a liturgy of preparation for a meal

I don’t know about you, but sometimes… I grow weary in well-doing. I’ve realized it isn’t actually the doing… it’s the reception of it. I feel like my work is worth something when it is received with gratitude and appreciation; but when my meals are met with whines or disenchantment, I mourn. And even get disgruntled deep down, because I feel like all of my good motivations and hard work— and good food— are just wasted.

Maybe that’s why this liturgy, found in Every Moment Holy, resonates so deeply. (The audio for this clip is not the whole thing, merely the beginning thoughts.) See, I need this prayer and reminder: that my meal planning and prep, my cooking and baking, my placing it on the table before my family is not just an act of service to them— but an act of worship to God.

And whereas one can argue that my children still need to work on thankfulness and the expression of it (they do 😂), I don’t need their approval of the main course or veggie side. It was and is worship— and God sees my work, even though He doesn’t need my meal to stave off His own hunger.

He takes and sees my offering.

And as the days pass, and I pray and cook, I have every hope that I am “an agent of a deep eternity, whose prepared meals might feed more than the body, nourishing also the hearts and hopes of those sometimes-weary souls who are well-served” by my labors.

Amen. 💛

the yoke is easy.

Last month, when we visited the Log Cabin Village in Ft. Worth, TX, we saw— and picked up— a yoke. As the woman explained how a yoke works, I had so many thoughts. I think part of the whole thought shift was the fact that I never actually thought of yokes as being something people carried— I always thought of them as something oxen were strapped with. But as I saw my husband lifting the yoke up and over his shoulders, the woman explained how carrying buckets of water was really hard on not just the arms, but the hands. The muscles would get tired, and the rough rope would dig into the palms and fingers, making it painful to carry water for long.

And it dawned on me— that the yoke doesn’t actually take the burden away, or make it “lighter” in pounds. But when the burden is wrapped around a yoke— the yoke shoulders the brunt of it. It makes carrying the same amount of water much easier. It saves the weaker joints and the muscles and skin from the extreme exhaustion of the task.

Another thing about the burden of carrying water is that it wasn’t optional— water was something that HAD to be found and transported. The burden wasn’t optional. Water was life, and finding it and taking it back to people and animals and plants HAD to happen.

Isn’t that the truth about life? There are burdens that we simply must carry. Daily. As much as we would want to skip a day or a week or even all of our lives— we can’t. The burden must be borne.

If our burden must be carried, why? Why do we insist on having it dig deep, in a way God didn’t design for us? Jesus is offering a way— the Way— to make our burdens easier to bear. The burden might remain, even in the same amount.

But with Jesus, we can rest.

He bears the brunt. He takes on our weight for us and in the doing, saves us from the acute, painful task of trying to do it all alone. 💛

embarrassment, empathy, endurance: why the show must go on… and why we should help it

Once, several years ago— before marriage and babies— I found myself giving a 50 minute long one-woman show to an auditorium with over 500 people watching me.  As if that wasn’t adrenaline-inducing enough, I had just stepped on the edge of my floor length skirt and felt the clasp in the back pull and undo.

That was fun.

I remember, continuing my performance, and simultaneously pleading for the Good Lord, in His mercy and goodness to prevent my skirt from completing its malfunction in front of everyone.  That I could just do my “job,” without something very important falling down around me.

It’s an extreme AND completely real example.  It’s one that I thought wouldn’t apply to me again very much at all in my life.  But, man, was I wrong.

Here we all are, aren’t we?  Just trying to do our “jobs”— trying to live and maybe tell our stories.  We don’t want any extra drama.  We don’t want anything more to think about because the job, though hopefully enjoyable , is still daunting enough.  But then… we feel something begin to give way that shouldn’t.  We suddenly shift into worry and doubt and fervent prayer because we know, that just a little bit more… just another inch… just one more slight shift… and we will be vulnerable in ways we never, ever want to be.

IF my skirt had actually fallen down that day… if that whole auditorium had seen me, standing there, exposed in my undergarments and embarrassment… honestly, what would have happened?  Okay, so I would have been completely mortified and would have wanted to claw up the floorboards of that stage in order to disappear… but besides that?  What would have happened?

I wouldn’t have died, no matter how much I would have wanted to.  I would have swallowed hard, and pulled my skirt up, made some comment to attempt to save face, and feel my cheeks grow hot.  My throat might have almost closed from choking down the emotion of it all… and I might have even had to excuse myself before going back out and continuing where I left off.

That’s what would have happened.  Because I needed to finish my job.  Finish what I started.  Tell the story that placed me on that stage in the first place.

I think, whether or not you have been on stage at all, you know exactly what it is like to be in the scenario I found myself.  Life has taught you to be afraid that something horrible is going to derail what you are doing— and what you are doing is plenty enough already, thankyouverymuch.  We are afraid to be left exposed and scrambling.  We are petrified of our jobs being harder, our lives more complicated.  We are scared of contingency plans and crisis modes and being distracted from what was **so carefully** planned, practiced, and rehearsed.  And maybe, just maybe, we are worried about what people would say and think as they witness it all fall.

Hardship is so, well, hard to even think about.  There’s a reason why those thoughts instantly drive us to worry— and hopefully and much better— prayer. The grand irony of it all is that we are just as much audience as performer.  We watch others live all around us, and don’t think for one second that they are worried about their own wardrobes exposing them, or tripping on stage, or forgetting their lines.  That they are just as afraid and vulnerable to messing up themselves.  They seem to have it all together as they go along, while we feel like we just stumbling by.  Honestly, shouldn’t we know better by now?

We know the truth.  The fact that we are all actors should make us the most empathetic audience in the world.  It is exactly because I know what it is like to imagine the worst case scenario (by almost being or ACTUALLY being in worst case scenarios) that I can lean into other’s experiences when their worst case scenario happens.  It’s why we can join others in the uncomfortable, and not let our own awkwardness keep us from doing what is right.  And what is right? Right is swallowing your own discomfort to make it easier for your friend or neighbor or fellow momma to pick up her skirt and her pride, swallow hard, and keep going when her world is falling apart.

Best of all, we don’t have to say and think anything beyond admiration and support— in whatever capacity we can.  

Life itself is a stage, someone brilliant once said.  

We are all players.  

And in this global cast, faith, hope, and love is the obligation for all of us.

examening your home

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and it was talking about the Daily Examen– what’s typically considered a spiritual practice of reflection by asking & answering a pattern of questions at the end of the day.

As I was listening, my thoughts connected that idea to my goal for the month of February– loving my home and making it easier for my family and I to love being in it. I’ll be honest; I am so thankful for my home… but the daily-ness of all the daily tasks that are also housed here overwhelm me at times. I like to do things and then move on the next thing and for projects to be “done…” but there’s nothing done about the bits of food that reemerge on the floor, or the dishes that reappear in the sink, or the laundry that regrows in our hampers. And sometimes, those things make me feel like I can’t actually do what I WANT to do in my home and with the people in it.

So this month, I’m reshaping my thoughts around my home, and finding better tools for me to love it better.

As I listened to the 5 steps of the Examen, my mind tweaked the points a bit… and I wanted to share them. You know, just in case someone else needs to regroup and offer a reminder of a bigger, lovelier picture.

1) Think back to your day and find the love that you had while at home. Was it something specific about a space? An item? A moment you had there? The people in it? Find a moment at home that brought you joy, for whatever reason.

2) Show gratitude for that moment. Offer thanks for it.

3) Allow yourself to feel whatever feelings arise after that. It “makes sense” that offering thanks would/”should” bring a positive emotion, but that might not always be the case. I can be thankful for a moment, and still feel a shadow that someone or something wasn’t in it. That’s okay to feel and to acknowledge.

4) Take that moment and pray from it, journal about it, process it.

5) Look ahead towards tomorrow. That might mean just having hope that tomorrow can offer the same experience… or it might mean making a mental action step about how to encourage the same type of moment. (For instance, if you realized that your morning was super peaceful because of waking up to clean surfaces and no dishes, maybe resolve to do that more often. No guilt or commitment attached– just an observation and maybe a thought to try it again.)

Anyhoo, taking time to think big picture and reflecting is huge for me– especially when I sometimes tend to make lists that feel too large and daunting OR even make it a measurement of my worth. Here’s to noting the love for and in our homes, offering gratitude for it, and believing that we can have more of it in our moments. ❤

Big Feelings. Bigger Help.

Last week, we chatted a bit about clearing clutter to make room to parent well.

I want to continue that conversation this week.

Let’s start with an “incident” with my oldest.

I won’t go into details, because first, they aren’t that important… and secondly, they are more her details than mine to share anyway.

But let’s just say, E was feeling some big feelings, made a poor choice that shocked ME, which then made me have to take a step back before dealing with the situation. Because without that space for a minute or so, my own big feelings would not have handled the situation well at all.

I think any parent can appreciate what I’m talking about.

In the past, I probably would have just called the problem what it was and go ahead and dish out/allow for the consequence to come on in… but not this time.

This time, I followed some of the talking points that Dr. Becky mentioned in some posts/stories on Instagram. And it played out surprisingly well.

We started off talking about feelings… and how there isn’t such a thing as a “bad” one. Saying this point blank to my daughter made her mouth drop a bit. We talked about how feelings can FEEL bad, and how we can do wrong things with them… but the feeling itself? It is a messenger. It is something our bodies and beings have to let us know that something doesn’t feel right or isn’t right about a situation. Maybe something we believe is important isn’t happening. Or maybe something we feel shouldn’t be happening is. Our bodies let us know. Our feelings come up to tell us something is off. They tell us to pay attention– and it serves us to listen to what they are saying.

More specifically, our feelings conversation focused on anger– because that was the big feeling that provoked the choice that shouldn’t have been made. And whereas anger itself isn’t bad, because even JESUS was angry, we can choose to use that feeling to hurt ourselves and other people– which isn’t right. We talked about how, the next time her big feelings get too much, she should find me and tell me and we can figure out what to do with that big feeling together.

(Pain point: I soveryoften feel my children’s feelings and take them on myself, so that makes big feelings suuuuper hard for me to work through with them. But that’s my own thing to work through and clear out.)

My 8 year old isn’t the only one in the house who has been on the struggle bus recently.

<<cough>>

This 30something has been having her own big feelings recently.

Lots of big stressors makes it easier for my personal triggers to be mashed and throttled. And Lord bless them, my kiddos can mash and throttle those buttons. What normally I feel I have the grace and ease to handle, with big stressors… I don’t anymore.

Right now, we have been hitting car troubles, financial troubles, family issues, etc., + the whole “the pandemic still isn’t letting life get back to normal and it’s been a whole stinking year now and can’t this thing just stop already” thing.

All of the big things hitting at once, merged with the chronic pandemic fatigue, taps on an underlying lie that I fall into the trap of believing all the time: that if I have hope, or have gratitude, or take a breath or rest or really feel happy– somehow, it invites bad things to happen.

Now, I KNOW that’s not true. I KNOW it’s bad theology and my Jesus doesn’t work that way. But it’s a struggle.

All of this conversation and thinking and processing brings me to Thursday. I’m driving E to piano and she brings up an incident where she had a big feeling. And we started talking it through and pulling it apart a bit. As we finished the conversation, she heaved a big sigh and said, “It was a big feeling, and I didn’t like feeling it.”

“But did it show you something?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “And what it showed me, I guess that was good.”

And it was behind that steering wheel, as I was getting into a median for a left turn, I heard it. 

That Still Small Voice that whispers in your soul Epiphanies so beautiful that a breath escapes your body.

All my life, I’ve heard it, and if you are a Christian, you’ve heard it, too… so let’s just all recite Romans 8:28 together:

“All things work together for good…”

We know it’s true because God says it true. And we might even know its truth more personally, versus in the abstract. I do. I’ve seen it. Some of the hardest road and trials I have personally faced I can look back at now and see God’s Hand in it– though it looked invisible at the time. 

But that life experience doesn’t change the fact that I still wrestle with my faith sometimes. I’ve never really had a hard time believing that God is Sovereign. But His Goodness? THAT’s what Satan and the fallen world likes to cast shadows of doubt on.

But you see, it is His Goodness that is my Epiphany.

Maybe, just like feelings aren’t necessarily good or bad… our circumstances are, too. We are so quick to label big circumstances that make us feel “bad” as bad themselves and rush to write off the value in them. We silence them and push them away because we don’t want to “feel” their “badness”… and instead, miss why we have them in the first place.

What if circumstances, like feelings, are messengers? And what if, instead of fighting our feelings, or rejecting and regretting what’s happening in our lives, we accept it all for what it is, know it has a purpose… and trust that when we have a hard time (because we will), we can and should reach out for Help.

What’s so wonderful about that Help, is that unlike our feelings and circumstances which come and go, ebb and flow…

Help is Ever Present.

The Big Four

Imagine: This week’s creative outlet isn’t connected to the kids. Note: the Big Four are just as necessary for mommas and caretakers. In fact, the term “mother culture” hits on this, and I’m a big fan. This week, I’ve taken a few minutes here and there to learn and practice a new crochet stitch and am making it into a blanket. I’m almost out of skeins, so will need to grab a few more this week. Read why making blankets is actually an anomaly for me, and why I’m glad I’m actually enjoying it this time.

Encourage: As this post has touched on, the main way I’m encouraging my kids is by working through my own Big Feelings and helping them handle theirs better. If you haven’t checked out Dr. Becky, I totally encourage you to!

Educate: We are starting a unit on fairy tales, and I’m super excited. We read East of the Sun to the West of the Moon this week, and it was the first time *I* had ever read it. E loved it. I read it aloud and do voices and all that (thanks, speech degree!), but here’s a video/reading of the story from the Blue Fairy Book. As with most fairy tales, there’s some things that strike adults as kinda weird, but kids are like, “no big deal.” Life’s funny.

Enjoy: To celebrate a new unit, we got a new game! We haven’t played it yet, but I’m heard great things about this one! Can’t wait to break it out tomorrow!