Monday, December 16, 2013

Let us slow. Let us s-l-o-w. Let us s--l--o--w ...

Well, I did it! I self-declared Friday to be an official “S-l-o-w Day”. And celebrated it. And tho’ not all went according to plan, I’m so glad I did plan for it. I enjoyed it so much that I’m officially declaring it a new tradition. Tho’ I’ll likely try to coincide it with the first official snow day of the year - or will do it without one if we haven’t had one before - say … Dec 15 - as part of what made it so special is the otherwise ordinarily “so busy” time I specifically scheduled it for! 

Every single soul needs one now and then, and perhaps now more than ever, so I highly recommend it. Giving yourself the gift of a Slow Day before Christmas. 

I had two pals to “party” with. Kept my youngest home. It was pretty much a party day for her at school anyhow. And my oldest daughter joined us after school. Each of us donned matching super soft slippers I had found on sale – and brand new pajama pants I’d purchased specifically for this special occasion. Thanks to Bob’s Bucks I'd accumulated, I was able to get three pairs for aprx $10 – total! <insert a li’l happy dance in PJ pants here! ; ) > And together we enjoyed a “Girls Day In”. Justine baked cookies and created Christmas floats. … three low key (of course!) ingredients: hot chocolate, peppermint ice cream & whipped cream – preferably from in a can ; ) – and, from there you can get more creative if you want with such things as she did (ie. tiny marshmallows! : ). And – at some point, someone popped Polar Express into the dvd player and we became couch potatoes.

Oftentimes by now we would’ve had an official snow day and celebrated it instead in much the same low key but perhaps not quite so special way. But no snow days here so far this year : / We’ve had snow – just not properly timed so as to declare an official snow day. Tho’ for a special surprise mid-slow day, I did throw in a couple o' LUSH bath bomb snowballs – and - as you can imagine, they were well received ; ) Alexis went home with hers in hand and Justine just may hold onto hers until the first official snow day finally does arrive! 

Note: From this point forward some of what I share will pretty much be repeated from a previous post. Sorry. Just wanted to have it all together in on place.

And, on that slow day midway thru’ Advent, “it just so happened” that The Greatest Gift Advent devo was much about the difference between how The LORD and we look at and see things. And how the way we see things strangely affects us “from housekeeping to soul-keeping.”

I Samuel 16:7b (NIV) …The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Pretty convicting stuff for a perfectionist and precisely why I particularly appreciated some things Ann Voskamp pointed out. And with the understanding found in the passage above, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me so much that in the “Upside Down” (relatively speaking) Kingdom of God, the Good King continually turns things “inside out” so to speak, to see the heart of a particular person. And that, it seems, essentially being the “why” behind why God raised up Abel instead of Cain, Jacob instead of Esau, Isaac instead of Ishmael, Moses instead of Aaron, David instead of Eliab, Sarah instead of Hagar, Leah instead of Rachel. Tamar. Hannah. Ruth. Rahab. etc. And that also, it seems, essentially being at least in in part, the reason He eventually raised up His Own Son, The Savior! Down here - upon this earth. And up on the cross. And - from the dead!

And when I stop here and now to ponder how my story fits into HIStory … well – it all gets pretty personal. Especially when I picture how dark, dirty and cold the stable must've been and consider how odd it seems that the Creator/KING OF KINGS & LORD of LORDS would choose, from all of creation, such a place to be the perfect place to make His presence known. Yet the better I get to know Him, the more I understand about the why behind where He chose to make His earthly debut - so perhaps it shouldn't surprise me so much that he would choose such a similar place - that being my heart – for essentially the same purpose. Nonetheless, I still can't help but wonder "Why!?" It is a profound Mystory of HIStory! Yet He, in that uniquely His “upside down and inside out” way of His, has somehow managed to transform my skeptical "Why?!" into the very reason why I celebrate Christmas.

And with all of the individual “inside out” stories woven consistently with what seems to me to be to quite possibly be a red thread (a strand of three cords perhaps?) into HIStory, I do believe I “see” an a-MaZiNg “tapestry of Grace" unfolding. Tho’ I can’t help but w*o.n*d.e*r … if, since that sinful snag snarled things so soon after “In the beginning …”, might the tapestry need to be turned "upside down" in order to put things into proper perspective and so to get the a-MazInG Grace-FULL effect - in the end?! 

All this on that day set aside, in part, to slow down so as to attempt to refrain from profaning, in the mundane, that which is meaningful and hallowed in what Ann Voskamp describes as "... the divine design of a day that unfolds with a grace that is not to be missed.” 

And I've been attempting to wrap words around it all pretty much ever since.

Mere coincidence? Or minute miracle?! I know what I believe. But will allow you to decide that for yourself ; )

Saturday, December 14, 2013

mere coincidence or minute miracle?

 “Forever is composed of nows.” (Emily Dickenson is credited with penning those words l-o-ng before I put them here) - and because I tend to see things, especially The LORD’s hand in things, most clearly in hindsight - and that being a perspective we’re not privy to in the present, I’m so incredibly grateful for God’s Word/Record of HIStory since it affords the advantage of clear vision (They say hindsight is 20/20) to see "coincidence" upon "coincidence" all add up to so much more than one could ever reasonably attribute to mere coincidence!

This morning, In Day 12 of The Greatest Gift Advent devo by Ann Voskamp, I read a WoNdEr-full example of just such a “chapter” in HIStory regarding Ruth (the outsider grafted in) and Naomi. If you haven't yet, you really should read it! Here's just a brief excerpt of it from the NIV version of God's Word:

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16 (NIV)

And, in a nutshell, it goes kinda like this: Once upon a time w-a-a-y too many “just so happenends” happened to reasonably conclude in “the end” (which, by the way, is really STILL continuing!) that it all “just so happened!”

And when I contemplate how at least in so far as she was concerned, Ruth’s faith and obedience seemed to be critical components in the continual “coincidences” - Well … that’s a whole other story! But I’m kinda convicted actually - to pause here. Now. To ponder this ...

The next time I consider something to be rather “coincidental”, perhaps I should instead be compelled to reconsider that, in proper context, it very well may have been a minute miracle in an otherwise mundane moment! - And promptly ascribe credit (and praise and glory too!) to Whom All Credit (and Praise and Glory) Is Due.

upside down and inside out

I Samuel 16:7b (NIV) …The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Well, I'm here. Tho' not quite like I said I wouldn’t be today, my self declared Official Slow Day; ) But wanted to share ..

Day 12 in The Greatest Gift Advent Devo is much about the difference between how The LORD and we look at and see things. And how the way we see things strangely affects us “from housekeeping to soul-keeping.” Pretty convicting stuff for a perfectionist - which is precisely why I appreciate some things Ann Voskamp points out, perhaps more than some others would. Will try to summarize the way I understand what she shares: 

With the understanding found in I Samuel 16:7b (above), perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me so much that in the “Upside Down” Kingdom of God, He continually turns things “inside out” to see the heart – and that, it seems, essentially being the “why” behind why God raised up Abel instead of Cain, Jacob instead of Esau, Isaac instead of Ishamel, Moses instead of Aaron, David instead of Eliab, Sarah instead of Hagar, Leah instead of Rachel. Tamar. Hannah. Ruth. Rahab. etc. ... And even His Own Son, The Savior!

And, well - with all of the individual “inside out” examples/stories that can be found woven consistently into HIStory, I do believe that I “see” an a-mazing "tapestry of Grace" unfolding. Tho’ I can’t help but w*o.n*d.e*r ... if perhaps it may need to be turned "upside down", in order to get the (grace)full effect, in the end?!

And all this – today, of all days. A day I specifically set aside to slow down so as to refrain from profaning, in the mundane, that which is meaningful and hallowed in what Ann Voskamp describes as "... the divine design of a day that unfolds with a grace that is not to be missed.” 

Mere coincidence? Or minute miracle?! I know what I believe! But will allow you to decide that for yourself ; )

let us slow, let us s-l-o-w, let u-s s-l-o-w

In Day 8 of The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp suggests that we profane Advent with fleshly performances, frantic pushing and futile preoccupations – and she shares this: “Profanity, writes Elisabeth Elliot, is “treating as meaningless that which is freighted with meaning. Treating as common that which is hallowed. Regarding as a mere triviality what is really a divine design. ...“” Tho’ Day 8 still seems timely to me, surely the fact that I’m behind is a sign, among others I’ve seen, that I should take some time to s-lo-w down so as not to miss Him in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. And so - I’m declaring this Friday to be an official “Slow Day.” Tho’ I’m quite certain I’ll wake up feeling like I often do … that there's so much I could/would/should be doing, I’m determined to be so determined to not to do it all on that day. And instead, and assuming all goes according to plan, to CeLeBrAte by popping something simple for dinner into my slow cooker, enjoying a cyber "sabbath" of sorts, and planting myself at home sweet home in pajama pants … that being something I typically reserve for celebrating such things as official S*n.O*w Days - but that seems practically perfect for just such a time as this since I wouldn’t want to wear pajamas out in public! ; ) And .. You're invited! (No pressure tho') to my "Pajama Party." Hope you'll join me - by staying home, of course ; ) Tho’ it’s already on the fast track to becoming a new tradition, I’m so looking forward to setting aside my "could/would/should do lists" in order to celebrate my first ever official S-l-o-w Day - and all essentially in an attempt to train myself to refrain from profaning, in the mundane, that which Ann Voskamp so eloquently describes as "... the divine design of a day that unfolds with a grace that is not to be missed.” *** Genesis 28:16 (NIV) When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

reflecting on here & now & there & then

I gather it’s not so-o different here and now as it was there and then in the bustling town of Bethlehem. Tho' in stark contrast to all the busy-ness outside, in the stable where Jesus was born I picture the dawn of redeeming grace as ... quiet. Peaceful. Livestock lowing. Lull(aby)ing. And perhaps just a touch of sparkle so appropriately placed in the reflection of radiant beams from His holy face in His young mother's eyes. (Pause here to ponder that privilege!) And I can't help but wonder, as we proceed to prepare Him room(s) in our hearts and homes, if we were to employ a similar profoundly simple approach, appropriately focused on seeking His face, might we also then enjoy a similar privilege? 

I Cornithians 4:6 (NIV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

the why behind why I wish you an ImPeRfEcT Christmas

“In all Humanity’s religions, man reaches for God. But in all His relationships, God reaches for man. -- Reaches for you who have fallen and scraped your heart raw, for you who feel the shame of words that snaked off your tongue and poisoned corners of your life, for you who keep trying to cover up pain with perfection. -- Three words come through the dense thicket of failure: Where are you?” - Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Those words struck me, as I tend to wrestle here (somewhere between fear and faith and not enough and too much) with perfectionism, and especially in areas I seem to have some measure of control over. They took me back to a time when I pondered perfection from perplexing perspectives and penned (blogged) a few points that I tho’t to polish up and put here.

In all my years of attempting to do something/anything/even just one thing perfectly, I have never, not once, ever succeeded. And the few times I've even come close (relatively speaking!) were SO stressful.


"Perfection" is pretty, but attaining and maintaining it is definitely NOT pretty. It's frustrating. Exhausting. Discouraging. Time consuming! Not to mention impossible.


Perfection is isolating because perfectionists are intimidating &/or intimidated easily.


With the exception of the precision and perfection I find in nature - which I believe is a reflection of the nature of the Creator - when I do see something or someone that's practically perfect (usually in photos or on TV) almost always, upon closer inspection, I figure out that it's been airbrushed. Photoshopped. Edited! 

Evenso, at some point it seems God reached down thru’ my “dense thicket of failure” and presented me with this petite but precious and powerful passage:

Hebrews 10:14 (NIV) For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

WOW! (consider pausing here to ponder that!) ... essentially I understand it to mean that Christ died to do what I was dying to do! And with that understanding it’s heartbreaking (and appropriately so) to think of all the editing/red ink (blood!) my “story” required in order to make me perfect forever! But it seems the transfusion was/has been/is continually transforming - to the point that when I received (believed!) it, I stopped dying & started really living. And tho' doubt still creeps in and so I still wrestle here, somewhere between 'LORD, I believe - & - LORD, please help me overcome my unbelief!”, and tho' it's even more perplexing than all the others, Hebrews 10:14 is definitely the perspective from which I prefer to ponder perfection.

All that said in hopes that you’ll appreciate more than you might have otherwise, my early wishes to you for an IMPERFECT Christmas! … all with understanding that I believe it will be so much less stressful and all the more joy-full that way 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16,17 (NIV)

preparing rooms and preparing Him room

Posted on fb at the beginning of Advent

Over the long weekend we were busy restoring order to rooms in our home that had pretty much been turned upside down as our teenage daughter moved out of one bedroom and into another and even as we tried to maintain order in the rest of the house. And we did it! Even managed to put up a few Christmas decorations as well. In just the nick of time for Advent we transformed our home from a bit cluttered & chaotic into more peaceful and pretty. Evenso, I still woke yesterday to the startling realization that it was already here! Advent! Somehow I seemed to think we had a bit more time to prepare. Nonetheless I was grateful for what we’d already done toward that end, tho’ still felt rushed into it all and perhaps a bit guilty for being so wrapped up in organizing and decorating. But with it being the first day of Advent, at some point I picked up “The Greatest Gift” and read the first chapters in which Ann Voskamp took me a-l-l the w-a-a -y back to “In the beginning … “ – to words from the very first chapter of recorded HIStory in Genesis. And I pondered ... that here & now I was, thousands of years later, feebly attempting to restore into my little corner of the world some semblance of the initial order that God so beautifully wove into and throughout creation with PeRfECt precision, pattern and purpose - and I felt a little better about the organizing and decorating we'd done recently. I guess I figured then that we must be doing something right, since that’s essentially what I get the impression God took great pleasure in doing in the beginning too ; )

Anyhow - now I'm attempting to shift my focus from “preparing rooms” to preparing Him room.

let every heart prepare Him room, & heaven and nature sing!

"John Calvin, he wrote it like a reviving breath - that every human being is "formed to be a spectator of the created world and given eyes that he might be led to its author ... first [to] cast our eyes upon the beautiful fabric of the world in which [God] wishes to be seen by us ... As soon as we acknowledge God to be the supreme architect, who has erected the beauteous fabric of the universe, our minds must necessarily be ravished with wonder at His infinite goodness, wisdom and power." 
- Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift 


John 1:1-5 (NIV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 


Psalm 19 1-6 (NIV)

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing! 

Yada Yada Yada

1. to bemoan with this wringing of hands.
2. or to revere with an extending of hands.
And this too on the page of the Strong’s Concordance:
3. Yadah means to confess.
4. Yadah means to give thanks.
Yadah –   the whisper of Psalms 92:1:
It is a good thing to [yada] — give thanks – and sing praises to unto thy name, O most High.”

via: A Holy Experience. Why the Best Response to Life, the Holidays, Anything is Yada, Yada, Yada: