Truth and Trust

Well, the good news is I think I hit my stride with the whole home school thing. The bad news is I still have my new chin hair. I tried real hard to find my tweezers, desperately ransacked the bathroom cabinets where they’re *supposed* to be before I remembered that I had to throw the tweezers away the other day because a kid was using them to fish for turds in the toilet. Not lying. Wish I was, but I’m not.

So, the next time you see me I’ll probably look like I’m auditioning for Duck Dynasty, but I’mma go with it and embrace the new normal. (It has yet to be determined if my husband will want to embrace this new normal. However, he is a wise, intelligent man, so I think he’ll take what he can get chin hairs not excluded.)

As I settle into this new schedule, new facial hair and all, it’s been amazing to me to look back and see how God has been preparing me for this time. I’m part of a ministry team that leads a women’s retreat every year at our church. This year’s speaker, Amber VanVickle, spoke about suffering and trust. She told us about how she did a challenge once in which she didn’t ask God for anything for an entire month. And the second she said it, my stomach dropped. I instantly knew I had to, needed to try it, and I thought, “Well… shit. I’m going to have to do that.” (Sometimes my response to the Lord tugging at my heart is less than stellar, y’all.)

So that’s what I did for Advent this year. I did not ask the Lord for anything in prayer. There were no requests, no supplication, no demands, nothing. Just me and Jesus and lots of time…because incidentally this was around the same time that I thought I was signing up to do a holy hour in the Adoration and somehow got signed up for a holy two hours. This was also before I had come to terms with the idea that silence before the Lord is an integral part of prayer. I had the blessing of hearing Meg Hunter Kilmer speak at my parish and when asked about how to pray, Meg said, “Silence. You need to sit in silence with God for at least 15 minutes a day.” My response, again, was, “Well, shit.”

Clearly Jesus had work to do on my heart.

What followed was an intense, challenging, beautiful time of me being frustrated with my own distraction and struggling to maintain focus while also trying not to fall asleep in Adoration. And at the same time, I was fighting every urge to ask, ask, ask in prayer.

Important side note: obviously, God wants us to ask things of him. Very specifically in scripture he tells us to knock, seek, ask. But so many times in our asking, we’re not surrendering. In our requesting, we’re actually trying to control or manipulate the situation. At least for me, my prayer life had become more about what I thought was the best solution to the problem and less about fiat and Thy will be done. Letting go of asking meant letting go of control.

When you take away the ability to ask and request, you’re left with only the ability to state and to profess. So my prayer life quickly became statements of trust and truth rather than begging to have my desires fulfilled. My journal entries during this time became less lists of demands and morphed into litanies of truth and surrender:

Jesus, you know my heart. You know my weaknesses and my failings. You know my addictions and sins. Lord, you know the depths of my hurt and all of the spots, the deep places I need healing. Jesus, I know that you are faithful, that you are before all time, and transcend all knowledge and understanding. You are unchangeably good. I believe you are pursuing me, healing me, drawing me out of the walls I’ve put up.

God, I believe you are faithful and you have a plan for me. Jesus, I trust in you. I trust that no prayer is ever wasted, no moment unproductive if spent with you. I trust that your will would be done and that you are holding me securely in your hands. Jesus, I trust in you. I trust that I will meet you in faithful silence every when it is hard for me. You are real, you are moving, transforming, dwelling, and guiding. You are love. Jesus, I trust in you.

Dec. 1, 2019

God, I don’t know what our future holds, sometimes I’m tempted to listen to fear and the idea that we haven’t suffered any real tragedy so it’s coming, that our future is somehow shadowed and shaky. But I’m reminded of your truth, that even in hardship and worry and storm and draught, you are present. You never change. Your love is constant and so is your mercy. So, whatever the future holds, I know you are holding us. Whatever the tides may bring, I will say yes to the call, your call to me within them.

Jesus, I trust in you. I trust that whatever you’re calling me to, you will equip me and provide for me within that call. Jesus, I trust in you. I trust that your ways are not our ways and that is good. Jesus, I trust in you. Trust that you are guiding, protecting, leading, and shepherding all of us. Even when you seem distant, you are there. Even when I’m confused, threatened, and afraid you are there. Jesus, I trust in you. Whatever the next days, the next year bring, I know I am covered in your mercy.

Dec. 15, 2019

I find myself compelled to return to these entries because once again I’m in need of peace. When my heart is troubled, when I’m grasping too much, attempting to control too much the answer, at least for me, is to trust. Trust and truth can do much in the face of fear and anxiety.

The truth is that God has not changed. He is real, He is moving, He is intimately in love with us, and He can redeem all things. All things.

The truth is that sometimes we have to get uncomfortable to really see how Christ pursues our hearts, how he wants to sneak in past our messy, disordered affections and addictions to show us what real satisfaction can be. There is truth and peace resting in his Sacred Heart and he longs for us to make our way there.

The truth is that when I let my dog out early this morning, the birds were still singing. Up before dawn, perched in a dying tree in my back yard, they were singing their hearts out to herald the coming day. They’re still singing and I think there’s a lot to trust in just in that.

Advent: A Free Printable

Guys. Perhaps a little known fact about me is that I am completely obsessed with paper crafts. Completely. I’m even more obsessed with Advent calendars.

Growing up, we had an Advent calendar that was a sewn wall hanging made by my mom. You moved this sweet little bear around the rooms of his house looking for the spirit of Christmas until he ended up in the living room on Christmas morning. We fought like crazy over who got to move that bear.

Incidentally, my mother combed Ebay to find the material in hopes of making one for each of her children. She was able to find it, but in the true spirit of Christmas, each set runs like $300, so…no Advent bear for us. I mean she loves us very much, but not three hundred bucks for a sewing project much.

I am not a seamstress. I had the option of taking home ec or child development as a high school elective. I chose child development, which has served me well and allowed me to freak out the old ladies at church with one of those robot babies, which was amusing. However robot babies don’t teach you to sew. Neither do real babies, as it turns out, so I stick to paper crafts.

Anyway, my devotion to paper crafts and Advent calendars is such that, when I saw this adorable, free printable from Mr. Printable I knew I had to make it!

20131202-231402.jpg

It’s the cutest little paper Christmas town I’ve ever seen! Plus, this was super easy, much less work than it seems. All you need is a printer, card stock, scissors and some tape and you’re in business.

I split the project up over a few days whenever I had the time. The houses are tiny, which is what makes this so magical, I think, but it does get a bit tedious doing all that cutting and folding in one sitting. The buildings are the perfect size for M&Ms or other small candies if you want to include a little treat, too. (And who doesn’t?)

If you’re anything like me, you never get an Advent calendar started in time anyway, so why not make this little town to gussy up your mantle or windowsill? I think it would actually be a lot of fun to do the calendar in reverse, making a new little building every day until Christmas. This would be a good opportunity to pray with/ for something. I wouldn’t recommend this for the preschool or early grade set because of all the tiny cutting, but older kids would love this project!

Again, you can get the free printable here.

Do you have a favorite Advent calendar or activity? I’m always looking to broaden my horizons!

Here are a couple more pictures cause I think it’s so cute!

20131202-232419.jpg

20131202-232039.jpg

PS. Since my computer is on the dead side, I’m posting everything from my smartphone. 1.) Holy cow, technology is amazing and 2.) Please forgive any weirdness or typos as I have fat thumbs. Okaythanksbye.

Seven Things:Part 6

The first week of Advent is behind us and now we’re on to week two! I seriously can’t believe that it goes by so fast. I sort of wish we had more time to linger in Advent because I love the anticipation of Christmas so much. Alas, ’tis not to be.

 

But, what ‘tis to be is our Seven Things for this week! Here goes…

 

1.) Middle Earth exploded on the Cleveland Heights Public Library and it was ah-mazing. It was also exhausting, but very, very worth it! We had 108 people go on our quest and some even wondered if the program was put on by a nationally travelling group. We ain’t yo’ mama’s librarians! Here are some pictures of the amazingness:

Isn’t that the greatest thing you’ve ever seen? And the fact that it’s also an accidental Hidden Mickey makes my Cast Member heart smile!

 

 

The Shire

 

 

I need you to know that there was a speaker hidden in that rock so that the dragon could taunt people and then let out horrible shrieks of death when pierced by arrows. Legit.

 

 

And that is why you should support your public library system! And also why you should read The Hobbit.

 

(Please note that I had nothing to do with the creation of these really amazing set pieces except to gawk at the glory that oozes from my coworkers’ hands. However I did make all of the rocks, so you can stand in awe there.)

 

2.) On a completely different note, my sweet friend, Kate, has given me one of the most thoughtful and creative Christmas gifts of all time. I have never read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (shameful, I know) and she reads it every year. This year she’s reading it aloud and recording it so that I can listen to it! Isn’t that awesome? Aaand I’m loving it. I’d really forgotten how much I enjoy Dickens!

 

3.) Continuing on the literary strand, I’m currently reading this…

 

“One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that he had been changed into an adorable kitten.” Yes. Yes. Yes.

 

4.) Our church has gorgeous paintings of the saints on the ceiling. Last night at mass, Mag, who had to bring her Nativity people with her, was convinced that the depiction of St. Francis of Assisi was a shepherd. She then proceeded to look for the wise men and I’m fairly certain that she settled on St. Patrick for one of them. No word on the other two, but we’ll keep you posted.

 

5.) Last night I couldn’t figure out why it was so bright in our bedroom until I realized that one of our neighbors went all Clark Griswald on their house with Christmas lights. It is pretty awesome, I’m not gonna lie…there are moving reindeer and I’m pretty sure that there’s a helicopter involved somehow. Not sure what that has to do with the holiday, but we don’t ask questions.

 

6.) Lily is sitting up by herself. Which means she’ll be crawling soon. Which means that mayhaps I should start cleaning the floor now…

Why is my baby big enough to sit up all on her own? And why is there a walkie-talkie under my couch? Mysteries that plague me daily…

 

Also, I seriously can’t get over how much she looks like her Aunt Lauren in this picture. And I love the fact that Lil always makes this face in pictures…like a boss.

 

7.) Final thought for you today, from my Advent devotional by Henri J. M. Nouwen:

“Jesus didn’t live alone. He had Peter, John, and James around him. There were the Twelve and the other disciples. They formed circles of intimacy around Jesus. We too need these circles of intimacy, but it’s a discipline. ...Where are you getting your affection? Who’s touching you? Who’s holding you? Who makes you feel alive? Who says, ‘You are a beautiful person, you are the beloved of God, don’t forget it?’ “

 

I’m daily grateful for the circle of intimacy this blog provides me. Thank you for making me feel loved! And I hope you have a wonderfully restful day today in which you feel how deeply loved and treasured you are…because you truly, truly are!

St. Nicholas Day!

Ya’ll. St. Nicholas came to our house last night. Get excited. I know Maggie was last night since she repeatedly got up from her bed to ask, “It’s good mornin’ time??” She was pretty stoked to see that he had visited in the wee hours.

 

St. Nicholas brought Mags some goodies, a giant orange being the biggest hit…

 

 

And Lil got a book and some baby prunes. I betcha didn’t know that St. Nick is concerned about regularity…he’s thoughtful, that one!

 

The biggest, most glorious gift St. Nicholas left was a Little People Nativity set. Guys, this thing is legit. There are shepherds and sheep and wise men and a camel…and an angel that stands on top of the stable, which has a star that glows and plays Away In a Manger!! Gaaah, I love this thing so much I can’t even get a hold of myself!

 

 

Now, there is certainly some creative play going on with our Nativity people. Currently Mary and Joseph are dancing to music from a Tangled music player and Joseph was seen driving around in a convertible earlier this morning saying, “Where’s my baby??” Just a minute ago, Mags was running upstairs to the bathroom and called out, “Be right back, Baby Jesus and toys!” I think she likes them.

 

 

The best part of all of this happened while I was fixing breakfast. I heard the girls playing in the other room and Mags said to her sister, “Look, Lily! It’s a baby! Just like you!”

 

Exactly what it’s all about.

 

Happy St. Nicholas Day!