Posted in Living this Life

Ant wars

OK – it’s time to get really real.

Confessions of a restless heart: Something happens to a spirit that is raised on the other side of the world. It isn’t just the soil of Africa that got embedded in my soul, but the question of what else lies out there. When your normal has always been red clay soil and friends with dark hair and different skin, speaking with dialect so different from your own that you learn to read eyes and body language. You learn to feel more at home in a bustling airport than your own small town ambience. Embedded in you is the curiosity for the unexplored.

They call it wanderlust. And familiar though it is, it can become a dangerous siren call. A source of ill defined pride. A lack of contentment in what is, the beauty that is around you. There is much I can say on this, but for my own protection, my God has planted my feet firmly on American soil for many years. And every time my heart starts to wander away, He gently woos me back to this place – whatever that looks like at the moment. It is always a beautiful place – even if it just my own backyard.

You can imagine what this season filled with words like “quarantine” and “stay at home” – though productive and rich in it’s own unique opportunities – has brought out in me. If there is anything that stirs up wanderlust in a heart, it is being told you can’t.

And in this place, right here, is where I found this scene: my boys, in my backyard.

IMG_6822Watching in awe at the sight of a dead worm. It wasn’t the dead worm that fascinated them, but the lone ant trying in vain to lift the worm and carry it off. Other ants came along to help (or steal), and then left. I don’t know how long they sat and watched this display of heroic strength, but it helped my  heart rest. Because there’s this quote that has rattled around in my head for a while and it came to the surface at the sight of my boys today. It’s by the author and director of one of my favorite nature documentaries (https://riotandthedance.com/), and it helps keep me grounded when my heart tries to run away with me.

“So, we can marvel at our Creator’s abilities and worship Him for what we see, but we can also see these broken things and know that creation groans for the Resurrection… When you’re able to sit in awe of an ant war on the sidewalk in front of your own house, then the awe that you experience looking at God’s creation near you, where he has placed you, will lead you outward. It will give you a desire to see more of His work, to walk through the rest of His museum. But if you sit in your corner of His museum and say, “I’m super bored, maybe there’s something more interesting over there”—well, that’s not a healthy approach. We should not explore because we resent where we live or where we’ve been placed in the world. We should not explore out of boredom or out of numbness, but out of gratitude and excitement and wonder.  – N. D. Wilson

So that’s it. That’s all I have today. A renewed focus on finding the wonder in my backyard because it’s there. I just miss it too often, gazing over the fence into the “vast beyond”. Maybe we’ll get to explore His great museum again someday soon, but until then, let’s all find a great ant war to cheer on (and feel free to add some sports commentary to it, for those missing their favorite teams right now).

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

 

Posted in Living this Life

Prince of Peace

I was probably 13 years old. I heard them talking, and something about the way she spoke caught my attention. So I continued eavesdropping as she and my mom worked on dinner in the kitchen of her home in Duluth, MN. I didn’t know her well, she had no idea I was listening, and I’m sure as the conversation moved on to other topics, they quickly forgot what was said.

cooking

But I didn’t. I can’t tell you all that was said that day, but it planted an idea in my heart that I have pursued throughout my life. As I listened in on that conversation, I heard her talking about peace, and it made my young heart hungry. Before that day, I had always thought of peace as something you stumble across. When the weather is perfect and your heart is unbothered. When circumstances align and everything is magically “right” – you feel peace.

But she talked about it as something you could plan for. An atmosphere you could set boundaries for and pursue. The boldness of that concept fascinated me. To not be subject to the ups and downs of happenstance – to be able to choose my way into a peaceful existence was mind blowing to my young 13 year old heart… and I desperately wanted that.

 

Fast forward more years than I will put in writing … here I sit with a world spinning in chaos. An amazing husband and 3 kids later, and her words still ring in my ears. A peaceful home is a concept we have built our marriage and family on – foundational in so many decisions we make along the way.  Yet the reality can so often feel elusive and many days it can feel like a fairy tale. That happily ever after promise that never comes true.

Kids bicker, frustrations flare, and selfishness takes over. Maybe I’ll feel peace when I get my way. Maybe if my husband would just agree with me all the time and the kids play happily and quietly in the corner. Maybe when I finally get all my projects done and can rest happily in a clean and organized home with perfectly manicured flowerbeds outside. Maybe when the world settles down and we get answers to so many questions plaguing us right now. Maybe when we get clarity on the big decisions that seem impossible to make in present circumstances. Why does the Bible talk about peace so consistently when everything around us screams the opposite?

This morning I woke in the first days of a new month. A new month blaring questions without answers and uncertainty about so many constants in my life. And I read these words – some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples, as their worlds were about to be turned upside down:  “MY PEACE I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. LET NOT your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” John 14:27

Not as the world gives? Is this where I get so off track? Despite what I know, what I tell myself and others, why do I continue to look for peace from outside circumstances?   This is all backwards.  So today I make my confession and prayer.

I have tried to manufacture peace with control. I have interpreted peace as “everyone getting along with each other”. I have been frustrated when reality doesn’t match my expectations and have let it erode the peace in my own spirit. So you will understand when I read this and get spun a bit sideways.

“the fruit of the Spirit is peace…” Galatians 5:22

Fruit … fruit is a product, not an effect. You don’t start with the apple, you start with the tree. You prune, you water, you care for it if you want the best fruit. Isaiah says, The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.“(Isaiah 32:16) Fruit of righteousness? What does that even mean? That big word that sounds so alien at times. It simply means being in a right place before a holy and perfect God. Walking straight when the path feels so crooked.

And since we can’t pull it off on our own – we surrender ourselves. And let Jesus who truly did live perfectly carry our mistakes and be our righteousness – our “right-ness”. Is it enough? Can this be real? That His right-ness, can cover me and I get to experience the peace – the fruit of what only He could do? Come, get to know Him if you don’t. Really know Him – you will find Him more real than the most tangible thing you can touch.

Talk to Him and let Him carry it all for you. Let His right-ness bring you peace! And the rest of this promise – it sounds like it was written for today. I think it was…

“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places… though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be…” (Is 32:19-20)

How many of us feel like our “normal” has been leveled? Do we feel blessed in the midst of all the unknowns? This disruption in our lives shows us where our true treasure lies, where we plant our hopes and find our peace. I find myself coming up short some days – still defaulting to myself and the fleeting quicksand of the blaring news cycles and circumstances surrounding me and not the true Source. I want to dig my toes into the firm foundation of our true Source of Peace.

They call you the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Come on in…

 

 

 

 

Posted in Living this Life

What day is it?

Pooh bear

“What day is it?” Pooh Bear asked
“It’s Today”, said Christopher Robin
“Ah,” said Pooh gratefully. “My favorite day! Yesterday, when it was Tomorrow, it was too much day for me.”
I love this. I’ve been saying it to myself a lot. Because coronavirus or not, quarantine or “normal”, all we really have is today.

And though tomorrow can feel daunting, boring, scary, uncertain – when it becomes today, God makes a way. That’s His promise – let’s choose to really believe it. “ Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,” Jesus says… “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Jesus knows our limitations – He is actively protecting us from carrying more than we can handle.


So let’s make today our favorite! And let tomorrow worry about itself – my God is already there, and I can trust Him