus said, it will require you to "take up your cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)

Jesus also said that if we desire to find life in Him, we must lose it. We must hand it over and give it up (Matthew 16:25).

This is the crux of my struggle to write this and the problem I keep running up against: I cannot glorify God while I am clinging to the life I think I ought to have. 

An analogy came to me this morning that spoke to my struggle with this. I was thinking about a speaker in front of her audience. When speaking, it is certainly lovely to have an involved audience. When you ask a question and no one raises their hand, it can be rough. Engagement is confirmation that people are tracking with you and interested in participating in the learning. But, it also stinks to be in an empty room. Even if you have a few highly participatory people, it still feels hard. Those people in the audience who may not say a lot, they have an important role. They honor the speaker by being there, listening, and giving of their time. 

If I am not the speaker in the room, I am always one of those participatory members. I'm getting better at just sitting and listening, but I like to talk ;) What about those who seem to do nothing but sit? Who bring comfort and affirmation simply by being there? They also bring honor. They may be unknown, or seem of little importance, but their role is still valuable.

Do I really believe it? If my life remains small, unnoticed, and little, will I live with joy, trusting God that my little life is bringing the most glory to Him possible? 

Thinking through all of this has shown me how much I value being known myself, and wanting to be known for being important in God's kingdom. But it's so twisted in my heart and mind. I want to have a big impact, huge! I want my life to change the world. That's just it though. My life cannot, only a giving of my life to God's purposes. And that might not be as globe-altering as I wish. Am I okay with that? Can I at least try to be okay with that? 

I believe God made me an over-achiever for a reason. He obviously put this fire in me to do something, but I don't know how to harness it the right way. Thankfully, that's where obedience comes in. That's why this whole Called thing got started in the first place! I cannot know where God will take me, and I will never have cause to argue with Him about what might have been a better path for me. The only thing I can do is walk with Him, glorify Him, love others, prepare for His return, and obey Him endlessly. 

It feels so much easier (and like so much more fun) to plan out how we want to glorify God. But we just cannot know what tomorrow will bring. Our daily obedience is the only way to guarantee we are glorifying God. Selfish-ambition too easily takes over. We have to trust that what needs done right now, right in front of us, is the thing God will use to glorify Himself and bring us the satisfaction we long for. 

I know it seems strange to say we will find our heart's longing in obeying God each day, but it's true. And if aren't finding satisfaction and joy in obeying His voice, it's because our hearts are not tracking with His purposes. When we desire His agenda, obeying is like confirmation that we are with Him. And being with Him is the best thing we can ever have. It's the goal, the blessing, the thing that grows real fruit in our lives and gives us something to offer those around us. All things that lead us to Him are worth the sacrifice, and giving of all yourself over to Him and His purposes is the fastest, most efficient, best way to glorify God. 

Are you up for it? 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Our Jovi.

Little Jovi is such a spark of light. That spark is not always pleasant (as she often appears), but she sure is a bundle of joy and happiness.




She was my "if I don't have another kid I might get too bored as a mom" child. I loved the boys, and I've always had ambition for things outside of being a mother and housewife, but I knew I would be far more tempted to pursue those things to an unhealthy degree without a little more to do IN the home. I know it might sound silly, but it was one of those constraints I often like to put on myself to help motivate myself to do what I know I should.

Note: I don't have strong opinions about what YOU should or shouldn't do, in or out of the home. This is all just about how I felt led to live the life God has given me.

So, I was working hard on convincing Mark that we ought to have another. A good friend of him, who has five children, said that he has never regretted having more, to which Mark told me "Yeah, I guess we should have another." I took that as a yes, started charting my temperature, and voila! Pregnant next month. I suppose I should have clarified more with Mark, as he did not think he had said yes. But, it was a little late for that conversation.

I'm not sure if transitioning to having three children was so hard just because having three kids is so hard or because Jovi was so needy. She was just slightly crabby so much of the time, and VERY clingy. She only liked me, Mark, and both her grandpas. When we moved when she was almost one year old, I couldn't even set her on the floor for almost two weeks. She either had to be held, or sleeping to not be crying. Even leaving her in children's church has still be hit or miss, though we are on a good streak lately. Did I mention that she is now well over 5?!

Thankfully, she is doing really well with her schoolwork, and even enjoying her CC class while I am not there - hooray! She is definitely our spunkiest kid overall. FULL of energy. When she is happy, she is over the moon happy, and cuter than you can imagine. She is also insanely talented when it comes to body-awareness and movement. She can dance and do gymnastic moves with very little instruction and within just a few attempts.

She loves her schooling too. She is constantly trying to write letters, draw all kinds of pictures, spell and do math for fun. She is excited whenever we do History or Science too. The only subject she complains about is French, which is odd because she talks about it to other people like she enjoys it.

Jovi wants to conquer any task as quickly as possible, and her perfectionism can often get the best of her. She goes from gloriously happy to freaking out pretty quickly, but usually comes back to reality after a few minutes alone in her room. She is mama's girl for sure, which is usually fun, but honestly, I go through phases when I am kind of tired of it. She has been within my sight for almost her entire life, and she still doesn't like to leave me much. I know that will all change someday, so I am trying to just enjoy the time I have with her, as I know it's not time many parents or kids get to enjoy with one another.

Our girl is truly a little slice of sunshine and we cannot imagine how boring our life would be without her. I know many of you enjoy her cuteness, her antics, and her crazy little life too :) I wonder where God will take her in life... I know it will be beautiful no matter what.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Coley-Bear.

That's what I call Cole much of the time: Coley-bear :)

Cole inherited only my sweet tooth. The rest of him is pretty much just a mini-Mark.

When Asher was born, people said he looked like Mark. I think maybe people just say that about boys and their dads. But when Cole was born, a lot of people changed their minds. Just look at Mark at 7 years old compared to Cole at 8!




Cole is a kid that just wants to be happy. If I were to peg Cole on the Enneagram (which, I try not to but I can't really help it), Cole would definitely be a 7, just like Mark too. He doesn't care what we are doing most of the time, as long as he can have fun doing it.

He also likes to make noise. All the time. Clicking, tapping, making strange noises... he is almost always moving, grooving, and occupying himself somehow with some sort of motion or sound. It can get pretty annoying, pretty fast.

This boy often seems like an anomaly to me. While he isn't always eager about schooling, or tremendously self-motivated, he is very eager to participate and learn when someone else initiates. For instance, he is in Essentials this year, which is an English Grammar and Writing class for 4th-6th grade students. His birthday is August 31st and he is the absolute youngest you can be and still be in class. Yet, despite not being particularly skilled in English or Grammar, he LOVES class and strives to figure it all out, raising his hand every time I ask a question and always ready to try and chime in.

Now, start talking about something he is not interested in and his brain will leave his body. He won't even hear you speaking. He definitely has some ADD tendencies and also something called Auditory Processing Disorder, but despite these things he is doing really well in all of his schooling. We recognized these things early on and it really confirmed our homeschooling decision. He's SO good at acting like he heard you, or that he knows what you meant, when really he is totally clueless. This does not go over well for kids in large classrooms with little inner desire to learn on their own.

Despite his learning or attention issues, which are really very minimal, he loves school and learning overall. Yes, he complains about certain work on a regular basis, but he really wants to know things.

Something sweet about Cole is that he really feels bad when he recognizes his own wrong behavior. That initial issue of getting him to see when he has done something wrong can be a long and frustrating event, but when he sees his tendency to sin or things he did against someone that were hurtful or mean, he really takes it to heart. He also really hates to see me sad or frustrated or hurt, which is sweet.

Cole's best subject is definitely math! He's not actually great at skip-counting (or memorization in general) but abstract math concepts come so easily to him... it kind of freaks me out. He will be passing me up WAY too soon.

I can't wait to see what things he ends up pursuing in life! It's good to see that he is such a happy kid, and I hope he always finds joy in the places God will lead him.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

My Asher.

I asked my kids what I should write about today and my eldest said I should write about him. With only three days left in my writing challenge, I figured I'd spend a day writing about each child. Enjoy!

Asher is a funny little man. With your first-born, you don't always know what is normal or not, so I think most moms feel a little bit bad about the motherhood learning curve. I also had no idea that most babies laugh a lot earlier than Asher did. Even at three months old it was work to get him to smile, and SO hard to get him to laugh.

Don't get me wrong though, he was such a sweet baby. He was so easy! He loved to sleep, he loved looking around while we drove in the car, and he was usually pretty easy to entertain. He also ate solids really early. At only 4 months he would get insanely fussy when we would sit to eat dinner, so we just started giving him stuff and he did really well. He's still our best eater today :)

For a long time, Asher did not seem like your typical oldest child. He's not extremely tidy, though he has become a lot more particular about things this last year. He's always been a little moody about his clothing and appearance I guess, but now it's spreading to more areas of his life. Thankfully, he's finally becoming particular about the state of his room too!



As far as behavior goes, Asher has always been pretty straightforward too. Once I started thinking more deeply about his reactions to certain circumstances, I started to see better where some of his "issues" were stemming from. Both of my boys have gone through several phases where they were super resistant to anything I told them to do. I think this is where a lot of homeschool moms want to give up and send their boys to school - it's incredibly frustrating! But when I saw that they simply did not want mom to be in charge, I was able to have conversations with them about it, find some areas of life where they can be 100% in charge and we have always been able to happily move forward with our same chain of command and much happier hearts.

Asher is very gifted in his ability to think things through. He's like an old man in some ways, thinking about what things mean or how things came to be, pretty much all the time. He's definitely able to make connections easily regarding cause and effect, and having good conversations about anything relatively important is the best!

Even with being a little ahead in regards to reasoning, he has an amazing memory. Jovi also has a good memory, but Asher has been able to memorize nearly all his memory work from CC within a day or two for YEARS. He still will say things out of the blue from books we read many years ago that he remembers, leaving me constantly impressed with his ability to retain information.

This does NOT mean he is always nice, or always good. He definitely has that oldest-child stubborn streak with wanting things his way. And he copes far better with daily occurrences if he knows the general plan for the day. He is the kindest little man out in public though, always receiving comments about his sweet demeanor and polite manners. He's also very helpful around the house and has been ever since he could help with pretty much anything... retrieving diapers for his siblings, emptying the dishwasher at an early age, throwing away garbage for me, or just doing nearly anything I ask with little or no reward.

We all have faults, but I'm not going to air any more of his here. I see him wanting to understand God and the world around him, and I see his internal struggle when he doesn't want to be good but knows it's not right, or when things just feel off and he can't really articulate why. I'm really thankful for his presence in my life and glad that I get to spend so much time with him every day.

As he is getting older, I treasure more and more the time we have. I can't believe he'll be flying the coop in just 8-ish years! I still get lots of hugs, kisses, and snuggles, and he still will reveal his true desires and loves when he is comfortable enough. I can't wait to see what the next few years hold for him and am thankful that God gave us such a lovely little person to parent.






Monday, January 28, 2019

Searching Out Peace.

I grew up in a pretty small town on the Southern Oregon Coast. I'm constantly surprised when I meet people who know where it is, or even better, know someone who lives there. It sits right up against another small town, of which all the schools are rivals, and right up against a fairly large bay on one side, with the ocean on the other.

The beaches there are incredible. Almost never warm, but still incredible. There are cliffs with tons of trees, and rocks and trails for climbing. There are tide pools galore both in secret little coves and in open areas right by the sand. There is a long jetty that is really fun to walk out on (though my dad never did like us doing that) and plenty of small caves to explore. There are large dunes, small dunes, dangerous dunes, and easily accessible dunes for any level of explorer. And the actual beaches, well they are beautiful too.

The Pacific Ocean is freezing cold though, which seems very normal to me. A friend from Virginia recently told me that it's abnormal for ocean water to be so cold! I cannot fathom walking into an ocean that is warm. So while many people surf along the Oregon coast, it is mostly done in a wetsuit, and even then it's chilly.

I don't remember how often we went to the beach when I was c kid, but I went with friends a lot in high school. I went with boys a lot too, though I was too good and too naive to even know how stupid I was often being. Thank the Lord for taking care of me and for those good guys who were genuinely kind and lovely.

The beach will always be a place of peace for me. It's a place where I see God and His power so clearly. I feel like I could sit in front of the waves for eternity and never tire. I don't believe I have ever left the ocean of my own free will.

I don't remember who I was with, but at some point during my late teens or early 20's (maybe it was even with my husband? - my poor old brain), I remember going to the beach really late at night. It was totally clear and there were so few lights anywhere else. The moon has not yet risen and the stars were in full glory. I felt like I was in a giant dome, or a little spec in one of those tiny snow globes. The sky seemed so round and it seemed impossible that all those stars were really as far away as my science teachers always said.

Little me, standing on the edge of a continent, on a small planet, in an unimaginably large universe, witnessing first-hand the beauty of God, knowing that He knew exactly where I was, what I was doing, and what I was feeling. While I felt very small, I also felt immensely loved.

While I've had less opportunity to go to the beach at night alone, or even just with one other person, I can still put myself there and remember that odd feeling of small glory. Within this suburban area where I live now, God can still pinpoint me just as easily, and that brings me peace.

It's not the ocean itself that brings peace. Sure, there are all kinds of research about the movement and sound of water that actually restores the brain, but I know it's because God made it to do so. He made the water to give life in SO many ways. And when Jesus says that we will never go thirsty when we drink from His well of life, we can understand Him more clearly because we see how vital water is. We know that water gives life; drunk, dipped in, felt, washed with, or listened to. Water is life only because He is life.

So now, even when I think of the ocean, I can feel it's peace washing over me all these miles from shore. God's peace has no bounds, God's love has no bounds, and God's mercy has no bounds. Nothing of God is bound by anything but love, holiness, and glory. It makes me sad I don't see it more often. But reminiscing tonight on just this one memory of His glory displayed on the edge of the beach is so precious to me. It reminds me that to meditate on Him is to receive from Him the things He knows we need. And He knows better than I do. How grateful I am for that!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

What To Do.

Figuring out what to do next often feels like the never-ending question I am asking myself.

Which leads to this idea: if I am never really figuring out "what to do," how am I actually doing stuff, with years flying by, and kids getting older, etc.? How is all of this happening?

This is really where the rubber meets the road with all my Called stuff. I easily spend WAY too much time obsessing over the next step I should take, not with the right mindset about how obeying now is what matters, but with some crazy idea that if I can just figure out what will happen after all of my "correct steps" are well-executed, I will be okay.

But to be clear, I will not be okay simply because I have taken the correct path (if there is such a thing in life). I will be okay because I completely trust (or am trying to) that God is overseeing all of my decisions. I will be okay because I am seeking Him and listening to Him and doing my best to follow where He leads. Not because I have amazing foresight. Not because I never made a mistake. Not because I have everything all figured out.

I still don't know what I'm going to do about this blog in a few days. I'm not sure what purpose it is serving, though the daily writing has been a healthy thing for me. It's helped me realize that I do have time work on my writing every day. It's definitely been hard on some days (like today), but it hasn't been unattainable. But that still doesn't give me much of a plan for writing every day after this.

Should I put together a schedule and plot out more about how to finish my book proposal?

Should I schedule a certain number of days per week for that kind of work and then use other days to post stuff on here?

What other things should I be doing to keep progressing?

Where do I even want to go with all of this?

Over the next week I want to hash this out a bit more. I do like blogging, though I have to be honest, I wish more people read it. I know, I know, I can't do things in the hopes of other people liking them. It's just hard to invest so much time to writing and sharing when I don't think many people will actually even hear/read what I have to write/say.

I do believe in the importance of what God is calling me to share though. Maybe it's not a super popular idea; daily obedience is not too glamorous you know. Maybe it leads to changes that will receive criticism or be difficult to embrace. But I know that when I follow God's call to the things He lays out for us in scripture, I am far happier, far more productive, and I know 100% that I am doing real kingdom work, no matter how small.

I think this is the hardest factor. God's work is not just though words, or actions, or art, or anything tangible or visual that I can produce. All of those things are avenues He uses, yes, but God's work is through His Spirit, and I cannot force His Spirit to do anything. Despite being unable to produce that work in you, there is a hope in me, that I think is from God, that if I keep doing this, if I keep showing up and putting words here in this space, His Spirit will show up too.

I have ideas about how I might be used in God's kingdom. Most of them are really neat, really fun, and bring me a lot of credit. Which probably means they are not God's plans. But I want to be ready to be a part of whatever His plans are, which I'm pretty sure includes some level of writing and blogging. I'd rather take a more glamorous route than the daily work of clicking away here at my desk, a route that isn't so prone to criticism or misunderstanding. Something easier, or something more noble perhaps.

But here I am. I can't say what is best for His kingdom, or what the best role for me is in His kingdom. I can only show up. I can obey. So, that's why I'm still here.