The Poem of the Air

Voice of Lord Snow Poetry

“Out of the bosom of the air, Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken…

Silent, and soft, and slow  Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take  Suddenly shape in some divine expression…

This is the poem of the air,  Slowly in silent syllables recorded…”

~Excerpts from Snow-Flakes, Walt Whitman

 

They predicted a trace of snow. Then a few inches or more, then not much of anything, then maybe an inch, and right about there, we turned away.

The weather man kept changing his mind. We expected this “One-Two Punch” to amount to little. Or nothing. Besides, we “enjoyed” snow and ice all last week–which is all we North Carolinians need to close up shop and call it a winter.

But before I opened my eyes this morning, my littlest charged at my bedroom window, lifted a shade, and gasped. “Mom!!! God is awesome…you know WHY??? Guess what Mom? He made it snow!”

I moseyed on over, past the energizer bunny doing circles.

Besides his sweet face, it was my first sight of the day–a lovely dusting of snow covering the whole backyard and soft, chunky snowflakes falling from the sky.

Today was like any other day, until I watched the sky rain poetry.

Puffy flakes have fallen all day since, more than 7 grand hours of air’s soft whispers, of snow piling up line upon line.

This afternoon, I stood out on the deck in my husband’s tennis shoes and let snow fall on me like fresh, white confetti.

I wondered, why does snow appear like shreds of wonder today?  Like it’s been shaken from clouds like glitter?

Usually, I count snowflakes like curses.

I blame it on my childhood up north, where I endured enough snow for a lifetime. But who am I to complain? This isn’t my world, my sun, my clouds. Maybe I need to see snowflakes like Whitman, who called them a divine expression.

Do you hear the voice of God in the poem of the air?

I’m beginning to hear more clearly.

Standing out beyond these walls, I remembered the psalm I read yesterday. It says,

Be in awe before His majesty…Give Him the honor due His name! 

The voice of the Lord echoes through the skies and seas.

So powerful is His voice, so brilliant and bright.

His symphonic sound splinters the mighty forests.

He moves Zion’s mountains by the might of His voice.

Seven times, Psalm 29 repeats the voice of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, the voice of the Lord. Known as the Psalm of Seven Thunders, it summons sons and daughters of God–along with all the hosts of heaven–to give God the glory due His name.

Whether our days usher in storms or sunshine, God’s voice echoes through the skies.

Some days white like snow, things are clear enough to see and hear it.

 

Faith on the Edge of a Sword

Faith Fear World Not My Home Something Better

My big sister called me the Safety Club.

She was the type to think fun was fun. I only thought fun was fun if it was also safe.

I always treasured safety, even as a kid. No one ever called me Brave. Detailed, yes. But not brave.

I was the kind of kid who noticed the details, who noticed all the ways the world wasn’t safe. Who noticed all the bad things that just might, could possibly happen, if we opened that box.

It was there, in those details, where my courage often went to die.

Still, I tried to align myself with safety. With safe-ish. Which didn’t always mesh well with faith in Jesus.

For obvious reasons, I’ve never enjoyed the Great Hall of Faith. Hebrews 11, anyone? In my Bible it’s titled, “Faith in Action.” But my reaction to Hebrew 11, was…No, thank you.

Pass the Faith ~ just not on the edge of a sword, please. 

I wonder how many of you can relate. I’d guess I’m not the only longstanding member of the Safety Club.

Hebrews 11–and plenty of other Scripture passages–sent my red flags flying, somewhere between barely escaping the edge of the sword–and torture, imprisonment, and stoning.  Also that part which states, They were sawed in two.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to put myself in those real people’s shoes, even if they did live long, long ago.

Basically, I have an adverse reaction to violence, of any kind. I’m not big on blood. Especially my own.

But earlier this week, my oldest boys wanted to talk again about ISIS.

They asked me about 21 Brave Egyptian Christians, whose faith shone at the edge of the water on a Libyan beach–whose faith endured even past edges of swords.

The truth is, I’ve always been all, I sure hope it never comes down to that for any of us. 

But this time, something changed. I asked the Lord to help me stand with Him if I’m ever in those shoes.

I heard myself telling my kids, Guys, of course I don’t want to go through that, but I will leave this earth standing for Jesus, if that’s what it comes to. 

Now I realize I’m just saying words.

But I’m not the kind of person who says these things lightly. I’ve not ever ONCE been the type of person who says those kind of words at all. It’s my temperament’s fault. I have to count the cost and really mean words, before I can say them.

But after 30+ years of running from the thought of persecution, of desiring deeper faith as long as it doesn’t come with any sharp edges, I realized something.

This world is really not my home.

And I’m not so scared anymore.

I hope it’s the same for you. I hope the story of these 21 brave brothers in Christ–and all the others who have gone before–inspires you to follow Jesus bravely, the way it’s inspiring me.

Instead of growing our fears, may these stories grow our faith.

They lived in this world, but they had died to it already. They had died to the world, and the world had died to them.

May we stop craving our illusions of safety, and may we hunger for heaven instead.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1-2

They were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:16

Living From a New Identity

dead to sin alive to God identity in Christ

As a preschooler, I learned I had a sin problem and needed Jesus to save me from it. When I asked Him to be my rescue, I became dead to sin and alive to God. I learned the old had gone, and the new had come. But I was also encouraged to put off sin and put on Christ.

Just one little problem. How exactly do you put Christ on? That was a hard idea to wrap my head around.

Then I grew up a bit and realized–I really don’t feel so dead to sin

Read the rest of this post here. Today I’m blogging over at Kelly Balarie & Friends…I hope you’ll pop in for a visit!

~Angela

 

Pray Without Multitasking

praying without multitaskingWe are two weeks into the new year, and I’m ready now to declare my word.

Near the end of last year, I thought it might be strength—as in living in God’s strength and not my own. I wrote it on the front page of a new journal, but it didn’t feel like “the one”.

As I studied strength, it took a backseat to prayer.

Because there’s no living in God’s strength without wholehearted, earnest prayer.

So this year my commitment is simply to Pray–in a consistent, intentional, wholehearted way…

Join me over at Kelly Ballarie & Friends for the rest of this post!

When Pillars Fall

Jesus Chief Cornerstone Pillars Fall Trials

Earlier this year, on a rainy Thursday afternoon, one of the pillars of my life fell.

I mean that literally. My Dad fell from a 20-foot ladder on the job, and then we all circled his hospital bed, where he wore the neck brace with fits of anger, in and out of consciousness.

We waited through testing to learn of broken bones and a bleeding brain, while our strong and capable supporter forgot thirty years of living and became fragile before us…

 

Will you join me for the rest of this post, over at Katy’s place (A Football Wife’s Life) today? I am honored to participate in the series she’s hosting, on the Names of God. Also, she’s giving away a set of beautiful ornaments. Don’t miss!

And a very merry Christmas to you!

The Gift of God-With-Us

Lord With You For a couple months, we’ve looked forward to hosting two sisters, who are orphans, in our home this Christmas. We selected clothes for them to wear, rearranged bedrooms, stocked up on groceries, and scheduled outings. We shopped for Christmas gifts, wrapped them all in red and black glittery paper, and hid them in a closet.

It’s been great fun, preparing for Christmas and getting ready to welcome these little ones into our family for a month.

But then, this week happened, the last week before they arrive. You wouldn’t believe how many things went wrong. (As in, not according to plan.) My stomach feels knotted up. I’ve had to remind myself to breathe. I’m having a really hard time slowing down, especially enough to pray.

We’ve known all along that this could be an amazing month–or it could be a very difficult month. But it’s like this news just now caught up to my insides, for the first time. All the concerns, what ifs, and fears floated to the surface.

I want to look forward with faith, to anticipate great things from God. I don’t want to feel so incapable, or worry about details. I don’t want to give fear some big, shouty platform in my life.

But I don’t feel I have much control over my anxiety right now…

 

Join me over at Purposeful Faith for the rest of this post today!

For Those Who Need Breathing Room {Five-Minute Fridays}

Breathing Room for my SoulIt’s been the kind of week where I scurry around, trying to cross off line items, piled up on lengthy to-do lists. Then in the middle of the night, I wake, unable to fall back asleep.

It’s not an issue of trying to keep up with Christmas. Preparing for Christmas traditions was the easy part.

But the schedule’s getting all booked and bossy, and it’s always these times when I start to unravel.

In the middle of the night, the house is nothing but a whisper. Three noisy boys and a spunky girl lie tucked in tight, under cozy comforters. I tip-toe into their bedrooms and observe the way they breathe.

In—Out.

Deep—Rhythmic.

Hushed—Slow.

I think about how I’ve forced myself to breathe deeply a handful of times today. Because my daytime breath keeps coming short and shallow.

I’ve been anticipating a great amount of activity to come–and I guess I’ve been living in fear of it. Because what I really need is breathing room.

Is it even possible to find breathing room, while 8 people live under this roof?

I stumble through prayers, asking God to fix whatever’s off inside me. I’m not sure how to get out of the way. Since I’m missing out on sleep anyway, I look for a psalm to pray, and this is where I land:

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62)

Why, yes please. This I want–to find rest in God, unmoved by life’s concerns. I open another Bible version, and end up back at Psalm 62 in The Message. It’s a paraphrase, and the words on the page are meant for me.

God, the one and only—I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not?

He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul.

Did you see that? Instead of my salvation, this time, God is breathing room for my soul.

I read it again and exhale. This is exactly what I’m looking for. This is beauty, found in the middle of the chaos, this room to breathe. In, out. Deep, slow.

{Yawn}

I guess I’m feeling a little sleepy after all…

Dear Friend Who Thinks She Should Try Harder {Five-Minute Fridays}

giftDear Friend Who Thinks She Should Try Harder,

I sat there, while you talked about navigating life with your little people, feeling like I’d already had this conversation with someone. Probably lots of someones.

I kept nodding my head, because I understand the way you feel. Your words reminded me of myself a few years back. Motherhood is hard stuff, and you were looking for answers.

You hinted that your solution was to stay up later. To get more things done. To gather pretty pins and make more lists. To just follow through with the lists you already have.

But I don’t think the answer is waiting for you on Pinterest, at the house next door, or in those glossy stacks of magazines in your living room. I don’t think the answer looks like you doing more.

We are all sold this lie, that if we try a little harder, if we work a little more, we’ll get there. Where? The place where life—motherhood—looks a lot more fun and glamorous and just right. The place where motherhood looks the way we hoped it would look.

We are sold on high expectations and a false definition of being a good mom.

For a long time, I said I was just trying to be a good mom. Just doing the usual things, you know, things everyone was doing. Just keeping up with all I needed to do.

But later I realized the truth. I wanted to do it all. I wanted to be really good at this, at all the pieces and parts of it. Don’t we all want that? For our kids, our family, and before God?

Of course, there are other reasons also–we want to keep up with our friends. Right?

So as a Mom, for many years, I lived under an impossible list of expectations, both my own and other people’s ideals. Instead of collecting figurines or seashells, I collected so many expectations on my shelves.

friend who thinks she should try harderAt the end of those overwhelming days, I’d search for answers.

If I could just try a little harder, get more organized, pray more, and figure things out, maybe then I’d be the Mom I always wanted to be.

I usually attacked it in that order, focusing on organization. I usually tried to fix things on my own and asked God for whatever He could do to help.

But friend, who thinks she should try harder, let me tell you what’s different now.

It started with a simple Read-Through-the-Bible one year when I was in the thick of overwhelming days. I didn’t read it at the same time each day—or in the same place—and I never stayed on schedule. But in the quiet, I realized something all year long: I was ruining motherhood, by trying so hard. And somehow half the Bible spoke directly into motherhood.

That year, Jesus offered me freedom from the slavery of striving. He invited me to come to Him for true rest. He encouraged me to take my load from Him–not from what others around me were doing. He showed me how that list of expectations had become an idol I was clinging to.

It’s not like He zapped my life, and everything changed all at once. Or that I’m completely over expectations. But He began a good work in me as a Mom, when I became desperate enough to hear Him.

Now days of chronic overwhelm have turned into an overwhelming gift. And when I start to feel like I need to strive to keep up, I can take a step back and understand what’s behind that.

What about you? Do you often feel like you should do more, and try harder?

 

From Complaints to Thanks

from complaints to thanks thanksgiving complaining discontent

I stood beside their beds in the dark, praying for each of my 3 little ones while they slept. Every night on my way to bed, I whispered thanks to God for the gift of being their Mommy. But often tears fell, because I knew the truth of that day. And the one before.

I was discontent with that season of my life, and I had become an under-the-breath complainer.

I didn’t always like that this was what God had called me to do. Because it looked like endless wiping. Wiping counters, spills, bottoms, floors, always wiping…

 

Today I’m guest posting at Purposeful Faith ~ Kelly Balarie & Friends. I hope you will join me there!

To continue reading this post, click here.

Why We Should Never Listen to Burnt Bacon

 

motherhood burnt bacon

On an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, I sat at the table working on a writing assignment. When I remembered, it’s Big Salad night.

So I tossed eggs in water to boil, threw chicken on the stove, and arranged bacon on a frying pan. Our piano teacher knocked on the door. We talked, I checked in with food, and went back to writing.

The phone rang, and I talked to my Dad, who’s returning my call from earlier. I tended to food and sat down again. A kid ran in to tell me his online math lesson score. I cheered him on, and sent him off to read.

The doorbell rang, so I checked the food on my way. I chatted with a neighbor, ran back to flip bacon, and sat again to write.

Another kid happened by. Showed me the art she’s been creating. I marvelled at leaves painted different colors and pressed onto her canvas, turned over chicken breasts, cheered her on, and sent her off to read.

It’s supposed to be quiet time, which is why I’m working on a writing assignment and also why I’m cooking dinner to avoid the assignment.

I checked boiled eggs, popped outside for a minute, answered the kids’ most pressing questions, and then our little man woke from his nap. I rubbed his back, fed him a snack, called the next kid for piano lesson, remembered I still needed to clean salad greens, washed and ripped while pondering my writing assignment, and then.

Another kid walked into the kitchen, making a beeline to the stove.

Um, Mom? You know you’re cooking bacon, right?

It took a minute, but I returned to my real place in this real story. I’m cooking bacon. I just forgot. Because the greens, the eggs, the chicken, the kids, the neighbor, the music, the teacher, the back rub, the assignment, and all the thoughts pushed their way forward.

I know everyone does this sometimes. I also know I’ve burned bacon without 16 other things going on. But this story isn’t about the bacon. It’s about being a Mom.

When I became a Mom, I had all these ideas about how to be a good Mom, none of which made space for my weaknesses. Most of them were not really sustainable, at least not for me.

What I’ve learned is, There are a lot of ways to be a good Mom.

Most of those involve the kitchen, but I used to think my kitchen life had to look a certain way. I wanted to be one of those Moms with the picture-perfect meals, all shiny and healthy and planned out for weeks in advance. And while I love serving my family healthy food that will love them back, try though I did, the kitchen never became more than a great place for me to daydream.

So instead of a Mom whose life looks like a Pottery Barn catalog, I’m often the one with the burnt things on pretty plates. And it’s all going to be okay. Because today I heard this little slice of encouragement:

And I quote,  “You know Mom? It looks nasty, but it’s actually not that bad.” 

I’m still laughing. I might need to frame that quote–it’s so Tuesday-typical around here. Years ago, I might have cried because another kitchen-failure. But I’ve grown into a Mom who knows it doesn’t mean anything important about who she is.

So the next time you’re dealing with burnt bacon–or a flopped school snack or forgotten assignment or a botched recipe or any number of things that might tempt you to believe you stink in all things Mommyhood, remember this: ME, TOO.

And it’s probably not that bad. Even if it looks nasty.