A Little Bit Broken

A little bit broken.
That’s how I feel on my best of days.

Rough around the edges. Stained on the inside—and sometimes on the outside. Cracked here and there, a chip or two gone missing. Things leak out, sometimes because I spill them and sometimes because I am incapable of holding them in.

A chipped teacup with some leftover flecks of dried out tea leaves nestled in the mar—parts of my story that rest mostly in these shadowy cracks. Add some water, swirl me around, and you will see my beauty mixed with my pain. Which parts are the most lovely is difficult at times to ascertain. The dark bits swirl around, and eventually settle on the bottom. Take a sip, drink the water—it is flavored by what came out of the chips & cracks that had been hiding, but it is the water that carries it to your tongue and that flows into you and satisfies the parts of you that were longing to be quenched.

I am useful despite my imperfections. Perhaps all the more because of them.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

 

The Lord meets me in my brokenness and comforts me. And then He gives me the ability—the empathy—to reach out from my own chippy cracks to meet others in this same place and comfort them. He gives Himself to me in a measure that is truly immeasurable, and then He makes my cup overflow so that I can give a measure to someone else. We pour into one another, often from the lip and more often from the cracks.

Sometimes I wish I were a perfectly kept, shiny, whole teacup without stains and chips, no hidden leftover tea leaves and no cracks threatening to leak little drips or big splashes. It gets messy—I like tidy. But I trust in the Lord my God, who created me to be His vessel, and He holds my broken self in His loving hands even now. (Psalm 31:14, 12, 15) Who is it that made me? Who cares for me? Who numbers my days and has already prepared the good works that I shall do? God my King, the Potter who forms us in His clay—who creates us, molds us, changes us, uses us, and even chips us—as it seems good to Him. (Jeremiah 18:3-4)

When I remember these things, I am reminded and comforted—all over again—that sometimes it is the chips and the stains that bring Him the most glory, that do the most to reach His people, that give me opportunities for greater good for the Kingdom, that make me useful and beautiful at the same time.

I am not meant to be left on a shelf. Beauty does not mean untouched, unchipped, unstained, unused. I am meant to be used for His glory, poured out for God’s people—after all, I am made in Their image, I came from clay, but I am a reflection of Him who poured out all of Himself for His people (Isaiah 53:12), and in the little ways He has prepared for me, I imperfectly image that pouring, that dying, that bleeding & brokenness. And that imaging and imitating is perhaps the most beautiful of all fragile things.

 

Brokenness doesn’t automatically bring us to the thin place,
the sacred place where God’s breath and touch are closer than our own skin.
Heartbreak brings us lots of places—
to despair, to bitterness, to emptiness, to numbness, to isolation.
But because God is just that good,
if we allow the people who love us to walk with us
right through the brokenness,
it can also lead to a deep sense of God’s presence.
When things fall apart,
the broken places allow all sorts of things to enter,
and one of them is the presence of God.
~ Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p94~

It Gladdens our Hearts

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Wine is simply water
that has matured according to nature’s will…
God gave us wine to make us gracious and keep us sane.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p93~

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With wine at hand, the good man concerns himself,
not with getting drunk,
but with drinking in all the natural delectabilities of wine:
taste, color bouquet;
its manifold graces;
the way it complements food and enhances conversation;
and its sovereign power to turn evenings into occasions,
to lift eating beyond nourishment to conviviality,
and to bring the race, for a few hours at least,
to that happy state where men are wise and women beautiful,
and even one’s children begin to look promising.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p91~

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When you eat, I want you to think of God,
of the holiness of hands that feed us,
of the provision we are given every time we eat.
When you eat bread and you drink wine,
I want you to think about the body and the blood every time,
not just when the bread and wine show up in church,
but when they show up anywhere—
on a picnic table or a hardwood floor or a beach.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p17

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Psalm 104:15
…wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

Morning {Motherhood} Glory

 

The glory of motherhood comes camouflaged in so much chaos.
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Surprised By Motherhood, p198~

 

This morning, after waking my soul by praying in the dark under the warmth of a duvet, I managed to pull myself out of bed before the kids were even stirring. Kissing my husband goodbye is always bittersweet—sending him off to tame his portion of the wild, to tend the domain put into his hands—getting kisses for the kids, and extra for myself to carry me through until our lips meet again. A new day, new mercies. Even old things feel new sometimes, like these soft morning kisses that spark my soul.

I shuffle out of the bedroom, turn on music and set lavender candles ablaze in the hushed morning. Sunshine not yet streaming over the foggy hills in the east, I start the fire, put away dishes, put in a load of laundry, proof yeast & set the mixer kneading, make a dark cup of coffee. I set out little bowls of raisins & Cheerios, with cups of milk alongside, and vitamins resting in the spoons. Chairs lined up on one side of our table—one, two, three. I pause for a moment over the mercy that that number is. Three.

I dress in my workout clothes and put a heating pad on my back, then sit at my desk with coffee and books and blogs and Scriptures. I empty myself in spirit and ask the Lord to fill me up with Himself. I find Him in friends and pastors and authors. I find Him in a couple short email conversations.

Then I find Him in one of my favorite places, wrapped in the softest skin, whispers and muted footsteps coming down the stairs. The gate at the bottom of the steps creaks. I see two little red heads and four bright blue eyes peering secretly around the corner at me. They begin to sneak on tiptoes around the kitchen island, coming up behind me to surprise their mommy. I pretend not to know, to play their game, to give them joy—which then gives me joy right back. Boo!

Giggles ensue. With many kisses, a dozen tight hugs.

They run to their little sister’s room, eager to have her join their antics. They know we are incomplete without her. Soon a little caramel topped girl, dolls tucked under each arm, joins the tiptoeing, the giggling. I can no longer hear my own thoughts, the psalms that are playing on the stereo are drowned out, the beeping washing machine and oven timer might be going off but I wouldn’t know it.

Eventually, three sets of tummies begin to growl, I put my books back in a stack in the far corner of my desk, then help three little bums to their chairs. Three sets of hands fold, three copper topped heads bow.

It’s quiet, I hear lungs breathing and noses sniffling. I hear the fire crackle, outside raindrops, the spin cycle on the washing machine. Three little miracles, quiet here knowing they are about to give thanks to their Creator, preaching to one another their faith even as it comes out their folded fingertips in routines. This is a holy moment, holy ground, even with mundane Cheerios before us and an empty coffee cup in my hand—because we are quiet in the presence of God, Who is always with us, and this is one of those moments where my children talk with Him together, and where we praise Him for His provision of both big & little things. In one breath, with the pandemonium suddenly subdued, this moment and this place feel purely consecrated.

Who wants to pray? I whisper, almost afraid to ruin the sacred moment.

I do it, the littlest one whispers right back. And she does—in a hushed tone, with entwined fingers and bowed head, and eyes rapidly blinking because she doesn’t yet know how to keep them closed tight. Unprompted, she prays: God. Thank You. Food. Milk. Vitamins. Daddy. Mommy. Gabriel. Asher. God. Thank You. Food. Bless us. God. Thank You. JesusnameAMEN.

Hands unfold to grab for spoons, heads start to bob with chatter and laughter. Chaos returns with giggles and spilled milk and Cheerios on the floor and asking for orange juice and shouting when someone notices it’s raining or there is a robin on the fence or half a dozen deer right outside the window.

I stand back and revel in the noise, trying to hear my own thoughts. The way these things are so simple and so profound at the same moment. I lay out schoolbooks and coloring books, wonder if I will find time to exercise, put the cereal bowls in the dishwasher, stop a squabble, add another log to the fire, let the dog out, help the children exchange cozy jammies for clean clothes. Coffee is gone and breakfast eaten, the music plays on, the fire roars, the candles flicker. Deep breaths: the day has begun.

This is a good life. The repetition, the routine, the mundane, the small, the quiet, the noise. They are big to me—huge, in fact. And they are beautiful—glorious.

The Lord is here, present, with us—Immanuel. In the quiet moments and in the loud chaotic ones. I expect today, like every day, will hold many of both.

 

Only miracle is plain; it is the ordinary that groans with the unutterable weight of glory.
~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p99~

faithful body image

What does the world mean when they speak of having good body image?
The test is simply whether you can look in the mirror and love yourself.
Can you see your body and love it?

But for a Christian woman this question should be completely different.
Good body image for a Christian woman means being able to look in the mirror and love God.
If you can look in the mirror and thank God for the body that He gave you –
that He spoke from nothing when He called you to life –
when He made your heart beat in a secret place,
when out of nothing He crafted you and gave you life.

When you can thank Him for all the challenges that come with this body of yours
because they come from His hand –
this is a far deeper joy than loving yourself.

This is not the shallow joy of having good body image,
but the deep security of having faithful body image.

Pursue that – because it is pursuing your Creator.
Thank Him – for His gifts to us are overwhelming.
Image Him, even as we see ourselves.
~Rachel Jankovic~

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This is where I live

I feel like this picture captures so much of my life at the moment.
Of course this is actually my yard/view so this is truly where I spend my life.
And much of it is spent in my husband’s arms.
Some of it is spent smiling, some of it is spent trying to smile.
And while so much of it is spent in the storms right now, there are rainbows, and I seek to bask in that reflected glory.

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Spring Cleaning…

At least in theory, I want to do some spring cleaning. Certain things need to be done: the flower bed needs a little help before sunshine does its thing, the hose needs brought out, the Christmas lights need taken down, the porches need swept off, and the outdoor furniture needs a good spray & wipe. Other things would be a good idea: washing all the windows, thoroughly cleaning the kitchen, giving curtains & bedlinens a good washing, making sure the pantry & other storage areas are well-ordered & well-stocked. Other things sound like brilliant ideas but are probably not realistic in my here & now: wiping down all the wooden trim in the house, dusting lightbulbs, anything that requires scrubbing with a toothbrush, etc. In my dreamworld I would love some more trim up in the house, especially so I can add some curtains to a few more key rooms: but again, not certain that this is the year that will get accomplished, and that’s totally okay. It is good to know what things should be done, what might be icing on the cake, and what is not realistic for me right now with where God has us today. 🙂

So right now I’ve got my oven self-cleaning, the coffee maker and the dishwasher each running a vinegar rinse, and I cleaned the sink with a good borax soak earlier while I took the kids to the library & out for lunch.

I have great plans to throw some other things in the dishwasher and washing machine as the day goes on… and perhaps I will get the kids involved in helping me do some spring cleaning/prep outside on the porches this evening.

I love to have an organized and tidy home (if not always clean in that “spotless” sort of way… I mean, I do have little kids and live in the country, after all!), not because I want to be fussy but because I want to pursue a good balance of beauty & functionality. I want my home to be a place of rest and refuge for my family, and also for our friends.

So what are YOU doing to freshen up your home this spring? How do you get the whole family involved? What things do you find worth doing versus unnecessary? And how do you make sure you stop spending too much time glancing around the internet for ideas, and actually get off your bum to accomplish some of the said tasks?! 😉

Dabbling in Various Domestic Endeavors

I may not have a Pinterest account, but I sure love coming up with new ideas for the beautifying of my home, the loving of my family, and the nutritious & delicious filling of our bellies! Enjoy a wee glimpse into a few of my recent crafty endeavors.

Beautiful Girl

These are from Evangeline’s newborn photo shoot when she was nine days old & weighing 5-12. Now she’s 36 days old & weighs 7-12. How quickly they grow & change! I’m so thankful for the beautiful memories contained in the pictures from her earliest, tiniest days.