Sunday, August 31, 2014

underwear and other issues

like it or not, somedays just start with your panties falling down.

we were walking in the doors of the school (only the tiniest bit late) when she grabbed my arm and said, "uh-oh, mama, my undies are falling down."

my little girl in her little dress.
knee socks high and knickers creeping low.
my first grader continued on, "um, mom ... i think i'm going to need some help here."

"some help here" required me (after a quick upward tug of her undies) jumping back in the car. heading home. retrieving a "new pair." texting her teacher about the issue (while fully and safely stopped at a stop light) and racing back to school for the great switch-a-roo.

i know ... you are still stuck on the "panties falling down" thing.
me too.
i mean, like who has this problem? i had a pair of jeans be too loose -- once. when i was 7 -- but i'm pretty sure i've never had a problem with baggy undergarments.

perhaps i'm being too personal.

i apologize.

but it kinda made me stop and think.

it made me think about the blessing it is to have someone in whom to confide; 
to have someone to share with the really personal stuff.
i mean, you can't just tell any old person about your underwear issues, right?
there's some protocol required.
some need for discernment.
some awareness of what's appropriate.

let's face it, boundaries are kind of important when it comes to sharing certain things.

but if that was me (and be assured, it won't EVER be me) who would i tell?

there is something to be said for having someone to talk to ... about any thing. about every thing. even the most personal. the most embarrassing. the most awful.
even the stuff way more awkward than our underwear.

but that's exactly who Jesus wants to be --- that someone.

that someone who can hear and handle absolutely everything. anything. all things. yes, even our underwear issues.

what would i do if i didn't have Jesus to talk to? 
to vent to?
to cry to?
to cling to?

seriously, what would life look like?
i can't imagine.

psalm 62 tells us to, "pour out our hearts to God ..."  i think that means to let loose; to hold back nothing. to share the whole kit and caboodle. i suppose we can't (and really shouldn't) have that same freedom with the people shopping for shoes at target (that happened to me once -- while picking out sandals for bella, a stranger began to pour out her life's story to me -- my kids say i invite this kind of over-communication with strangers. that's another blog post).
no, we can't pour out everything like that with everyone, but we can pour out like that with God.

because as bella said, "um ... i'm going to need a little help here."

and she's right.

we all have our awkward issues.
loose undies or loose screws or what-not, we've all got our stuff. and sometimes we just need someone to tell.

it's not just a kid thing, it's a parent thing ... a people thing.

God created us and cares.
God redeemed us and rescues.
God sent His son and saves.

it's what He does, what He's doing, and what He has already done.

this was excitement over the first day of school a few weeks ago ... not an underwear issue!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

s l o w d o w n

sometimes God gives us the most simple reminders. like a snail on a step.

i'm writing this month in series on worry --- posting these each day on my facebook page (jody mcnatt - eventhesparrow) as well as linking them together in a blog post. (worrier or warrior) .  thought i'd highlight this one today here though. not because i have a thing for snails, but mostly because i know me. i know my friends. i know us. i know how busy we all like to be. 

~ august 27 ~ 
i almost stepped on him.
i was rushing out the door, late for an appointment, arms full of items, head full of stress, and i just missed obliterating the slow life of this little guy.

and though i was late and rushing, i put down my load and looked at him for less than a minute. sat and stared. (and photographed).

there he was mocking me in my mayhem.

it was no accident.
that day, in particular, i needed the reminder: slow down!
s l o o o o o w    d o o o o o w n    j o o o o o d y ...

i've no plans to start a "save the snails" campaign,
but i have been convicted to save the slower pace.

all this rushing ...
all this running ...

psalm 39 deems it "in vain."
to what purpose? to what end? to what benefit?

i'm not sure there is any benefit to us being too busy.
in fact, i know that extreme busy-ness, brings burden.

it brings worry.
how will i get it all done?
how will i make it all work?
how will i keep it all afloat?

rushing and running and spinning and sprinting ...
and coming so very close to obliterating life
in the swift footsteps of our frenzy.

an increase in anxiety often goes hand in hand with an increase in activity.

s l o w d o w n.

be still.
be still(er).
i say (er) because i know it's hard.
it's almost inconceivable to be fully still. i have five kids -- are you kidding me? utter stillness is next to impossible. but God isn't suggesting we sit on our sofas and not move our muscles.
that isn't at all what He's asking.
but maybe it is about saying "yes" to less, "no" to more.
it's about carving out and quieting down and taking my time.

(preaching to myself) ...
release the rush and increase the rest.
let go of the push and embrace the peace.

s l o w d o w n.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

folks, we've got us a college girl!

we got home on the late side last night ... and i'm kind of glad. i was, pretty much, able to climb right into bed. i guess that would have been majorly weird had we arrived back at 4pm and i put on pajamas and pulled the covers over my head then. but at 9 o'clock, it was at least somewhat acceptable.

because that's about all i felt like doing last night. 

after a day of moving our oldest into her dorm room ... that's all i had left in me.


too physically taxing a day? no, not really.

but that emotional build up in saying good-bye while trying to keep some level of composure for my college girls' sake ... well ... that about did this mama in. it's not easy to let go. no surprise here. and we really wanted to at least try and honor her request ... "please, mom and dad, no tears ... please." (she knows her mother well).

and so after a day of arranging bedding, hanging drapes and organizing desk items ...
we said our quick good-byes on a campus sidewalk.

we headed for our car and she headed for her college.

and that was that. 

and really, tired and spent and emotionally wrecked as i felt making my way back to atlanta last night, i am so happy for her. thrilled, in fact.
and even if she had turned around and chased down me saying, "mom, i've changed my mind about this college thing and i'd rather just come back home with y'all." even if she had said those words ... begged ... pleaded ...  and clung. i would have turned her tall body right back toward her dorm room and given her a little push. "no, emily, this is where you belong. it's time to go."

(and just for the record, there was no way in heck that she would have said that to me ...
she could not have been more excited and ready and wanting to be there). 

and (really, truly) i want her there. and i rejoice this morning. a good night's sleep has restored my mother equilibrium -- at least for the moment. i'm sure the waves of abrupt change are going to hit me again at some point. i'll notice her place empty at the table or see that her room will be too clean ... i'll need her opinion on an outfit ... and that lump in my throat and those tears on my cheeks might very well show up again.

but that doesn't change my wanting her right where she is. right where she should be.

i told a friend this morning, i've yet to look into her room. i didn't dare do it last night. nope. could. not. do. it. but maybe soon, sometime today, i'll work up the courage to go in and change her sheets, straighten the items left abandoned on her desk, windex her mirror and all the while whisper words of praise for God's glory and grace in this going ... and in this gift -- being her mom.

on a slightly lighter note:  yesterday, while sitting in the closing assembly and listening to the college president address the class of 2018 ... sarah (our 14 year old) sat up quickly and whispered, "you know what this really means, mom? emily's going to college really means that i'm left alone to do all the dishes and help out with all the laundry - alone!" a look of total horror crossed the face of my 14 year old. i assured her she had brothers and a younger sister!

no doubt, we will all feel the hole of her going. but more than anything, we are all choosing to cheer her on and give thanks for her chance to go.

yes, it's kind of sad.
but it's really exactly as it should be.

i've already thought of three things which she might need me to run over to her next weekend. three things. THREE THINGS. that's a lot, isn't it? you are probably shaking your head and thinking, "oh yes, jody, you really should run those three things right over to her. as soon as possible, in fact. she needs them. she needs YOU!" 

nah. i know you're not really thinking that. and, truly, neither am i. though i will look forward to the time when we can go visit ... or the times when she'll pop on home ... i know, right now, she doesn't need three things from me or any-thing from me. only my prayers and encouragement. (and maybe an occasional care package with cookies).  three things or not, my girl has what she needs most -- One Thing -- Jesus.

so, i guess it's time to go tidy her room ... take in the emptiness and fill it with prayers for my ready-to-go college girl.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

and speaking of rooms, here's a few pictures of "move in day!"

packed and ready to gooooo!

meet em's darling roommate - caroline!
 a running start is needed to jump into their beds!
in case you weren't sure which side of the room belonged to emily

emily's personal design team
sister love! before sarah's increase-in-chores epiphany.
ordering her text books -- oh yeah, it's not just about decorating a dorm room!
emily's dorm - "vail"

Friday, August 8, 2014

august series : worrier or warrior? {daily posts}

this month i'm posting each day on my facebook page:  jody mcnatt - even the sparrow

but, since i know not everyone is over there ...
i'll do my best to leave my posts over here as well.
BUT if you're here, then i really encourage you to go visit me over there, too! =)
for updated posts, just click on that link above and "like" my page. easy-peasy (as bella would say).

for the backstory on this august series, check out: worrier or warrior: what kind of woman am i?

~ august 1 ~
"for you alone, Lord ..." 
nothing else. nothing else can come close to bringing those two sought after words of our world: "peace" and "safety."
only God.
only knowing Him personally.
all else will fall and fade and fail.
doesn't matter where you live or who you are or even what you believe ... most every person desires peace and safety.
people would trade just about anything to attain these two things for themselves and their families. day or night.
"for you alone, Lord ..." provide in a world that is anything but peaceful and safe.
"for you alone, Lord."

{i'm kicking off this august series with a magnolia! i found this beauty on a walk with my dog a few days ago. it seemed appropriate since this is my first devotional posting since returning to the south this summer}!

~ august 2 ~
"but my words ..."
the paint on this old chest is beginning to age and peel. a reminder it won't last forever. nothing does. except God's word. 
"but my words will not pass away." 
and that is why i am encouraging us in this series to cling to His word. mark the banners of this worry-battle with His words, not our good intentions or our clever ideas.
"for the word of God is alive and active. sharper than any double-edged sword." hebrews 4:12
all these worries ... and all this stuff we wrestle with ... well, it's going to be gone in the blink of an eye. and i think we all know that. but i think i might need to be reminded more often.
that promise gives perspective. and that perspective is key in keeping our worries under wraps.
we don't need to get all mangled up in something which God tells us is only temporary. "so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 corinthians 4:18
isn't that cool? God is giving us a free pass on worrying over our right now stuff. it's temporary. transient.
as issues and worries arise, i encourage us - you and me! -- not to dissect them in our today, but to rest them in the realm of God's eternal perspective.

{happy saturday, friends}!

~ august 3 ~
"now i know in part ..."
i'll be honest, i'm a woman who likes to know.
i like to be IN the know, not in the dark.
and yet, we're told in scripture, "for now we see only a reflection ..."
right now we don't have the full picture.
it's blurry.
it's fuzzy.
like this lamp i was photographing. (my husband's bedside lamp -- haha -- look closely, you can see me peering in with my camera).
and that's us each day.
and that's where a lot of our worrying comes from, right?
we can't completely see.
like driving in a rain storm. we try desperately to see out ahead ... and find ourselves frustrated, white-knuckled and wheel-clutching. wanting control and wishing it would all just blow through already.
that's our worry.
and yet God wants us to release it. He's got the wheel ... He knows the road ahead ... and He isn't expecting us to solve it or smooth it ... only to surrender.
{you've heard the song: "Jesus take the wheel} ...

hum it today and remind yourself, "now i know in part; then i shall fully know ..."

~ august 4 ~
"pour out your heart ..."
for me, it was my mom.
when i was in those tempestuous teen years i'd hit a point emotionally and it would all come spewing out. i'd crash on my bed and my mom would quietly sit and listen to it all ... to all the stuff roiling inside of me.

i don't do that quite so often anymore, with my mom or with anyone, but that's the image i get when i read david's psalm. the image of an emotionally-wild, worry-ridden, messy teenage girl.

"pour out your heart before Him," david encourages. but for some reason, we act like we should be on our best behavior with God. like we should be all buttoned up and serene sounding in our prayers.
uh - uh.
no mam.
i mean, it is probably wise to refrain from "pouring out" with every person in line at the deli counter, yes.
but not God.
He has hands ready to catch what's spilling over our edges.
He has ears willing to hear and a heart wanting to comfort.
He wants our messy.
He wants our sobs.
He wants our stains.
He wants our worries.

He'll take us however we come: tear-streaked, snot-nosed and hive-covered! (i get hives sometimes when i'm upset).

God won't be one to refuse us.

God wants to be our refuge.

~ august 5 ~
if i could encourage us to memorize, copy or keep one psalm at our bedside table, it would be psalm 27. 
i could only fit 2 verses on my photo today, but you just know i wanted to put the whole enchilada! 
it's that good.
it is a psalm for those who are worried, frightened, afraid or overwhelmed.
it is a psalm for you and a psalm for me.
verse after verse, david underlines God's deliverance.
verse after verse, he highlights the Lord's strength and power.

"for in the day of trouble..." {notice: not "IF" ... but "WHEN."}
what will God do?
He will keep me safe.
He will hide me.
He will provide shelter.
He will set me high on a rock.

see what i mean? that is awesome stuff, my friends.

God is not watching over us from a distance, He is intimately involved in what we are going through. He is right there ready to lift us out of the current and set us high on a rock. like a daddy with his little ones crossing from stone to stone in a river. He doesn't let go of us.

a-men and hallelujah.

~ august 6 ~ 
"who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"
flowers and birds. Jesus mentions both of them in this chapter about worry.
the flowers do not labor or spin.
the birds do not sow or reap.
but God cares for them. 
He beautifully clothes them and He faithfully feeds them.

He meets every need.

and He doesn't require all of our laboring and spinning and sowing and reaping ... He doesn't depend on our earthly efforts to supply what He already has eternally ordained for us.

if He cares for the flowers of the field and the birds of the air, HOW MUCH MORE will He care for His children?
you. me. His precious children.

flowers and birds. they are everywhere.

today, when you see them, see them as reminders of God's beautiful and faithful care for you.

~ august 7 ~ 
"i will save your children ..."
if you're a parent, then i bet that line grabbed you, right?
i mean aren't we all about anything that "saves our children?" 
of course we are!
from the time they enter our arms as wee things we work hard to provide safety and shelter and security.
we work hard to save them from the wildness of this world.
and, i'm not sure this gets easier as they get older.
i'll admit, a lot of my worrying revolves around my kids.
in the next couple of weeks:
1 begins college
2 begin high school
1 begins middle school
1 begins elementary school

it feels like everyone is starting something new, something unknown, something somewhat scary.
and though i think new and unknown and scary can be good for them (for us) ... i'd be lying if i said we are all unruffled and fully relaxed.
we're not.
at least i'm not. i'm a little bit overwhelmed with all of these different directions.
and what i want to do as a mama is gather up my kiddos and SAVE THEM.
but that's not exactly my job, is it?
it's God's.
He is the only Savior.
i am the soother, the smoother, the shush-er...but God is the one who SAVES. the one who saves my children ... the one who saves me.

and in this same verse He also declares, "He will contend with those who contend with you."
isn't that awesome?
isn't that a gift?
He is taking the fight out of our hands.
He is taking the children out of our hands.
this verse is screaming: LET GOD HANDLE IT, right?
and if He promises to fight and save and handle ... then why are we worrying?
i can't tell you enough how much i needed that reminder this morning.
anyone else?

be blessed today!

~ august 8 ~
"not as the world gives ..."
because that's what we want sometimes, isn't it?
the world's kind of peace.
Jesus tells us He wants to give us peace -- His peace -- and yet we spend our energy wishing and wanting and chasing after the world's peace.
and we find it lacking.

we want everything to go smoothly and everyone to get along nicely. and that's good, yes, but the peace Jesus gives isn't about the arrangement of our circumstances, it's about the engagement of Christ in our heart.
it's peace despite our circumstances.
it's the peace that passes all understanding ...

when i'm feeling worried or anxious or afraid i have to ask myself:
am i trying to arrange my circumstances?
or am i going to engage with Christ?

His peace. that's what we need.
not as the world gives ... but as He gives.

praying that kind of peace for you today!

~ august 9 ~
the mcnatts are about ready to turn in their cars and rely only on riding bicycles.
we had a week recently, where in a matter of 5 days - less than one week - we had 3 separate accidents. not exaggerating. not joking.
my husband, my son and i were all involved in three different crashes. wednesday, friday, sunday.
our insurance agent said, "well, i have to say, i've never come across a family with three car accidents in one week."

this hasn't been good for our insurance rates.
this hasn't been good for my worry rate either.

HOW does this happen?
WHY did this happen?

i was the driver hit in the third accident. while going through a perfectly green light, a man made a left turn right in front of me. i barely had time to break. i hit him hard. we were all okay, but his car was demolished. my daughters were with me and got out in anger and in tears shouting, "what the heck is going on??? why does this keep happening to us?"

we were all shaken from the accident, but shaken even more from the fact that this was our family's third in only a few days.

{you can't make this stuff up}.

so, worry?
yeah ...
you can imagine.
i have two teenage drivers.
i have kids coming and going every single day and night.
we have traffic in our area which borders somewhere on the brink of insanity.
how in the world is this mother supposed to not worry?

praise the Lord, no one was hurt in any of these bang-ups ... but still. it has been a hard thing to get a handle on. in minnesota, we drove for two years in snow and ice and had nothing ... now back in the sunny south and we've had three.

i write about this today, not to impress or awe you with our family vehicular-drama, but to underline the fact that yes, we live in a world full of danger and distraction. i suppose, in some ways, we have good reason to worry.

and if it was all up to me and all in my power ... well, i'd be an absolute mess right now. three accidents in five days has done a good job highlighting the fact that i am not the one in control. i can buckle up my kids and take only backroads and turn on my blinker, but ultimately i've got to release all of us to God's protection and power.

i have none.

every time my teenagers back out of the driveway, i have to back myself into the assurance that they are in God's hands alone.
psalm 121:8 has become one of my new favorites as our busy family comes and goes.

~ august 10 ~
this sounds like something my grandmother would have said.
practical. no nonsense. straight to the point.
i suppose, in some ways, this verse isn't even all that comforting at first glance, right?
i mean, don't worry about tomorrow because today is going to be a real doozy???
i'm pretty sure, however, this isn't intended to discourage us about today, but to encourage us to stay in the day.
to encourage us to not get too far ahead.
to encourage us to keep a hold on what we're trying to handle.

because we do that.
okay, i do that.

i can easily mix in a dose of what-ifs and what-thens with my right nows. and, the bottom line, it's just flat out too much.
it's just too much to tackle what we've got going on each day AND worry about what might take place tomorrow.

maybe some of you are better at that. you can schedule out your appointments and your meal plans and even your worries months in advance ... but me? i'm no good at it. and where sometimes i wish i was a lot better at thinking further ahead, i'm really okay with God's instruction here to just stay in the day.

often, when God gives us boundaries, what He's really giving us is the gift of freedom.
we don't have to worry about tomorrow.
let it go.
leave it alone.
limit the list.

doozy or not, seize this day. stay in this day. surrender this day.

"this is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."  ~ psalm 118:24

~ august 11 ~
school begins today.
four of them will head out the door in just a matter of minutes.
the mother in me worries ...
the mother in me wonders are we ready?
the mother in me wants to rush out ahead and make sure the road before them is smooth ...

the mother in me learned long ago my job isn't to prepare the road, but to prepare the child for the road.

i learned that ... but reminders are good. necessary.

i might be able to remove a few pebbles and clean up the concrete...
but God is the one who goes before them and {oh my goodness} ...

do you get the picture?
ME -- sweeping up dust and pebbles with my little human broom
GOD -- leveling the mountains with His mighty outstretched arm.

i'm sorry, but when i look at it like that, i'll have to choose God.

sometimes we need to put down our brooms and our plans and our worries and bow down before the one who truly does go before our kids and who truly can remove the mountains.

whether it be the littlest one walking into her tiny 1st grade classroom at our sweet christian school or the older ones walking (for the very first time) into the big public high school ...
God goes before them.
and i'm so very glad.

me and my broom? i'm sure we will be busy sweeping up the aftermath of their exit -- back at home.

~ august 12 ~
my family would tell you i have odd "lighting issues."
and yep, i do.
i'm not sure what this is all about but i like my lighting "just so."

this light on and that one off ...
this light up a smidge up ... that light down a smidge.

my husband would tell you since moving into this house less than two months ago, he's installed no less than 10 dimmer switches ... because his wife likes to have control over the lighting.
{clearly, i am loved}.

weird. yeah, i know.

i like to be in charge of the switch.
in fact, i THINK i CAN be in charge.

and yet, i have learned, there are times when that's impossible.
there are times when i have no control over the darkness.
there are no amount of dimmer switches that can save me ... i'm stuck.

my middle of the night worries can take me to that kind of darkness.

and the only thing, THE ONLY THING, which can lighten, is Jesus.

praying to Him and reading His Word -- that's the only switch which works for this woman and all her issues.

"your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." psalm 119:105

... and a dimmer switch on my wall.

~ august 13 ~
"when the cares of my heart are many ..."

ever feel like that?
like you're walking around full up with a whole lot of worries.
like if someone looked at you closely they'd just see the problems poking out all over you.
like some days you can't contain it, can't cover it, can't compete with it.
it's just there.
flapping wild in the wind for all to wonder about

in the south, we call that a "hot mess."

"poor thing, she's a hot mess, bless her heart."

and i'm not sure they really mean BLESS HER HEART ...
but that's what she needs: her heart blessed.
words of blessing whispered right into her heart.

and we want our loved ones and our friends and our spouses and our children to whisper those words of blessing.
and sometimes they do.
and sometimes they don't.
because sometimes they are their own "hot mess."

but not God.
He's knows how His children come -- hot and messy.
He doesn't whisper about us ...
He whispers right into us.

blessing our hearts.
cooling our heat.
calming our mess.
consoling our cares.

need your heart blessed today?
go to His word.
let Him wash you in the whisper of His calm.

bless your heart, friend. (really).

~ august 14 ~ 
last night my daughter was babysitting for her old english teacher who is now expecting her third. she was asking emily about our family. wanting to know how we manage with 5 kids.
how does your mom do dinners?
how does she keep things organized?
how does she do this or that?

basically, what she wanted to know is how i "hold it all together."

because as women we worry about that.
a lot.
i worry about that.
a lot.

because, truth is, i DON'T hold it all together so well.

like this morning ... sleeping right through my alarm, waking everyone up late and rushing out the door like a wild woman.
perfect example.

i mean, i WANT to hold it all together. and if i'm being honest, i WANT others to THINK i'm holding it all together ... but that's just not the case. and if it was ... i probably wouldn't be liked very much.
and i probably would forget that i am desperate for God's glue and His grace.

i'm thinking that instead of worrying about our inability to hold it together, we need to, instead, rejoice in this inability.
embrace it.
claim it.
use it to prompt us to our knees and to a deeper knowledge of our holding-Savior.

~ august 15 ~
"along unfamiliar paths ..."
sound like your life?
i'm pretty sure there's not one of us who can't relate to that phrase.
we are all traveling "unfamiliar paths."
that's life and that's how it works.

and i'm pretty sure it's often one of the main ingredients in our worry, right?
i mean, i know THIS WOMAN likes to know where she's going.
i like to know the lay of the land and the end of the path.
i can't help it. i just like to know.

but we don't.
we don't know what's up ahead.
we can't know.

minne (my big newfoundland) and i walk this path all the time. it's just across the street from our house. it leads to the river and we love walking here. but the first time we were on it, i had to keep a pretty tight rein on her. i didn't know what we'd be meeting just around each bend. i hadn't a clue what was out ahead. and so we took it slowly.

we might not know what's around the bend in our lives, but God isn't leaving us all alone to figure it out. He's got His rein on us. He's walking right with us. leading. guiding. lighting. smoothing.

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them." ~ isaiah 42:16

did you hear that?

it's a promise.
friend, tell that to your worry today!

~ august 16 ~
"not now, but later..."
not exactly our favorite answer, is it?

let's face it, we are "now" people.
in fact, we are a RIGHT now kind of people.
at least i am.

i want to understand the point, the purpose, the plan.
i want to understand the pain.

why this? why now?

and yet ... "Jesus replied ..."

is that His answer for you today, too?

if it is, maybe it is causing you a lot of wonder and worry.
but what if we learned to just let it go ... to just leave it alone for now?
what if we accepted the fact that we aren't going to understand at this moment in time because "Jesus replied ..."

and instead of straining our necks and racking our brains ...
maybe. maybe. maybe. we still ourselves and receive His reply.
"not now, but later."

~ august 17 ~
yesterday i finished this dresser for my daughter. she'll be taking it to college as a nightstand. we found it at goodwill ... painted it ... added new knobs and ... voila! she's got a cute piece of furniture for her dorm room.
when i work on furniture i almost always add a little "distress."
sand the edges ... add some stain ...
i make it look a little weathered. a little worn. a little loved.

i like the "distressed" look ...
but i don't really like the "distressed" feel.

you know, it's fine for the furniture,
but not so great for this fragile woman.

and yet what does today's verse tell us that distress does?
it makes us CALL UPON THE LORD.
"{from my distress} i called upon the Lord."

God wants us to call upon Him. anytime. all the time.
but, you and i both know, we are more prone to connect with Him in our times of trouble. worry. need.

none of us want to be described as distressed.
but, when we are -- and let's face it, sometimes we are ---
can we choose to see it as the very thing which keeps us closest to God?
the thing which prompts us to call upon Him?

our distress leads us to a deeper dependence ... and that dependence leads us to delivery!

"out of my distress i called upon the Lord;
the Lord answered me
and set me free." psalm 118:5 (esv)

(the college girl and her new nightstand leave in 5 days -- please pray for this mama)!

~ august 18 ~
a couple of years ago when connor was starting his new school in minnesota, he began to struggle big time with anxiety.
it was hard to watch my carefree little guy all of a sudden become laden with worry and riddled with fear. really hard.

i didn't know what to do.
i didn't know how to help him.
his anxiety became my anxiety.

we did a lot of talking and praying together ... and i know that helped us both. i taped this 1 peter verse inside his 4th grade folder.
my connor loves to fish. he learned quickly how important "casting" is to the fishing process. not a lot can happen until you learn to cast well.

and that's the directionJesus give us about our anxiety and worry.
cast it!

cast: to throw. to throw with force. to hurl.

and He doesn't just suggest it. He commands it. CAST!
there's no, "you might want to try this ..." or "here's a helpful hint ..."
uh-uh --- it's a clear direction. CAST!

toss your worry. throw that anxiety. hurl it all right at Him.

that verse stayed taped inside connor's folder the entire 4th grade year. he once told me he would read it to himself 5 or 6 times throughout the school day. at the end of the year, when he was "hurling" his old notebooks and folders into the trash, i found it. i peeled that notecard out of the folder and it's now in a treasure box of special saved papers.

what a great lesson to learn in 4th grade.
what a great lesson for us to learn in any grade ... any age.

we have a God willing to catch our anxieties and worries, because He cares for us.

~ august 19 ~
"come to me ..."
that's it.
that all.
"come to me."
sit with Jesus.
find that rocker or that bench or that stool or that sofa
or that stone ...
and sit with Jesus.

rock a little with the one who restores us in our weariness.
rock a little with the one who redeems us in our worldliness.
rock a little with the one who gives rest to our worries.

weary and heavy-laden today, friend?

come to Jesus.

~ august 20 ~
three times in psalm 139 the word "thoughts" is mentioned.
"you discern my thoughts from afar ..."
"how precious are your thoughts ..."
"try me and know my anxious thoughts ..."

this psalm, the one which is kind of famous for God's intimate knowledge of us ...
this psalm, the one which says "you knit me together and ordered my days ..."
this psalm, the one that proclaims we are made fearfully and wonderfully!

this psalm reminds:
God knows us.
God knows our thoughts.
God knows even our anxious thoughts.

the thoughts that we are too embarrassed to share with anyone else. the thoughts which we know are illogical, unreasonable and weak.
the thoughts which badger and harass and harangue ...

those thoughts.
God knows them.

He knows them like He knows our words, "even before {that word} is on my tongue."

i don't know about you, but that comforts me. i am encouraged to know i don't have to clearly explain everything to Him. i don't have to communicate effectively or work to creatively obtain His attention.
i already have it.
He can read my mind.
He knows me!

and this God who fearfully and wonderfully made me, well ... He loves me. even with all my messy ways and my mixed up thoughts.
He loves me.
He loves you.

{if you haven't read psalm 139 in a while, i encourage you to do so today}!

~ august 21 ~
"though the nations rage and the kingdoms totter..."
sounds like a world i know.
the world we live in right now.
missouri ... the middle east ... raging. tottering.

mountains tremble.
and how can we not worry?
this is our world ...
our home ...
the place in which we raise our children.

i spend 5 minutes catching up on the news and it's enough to get me spinning.
anger and outrage. injustice and inhumanity.
i can't grasp any of it.

except we are broken.

and psalm 46 tells us this is how it is.
how it will be.
and we can stay right there wallowing in the worry of this stark realization ...
or we can move into God's message of refuge and redemption.

because psalm 46 also tells us though we are living in a world broken and bruised ... we are not abandoned.

"God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH ...
a VERY PRESENT HELP in trouble."

though our world seems utterly forsaken,
we, His children, are completely forgiven.
a forgiveness which forges a path into the arms of the Almighty.

and in this wasteland-world He whispers right into our worry ...
"be still ... and know ... that I AM GOD."


~ august 22 ~
today is the day.
today my oldest leaves for college.

somehow this little girl stepped out of 
1st grade last week and wound up 
college bound this week.

don't ask me how it happened.

of course there’s a lot to think about.
wonder about. 
even worry about.

does she have what she needs?
have we forgotten anything? 
can she handle this?
will she mix darks and whites in her laundry?

and let's be honest here: (am i ready)?

it could drive an emotional mother mad. (and sad).

but this past year, as i've been "readying" myself for this next step ...
i've thought a lot about these 18 years of "readying" her.

and even this morning as we scramble to get on our way,
i am reminded:
it’s not about all of our plans and preparations getting her out the door, but about what has been taking place behind these doors 
for the 18 years she's lived here.

it's God's promise in this proverb which brings this mama the most comfort on this very big morning of letting go ...

i'm ready, because she is ready.

she has been trained up.
she has been taught.
she has been cherished
she has been challenged.
she has been refined
she has been readied.

there are no guarantees. 
but God’s word is good and true and trustworthy.
and though i’ll not for one minute pretend to have done it all perfectly, i can have the peace that we have pointed our girl to God.

she has been trained up in Him.

and all my mother-worries about will she be able to keep up with her classes and her relationships and her laundry … 
well, all those begin to regain perspective when i am reminded of God’s promise in proverbs. 

we'll say our good-byes later today … and, yes, it will be hard. 
but it will also be a hallelujah -- a time to rejoice because our girl is ready! 

"the Lord bless you and keep you;
the lord make His face shine on you
and be gracious to you.
the Lord turn His face to you and
give you peace." ~ numbers 6:24-26

* would be so grateful for your prayers today, friends!

~ august 23 ~
a hiding place -- maybe you had one as an imaginative child.
maybe you have one as an overwhelmed mama.

my family will tell you that i've always had a spot. 
though we have moved (a lot) in these past several years, 
i've always managed to come up with a place to pull away for a bit.

a porch swing, a patio bench, a front stoop, a dock ...

a place to get away. to catch my breath. to collect my thoughts. 
to hide for a few minutes.

when my kiddos were all little and needy and all over the place, 
this hiding spot was my sanity somedays. 

and that's what Jesus wants to be for us always -- our hiding place.

when life gets overwhelming or out-of-control, He invites us to hide in Him. 
i don't mean stick our heads in the sand and pretend it will all magically go away. 
i mean put our heavy hearts in His hands and allow Him to 
miraculously ease the worry away.

there's a difference.

it's not weakness to hide in Him ... it's deliverance.

~ august 24 ~
meet my laundry basket.
i spend a lot of time with her.
filling her. emptying her. dragging her from room to room.
like she's a part of me.
my second in command.
my sidekick.
my shadow.
in our house, laundry is like that. everywhere. everyday. always.

metaphorically, that's my basket?
what's yours?

what heavy thing do you drag around which weighs you down?
which keeps you tethered to the temporal?

the psalmist isn't necessarily writing about our laundry baskets, but he is writing about God's deliverance. he's writing words of praise for God's rescue of the israelites from egypt. from slavery.
he's writing about the israelites who, in their captivity, carried baskets of bricks and clay on their backs.

can you picture them? burdened and broken ... barely able to move.

it is easy to get caught up in our tasks. to let them take over. whether running a cottage or a corporation, burdens and baskets tend to weigh us down. wipe us out. worry us.

and yet this psalm reminds: we don't have to live that way.
God has REMOVED the burden and FREED our hands from the basket.

we aren't called any longer to carry the weight ...
but we are called to worship the One who does.

i don't know what you're lugging around in your life today.
but maybe on this Sabbath morning you might try to put it down.
are your fingers curled too tightly around the task?
picture Jesus, finger by finger, "freeing your hands from the basket."

our Father didn't intend for His children to carry bricks or baskets or burdens.

~ august 25 ~
24 years ago we said, "i do!"

sometimes i think about those two (really young) kids standing at the front of the church before family and friends. those two young kids holding hands and repeating vows and promising themselves to each other. those two young kids who had few worries, but so much wonder.

they had no idea what was ahead.

no idea of the journey.

but they vowed, whatever the road, to walk and work together.

that was us.
and still is. (mind you, a tad bit older).

and all these years later, we realize, more than ever, how much we need each other. we realize the gift of doing life together.

"for if either of them falls down, the other will lift up his companion."

in 24 years, you can be sure we've had ourselves some falling down times. we've had our share of issues, problems, pain, worries. that goes with the territory. heck, in just these past five years we've been through an adoption, a cancer diagnosis, a couple of cross country moves, new schools, the onset of the teen years, driver's ed, one off to college ... the list could go on.

and though i know my husband isn't the one who needs to carry my issues or fears or anxieties, it's a blessing to have someone to share them with. a blessing to have someone willing to "lift up his companion" when she (me!) is weighted down with something heavy.

God took one look at adam and said, "it is not good for man to be alone." and then He created eve. voila! a helpmate. a friend. a companion. an encourager. "two are better than one ..."

God's image and intention are clear: we are put in relationship to encourage and edify one another ... to share the journey. to shoulder together the joyful days and the just-can't-do-this days. all of it.

"two are better than one ..."

~ august 26 ~ 
i suppose it's safe to say this verse isn't referring to that
new pair of shoes i was drooling over yesterday ...
i know God cares about all the details, including what's on my feet, but i'd be wrong to use this verse in the covetous context of my worldly wants. i know. i know. i know.

so maybe it's not exactly about the shoes, but it is about that recording which runs in our heads. those things we don't trust God for. those things which we think will never come to be or never come to an end. those things which we've kind of written off as hopeless.
those things.

do you have a list like that?
do you believe that God truly knows your needs?

i forget that sometimes.
i forget how well my creator knows His creation.
i forget that a God who knows the very number of hairs on my head, certainly knows what i need ... what my family needs ... what my children need.

why must i require repeated convincing?

and yet a good portion of my worry revolves around my deep-down-disbelief.
maybe you've got some of that rolling around inside of you today, too.

i'm confessing that this morning.
just flat out confessing, that as much as i love and trust Jesus,
i still battle those secret places of doubt and disbelief.

God already knows the depth of my faith and i know that confession of my doubt brings a deeper freedom.

Lord, show me my heart. show me the things which i've written off as hopeless. show me the needs i think will never be met. show me those things which create worry and anxiety.
and then, Lord, show me how to better trust you -- the One who truly knows what i need. a-men.

~ august 27 ~ 
i almost stepped on him.
i was rushing out the door, late for an appointment, arms full of items, head full of stress, and i just missed obliterating the slow life of this little guy.

and though i was late and rushing, i put down my load and looked at him for less than a minute. sat and stared. (and photographed).

there he was mocking me in my mayhem.

it was no accident.
that day, in particular, i needed the reminder: slow down!
s l o o o o o w d o o o o o w n j o o o o o d y ...

i've no plans to start a "save the snails" campaign,
but i have been convicted to save the slower pace.

all this rushing ...
all this running ...

psalm 39 deems it "in vain."
to what purpose? to what end? to what benefit?

i'm not sure there is any benefit to us being too busy.
in fact, i know that extreme busy-ness, brings burden.

it brings worry.
how will i get it all done?
how will i make it all work?
how will i keep it all afloat?

rushing and running and spinning and sprinting ...
and coming so very close to obliterating life
in the swift footsteps of our frenzy.

an increase in anxiety often goes hand in hand with an increase in activity.

s l o w d o w n.

be still.
be still(er).
i say (er) because i know it's hard.
it's almost inconceivable to be fully still. i have five kids -- are you kidding me? utter stillness is next to impossible. but God isn't suggesting we sit on our sofas and not move our muscles.
that isn't at all what He's asking.
but maybe it is about saying "yes" to less, "no" to more.
it's about carving out and quieting down and taking my time.

release the rush and increase the rest.
let go of the push and embrace the peace.

s l o w d o w n.

~ august 28 ~
i know we read things like this and think ...
"yeah, that's nice and all, but you don't know what i'm going through."

does it make a difference to tell you that the woman who said this was a concentration camp survivor?
she might not know what you are struggling with ... worrying about ... anxious over ... but i bet she knew something about struggle and worry and anxiety.

typically i use scripture in these posts, and i assure you, i didn't run out of "worry verses." but this is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite writers and i was feeling prompted to share.

(if you haven't read corrie ten boom's "the hiding place, " let me encourage you to get a copy. yes. yes. yes)!

i don't have to explain corrie's words. you get it.
you know, as well as i do, that when we focus our energy on the great "what-ifs" and those pesky "what-thens" we have little leftover for the right-nows.
and this {right now} is where God wants us to live. dwell. breath. be.

"therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. each day has enough trouble of its own." ~ matthew 6:34

"give us today our daily bread ..." ~ matthew 6:11

daily bread and daily breathing is required for our daily battles.
don't jump out ahead. don't look too far down the road. don't try to do everything possible to prepare for tomorrow.
stay settled in the strength of Jesus ... today.

~ august 29 ~ 
it's kind of like a checklist, isn't it?
like there should be bullet points:

* rejoice always
*pray without ceasing
* give thanks in all circumstances

no where ... no where ... NO WHERE ... does it include:
"oh, yeah, and worry a little."


that's a sure-win line-up for wiping out worry.

max lucado said it well, "no one can pray and worry at the same time."

so what that really means to me this morning, is if i'm worrying, i'm not doing the will of my Father. His will is clear. (checklist above)! and there's no room in His will for my hand-wringing, feet-pacing or worry-wrestling.

when we feel the worries rise up, it's time, friends, to kneel down.

~ august 30 ~
"but martha was distracted with her preparations."
that's how this passage begins a few verses earlier.
"but. martha. was. distracted. with. her. preparations."

Jesus was coming to dinner.
martha was coming to the end of her rope.

her sister, mary, wasn't quite coming on board with the big to-do about dinner.
mary wasn't quite as distracted with her preparations.
and this bugged martha. a lot.

she - martha - was worried AND upset.

and when Jesus shows up He doesn't reassure her in worry,
instead, He reprimands her.

"martha, martha ..."

can you just imagine martha's face? her feelings?

i know i would have been like, "wait a minute, Lord, wait just a minute! my sister mary (mar-e-e-y) is doing nothing to help. n o t h i n g.
just look at her lounging there at your feet. all she's doing is listening to you ..."

and you know the response of Jesus:

"martha, martha ... you are worried and upset about many things,
but few things are needed --- or indeed only one. mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Jesus is so clear about the relationship between busyness and worry.

"martha, martha ..."

(insert) "jody, jody ..."

i am definitely one of those who get "distracted with her preparations" and end up "worried and upset."

trying today, to listen, like mary.
to sit at the feet ... to focus on the "few things -- the One thing..."

to hear the gentle reprimand of my Lord who loves me.

"jody, jody ..."