Journal like a Psalmist.

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I messaged Macy this morning, completely discouraged and angry.  I’m so fed up with things going wrong, one after the other.  I’m so tired of living in what feels like a constant state of emergency.  I’m so irritated that God isn’t the kind of God who will make everything okay and comfortable and easy for us.  I’m so embarrassed that we can’t just go to work and pay our bills and live in our stupid apartment like normal stupid people.

And I wanted to journal, but I felt like I would just make ugly black marks all over my journaling Bible because that is what my heart feels like.  Great big ugly black marks going all through it.  Mentally, I try to curb the bitterness and accept that God is good and that we will be fine, but emotionally I’m all like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum.  I’m flinging junk and wailing and writhing on the floor in public emotionally.

Macy said, just journal.  It is important to document the bad as well as the good.  And she said other things and made me cry and filled that friend place in my heart that had been achingly empty for a few days.

So I put the baby down to nap and I gathered my supplies and I turned to Lamentations, because when I have some kind of beef with God, this is where I go:

I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long.
He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked.
He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding;
he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate;
he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow.
He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver;
I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long.
He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood.
He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”

That may be slightly dramatic, but sometimes I just feel that way.  My soul is just completely bereft of peace and my endurance for this garbage is just gone.  My hope in the Lord is more like a sarcastic, “Okay, let’s see you work THIS together for good.”

And I journaled.  It started out all gray overtop of the words because my anger was gone and at that point I just felt like.. whatever, God.  Do your thing or don’t do your thing.  I cannot find it within my soul to care.

I glanced at the next column, knowing the words that were there, but not wanting to read them because I didn’t feel them yet.  And they caught my eye anyway:

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope..”

Then promise after promise of God’s goodness just washed over me and I cried and read that even though I feel like everything and everyone are against us, that God is for us, that he doesn’t punish us willingly, that he has compassion, that it is good to bear burdens when you are young because there are so many lessons to learn.  And I felt like maybe my page could get a little more hopeful, not for the present but for the future.

The reason why I have always related to the Psalms and Lamentations is because of this type of writing.  The pouring out of all the emotional junk that you feel and then choosing to remember the truth of who God is and what he has promised to do.  Life is so full of pain and embarrassment and garbage, but in the middle of that, God is still a good God.  I am so grateful that I can have days like today where I yell at him and then end up resting in the promise of rest to come.

be all there.

I’ve been so busy and so stressed, that sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to treasure each of these moments.  I’ll realize that I’m on my phone when I could be making Eden laugh, or capturing the last of her toothless grins on camera.  I get frustrated that she wakes up all night when I could be cherishing the chance to cuddle her close while it lasts.  At this stage I feel like she learns a new thing every day, and I want to be fully present to appreciate each milestone.

My new job and change of babysitter upped my commute from 15-20 minutes to more like an hour.  I don’t love being in the car that long, but getting to commute with Eden is fun.  I’m glad to have her with me for the extra 45 minutes in the morning, even if “with me” is just listening to me sing songs to her or napping in her car seat.  I think that being a working mom is helping me to be jealous of every minute that I can hold her and talk to her, I don’t want to take these short years for granted.

One thing I love about my life is our family dynamic.  Jason has taken to being a dad like a pro, and Eden is obsessed with him.  Their relationship makes me all sappy and teary eyed.  Every little girl should be crazy about her Daddy.  And every Momma should get that fuzzy feeling when she sees her man getting wrapped up in his child.  So beautiful.  *snif!*

One of the quotes that gets repeated among my MMR friends over and over is from Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I always thought that was a great quote, but sometimes things don’t internalize in me as deeply until I have a moment of realization.  When my baby outgrows one of my favorite onesies.. be all there.  When my husband and daughter are having a staring contest.. be all there.  When we drive down to see family.. be all there.

I want to challenge myself to be present in my real life and avoid screens when I have the option of interacting with people.  I want to think back to these days and have a hundred stories to be able to tell when we get older and Eden asks what she was like as a baby.  I want my default to be a conversation, not checking Facebook.  Will you join me?

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Righteous Tree

Like a field of dried up soil is my soul.
Full of rocks and brambles, left untended and alone.
Yet where I see a barren place where nothing good can grow,
you promise me you’ll plant a mighty oak.

In this heart so full of guilt and pain,
will you plant a seed of righteousness for the glory of your name?
Send that living water flowing down in drops of rain,
the tiny seedling sprouts a fragile stem.

Till my heart.
Cultivate the soil of my soul.
Where nothing used to be
now a tiny sapling tree grows.

In autumn slender branches lose their leaves,
and winter wraps a blanket ’round the work you’ve done in me.
Every year, I fear that I will never see the spring,
till the light of the world comes to warm all things.

Tend my heart.
Irrigate the corners of my mind.
You use the hardship and the joy
to make my heart a little more refined.

It’s hard to see the change with just your eyes,
and I fear that you’ve forgotten me and your promise was a lie.
But what I can’t see is that you keep adding rings inside, until I find…

That you have pruned my heart,
you have nurtured every aspect of my life.
This is the planting of the Lord,
that in me, you may be glorified.

You made a tiny acorn grow into a righteous tree.

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Giving my daughter to God.

I am finally sitting down and processing the last couple of days.  I’ve been rushing around and worried and planning, and now I am just sitting here.. and this is when I just want to cry because of how awful it has been and how relieved I am that God has brought us through it.  It is probably too soon and too personal, and I probably shouldn’t write this post, but I need to process it and this is the easiest way for me to do that.

Without going into detail, we found out this week that Eden had been in a potentially dangerous situation at our former babysitter’s house.

I cannot even articulate how horrifying it is to realize that the person I trusted with my precious baby was not trustworthy.  It would be impossible to tell you how much I blame myself for explaining away red flags and not wanting to be “that mom”.  There is no way to really express the amount of stress and guilt and fear that has taken up residence in my heart this week.

Nothing bad happened, (THANK GOD) but in this corrupt world full of filthy people, there is no amount of chance worth taking.  Kids are abused, neglected, kidnapped, murdered, etc.. on a regular basis.  People are disgusting and self-justifying and horribly sinful and rotten in their hearts, and somehow we have to figure out who we can leave our defenseless baby with that will care for her like they should.

This morning, we thought it was pretty bad, but that we had addressed it enough that we felt we could leave her there until we found a replacement.  Then I found out that it was SO MUCH WORSE than I had known about.  And I would have, probably should have, flipped my mother lid right there and rampaged the place and taken my daughter away.  But I usually don’t react to things at first, it takes me awhile till I’m like.. WAIT, WAIT, SHE SAID WHAT??

That was this morning.  And all day, I have seen God bring people alongside me to encourage me, to pray for me, to reach out to their friends and try to help me.  All day, God has been at work in our world and solutions have been popping out of the woodwork.  We went from having no options to having more options than we need.  That makes me cry too.  I can’t tell if I’m crying from sadness or blessedness at this point.

Being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done, and not because of the sleepless nights and dirty diapers.  The weight of responsibility is so heavy, and the fear of the unknown is so daunting.  I remember as a child, I would try to make my mom promise that nothing bad would ever happen to me and she would never do it.  That resonates with me now.  I want to promise her that she will be safe, that we will make sure this never happens again, but I can’t control those things.

The only thing that I can promise my daughter is that God loves her and will be with her no matter what happens.   I can scrutinize and agonize over every decision, but in the end all I can do is pray incessantly and give my daughter to God.  She will be safest when I am holding fast to Christ and trusting him to do what I can’t do in her life.

I swear, this baby makes me a better Christian.  She shows me how pitiful I am and how desperately I need a Savior.

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Bible Journaling

So I started painting in my Bible.

I probably first saw the concept on Pinterest, there were all these pins of Bible pages with big splashes of color and creative lettering, and I fell in love at first sight.

Lately, my time in the Bible has felt dry.  Not because God’s word is dry, because it is vibrant and convicting and incredible, but I just felt like my heart and mind were full of other things and distracted.  I would read a passage and none of it would stick out to me, I would find myself skimming and my mind wandering off.

But when I decided to color in my Bible, something changed.  I went to a Psalm that I loved and had seen a saying that I liked and decided to give it a go.

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There was something about slowing down, writing out the words and coloring them in that helped me to really mediate on that idea.  God DOES fill my life with good things.  He gives good gifts to his children.  He is such a wonderful God and so worthy of worship, I need to praise him for how wonderful he is.

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I got ambitious and tried a full page spread.  I had been reading the rainbow promise and wondering how that really applied to our lives today.  I mean, so God promised not to flood the earth again.  But in the last days, (which could be any time now) he will burn it and junk, so is that really a relevant promise at this point?  Then I thought about it and realized, it wasn’t just about flooding the earth, it was about wiping out mankind and starting over.  He promised that he would never start over again, he committed to carrying out his work with us, no matter how corrupt we get.  THAT is a relevant promise.

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Then I went a little crazy and tried watercolor.  ACTUAL PAINT IN MY BIBLE, EEK.  And it did bleed through a bit, but I don’t mind as much as I thought I would.  I was on a “God’s Promises” roll and so I moved on to Abraham and thought about what it would be like to have God say to me, “I dare you to try to count the stars.. I’m going to bless you more than that.”

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Sometimes it will just be a verse that hits me when I’m paging through.  I haven’t tried to read straight through a book again yet, though I’m planning on it soon.  But often I’ll be reading and song lyrics will jump into my mind that illustrate the scripture perfectly.  Lyrics do powerful things to me, I have always always been touched deeply by music.

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This is another watercolor project, and today I actually bought acrylic paint to try, which is a whole different ball game.  So far this has been really helping me to focus on my time in the Bible, and I am excited to continue with it.

I have always loved that God is a creator.  He makes stuff, he is artistic!  Getting to use art to meditate on his word makes me feel like my creativity is one of the ways that I am “made in the image of God”.  He made me creative like him.

If you want to try this out and have questions, let me know!  I would love to help you get connected and inspired.  I actually started an Etsy shop of prints and stencils to use in your journaling Bible, so check it out!