There is something I love and something I hate about an unmade bed. I love it because it means that I did not have to work immediately upon waking up and it means that I can just crawl into bed at the end of the day. I hate it because for the time between wake up and bedtime, it nags me. I walk into my bedroom and see something else that I did not do. It’s like the rumpled covers berate me, telling me I’m a lazy housekeeper (which I guess in this case is true). This has irritated me for the last few days but yet my bed remains unmade. What does this say about me? It seems as though the reward of making my bed is not valuable enough for me to actually do it. It’s likely that I’m over-analyzing here (I’m good at that) but I feel like there is an opportunity for learning somewhere hidden among the covers.
How many areas of my life are like this…where the satisfaction of work done does not motivate me to actually do the work? Spiritually thinking, how many places in my soul need some hard work that I have neglected? Is there forgiveness needed that seems too hard to work through, especially when the other person doesn’t seem to care? Is there a deep hurt that I need to lay bare before God and let Him heal? Is there disobedience to God’s direction because it seems too radical? Lord, may it not be so. You have shown me through both the tiniest and largest of ways that Your work is worth it, no matter what the cost of pain. It reminds me of Psalm 126:5, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” The picture here is of someone messily and consistently digging in the dirt to sow the seeds he or she possesses. Maybe this person has just one seed and is crying because their harvest seems hopeless. Maybe this person has sown diligently without much result for what seems like forever. As this sower works and cries, the seed is watered with tears, and tear-watered seeds eventually produce a harvest of joy in God’s perfect time.
Lord, forgive me for the ways I have lazily kept my soul. Thank you for your forgiveness and for the mercy You show through the blessing of hard spiritual work. Give me the courage today to tend to the things that need tending, to not worry about the tears that may make the job even messier, and to wait in expectant hope for your harvest of joy. And help me remember to make my bed today. I love you. Amen
Someone recently asked me what I do in the morning to wake up. Coffee? Shower? Etc? Well for me, it’s exercise. If I can get a quick walk in before everyone else wakes up, I’m usually much better equipped for the day. It’s something that I know about myself, that my husband knows about me, and we plan our routine around my morning walk sometimes. It’s my mental and physical wake-up. So this morning on my walk, I was listening to some good old hymns (revamped by the masterful Travis Cottrell) and I heard “Crown Him with Many Crowns”. One line in the song says, “Awake my soul and sing.” I’m probably way behind the curve here, but I’ve never thought about a wake-up routine for my soul. I’ve heard lots about morning “quiet times” or routines but nothing in the way of actually waking up my soul, like a walk wakes up my body. This was very intriguing to me. I thought about days when I don’t pray or spend time in God’s Word in the morning, and how I generally feel much more crabby. This is not a blanket statement for everyone but definitely true for me. I guess I started realizing that when I don’t wake up my soul, I often respond to my day and the people in it with coldness in my heart. Maybe I’ll hear of someone going through a suddenly rough time and think, I should take them a meal or something, but I don’t stop to pray for them or let their hurt soak into my being. Or maybe the innocent needs of my kids are immediately irritating to me or maybe I start to list in my head all that I have done around the house that has gone unnoticed. That is the kind of heart coldness I’m talking about. It’s a lack of life, a lack of response, a lack of understanding of God’s mercies anew again that day (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Later this morning, we went to our church and sang a beloved song, “Arise my soul, Arise” by Charles Wesley. So for the second time today, my thoughts came back to waking up my soul. (I love it when God gives a message more than once.) The lyrics are, “Arise my soul, arise. Shake off your guilty fears. The bleeding sacrifice on my behalf appears. Before the throne, my Surety stands. Before the Throne, my Surety stands. My name is written on His hands.” And there is my soul’s wake-up routine… daily reminding myself, early in the day, that my Surety, Jesus Christ, stands before the throne of God the Father, having paid my sin debt in full. There is now no place for guilty fears or lifelessness in my soul. I’m forgiven, freed from the never-ending pain of life apart from Jesus, and I’m totally welcome before God because of Jesus. That truth breathes life into my soul and thus, praise comes out of it, both in good and crummy days.
Lord, thank you for continuing to teach me. Thank you for drawing my mind to waking up my soul. Thank you for the mysterious way You breathe life into my soul through your truth. I love you. Amen
I’d love to hear your comments… What about you? Have you ever thought about waking up your soul? What’s your routine?
We love sticky notes around here. In fact, I have a ridiculous amount of them in my “inventory” (in case of emergency, I guess?). One morning last week, D took a fresh pad of sticky notes, the big kind with nice lines, and began to work diligently at our kitchen table. His system was… color/scribble on a page, tear it off, put it of our refrigerator door – until the entire pad was gone. From as high as he could reach on down, it was only scribbled sticky notes. When I stopped to really to take it all in, I asked him if he could explain it to me. He said, “These are love notes to daddy. Remind me to tell him about them when he gets home.” So later that night, when my hubby got home, D did not need reminding. He immediately took his daddy by the hand and led him to our fridge. D pointed to each one and “read” them to him. “Daddy, this one says you’re tall. This one says you’re nice. This one says it was fun to play baseball with you yesterday.” I was reminded of Jesus’s young mom, Mary in Luke 2:19 when she “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” This was a moment made for treasuring and pondering in my heart.
And since then, I’ve done so much pondering about this whole scene. The sticky notes are still on my fridge and may be forever. Staring at them so often during the day, I felt like there was some spiritual principle for me to learn but I wasn’t getting it. At the same time, I’d been internally struggling with a relationship in my life in which I felt so wrongly judged, misunderstood, and hurt. The feelings were deep and disturbing and made me question some things about who I am. So between this and the sticky notes, my brain space was quite occupied (please don’t be startled by my little amount of brain space). Slowly, as I opened and walked by that fridge countless times each day, those love notes somehow started to redefine me. They were becoming such a part of me by the innocent and precious love they communicated, that I started to smile and feel love each time I saw them. So I wondered, what if I was defined by all the sticky notes God wrote about me? What if I saw the world through sticky note covered glasses? Sticky notes that say truths from God’s Word such as, “You are loved” (John 3:16), “You are forgiven” (Psalm 103), “You are Mine” (Isaiah 43), “You are safe” (Isaiah 43), “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) and on and on. Wouldn’t it give the misjudgments of others so much less power? Wouldn’t I be ok no matter what my circumstances are?
Lord, thank you for being so clear about the way you feel about Your children. Thank you for loving us at a depth that I cannot humanly fathom. Thank you for using your love to heal my hurts and motivate me to love. Train my eyes to see myself and your world only through your Truth. Thank you good Father. Amen
Our treasured roly-polys / snails.
This morning was a lovely morning, cooler and shadier than usual – perfect for playing outside. The boys were in the backyard soon after breakfast, still in their pajamas, just playing in their magical world. I sat out there reading and writing, playing referee every once in a while but mostly just enjoying the way they imagine and play together. They were building towers out of dirt and rocks, fighting bad guys, and “painting” the swing set with chalk. I thought they were mostly unaware of my presence until I heard a scream, “MOOOOOMMMM, come quick!!!” Every mother panics at this and I ran to their side as quickly as my pregnant body would take me. As soon as I got there, I saw them both crouched down on the upper level of the play set staring at something underneath one of the stairs. With the brightest eyes and the most intense voice, D (our 4-year-old) says, “We found roly-polys” (which were really snails). Of course, it was all I could do not to burst out laughing at my intense kiddos. I said, “Should we take a picture?” and D says, “Yes, and let’s send it to daddy.” So I ran to get my phone so we could snap and send and I thought about the preciousness of this moment – in fact, I thought about the worship of this moment. When I returned, nothing about the scene had changed except for maybe my heart. Both boys were still crouched, the roly-polys/snails were still there, and the air was still one of awe. I asked D, “Who made those snails?” and he said, “God”. That was it. God was praised for His marvelous creation. God was given credit for His snails on the play set. The picture was taken and sent to daddy and the boys went back to “painting”.
Lord, thank you for the simplicity of children. Thank you that their entire world stops for your snails. Father, let me not miss the wonder You have put in all the parts of my day. Give me the simple eyes of children to see You and praise You. Amen
It’s funny that my 2 boys are obsessed with making forts. Their medium of choice is the couch cushions, pillows, and tons of blankets. Usually our couch is bare by about 9am and a massive fort has overtaken the living room floor. When I say they are obsessed, I’m talking this is a daily occurrence – usually once in the morning and then we clean up (why do we do this?), once in the afternoon and then we clean up (this time because my hubby will come home soon and I want the house to look a little less like a demolition site), and then once again with daddy when he gets home. And of course, I clean up again before bed. Today as I was, you guessed it, cleaning up, I wondered why they loved this so much. Why have all our toys grown old after a week but fort building remains strong? It made me think how all of our souls innately crave safety, and I’ll go even further to say, we innately crave the safety of a fortress. I started asking myself, “What is my safe place? When do I feel the most at peace?” Some answers that came to my head were startling…like “when my house is clean” or “when I’m exercising as much as I’d like”. There is nothing wrong with having a clean house and enjoying exercise but both are incredibly unsafe,unreliable “forts”. My boys are 4 and 2. They build some pretty creative forts but they are by no means structural engineers at this point in their lives. Their forts are so unreliable. The tiniest bump of an elbow sends the couch pillows crashing on their (hard) little heads. The same is true of some of my “safe places”. The tiniest change in health or schedule can totally topple the things I unknowingly rely on for sanity. God, in His great mercy and kindness, brought to mind many verses in His word to bring me back to Him, the One True Fortress. 2 Samuel 22:2-3 was particularly powerful, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my Savior; you save me from violence.” I love all the things this verse tells me about my God – He is my Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, Salvation, Stronghold, my Savior. He is reliable, faithful, able to be trusted. He keeps my soul safe. In light of Him, all my “forts” look worse than the ones my boys build. In truth, my forts are weak and ugly traps, set for my soul’s own destruction.
Lord, let me run away from all false forts and run straight to You, my faithful Fortress. You are my soul’s only safe place. Thank you. Amen