Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Last Post before Lent

I'm beginning to believe that the well is deeper than we've ever dared to wonder.

I'm starting to think that our source waters are more of an abyss than a container.

I'm thinking that the pool we have to draw from is so much more vast and profound than we ever thought possible... that if we were to jump into the waters and dive to the bottom looking for it's end....

we would never find it.

Life with God....

It's different.

It's empowered.

It's tinged.

When the Holy Spirit touches a heart, a life, a purpose, a talent - it explodes into all kinds of splendor.

And the well that all this comes from...it never empties.

Oh, may we lower our buckets.
 
I have been praying about what to hand over and up for the Lenten season for a while now.

When I casually sat down to my desk earlier today, and asked once more what He wanted me to fast....

I was shocked by the immediate inkling of a response:

"Your blog writing."

"Excuse me?"

"I've just now hit my stride God! I've written more in the last weeks than I've written in some years - so no. Not that."

My initial reaction was not peace or willingness.

But I've been praying off and on ever since about it.....

Asking if the voice I heard in my heart was His on this matter.

And it seems..... it was.

And so it looks like I am...

Fasting public writing for the duration of Lent this year.

I think it will be a season of scooping out water for my cistern....

from that well of His that never, ever runs dry.

Yes.

I hope whatever it is that you take away or implement over the next several weeks - will result in new realizations, fresh horizons, and faith falling afresh.

I will see you in April, friends. :)





Monday, February 16, 2015

New

The day is cracking open.

The lid of another week is being twisted off as I type this.

A blue-grayish hue is coming through my open window, as the sun makes it's way to our side of Earth.

There's a cloud cover today.

And that's okay.

The last few days of sweet pure sunshine have poured out enough rays to last us.

Many are still curled under blankets, others are already racing to work.

I am praying for a few extra minutes of me-time before my charges charge, so I can pour out a post.

As we sit here at the beginning of a brand new week...

All full of potential, and plans, and duties, and drudgeries...

As we flip the page to a new chapter of the month, and dive into what the next 7 hold...

I want joy to reign.

I want our minds to change. 

I want peace and calm and contentment to be louder than their opposites.

I want this week to be different somehow.

For each of us.

As we find ourselves at the beginning of a new calendar row - perhaps a prostrate posture is where we should begin.

Lord, we start with You.

Endue us with power from on high - to diffuse what needs calmed, and ignite what needs passion.

Let us discern and sense your Spirit at work in us this week.

Wherever we need newness of mind and ability - pour out! Our hands are open.

Make our reactions be calmer, our thoughts lighter, our feelings steadier, our service more genuine, our bodies healthier, our choices wiser, our prayers more frequent, our love grander, and our joy more tangible. 

It all comes from You.

I ask for a real difference. A felt, seen, marked one.

For every heart scanning these words here.

The light coming from my window is much brighter than it was when I first started the weaving of words this morning.

My hope is that our homes and lives will follow suit.
 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lent 2015

Last Lent I gave up gluten.

The fast didn't last the whole 40 and some odd days, however.

It lasted about half.

But also last Lent, I picked up journaling.

And that.....that has stuck.


Near daily I pick up that leathery pink bounded bunch of papers - and let the prayers and concerns flow from mind to parchment.

It's been healthy for me.

And helpful, too.

Because it's shocking what one can forget when an event, a word, a prophecy, a feeling, an idea...never makes it into ink.

It's like it evaporates into thin, stealing air.

But having scribbled it down on lined paper - you can revisit and remember and pray and praise all over again.

And that's always, always good.

Seeing where you've been...
recognizing where you are...
and realizing where you are going...

it's conducive to growth and rootedness.

Leading up to the Lord's dying and rising last year, I found myself in a hard season....

Health woes.

Husband job transitions.

House hunting.

It was a heavy, fully-loaded, uncertain bunch of months for me.

Looking back on the words I wrote during that period... I feel glad I'm not where I was.

I feel grateful I made it through.

I feel pleased that I put the pen to paper.

Yes!

This year's Lenten season has it's own oddities and concerns and hopes and dreams - but I'm happy I'll be writing it all down again.

I plan on giving up something again this year, too.

Perhaps I'll even make it the full 40 this time :)

As we meander our way to that empty grave this Spring... let's make it be more than tradition and merchandise. 

Let's make it be more than doing your duty and going without for a while.

Let's embrace the meaning, the history, the promises, the truths.

Let's really see and hear and know our Savior this go around.

Let's ask for revelation, and breakthrough, and freedom.

Let's ask for faith, and righteousness, and repentance.

Let's ask for deep level heart change.

Let's really lean in this Lent.

And write it all down.

This time next year....

I think you'll be glad you did.





Friday, February 13, 2015

Rest

We should all go back to making bread and pasta and pizza dough by hand.

The health benefits are reason enough, I suppose.

And the taste of homemade beats manufactured.

But I let that be the first line in my post tonight for the simple fact that standing and kneading something for 8-10 minutes changes everything.

Massaging flour and salt into egg and oil.... it forces me to be still, and face my thoughts, and set them straight, and pray them through, and pound frustration out onto granite.

Yesterday....

As I was twisting noodle dough into elastic form - it was mandatory that I stay put and ponder for a present second.

The kids couldn't need me - because I was kneading.

And a sticky mix of ingredients was plastered to my hands.

And I couldn't run off and do this or that - because the recipe required me to stay.

So as I stood and mixed I thought about a myriad of things...

But the reflection that caught me by surprise and made me perk up to a listen was this:

"You need to rest before you rise. Just like the dough does."

Dough has to rest...so that the gluten can relax...and so that you can shape the dough into your desired design.

Dough has to rest before it rises so that it can be shaped.

If you try to work with a piece of dough that hasn't had time to rest - it will resist you.

Do I even need to explain the analogy here?

You get it.

So does your Maker.

He is a baker of sorts and we are all lumps of dough in potential-filled process.

Mind, body, soul - they all need a time of being in the prostrate position..... healing, re-energizing, dreaming.

All of us....our whole selves - we need to rise up and work and handle and order and teach and give out and achieve and reach high to heaven...

But before any of that is done excellently, we must rest fully.

Tonight....

I'm showering off and calling it a day.

So that tomorrow...

Something high and worthwhile will rise up out of me.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Table

Chicken will simmer in a slow bubbling broth today.

And greens will sizzle with onion on a stove top.

And potatoes will soften to a mash, rolls will rise high and yeast-like, and salad will be torn and tossed under dressing.

Company.

The last few years have shown this caved-in introvert the magic that happens when people sit around a table together in breaking bread.

And certain books* and blogs* have mentored me on why this practice is perfect for pouring into souls and peeking into histories and lives.

Opening doors opens hearts.

Plopping people right in the middle of your base central - allows them to commune with you in a special way that's hard to mimic in a restaurant booth.

We meet folks in that fashion, too. Often, actually. And special connections are certainly made there also.

But pulling out a chair for people - and handing them one of your scratched up plates - and letting them see your muffled homeschool corner ...there's something intimate and real about that.

This rent house here is small.

And I don't have walls adorned with artwork like I'd like.

And all the other homes I enter around these parts are so fabulously outfitted, that I do still sometimes cringe when I think about inviting people in.

I get a bit embarrassed if I'm being honest.

But if the warmth and truth and ministry in my home is vibrant and alive...it will outshine all that other stuff. 

There's a healthy unraveling that occurs when we gather and ask the Holy Spirit to be present.

That's why here the next couple of weeks - a group of girls and I are meeting in my house to dive deep into printed word and scripture.

That's why I have a list sitting next to my computer with the names of people I want to invite to my table this year.

That's why chicken will boil in my kitchen today.

As you walk into my house....I have a newly purchased wooden sign hanging to the left of my living room.

It says...

Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Your food and home-fashion don't have to be either.

Throw some flowers on your table, light some half-gone candles, mix or call in something somewhat delicious, and pull out your chair for some folks.

Hearts will unfold if you do.

Yours, and theirs.

_______________________________

*No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo
*The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elizabeth Elliot
*What is Family by Edith Schaeffer
*The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
*The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

 



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Pleasant Afternoon

It's 73 and sunny where I'm sitting today.

There's been a cloud cover as of late - and so these last few days of pure blue heavens, warm dry temps, and sweet soft breezes has been bliss.

All of my kind readers in the North are gagging, I am sure.

I feel for you, friends.

I'm hearing your complaints about all those freezing and frigid temps you're getting, and I'm elated that I have escaped.

The cold did not treat me well when I was there.

 I never did get used to it.

Sun and warmth are woven into the very fibers of my being, I suppose.

If I ever actually move to England.... Jesus will have to sustain my equatorial heart.

The oldest and I have been outside for much of the afternoon - soaking in every bit of sunshine the sky offers us.

My man-child has swept pine needles into a giant pile leaning up against our yard's back border.

He has made a makeshift canopy for me to write underneath - with an old large umbrella and rocking chairs.

Right now, he's making a sprinkler system for his experiential garden plot. He just turned it on and the thing actually works.

The youngest two are having their blessed nap.

The girl has dance tonight - and I've learned that the evening runs smooth when she has had some extra shut-eye.

And Mama here is popping in for a post yet again this week. Three days and going strong now.

All because I ran across a quote this past weekend that hit me where I needed it...

If you want to be a writer, you have to write everyday...you don't go to a well once but daily." - Walter Mosely

So I have been trying to make an extra keen effort to visit the watering hole.

Whether it makes me a writer or not...it certainly satisfies.

I'm looking out onto the sea, as I type this.

A chalky one.

The blondes have drawn all sorts of corals and water creatures on our back porch - and all over our house, and a good portion of our fence.

It's a rainbow of seaside out here.

The calm of this moment is in deep contrast to the angry chaos that ensued earlier today - with Mama getting red in the face over forgotten chores and dramatic whinyness.

I'm thankful for my composed moment here - where the air is filled with dove song, and mower engine, and boy mischief.

I'm off to sweat a bit.

How anyone can get a taste of the sun without using it for aerobics is beyond me.

May your afternoon surprise you with blips of joy and sunshine, friends.

Warm embraces to you all.




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You're Invited: A Book Study

There's some kind of a spark that flames when women gather together in common purpose.

There's an igniting that occurs when like-minded ladies rally, and root, and forge.

The ideas.

The healing.

The camaraderie

The growth.

The accountability.

The inspiration.

The encouragement...

It all occurs when women come together to seek God's face.

Life-change and light-bulb moments and laughter and a common language ring in loud and high.

This Spring...

I have the good pleasure of leading a women's study.

If you find yourself living in the Houston/West Houston/Northwest Houston area...consider this your personal invite.

In the eight weeks that we gather, we will read and discuss Sally Clarkson’s latest book Own Your Life. We will delve deep into the topics of motherhood, faith, callings, attitudes, and ministry. The study will also be laced with discussion and instruction on some of the spiritual disciplines – prayer, fasting, study, worship, etc… Each Monday night, we will have food and fellowship followed by discussion and prayer. While this study tends to point more toward Mamas – all are welcome and will certainly benefit. Join us for what is sure to be a worthwhile and lively look into living a Spirit-filled and intentional life in 2015 onward.

We begin Monday, February 23rd at 6:30pm.

For more details please email: abellthatrings@gmail.com

Please know...that I am praying over this gathering.

I'm asking that the Holy Spirit will move and speak amongst us....
that hurts will find healing
that friends will be found
that knowledge will be gained
that encouragement and inspiration will reign
and that a deep faith will flourish for every woman who finds herself seeking with us this season.

And did you see....

There will be food?

Why not fill our bellies while filling our souls?

I'm excited to see what transpires and unfolds as we dive deep into the things of the Lord together.

Have a splendid week, friends. :)