Saturday, November 7, 2015

Psalm for Discontentment

I spent the day wallowing in self-pity. There, I said it. I am in the precious place of life where God knows my fleshly bents, He knows my brand of sin, and He puts pressure there. I am, in my flesh, not in the place I want to be in life. In THIS life. So, I find myself falling into discontentment easily. Here's how it went today, courtesy of Psalm 73.

Verse 3: I envied the arrogant....when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

I looked around my house at my unfinished projects, for which I have no time. I looked at my bank accounts, which are thin. I saw my friends, who, in their 30's like me, are far surpassed me in their financial endeavors, their households.

"4 They have no struggles;
    their bodies are healthy and strong."

I find myself re-entering "normalcy" after breastfeeding. Oh yeah....fibromyalgia. I can't sleep at night anymore. I have pain unless I sleep 10 hours (which doesn't happen with 3 children). And then I still have to get up and work.

 "They are free from common human burdens;
    they are not plagued by human ills.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
    and their tongues take possession of the earth."

They find it easy to attend church and talk of their faith glibly, to pay for their children's Christian Tuition.

10 Therefore their people turn to them
    and drink up waters in abundance."

This is what the wicked are like—
    always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

Not that all my friends are "the Wicked", but, bear with me in the slight dissonance of allegory. I remain here to tell the story of my heart.

I felt like this:

"All in vain have I kept my heart clean
    and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken
    and rebuked every morning."

I do believe that God has me in the palm of His hands every morning that I awaken, but in one sense, it is not so "comforting," for sometimes it is for chastisement that His hands are upon me. And in that I find this verse resounding within me.

My instinct, like the Psalmist, is to wrestle with the standards before me. To find me a way out, to satisfy the cravings of my heart...to find contentment in this life. And it makes me tired.

But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task...

But then:

...until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.

As in everything, the "End", or "death" puts everything into perspective. At any time of life I can turn my thoughts here and I have nothing but the utmost fulfilling, precious, spectacular promises from my God for this next life. Crowns, glory, life eternal, joy unspeakable, and so on, have been promised me after death.

But the wicked?

Truly you set them in slippery places;
    you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
    swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
    O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

I forgot that this life is super-short.

When my soul was embittered,
    when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
    I was like a beast toward you.

How could I have forgotten? Though He discipline me severely, He is good....He made me, loves me, and holds me.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.

And AFTERWARD....  oh, the bliss! (Romans 8:18) "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

And I recount...

"Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Then the renewed perspective:

"For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
    you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you."

There, where they are, they shall perish. Here, where I am, even in this un-satisfying place, while He holds my hand...there is peace. And He has withheld no good thing from me.

"But for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    that I may tell of all your works"

So there. I have told of them. He is my refuge, and though I am poor, distressed, and lonely....

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Friday, August 21, 2015

Prayer for Soul-Weariness

Lord, take everything from me...sanctify it, return to me nothing that is not of Thee. Take my parenting, which I constantly try to wrestle to perfection. Take my workload, which I constantly complain of. Take the petty desires of my heart for beauty and order, and blow them to smithereens….for only in Thee is found True Beauty and Unending Order. Take my vain worship of the clock and its ridiculous mastery of me. Take my children, my most precious and undeserved possessions. Raise them. For I cannot. Leave nothing untouched by thy pure holiness.  Make me actually look like Thy child.

“This life has no lure anymore.” Make that statement true….for Thy glory.

 How long, O Lord? Darkness pervades, death feel like it still reigns. Everyone...ever…..dies. My days waste away…..the innocent die while I hurry my children to appointments.Terrorism grips cities in fear while I complain of the length of my bangs, and curse the dirty dishes in my sink, laden with wasted food…..food which does not feed the innocents dying of hunger far from me. Pettiness eats holes in the faith which I do not deserve. Thou alone sustains me and makes me even long for Thee. All I have that is honest is a disdain for the cheapness of my soul’s longings. Other than that, I have nothing to offer Thee but a begging for more of what Is. Not. Me…...which is Thy Eternal Goodness. Oh, encompass me. Oh, drown and drench me in Thy Reality...which is so grave and magnificent and joy-filled and brilliant. ...all of which brilliance overshines the dinge of my life and my longings….and even the sorrows for those.

Even my sorrows, Lord. Even my sorrows hold not enough grief to purge the cheapness of my soul.

Therefore...come, come, come, Lord Jesus. Restore, Renew, Re-make, Refresh. Show the brilliance of your countenance to the God-longing hearts of your children, who wait for you, battered with the weariness of the idolatry of this Middle-Life.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Blogging in Your Thirties

It's not like when I was in my twenties, that's for sure. I blogged the heck out of both my pregnancies....and here I am on number 2 post of this one.

I'm 27 weeks, now. I feel pretty good, though tired a lot. That is a new thing for me, I'm not usually a tired Preggo. But I've not had time to exercise this time. I'm working 2 part time jobs, and we are actually pulling in a decent income between the piano teaching business (22 students) and the worship director position at church. Ben was able to resign from the property maintenance job he'd had for 9 months....that he did on weekends. It was a killer of family time, that's for sure. Now he has time on weekends to hang out with us. :)

I have had 2 ultrasounds with my midwife (her machine is pretty old....) and one fuzzily revealed girl parts, and the other one thoroughly cast doubts on that. So I'm still unsure of the gender of number Three. I have a radiologist appointment Monday to get a full screening, possibly 3-D of this child, so we'll know for sure.

So, the facts are thus: I have become pretty successful, as I mentioned, as an income-earner, while still maintaining Motherhood. I teach 3-5 hours every afternoon through dinner hour four days a week. During the mornings of those days, I do housework, plan on doing school with the girls in September  during those mornings....and get meal planning and all those Mom things done. I also occasionally fit in a bible study/discipleship thing, or visit a friend. Then my last weekday, Friday, is spent working at church on worship music. At 4pm I come home, teach a group class, then have dinner and head back over to church for rehearsal.

The underlying facts: I get really, really tired. I miss my kids. I miss feeling like a successful mom. I fear I will struggle breast-feeding number three because of so much work. I battle discontentment because, though we are "making it" we don't have any spare cash lying around to finish up our house projects. (Remember we built this house two years ago?) I don't have time to exercise like I used to, so I struggle feeling unhealthy and sleeping poorly at night. This morning at 3:00 am I got up and went running up and down the stairs for some cardio. I felt better. But still couldn't get back to sleep. I buy freezer meals so Ben can cook while finishing up college projects and watching the girls. That feels like Nutrition failure.

The growth part: because pain and discomfort under God's watch-care always involves growth, I know that this has been a year of great growth for me. I took the Enneagram a year ago, which is a personality-type test, though more spiritually oriented than most, and for a Christian, helps reveal and diagnose your Dark Side. It has been tremendously helpful in showing me parts of myself that were hidden, carefully groomed, and mistakenly thought of as Good and Acceptable. It has given me months of opportunities to submit myself to the Holy Spirit rather than walk about blindly thinking I'm in the right. In addition, we have been growing as a church....particularly in our small group, and it has been so wonderful to watch that and look forward to this Body of Christ meeting in our town every week.

I want to blog on the enneagram at some future point. I highly recommend it as a tool for spiritual growth. There are a lot of copy tests out there that are harder to use, but the one to look for is on the enneagram institute website and costs $10 to take. You get a lot of resources for the price, though, like daily emails that help your Type (I'm a Type One--there are 9 total) to diagnose and grow. Also, you get a resource for helping you understand your spouse's type, and how your two together work for and against each other.

Anyhow. A new song from Stuart Townend has been on my mind......because we've come through a difficult year filled with struggle, but we are at a point of health and growth in the Spirit that has allowed us to see the Great Good that God has poured on us in spite of our Hardship.

"An Altar of Remembrance"
(Ben said we should build one in our yard as a reminder....like the old Ebeneezer of the bible....just a pile of stones for nothing but Remembering. God is good.



Friday, March 14, 2014

Pregnant.

And now, I'm pregnant.

I am 8 weeks along, and due October 25. I'm nauseous ALL DAY LONG and sometimes even puke early in the mornings.

I find myself in wonderment mostly, like, feeling strongly the Hand of God on my body, my life. There's nothing like feeling overwhelmed with life, stress, commitments, lack of fulfillment, frustration, of what-have-you, and then God saying, "I am in control of your life. See? Here is a pregnancy to help convince you of that."

I'm not exactly worried about the baby....but I'd be lying if I said it was a planned pregnancy. We were both emotionally ready to have another child, but not financially. It is tempting to be very scared about how we are going to pay for anything surrounding this new child, but....it's almost like it's too obvious a challenge to indulge in worry over this.

So, there it is. Ben is working incredibly hard....and is considering quitting one of the jobs, or doing something drastic to help us reduce the amount of hours we put into surviving each week, while still being able to afford to have another child.

Only 18 more months until school is over, and he can get a job.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Long Time Ago: Changes

A long time ago I started this blog.

2 years ago we moved into this house. We have never lived that long in one place before. As a married couple, that is.

I will be thirty-three in two weeks.

My daughter is in public school. This is probably temporary, it's just giving me a chance to get some stability with the piano studio and the church worship job.

Ben is enrolled in college for a topic he both enjoys and is really really good at. Web design. He has a couple of sites built already. Most noticeably: sojournlacey.com. (Our church)

I played a Steinway piano for the first time ever, and now I know what piano basics technique is FOR. I wish they didn't cost so much. Why are the best things in life $100,000?

I started group classes with my piano students, and they love it! Music is terribly underfunded in schools, and for kids to really learn and assimilate music, make it their own and enjoy it fully, I have to be more than just a piano teacher. I'm going to be raising my prices and doing more with the students I've got.

I miss my east coast family very, very much. My daughter said, "Why don't we invite them over. We haven't seen our cousins in a really long time!" Again, why do the best things in life cost thousands of dollars? I would love to just live out here and go back to visit every 4 months or so.

We still haven't landscaped our yard two years after moving in. We just have sketchy grass plus moss. There is a garden dug, but nothing in it except compost and crows.

In our thirties......we have two children and we are barely making enough to live on. Yet, God is the author of every good thing....and somehow we managed to get repairs done on our car by the dealership for free this week. Also, our heat pump is getting replaced...also for free.

We found out recently Ben is allergic to gluten. Gone are the days of making loaves of wheat bread for my family. How things change!

I'm learning to play the drums.....djembe, in particular. Well, piano is a percussion instrument after all! Violet also can play the djembe. And the ukulele. She has gotten pretty good at figuring out the chords. Apparently, we have a musical family!  :) Grace has gotten "Cuckoo" down on the piano, too. So fun to watch her play!

Sleep is still my most powerful drug. Fibromyalgia is definitely still in place in my body. But more than ever, sleep can be its daily cure. I had 6 months of physical therapy, which helped resolve some things and helped understand my muscle aches and tensions a bit. But the FMS is still there, it's real. I cannot deny it. And so I must, must sleep. Oddly enough, I am awake here at 3am. That is the Thing with fibromyalgia. I need sleep, but I cannot get it.

Ben and I see a lot of each other these days. He is home all day, while working on college, and though we are together, we can just turn into "partners" and forget about being spouses. :( We have had to carefully carve out time for Us. During the mornings while Violet is in school, I have Grace and Ethan (friend's child: 7 m/o) and housework and a little homeschool preschool. Then we swap at 2:00. I work out, shower, and pick up Violet from school and then teach all afternoon until 7pm. He does dinner, homework, and chores with the kids. We finally hang out together at bedtime. It's a long day. Wednesday is different. I work at the church alone from 10-3pm. Then I pick up Violet and teach until 5:45. Then we have our only family dinner together. One per week. That's what we're down to. How things change!

Also, I deleted my Facebook account last month,  and then broke my phone (the former on purpose, the latter NOT SO much)......so I have been very distant from the Outside World. If you have texted me or called my cell lately and you thought I had given you the cold shoulder.....well, that is the reason. The phone is broken. And call-forwarding apparently doesn't work unless you activate it on the app.....on the phone. :P So it's going to remain broken until we stumble across some cash in the street or buried on our yard.

Our small group is going through the Gospel Primer. It's been a very nurturing group discussion book. We have had a hard year of extreme changes and growth. But I rest in Gods faithfulness and His goodness. He created everything in life that is good! How can I not rest in Him?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wrestling

I just heard "Your Grace Is Enough"....Remember that song?

"You wrestle with the sinner's heart..."

I sometimes feel like I wrestle with my children. With their hearts, really. That's why parenting is so tiring. it's not fighting: I'm not out to kill or conquer. I wrestle their hearts to where they're receiving the teaching I'm trying to give.

I suddenly saw myself, wrestling to get their hearts in a place where they were hearing me. Calming the upset and impassioned, riling and rebuking the slothful, reprimanding the mean and spiteful, and punishing the liar. It looks a little different every time, and that is, perhaps, why it is the MOST exhausting task. You simply cannot just stick with one type of disciplining methodology. You have to read them, be inspired by the Holy Spirit with words of correction, win them, and forgive them...and you have to teach them how to forgive and love each other better than you love and forgive your own friends. And then, I kind-of see how God does this with us. You know, almost any parenting experience you have can compare to God's relationship to us.

But mostly what struck me is--when I see myself wrestling.....I know what is driving me to pursue them is a desire to see them still connected to me by the time I'm done talking. CONNECT. Like a Hitch on a trailer. *CLICK* And I'm pretty much willing to stand on my head to make sure that they're doing that.

How much more our Father desires to wrestle our hearts into a place of connection. Repentance, Receiving, and Forgiveness. Made-Right-ness.

As much as I am willing to wear myself out wrestling my children's hearts to a place of receiving my teaching and forgiveness, so much more God wrestles with our hearts.... wanting to see us look to Him and "tap-out."

There. That's my Lofty Insight for today.

You're welcome.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Hated

I remember moving from the first home I had a memory of in Pipersville, PA. It was all rather exciting, all the help from friends. They all came over and we had a big picnic with hoagies from the Cherry Top for everyone, and my grandparents and cousins were there.....and I didn't really understand why.

I was 8 years old, and it was 1989. I know, because all the boxes still in my parents' attic say, "1989" on them.

Then we all slept in sleeping bags on the floor that night. I was terrified. I couldn't say exactly why....maybe it began with seeing images of "War of The Worlds" accidentally on TV during the hustle and bustle and attempts to keep the kids out of the parents' hair. Michael had grabbed the remote, I remember, and wanted to find something "not boring." Greg settled on "War of the Worlds" and assured everyone it was Good Watching. I watched in horror as a woman got her leg brutally wrenched off at the knee by a mysterious alien hand shooting out from under a table. Grandmom rushed in, took control of the remote, and assured everyone it "was just ketchup! Just KETCHUP!" that was squirting everywhere on screen.

Then I was ushered home by my parents to the empty, dark, unfamiliar place that had been my first home, where we were all told we were going to sleep on the floor in sleeping bags. I was scared. Paralyzed with fear. I could not sleep. My home was unrecognizeable with empty corners and boxes everywhere, and I was sure there were aliens lurking around every corner ready to rip my legs off if I left their presence. I prayed something I remembered hearing in church or on a movie or something. It was the most powerful thing I could think of. "Please put a ring of Your blood around this house for protection!"

The next morning, everything was tucked away into the van and large U-Haul. We got in the car, and went the other way on highway 611---not towards Town, so I knew something was up. Then it all made sense. I looked back with crushing sadness at our Home. My Home. I saw the trees I had climbed since I was a babe....my dear trees. They were waving to me. "Mom! Look! They're waving Goodbye to us!"

I wept 8 year old tears.

I'm 32, now. I have moved 12 times since then. Two of those moves I did alone, with small children. Once while still breastfeeding. Every time I move, I grieve this way. I feel the coldness creep over my home, as it dies slowly with each box packed. I ache as I wrap up the memories of bedtime stories in front of this window...mornings with husband watching the sunrise over the lake through another window. Walls that friends painted. Cabinet doors made dingy by chubby baby Forshey hands.  I grieve over the friendship with the neighbor boy that will be lost within a month. I wince through goodbyes, pretending I'll be seeing everyone again next weekend.

I long with a keen, irrepressible longing for the Home that we will never leave. I know, without a fragment of doubt, that I was made for a Particular Home with a Particular Family...and that it will come to pass one day.....it is written on my heart.

Lord, haste the day!