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That old blue ford truck pulled out around 3:30 this afternoon.

It was packed full of clothes and buckets filled up completely with just what you’d need if you were a sophomore in college.

We’ve had that truck for 15 years.

I vaguely remember him sitting on the passenger side buckled into a booster seat.

Now he’s packed it full of all of his stuff, plus what his brother forgot, and he’s sitting there at the wheel.  Still stubborn about the soft flannel Christmas pillowcases he has to sleep with and the feel of the blanket that will cover the mattress of his college dorm twin bed.  “It doesn’t match,” I explain to him for the upteenth time.  “I don’t care if it matches, Mom, I just care how it feels.”

Before he left we took down the bunk beds and rearranged the furniture …we put the house back to the way things used to be.  I still think it’s crazy how we went from 6 kids down to 1 in 6 weeks.  Four in college.  One in Indiana.  Just Grace now at home.  Somehow life got quiet.

You know, it’s funny how you don’t take first day of school photos when your kids go off to college.

I have nothing to document the change that has taken place over the last few weeks.

No darling outfits, kids smiling next to the brick sign that stands in front of the school, no new backpacks or unscuffed shoes, no waiting for the bus, or packing lunches into brown paper sacks.  Just the taillights of that old blue truck as it paused for just a second before turning left there at the corner and heading off to school.

I can’t help but wonder what this new season will hold…both for him, and for me.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to embrace… a time to keep…a time to love…a time of peace…”  (Eccl 3:1-8)

And this past season?  I told someone yesterday that I think this has been one of my favorite summers of my whole life.

This gathering together.

The late nights, snacks at all hours of the day, settling into the couches to talk.  Card games, and coconut rice krispies, and walking to Lucky’s for a snowcone.  Could you make us crepes, make us tacoes, make us some bananas foster?  Midnight came too soon and the responsibility of morning shortly after.  Yes, we soaked up every single minute.  Every. Single. Minute.

Oh, the memories.

In this new season those fresh memories take the place of first day of school photos.  They are memories I will hang on the walls of my mind for the quiet moments.  So I can look back at them.

I watched that blue truck pull out today, saw him pause there at the corner almost as if he was getting his bearings, and then he was off.  And me?  I turned and walked inside surrounded by the memories…

A Daily Invitation

“Hang on the walls of your mind the memory of your successes. Take counsel of your strength, not your weakness. Think of the good… you have done. Think of the times when you …carried out… a dream or a desire for which you had deeply longed. Hang these pictures on the walls of your mind and look at them as you travel the roadway of life.”

–Whister

daily closer to christ

 

 

L~ F~:~
~M

Does your soul ever feel restless?

Do you ver feel a pull that wants to take you away from the ordinary and the mundane places?

And you would go in an instant, but it’s hard to take the first step when you have no idea what direction exactly your soul wants to travel in.

Don’t worry…I’m not talking about packing up and moving on.  I’m talking about growing.  About becoming.  About discovering.  About stretching.

But sometimes the thought of that is just as overwhelming as putting your whole house into brown boxes and relocating all of it to a new address.

Because relocating your heart…redirecting your soul…

that’s hard.

I just read a book written by a dear friend of mine, Jennie Allen.

It’s called Restless.

It has been a catalyst for my soul.  The book invites you to analyze your places, and your suffering, and your passions, and the people that make up your life and write them all out so you can see them.  Jennie says that the combination of those themes can help us determine where our steps should lead.

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This week I have been absorbed in the section on people.  That’s because Jennie asked two questions that have taken up a fair share of my pondering hours…

Who do you need?

Who needs you?

You are supposed to pick five people for each list…and right off the bat it was easy for me to fill in those lines.  But then I started pondering, and I quickly realized something that wasn’t readily apparent in the beginning…

The people I love the very most fit under both categories…they need me, and I couldn’t live without them.

It reminded me of a conversation I had a few months ago on a road trip I had taken with those I love the most.  We had been driving for quite a while, long enough to have settled into the steady rhythm of the car.  It was Ian’s job to keep me awake at the wheel.  He is good for conversation…a deep thinker.  Wise.

We were talking about how he showed up at my door one October night asking for the Coach.  Tears streaming down his face.  His soul crying out for change, his heart desperate to know more of the Lord.  He started attending church with us.  Then he came over for dinner and homework help.  Within a few months he had moved in.

And Garett.  You remember Garett.  The boy Greg picked up off the curb and brought home one afternoon in August.

Ian asked if our life would have been different if they hadn’t both moved in.

Ya.

It would have been different.

Do you know the moment when your mind reviews the past in an instant?  Flashbacks of meeting with teachers, sitting with principals, cheering at football games, talking about the Bible, defining boundaries, patching up heartaches, and watching the transition that happens when Jesus takes a boy’s heart and molds him into a man.  I remembered a letter Garett had given me on Mother’s Day several years before…”I love you so much I am so gratfull to have you in my lif.  I wouldn’t no what to do without or I don’t no where I would be…”

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It was in that moment that Ian interrupted my flashback…”you know,” he said, “me and Garett always thought you were for us, but have you ever wondered if maybe we were for you?”

I am different because of them.  My heart has grown and stretched.  There are things I have discovered that I never would have known.  Their stories have molded me into the person I have become.

Because they needed me.  Because I needed them.

I am reminded of one of my favorite verses in Eccles 4:9-10 “Two are better than one…for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”

Oh, how we need each other.

A Daily Invitation

Today who do you need?

Today who needs you?

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L~ F~:~
~M

romans 8
I think I should pray a little harder for the mothers of the world.

One of them called me today and told me some of the struggles inside her walls.  My heart ached for her.

I make it a practice to not know what is amiss in another’s life, but it is surprisingly refreshing sometimes to hear that bliss is not as common as it seems.

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t subscribe to pessimism, and I believe a person can carry a burden and wear a smile at the same time, and I find myself in the black on most days, but I generally assume everything is peachy in every one of my neighbors’ lives.  It is generally not very socially acceptable to fly your problems from your front porch, but perhaps living in a glass house neighborhood would be healthy in some ways.

The mother’s daughter suffers from a very common illness.  I am not sure how the books would label the problem, but you are familiar with the symptoms.

Her older brother is the favorite.  Practically perfect in every way.  He has a winning personality, is as good as gold, and has never done wrong.  Everyone likes him.  No one hates him.  Good grades.  Good looks.  A trophy child.  Oh, and did I mention the rainbow that surrounds him as he walks?

And the worst part–she will never measure up.  So why try?  Might as well live at the bottom of the barrel.

The question of the day is: What does she not know about herself that causes her to feel the way she does?

Perhaps the apostle Paul met such a girl in Rome.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:38)

Can’t you read her thoughts as her sandals click on the cobblestone.  Her list of her faults trickling down her face.  Never as good as the girl with the red door.  Too short.  Too clumsy.  Too many mistakes.  And she assumes that because the boy in the clay pot shop doesn’t look up that day that no one ever will.

What does she not know about herself that causes her to feel the way she does?

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39).

Nothing in all creation.  Even those ones created in our minds.

Daily Invitation:

It is encouraged and part of our nature to strive for excellence.

It is also in our nature to seek love–and hopefully the love of God first.

Strive for excellence and seek for love.  But uncouple the two.  They are not related.

Stop trying to earn His love.

You are already in.

 

 

L~ F~:~
~M

1 Samuel 17

When you don’t know what to do with what you’ve been entrusted with, give it your best effort (and by that, I mean your most authentic effort).

Then trust God to perform His glory.

It’s what I’ve been thinking about since I left church today.  Actually, I’ve been thinking about David.

His story.  His Goliath.

For some reason all the little pieces of that story came together in a big way for me today.

You remember the story.  How a giant of a man wielding a javelin, a spear, and a sword called out to an entire army challenging one man to a single combat.  How David, a humble shepherd boy answered the call ––in defense of His God, in an effort to show the whole world that there was a God in Israel.

God gave David a great responsibility.  It required David to do something.  To be faithful to the call.

In preparation Saul fitted him for the task with armor, a helmet of brass, and a coat of mail.  Then David girded his sword upon his armor and made ready to go.

In that moment something important happened.  Something I haven’t ever paid attention to before.  Something that has caused me to think all day today.

David stopped in his tracks.

Then he turned back to Saul and said, “I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them.  And David put them off him.”  (1 Samuel 17:39)

He picked up his staff and his shepherd’s bag, and took 5 smooth stones and the name of the Lord and his faith…

And then David ran to meet the Philistine.

He entered the challenge as his most authentic self, bringing the skill and experience and gifts and abilities God had blessed him with.

He brought what he had to offer and he left the results to God.

We live in a world that rages with the battle between good and evil.  On a daily basis we are called out in single combat to fight for the cause of the Lord.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder what I have to offer to this cause.

This week I heard the call to arms from a man I greatly admire.  To flood the earth with goodness.  To receive inspiration and guidance about the role we should play through social media.

I thought of those I follow.  It’s tempting to try on their armor.

But the invitation to receive inspiration and guidance came with counsel.  Be authentic and consistent.

Like David.

So, we spent the afternoon discussing what we might do on this blog that would be authentic and consistent to who we are.  This is what we discovered: We love the scriptures.  We love finding the application to our everyday life.  And we love discovering a daily invitation that we can work on from the scripture reading.

So from now on every single post will have those three things:

A set of scripture verses or a chapter you can read.
A lesson on how those verses apply to our every day life.
A daily invitation.

It’s what we have to offer to the responsibility God has entrusted us with…

It is our authentic effort to help flood the earth with goodness.

How about you?

Here is your Daily Invitation:

What Goliath are you facing right now?
What skill and experience and gifts and abilities has God blessed you with that might aid you in your effort to accept the responsibilities that God has given you?
How will you approach that responsibility authentically?

Receive the invitations daily on instagram…follow us @adailyinvite.

Live Authentically

L~ F~:~
~M

desk

My son started 4th grade yesterday.

I remember my 4th grade teacher.  Mrs. Hogfelt.

When I first heard her name I put my finger against my nose and pressed it up like a barnyard pig.

My snorting noises were interrupted quickly by a sharp, yet gentle rebuke from my mother’s eyes.

I was amused that she defended her–this stranger.  I didn’t know much about the sacred trust a parent has in a school teacher.

I still feel buoyed up by the way Mrs. Hogfelt taught me to feel about myself.

Perhaps, God willing, we will all get a chance to express the gratitude that only years and experience can cultivate.  I have several people I owe an embrace to.

Mrs. Baxter read to us every Friday.  I ran my fingers through the shag rug while I listened.  Her coffee mug was always on the desk right above me.  It smelt like the teachers lounge we weren’t supposed to go into.  I remember feeling the sparks of empathy being fanned when her voice choked reading the part in Summer of the Monkeys where Jay gave his prize money to fix Daisy’s leg.  I was entranced by her tender emotion.

Mr. Johnson probably had a late dinner once a week after Scouts.  He was always a little sweaty when he got out of the car.  I wonder what other clues I missed that he came straight from work to teach us how to tie knots.  He probably doesn’t care that I don’t remember how.  I think about him on my way home from work sometimes.

Coach Madden and the history.  Mrs. Chiu and her lesson on honesty.  Mr. Robinson and his insistence we get it.

I wonder, and even hope, sometimes, that there will be little booths in heaven.

Little booths with name plates printed big on the arch.  I anticipate waiting in a line to say “thank you.”  Certainly I am not the only one they molded so gently.  Oh, but I imagine they won’t be there once I get to the front.  They won’t even know God set up a booth for them.  And they would give a curious stare if they ever learned that He did.  “For what?” they would ask in sincere wonder.  One more bit of evidence as to why they were so influential.

But there will be One that we all insist we find.

Because then, I can only hope, we will be permitted to see all His hands have done.  In perfect 20/20.

“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust…deliver me in thy righteousness.” (Psalms 31:1)

He set the perfect pattern.  He brings goodness and grace and deliverance by virtue of His righteousness.

Deliver me in thy righteousness.

He fits the bill.

I find myself a step ahead because He is the way.

His chastisement brings me peace.

Late night planning, meticulous concern, success over sleep–my success over their sleep –my teachers knew the pattern.

Every day Jesus lived in righteousness was in preparation to lay day His life–His uniquely qualified, perfect offering–for me.

My deliverance on account of His righteousness.

And He would have it no other way.

Perhaps one day I will understand His amazing grace.

L~ F~:~
~M
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