Tuesday, June 25, 2013

For now.

For now....I am going to close my blog down.

Granted, I haven't been writing here consistently for quite some time, but perhaps that means that I need to take an indefinite break here. I have so dearly loved this place. It gave me a voice when I needed one. It created so many relationships I can't even begin to say. It is hard letting it go.....for now.

This has been a place to share thoughts, preach to myself,  and minister to others. Over and and over it has been confirmed to me that my words here matter. And that they matter to you! And I am so very grateful for that.

Over the past year I have had many changes in my life. My oldest daughter went away to college, a move, loss of some support, husband's work schedule changed, among other things. It has quite honestly been a lot for me to deal with. But isn't that life? ~smile~

I have also learned through the hard times so very much about growing in His grace, love, mercy and forgiveness over the past few years. It has been a sweet, sweet, time of fellowship with Him. I pray earnestly that each of you know that and live that in your own lives. It is the only way I know how to live. It is the best place to be!

So many of my favorite bloggers have stopped blogging for one reason or another. I find I love to go back in their archives and read a post as it applies to my life. For that reason, I will be leaving my blog up...for now.

You are not done with me!! I will continue to write for the Mom Heart blog every month and so you can find me there. I am a writer and will always be a writer and Sally Clarkson's ministry is so dear and near to my heart that I so very much enjoy the opportunity to be a part of her ministry and write for that blog.

My blog has served its purpose in my life....for now.
It has largely been a creative place for me to express myself. I have a feeling I will be back at it at some point. But now is not the right time.

I wish you all knew how much I love and appreciate you all...faceless (and not so faceless) blogging community. You are the best!!

For now.....

Love, Andrea

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

What is edifying? Part 1.

 Titus 2: 3-5 has two parts. One; older women must be taught how to be "reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine and to teach what is good." Two; younger women must be taught how to "love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands."For me, in this "middle stage" of life, these two parts are interchangeable.  In either stage we "must be taught."

Now I know that it is important for us, as older mothers (that could be age or spiritual maturity) to "teach the younger women." Who can we look for to mentor/teach/encourage/disciple? But Titus 2 says, yes; the older women also "must be taught". Who is going to teach the older women? Who is supposed to teach the older women?

Because (in my opinion) there is a lack of discipleship/mentoring in the church, and a lack of teaching others how to disciple, we must, as "older women" look for those mentors. Seek them out, ask them.  It could be something as simple as talking to an older woman and asking her about her marriage, her relationship with the Lord. We all have something to learn from each other.

So, there is a twofold responsibility in these verses. To the older, and to the younger.

Breaking it down I see that as a woman--whether it be older or younger (again, this is not necessarily age but also spiritual maturity)-- I need to be seeking out how to be:

  • reverent in the way I live
  • not to be a slanderer. Slanderer: (defame, malign, vilify, degrade, disparage, shame, disgrace. Doesn't it take a lot of heart work for us women not to be a slanderer?)
  • not to be addicted to much wine (or facebook or my phone--ouch)
  • teach what is good
  • love my husband
  • love my children
  • to be self-controlled (goes along well with "not be addicted")
  • to be pure
  • to be busy at home
  • to be kind
  • to be subject to my husband
What stands out to me most at this time is the "self-control" part. It takes a lot of heart work to be self-controlled. Part of the way I feel I can be self-controlled (aside from the most important part which is surrendering every day to the Holy Spirit in my life) is by asking myself "What is edifying?"
Is this good for me? How will this fill me? How will this change and affect me? Again, lots of heart work to figure all this out.

In the coming week or so I want to explore that question more: "what is edifying?"
It would be great to hear comments/thoughts/questions from everyone.
Stay with me....

Friday, May 24, 2013

Where there is heart room, there is house room

Are all my 5 readers tired of seeing Jean Valjean/Hugh Jackman's face when they click on my blog? Hmn. Well, maybe not. ~smile~ Can one get tired of seeing Hugh Jackman's face?

Wow, it's been awhile. I have been avoiding my blog. I have made up posts in my head, but never sat down to write them.  I had a talk with two friends about closing down my blog for good. What else can I say that hasn't been said on the World Wide Web? My  7 year blogiversary passed in March. That's ancient in internet years. Can you think of anyone else who has a blog that's been around that long? There are a few of us....
Is my voice *needed* here in internet-land? Do I have time to keep this up? Am I living out my life with integrity in order to share my thoughts? Oh, so much navel-gazing.

This morning I was drying my hair and thinking about how our dear friends are having all SEVEN of my family up to their house for Memorial Day weekend. Events like that never quite happened so much after the birth of our fourth child. People don't quite know what to do with a large family overtaking their home. But..."where there is heart room, there is house room." A quote by Phyllis Stanley, a beautiful, beautiful radiant woman of the Lord. (For just a little taste of this woman's heart, read here.)

Why is hospitality such a lost art in our culture? Sometimes this makes me angry...and weary. Why won't larger families be invited to homes? Is it just larger families or is it our culture? "Where there is heart room, there is house room..."

I'm trying to "be the change." So I will keep blogging and expressing myself and preaching to myself. And I hope that my words will touch hearts deep and speak to them where the Lord might be prompting them. Is there heart room for me amidst all the internet chatter? Will you join me still on this journey of blogging? Will you read? Do you like meeeeee????

Hey guys...leave me a comment on this here post. I want to know who is out there. What are you reading? Share some blogs with me. I'm starting over with my blog roll.  Thanks everyone in advance who comments. I treasure your words.

*edited to add: all these sweet voices here on my blog! I've treasured every comment ! thank you!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

To love.

On one of my rabbit trails on the computer this weekend, I read an article: Targeting 'Les Miserables' to Christians pays off at the box office.  It made me angry: I was targeted? For money? The comments in response also made me angry, that's why I only read up to the 10th one before I shut down the computer for the night. Christians get a bad rap in our culture today, for many reasons. It's why it's so important that we, as Christians, seek to make our own culture: a new culture. That we aren't following the secular culture, but creating a better one that shows all the good and beautiful and amazing things about our God.

I went and saw the big-budget-Hollywood-musical Les Miserables on Friday night. You know, the one I was targeted for? Well done, Hollywood, you sucked me in. I paid the big bucks for the movies, which I hardly ever do. And I'm really not a musical fan, nor a big-budget Hollywood movie fan. I avoid them at whatever chance I get.

But I had this chance to go with my daughter, and my friend Vanessa, and I love quality time with people I love, so I went. I also knew the story of Les Miserables and I remember I really loved it, although it had been sometime since then. I went with an open mind, because "do you know they sing throughout the whole movie?" (Strike one in my head) and "I cried the whole way through!" I kept hearing from various friends who had seen it. (Strike two.) I do not cry in musicals. Or Hollywood big-budget movies. That is way too....lowbrow for me. (I'm kidding. Kind of.)

But I did. I cried. I cried when Fantine sang "I dreamed a dream", I cried about Cosette, I cried at the tragedies of life, the wretched, the miserable ones, the poor ones, the victims. I cried about love.

Jean Valjean is the main character, and he is a an ex-convict, imprisoned for stealing a bite of bread for his sister's child. He also tries numerous escape attempts and is therefore imprisoned for almost 20 years.

When he is finally "free" and tries to get work, he finds he cannot because of his "criminal" past. No one wants anything to do with him, until a Bishop named Myriel takes him in, and gives him food and shelter for the night. Valjean, desperate, and having no other means, steals Myriel's silver and leaves.  When the police capture Valjean, Myriel pretends he has given the silver to Valjean, and presses him to take silver candlesticks as well. The police are fooled, and Valjean is left to go. Myriel speaks to Valjean in love and persuades him to make a better life for himself.

This act of love has deep impact on Valjean for the rest of his life. It causes him to repent, and to go to the Lord and ask Him what he should do. He is no longer, "Valjean" but he is a new man.

It is this act of love by Myriel that is a catalyst for how Valjean lives his life. From now on, his life is about giving, loving, and mercy. He never forgets the way he was loved, despite his past, despite his sinfulness. Myriel loved him and saw the best in him.

This simple truth....it made me cry.  This simple truth of loving your fellow man despite his past, what he or she has done, despite how they have treated you, despite what they deserve. It is the ultimate story of redemption...starting with the Lord Jesus himself.

As a Christian, I can't help but compare the story of Valjean to my own life: I was a sinner, bound for hell, and Jesus...he saved me. He loved me. He took me anyway. He still does.

And...because of that? I have to love others. Not just the ones that are easy to love. But the ones that are hard to love. Especially the ones that are hard to love. The ones who've hurt me, who've stole from me, who are unkind to me. The man who honks behind me at the red light because I didn't move fast enough, the rude woman at the checkout line, the unappreciative or disobedient child, the "friend" who talks bad about me, the one who forgets about me, the husband who hurts me, the family member who just won't change. I have to love them because He loves me. The only way I can love them is if He loves me. It's how I can take that hurt, that pain, that emptiness, that loneliness, that frustration, that confusion, and turn it into an act of love for a fellow man. For a fellow man who in my eyes doesn't deserve it. But, hey, I don't deserve it either.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
― Victor HugoLes Misérables

So, Hollywood, again I say, "well-done". You targeted me, you got me. Victor Hugo was right when he said:  “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”  The fact that this movie was a musical is exactly why it touched my soul in a place that perhaps had some cobwebs there. Perhaps it opened my mind and heart a little more to love. To what God can do. To the wretchedness that we all are, and that this world needs more love, and that we, as Christians, are able to share that love, only because He first loved us.

“Even if we are hostile to God, reacting destructively towards life, violently reacting to the authority images we struggle with – God’s response as revealed in Jesus is not to crush us as we might expect, but to break the cycle of estrangement and rivalry with the transforming power of love. We see on the cross, in Richard Rohr’s terms, “the naked God”. God is made small, stripped naked, arms stretched out, so that our false image of a threatening judgmental God is taken away and God’s heart of love for us is revealed. The threat is removed; we have nothing to fight against. God surrenders first so we can give up the fight too and come home. The cycle of rivalry and violence is broken through the weakness of God on the cross.”
~ Richard Rohr

Friday, December 21, 2012

Like Mary

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.~Luke 2:19

On Christmas Day, seven years ago, I had a 6 day old baby to hold. After we read the Christmas scripture that morning, I remember how clear that verse was to me. It was like I had never heard of it before. I'm supposing my "new mother hormones" were in tune to anything remotely resembling nurturing or mothering. I think it's just God's way. I identified with Mary immensely then, holding a newborn child.

Even today...in modern translations like the song Breath of Heaven.... I can understand Mary's cry: I am frightened by the load I bear..., and do you wonder if a wiser one should have had my place? I feel that way so often....my precious children deserve someone wiser and better than what I humanly can give them!! That's when I know that my mothering capabilities are indeed supernatural....from the Lord...in that all the things which are possible, I can do; but the impossible is left to Him.

Just like Jesus' life was to follow a specific plan, our lives and our children's lives were made to follow a specific plan. Often we don't understand or see that plan, (I know I don't sometimes---ok, many times!!) but to an outsider it might look like we are "birthing them in a manger"...so to speak. By that I mean, the circumstances surrounding our children are not necesarily indicative of what God is doing in their and our lives. We must think from the heart, not the head, in things of matter concerning the will of God, and our children. That I must hold to, that I must continue to have faith in.

And, so, like Mary, I am pondering all these things in my heart. I am imagining the faith it must have took for her to believe that she was bearing God's son. I am imagining the strength and wisdom she must have had to ask for, continually. And I know, in the end, whatever the circumstance....He will reign.

But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. ~Luke 1:30-33
(reposted from the Archives Dec 2007) 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

5 things I'm loving

1. Reading. Books, that is. Here's what's on my list: (for now)

~Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
~What Are People For? by Wendell Berry
~Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon
~The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliott
~A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester

2. Reading blogs not on a reader. I realized that I really love seeing blogs with all the design and creativity on it. I realized if I am reading too many blogs on my reader then I am missing that aspect of it all. (Not like I was getting to much blog reading anyways!) I'm slowly trying to pare down my blog list, and those blogs that I do read, I am making an effort to go to the actual blog page to get the full effect of the layout, etc. All that said, I created a facebook page for my blog. I will post blog updates on there, so if you on on facebook, I invite you to "like" my page. That way, you can click directly on the link and it will take you to my blog post.

3. Knitting. There is something so satisfying about creating something with your hands. And knitting fulfills something in me. There's just something about--following a pattern, making something out of two wooden sticks,  and keeping my hands busy that speaks to me so much.

4. Moisturizing. What? Did you say moisturizing? Oh yes I did. I have begun to really care for my skin in the way of moisturizing. Do you moisturize in the morning and at night? I have always had oily skin so I never felt the need to moisturize. But a few months ago I had a facial and was told that my skin was dehydrated and I needed to moisturize. Can I just say that my skin has never felt so soft or so healthy? And now that I am getting older, I am scared of getting a turkey neck. So I am moisturizing there, too. My favorites are Wedela in the morning, and Clinique at night.

5. My house. We are moving. Only about 10 minutes down the road, but to a home on about 5 acres. I've been enjoying dreaming about what it's going to look like when we are all finished doing some work on it. You can see some of that dreaming on my Pinterest board.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Glorious humility

My first baby will be celebrating a birthday next week.
Before I had her, I thought I knew most everything about babies. But, as we mothers all know, the more children you have, the more you learn this is not true, and you are served a big slice of humble pie.
She was 16 hours of labor, a third degree tear, and colicky. This was not my sweet angel baby I had imagined. She did not want to snuggle against me, instead, as I held her in the cradle hold, she would arch her back. I had to hold her down in my arms to get her to sleep.

.....I'm on the MomHeart blog today.... talking about Glorious humility.

Sharing beauty

A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend invited me to partake in a lovely showing of some knits and crochets at the home of her mother's friend's house. I was so touched she thought of me and knew that I would enjoy looking and touching so many beautiful creations.

 She told me: "I knew you would appreciate the beauty."

But don't we all appreciate the beauty? Psalm 19:1-4 says that 
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 

 The Lord has put beauty in our lives to experience every single day. Only because He loves us and knows us. He knows our soul craves beauty amidst the weariness of this world. He gives us beauty in this world to make it a little bit easier for us to bear. And it is just a taste--a small taste!- of what is to come. Isn't that glorious!!

Here is a package so beautifully decorated by the lovely Megan of the blog Contented Sparrow. She is a share-er of beauty, everything she touches is beautiful. 

 I became friends with a dear woman named Becky Metcalf whom I met while attending Sally Clarkson's MomHeart Intensive back in September. She spoke on beauty in our lives and how important it is. She shares beauty by her artwork and her calligraphy. She sent me this little card in the mail the week of Thanksgiving. Such a lovely reminder of His love for us in all kinds of ways.

 Sharing beauty is so important in our lives! If the Lord shares it with us, then we should make every attempt to share it with others in our lives, especially those in our families.
When my mother was here over Thanksgiving, we had a "girls' Christmas tea" at our favorite local tea place. It was so relaxing taking the time to sip tea, look at the beauty around us and teach the little girls the "art of conversation." 
We need beauty to survive!

Lastly, what kind of beauty are you sharing with yourself? It is so important to share beauty with our own selves. I picked up some beautiful yarn and began to knit a cowl for my daughter. I was inspired by the knit show and wanted to create some for myself as well as share with my daughter. After our tea excursion, we headed over to the used bookstore and I picked up this gem of a book. It is the nature diary of Edith Holden. She shares all kinds of artwork and poetry and notes about what she sees in her area over the course of a year.

As we go about life in this fallen world, we need to be aware of God's never-ending, perfect love for us. Recognizing and sharing beauty with each other and ourselves is a perfect way to give Him praise!

(you can check out more of the knits from the show I attended by going to Beaux by Meg.)