For ten years I have been navigating the minefield of Mother’s Day. As the years go by I have learned one important thing that helps to make this day enjoyable. It can be applied in so many situations, but I find it particularly helpful on days like today.

It’s very simple.

Drop your expectations.

That’s it. Don’t expect your husband to know you’d like waffles with strawberry sauce and coffee for breakfast. In bed. Don’t expect that your kids will make you a card and a gluey mess of a craft. Don’t expect that your husband knows you don’t want him to buy overpriced flowers when he could get them cheaper next week. Don’t expect that your children will obey you. Don’t expect that everyone around you will treat you like a queen for a day. They don’t know what kind of royal treatment you are expecting, and even if that were their goal, all their best efforts would likely fall short of your expectations and you’ll all be yelling at each other by the day’s end. Not that I’d know.

I know the job is hard, and I know it takes sacrifice and is filled with thankless work. Believe me, I know. I also know that I don’t do the endless work of mothering for praise and thanks. I do it because it is who I am: I am a mother. I have birthed four miracles into this world, and I have given myself for them and to them because it is the holy task given to me.

God in his wisdom knew better than I, that I think of myself too much. In my mothering I am taught sacrificial love and am reminded of the great love that Jesus has loved me with. He didn’t just get up in the night to calm night terrors, he left his throne to take on the form of a lowly human so that he could serve me to the extreme of taking the punishment for my sin. God now calls me his daughter, and he is my Father. I’ve already gotten far more than I deserve.

If I can learn to drop my expectations, I realize how rich I already am.

I have grandiose ideas about what it means to be a writer. I picture an idyllic world in which I wake up to a magical haze in my bedroom, and everything is coloured with wonder and surprise. My feet meet the floor with anticipation of what will unfold before my eager eyes that day. Everything, a welcome joy to the unfolding narrative before me. All of life’s a delicious story; I would drink it up with unmatched enthusiasm, and it would spill out of me in words woven with spark and creativity. I am, after all, a writer.

The trouble is that is not my reality. There are dirty dishes, and plenty of them. The laundry never ends, and the boxes on my to-do list are never all checked off. There are children to teach, young souls to be discipled, and in the middle of it I am a hot mess who can’t get her act together. I can’t make the time to get food on the table, let alone write.

I beat myself up for not waking at the crack of dawn to enjoy an hour of uninterrupted writing before the demands of the day meet me head on. I have things to say, but sleep has things to say to me as well. Before I know it, weeks have passed, and I have neglected to write a thing. Then I am faced with the obvious internal conflict, “What kind of writer doesn’t write? You’re not a writer. How are you going to write a book when you can’t drag your uninspired butt out of bed and get to work?”

The truth is, I don’t know. But I know that I will. This journey will have times of triumph and trial, and I will learn to ride the waves when I find my feet, and take the beating when I lose my footing and the waves come crashing down on my head. I’ll get back up and try again, not because I am strong and dedicated but because Jesus is. He never fails, and by the power of his Spirit I will press on. My hope is in God, not in myself. He is the one who calls, and he is the one who makes my path straight, and illuminates the way. He puts breath in my lungs, and enables me to take my shaky steps toward him.

“Be comforted, small one, in your smallness. He lays no merit on you. Receive and be glad. Have no fear, lest your shoulders be bearing this world.”
C.S. Lewis, Voyage to Venus: Perelandra

Many people have asked what I’m writing about. I give different answers at different times: I guess it may change as I put flesh on the bones of my outline. The shortest answer is that I’m writing about discipleship. A more detailed response is that it’s about the discipline of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, the life change that takes place when we remove ourselves from the throne of our lives and yield to King Jesus as Lord and Savior. It’s about what Jesus has done, and what we do in response to his finished work. His is a call to come and die, to leave behind the old person and put on the new. We work hard because we’re loved by the King of all kings, not to gain his love. His love of sinners compels them to action.

It’s been a month since I announced my writing project. It has been a month of wild ups and downs. I’ll go from intense focus and positivity to deep discouragement. Writing is something I have a difficult time doing when I am distracted, and with four children  it is not something I can make headway with during the day. There is always someone wanting me, needing me, or causing trouble that I need to intervene with. Knowing my inability to focus outside of a vacuum, I’ve been getting up before the sun to write. I joked with Clay that by the time I’m done I’ll be able to say I wrote this book in my sleep since I nod off so often. This, an attempt at keeping my heart light when the task seems too much.

I’m trying to write about discipline, and I knew the writing process would be an act of discipline for me.
“I’m going to discipline so hard!” I thought as I began.

Then I hit a wall and couldn’t get my thoughts into words and things fell apart. Last night was the lowest point yet in my book writing process. I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw it all away. I felt so stupid for ever thinking I could accomplish something of this size. A blog post every now and then on a rather inactive blog is one thing, a book is something else entirely. I got so mad, mostly at myself and my inability to collect my thoughts, and had a big ugly cry. I fell short of my own expectations, and hoped quitting would be an easy out.

I told Clay before I even started writing that the hardest part of writing my book was not going to be the actual writing, but the spiritual opposition I would face through the process. Yesterday was a prime example of what I knew would be coming, and I floundered. I was assaulted by a host of lies and accusations. I tried to fight my own fight, then I laid down and took a beating.

I wanted so badly to be able to walk away from this dream, yet I know that is impossible. Why? The short answer is because I know God has laid it on my heart to do this, and he will not let me walk away. I know he has given me things to say, and has a lot to teach me about who he is through this process, as well as things he wants to teach me about myself. Quitting would be avoiding the inevitable. God has given me a task to accomplish, and I know he will pursue me. I can surrender now, or later. He loves me when I gain ground, and he loves me when I hit these walls. He loves me on the days the words pour out of me like water, and he loves me when my heart and mind are a desert. He simply loves me. He’ll guide me through this and provide a way to accomplish this task that is too great for me.

So I rest in him, and I work hard to reach the goal before me. This is what my book is all about, and I guess it has to start in my own heart before I can get it into words for anyone else.

 

 

I Shall Not Want

I rarely turn on the local Christian radio station. The main reason being that a lot of what they play is just musically and lyrically bad. It’s shallow, and inane. But hey, that’s just my opinion. I could have left it out, but I felt like this post would be a little disingenuous if I didn’t divulge the whole truth.

That said, one day last year I turned it on and was completely undone by this song. It wrecked me again tonight. It is a beautiful and heartfelt cry of repentance. Do take the time to listen.

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

A few months ago I wrote a post about being a doer, not just a thinker.

There are things in my life that I think about a lot. Things I think I will do someday, things that seem high and lofty, things that are beyond my present reach. Do I think that waiting long enough will bring them closer to my grasp? I must, and yet the opposite is usually true. The longer I wait to do something, the more insurmountable it becomes. My thoughts create excuse after excuse for why I can’t. These goals steadily rise higher into the clouds, and I am left in a valley of self-pity. I’ll never get there. It’s too hard.

I’ve always hoped I would someday write a book. Something meaningful and deep, that pours from my soul.

The thing about writing is that most people tell you it’s so hard. On more than one occasion I’ve heard people compare it to giving birth – as joyous as I feel birth is, I’ll attest to the fact that there is some discomfort involved. (Alright, let’s call it what it is, it’s pain. People who tell you you can have a pain-free birth are lying or disillusioned.) Why would I willingly sign myself up to do something I know is going to be difficult?

Recently I’ve read that writing doesn’t have to be difficult, and I can pound a book out in a month if I have the determination to sit down and write for at least an hour every day. As nice as that sounds, it also sounds too good to be true. I believe that writing might be easier than I thought, but I don’t think it’s easy. Rarely is something of value easy. When you pour yourself into something, it is at a cost, and that is the opposite of easy and free.

So I’ve found myself at a crossroads. I want to write. The act of writing a book has not quite reached the heights of Mt. Everest in my mind, but it’s somewhere in the Rockies at this point. I can choose to watch it slip away, and as the years pass I can tell myself I would have written a great book if I had ever actually dedicated myself to the hard work of doing it. Ten years from now I could look back and wonder what would have happened if I had just gone for it. Or I could stop thinking and do.

I’m telling you now, I’m going to do it. I don’t know how long it will take me. Every writer I read for advice gives me different stories of how to make it work. But I’m going to do it.

Watch me.

“An anxious person cannot pray with faith; when troubled about the world, instead of serving your Master, your thoughts are serving you. If you would ‘seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,’ all things would then be added to you. You are meddling with Christ’s business and neglecting your own when you fret about your lot and circumstances. You have been trying ‘providing’ work and forgetting that it is your job to obey. Be wise and attend to the obeying, and let Christ manage the providing. Come and survey your Father’s storehouse, and ask whether He will let you starve while He has laid up so great an abundance in His garner? Look at His heart of mercy; see if that can ever prove unkind! Look at His inscrutable wisdom; see if that will ever be at fault. Above all, look up to Jesus Christ your Intercessor, and ask yourself, while He pleads, can your Father deal ungraciously with you? If He remembers even sparrows, will He forget one of the least of His poor children? ‘Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.'”

– C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Sometimes God showers his grace on us in big, glorious ways; often, it comes in small acts of providence. Today I again experienced the latter.

I was completely knocked out this morning with a horrific headache. I’ll skip a gory description, but just say that the pain was so severe at times that all I could do was cry out in pain, as if I were in labour. There was however no apparent purpose to this pain. I was stuck in bed except for the times I was running to the bathroom, sick to my stomach. It was not pretty.

My children spent these hours watching Netflix, fighting about what to watch on Netflix, as yelling about who could and could not sit beside them. As lunchtime was upon us, and I drifted in and out of sleep, I wondered what I would do about feeding the kids. Perhaps I would just have Markus serve everyone Cheerios, since there was no way I could get up to help them.

And then the doorbell rang. It was my mom. She went to buy the kids chicken nuggets and fries, while I prayed a prayer of thankfulness to my Father in heaven who loves this daughter enough to send help when the need is great. Amazing grace.

Lest we forget.

Lest We Forget.

As a child, war seemed like a distant fabled tale, but the older I get the closer it feels to me. This morning we observed a ceremony of remembrance, paying tribute to the men and women who have served our country and are currently doing so. I was struck with a deeper realization than ever of what the cost of freedom is.  I’m sure the recent attacks on our own soil have made the reality of threatened freedom much more real to me, and I am so grateful for those who have sacrificed to make possible the freedom we enjoy in Canada.

Think. Do.

Forest path

Thinking about doing something, and actually doing something are two very different things.

I often think about walking the leafy path at Beaver Creek, but I rarely make the time to actually get there. I think about mastering a new song on the piano, yet I don’t often make time to sit down and practice.  I think about all the books I want to read to my kids, but I assume said children will be difficult and unable to sit still and I will inevitably lose my mind (likely true!) so I don’t even start the books. I think about having my friends over for a party just because we’re friends and I enjoy their company, but I don’t take the initiative to throw that party because I’m busy and so is everyone else. The list goes on and on with all the things I think of doing, but don’t.

Writing is one of those things. I think about it too much, and don’t do it enough.

Thinking is a good thing, but doing: doing is also very good.

I’d like to be more of a doer.

“Among conservative Christians there is sometimes the mistaken notion that if we are truly gospel-centered we won’t talk about rules or imperatives or moral exertion. We are so eager not to confuse indicatives (what God has done) and imperatives (what we should do) that we get leery of letting biblical commands lead uncomfortably to conviction of sin. We’re scared of words like diligence, effort, and duty. We know legalism (salvation by law keeping) and antinomianism (salvation without the need for law keeping) are both wrong, but antinomianism feels like a much safer danger.

“Then there’s the reality that holiness is plain hard work, and we’re often lazy. We like our sins, and dying to them is painful. Almost everything is easier than growing in godliness. So we try and fail, try and fail, and then give up. It’s easier to sign a petition protesting man’s inhumanity to man than to love your neighbour as yourself. It’s one thing to graduate from college ready to change the world. It’s another to be resolute in praying that God would change you.”

– Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness