Thursday, September 26, 2013

What My Eyes See

I pulled this blog post up yesterday. I posted it on a facebook challenge to post "what my _____ really looks like." I think it's good. All the pinterest and facbook photos of perfect houses, perfect kids, and perfect craft projects make me want to through in the towel and give up before even trying.

So, today I'm sitting here thinking about how nothing has changed in two years. Well, we don't have a school room anymore. We now have a boys' room and a girls' room. The boys are actually pretty good about picking up when they are told to. So all the harping on them for the last nine and ten years has paid off on some level. I mean I was training them to clean up their things.

And a memory surfaced. They had been told to clean up. The floor was covered with laundry (clean and dirty), Legos, K'Nex, and school books. At least that's what I could see when I peeked in. So inspection time comes. (I've learned that this is an important step- for them and me.) I walked into the room and said, "Really!?! This is what you think sparkling clean looks like?!?" They looked at each other, looked at the room, then looked at me. "What? What's wrong with it?" I then proceeded to circle the room pointing out everything that wasn't done to the standard of perfection. My husband walks in. "What? What's wrong with it? It looks pretty good to me?" I almost blew up at him. Pretty good was not what I had in mind. Pretty good was not good enough.

I didn't see what they had done. The progress they have made in how quickly and cheerfully and well done they can do a job. I didn't see that really 90% of the job was done. My eyes were only seeing that which had not been completed. And what they had accomplished had not been recognized.

And them my mind made one of those sudden leaps. The kind where what you're understanding here on the physical plane is paralleled in the spiritual realm. What do I see when I look at them? Do I see the faults and behaviors that could use improvement? Do I circle them pointing out the things that still need work? Or do I see the progress? The 90% that's done well? The effort and character that IS being displayed?

How do I want people to look at me? How do I want to look at myself?

Whether I'm looking at the bedroom, my children, or myself, my eyes will see things. And my heart and mind will interpret them a certain way. We can focus on the things left to do. Or we can focus on the progress that is being made.

Is the standard for myself and my children perfection? Or will I let pretty good be good enough?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hope in the Mess

I was writing about the song "Need You Now" by Plumb. I was listening to it over and over again while I was writing and my kids were eating lunch. My two-days-away-from-being-nine-year-old kept coming and listening with me. Then he started asking me to play "Warn." After about a dozen listen-throughs, I was finally had everything out, and they had lunch finished. Together, we tried to find his song. Oddly enough, if you type "warn" into youtube, there are about a jillion hits. 

Eventually, he thought of a line from the song. And I was mis-hearing him. The song is "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North. They have two official versions published on youtube.
music video 
with lyrics

This is one of the songs during which I've hit "replay," laid down on the floor, closed my eyes, and let my soul cry out to the Lord. Yes, I pray through songs. I figure if He understands groans, then He ought to understand sobbing during a song. (In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27) 

This is another song that hits my heart in the middle of my mess. When it seems like the yuck in my life is never going to go away, this song becomes my prayer. Crying out to God from the very end of my being, when I'm at the bottom of my bucket, when there is nothing left. This songs wells up a place of utter exhaustion and hopelessness. 

Not in a whiny, complainy way. Because this song is also seeking a glimmer of hope. God, please just show me that there is something good in the future, that this isn't all that my life will be about.

Whether it's a struggle with sin in my life, a recurring argument with my husband, or the daily grind of little kids...I've been in this place of exhaustion...many times. This isn't necessarily a prayer asking for the trial/pain/sin to go away, this is about asking for just a glimpse of the good that God promises will come from it. (And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28) There is redemption, the struggle will end, there is healing for my heart, something rises from the ashes, the dead can be reborn. God is a crazy God of new life! This thing (whatever it is) that's plagueing me...there's hope when I'm in God's hands. 

And when I see that...that little glimpse of hope...then I can get up today...I can change that diaper...I can try again with my husband...I can address the sin in my life...this ISN'T all there is. There is something more beautiful and more meaningful that God has for my life. What if I asked, not just for a glimmer of hope...what if I asked "heaven come and flood my eyes" What if I could see even more clearly the beauty and meaning in my mess? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In Middle of the Mess

I was driving to MOPS this morning, and a wonderful song came on the radio. I've loved this song from the moment I first heard it.

Need You Now by Plumb

It's the desperate cry from a place of hurting and pain. A place of tired and exhaustion from dealing with the struggle and wounds for so long. A place of wondering where the heck God is in the mess, because, seriously, hasn't it just been long enough? A place that wasn't expected, not wanted, and not enjoyed. A place where it's a struggle to hear God. A place where it's a struggle to get through the's often just a struggle to breathe.

I've been there. More than I'd like to admit. I remember one low point when a song came on the radio...something about "lifting my eyes up to the hills" and I literally broke down. (Thankfully we had just pulled into the garage and I wasn't driving somewhere!) I was TRYING SO HARD to lift up my eyes. I was BEGGING God for help in the pain that I was experiencing and the struggles that I was having.

At the time, it seemed as if everything I heard was from the other side of the struggle. The side where it's over and done with and the speaker/singer could see the good that God brought from it. That's not where I was. I was in the middle of the mess. And I wasn't holding up too well.

This song touches the pieces of my heart that are wounded and hurting. It touches the parts of me that are struggling to get through this day, to breathe. It touches the places inside of me that cries out for help...and wonders if God will come through.

I've listened to this song hundreds or thousands of times. (I like the repeat button a bit too much.) yet this morning, I heard a couple of lines, as if for the very first time.

"I want to believe there's beauty here...I want to believe there's meaning here."

Maybe they struck me because we were on our way to MOPS, and this year's theme is "A Beautiful Mess." Everything with the word beauty or mess in it catches my attention.

In the midst of the dark, messy places of life, when I am wondering if God is good and trustworthy, I DO want to believe there's beauty, that there's a purpose for what I'm dealing with. When it's work just to keep breathing...the strength to do so comes from the Lord Himself. I NEED Him. Desperately. Passionately.

When life is smacking my upside the head, I can STILL believe and trust Him. Keeping my eyes on Him, needing Him, being desperate for His strength. It's not a fun place. It's tiring. It's emotional. It's work. If in that place of darkness, wounded-ness, and/or doubt, if in that place, this is all I can's enough for God. It should be enough for me, too.