Women Who Move Mountains

I ask you, do you have any mountains you’d like moved?

I have a few.

Last month I kept a manila file in the office for far too long. It sat there and sat there, sullen and unopened, for far, far too long.

I’d really like to provide a gut-wrenching suspenseful scene here with something fascinating IN the folder, but well, it was our taxes. Receipts, forms, all sorts of paperwork, signifying money.

I let that file sit there because I was afraid of dealing with money. I cannot help but feel that as I file through all the papers and forms… that somewhere, a paper will flitter out, fall to the ground, and on it a statement:

“This is your bank statement. You are totally out of money. This means you will end up in a van down by the river and all is doomed.”

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Ok, I realize there are a few flaws in my thinking. Let me provide a short list:

  1. We have money.
  2. If we didn’t have as much money we’d still be okay.

This money thing is because money = stability. And, did you know? Stability means that

Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What.

Catchy, right? I’m going to needlepoint that on a pillow.

Making sure that Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What is rather tiring, did you know? Also? It’s impossible, so there’s that.

I recently had the honor of reviewing this book, and I would like to recommend it to you here:

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You guys. This book is super. There are so many things I like about it, but to be brief:

IT IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED.

Ok, the book addresses the issue of prayer – something I have always struggled with and for good reason. By this, I mean I tend to pray a lot like this:

Dear God – WHYYYYYYYYY CANNNNN’T YOUUUUUUUUU…. (fill in the blank) AND ANOTHERRR THING….

And so on.

Now, this is NOT bad. Praying + whining is acceptable to God. God knows. He made us after all, and if he made some of us, ahem, a bit more pessimistic and screechy than others? So be it. But when I whine/pray (Prine? Whray??) it just ends up with me feeling sad and twisty when I hang up with Him.

Detweiler’s book offers clear, practical advice on how to pray in solid, joyful FAITH. Yep. FAITH with BIG CAPITAL LETTERS. The kind of faith, that, well,  you know.

It moves mountains.

I highly recommend this book if your prayer life needs a little sprucing up. If you’re feeling like every prayer is uttered with all the verve of Eeyore. If maybe, just maybe, you have some mountains to attend to.

If you’d like to know more, or take a closer look at Sue Detweiler’s book click here, and get moving. 17903556_10155247020512206_6837944691568322308_n.jpg

 

 

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I’m pretty sure they don’t have chicken nuggets in the Congo.

 

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Ok, here’s the deal.

I never have done Lent.

There. I said it.

I have, perhaps, said I was going to do Lent… you know, chocolate. Or Coke. That kind of thing.

But then… I would go home and open a Coke and eat some ring dings and my brain just kinda went, “La lala la la laaaaa, Jesus loves me it’s all good,” and carried on.

I just have a really, really hard time with discomfort, y’all.

Discomfort is so… uncomfortable.

So, some of you may know that this Lenten season my pastor’s wife totally suckered me into teaching a class on fasting. I don’t like her anymore. She is manipulative and our friendship is done. DONE, I tell you.

No, not really, but still. She has a newborn, and I think I was cooing at her (the baby, not Kate) when she asked me to co-teach, and honestly, I woulda said yes to anything at that moment because babies are all sparkly so basically SHE USED HER BABY TO GET ME TO DO THIS.

I’m eating like the Congolese for 40 days. Lord help us all.

The Congolese do not have:

  • chicken nuggets (that’s a kid thing, but more on that later)
  • butter.
  • La Croix
  • Strawberry jam
  • and the worst – hazlenut creamer

They also do not have clean water and readily available medicine and soft mattresses and schools on every corner and, oh my goodness. The Congolese are so far away from my heavily coffee-creamered life, I tell you.

Every morning, as I drink my black coffee (which they do have, thank you, Jesus from whom all blessings and caffeine flow), I am reminded of this. Also, as I eat rice and beans for lunch. And, as I eat rice and beans and a banana for dinner.

The book that we’re using for the class is Chris Seay’s A Place at the Table.

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Notice, there’s a cup of coffee in the background. WITH NO CREAMER.

Ok, so either this Seay guy is nuttier than a fruitcake (which they also don’t have in the Congo, go figure), or he is onto something here.

Because here is what I am learning, on day eleven of my fast:

  1. Comfort is an idol. It’s actually just as big and hairy and hulkie as food or alcohol or shopping or any of those other, more see-able ones.
  2. I thought I could not do this because I gave up alcohol, so how DARE anyone ask me to do MORE – I did my Lent. I do it all the time. I don’t drink anymore, Ok? So I’m good down here!
  3. I’m not good down here. The weeks and months prior to this had been a tangled time of leaning on a bunch of things for comfort and they were taking over.
  4. Rice and beans are not that bad.

Sometimes I like to think that my life is this giant checklist, and that once I get one big God task done, He checks it off, gives me a star sticker and we’re done. I like star stickers. I live for them. Uh-oh. That might be another idol. If there’s anything I’m addicted to, it’s the great big Star Chart of You’re Awesome. This whole fast has taught me that as well.

Seriously. This fast has taught me about fifty majillion things. I will be sharing them with you once in a while, as well as my newfound and very deep love for bananas.

Bananas, y’all. Did you know? They are soooooooo good. I never really KNEW. I used to think they were just a vehicle for ice cream and hot fudge but when you’re really hungry? They are all yellow and delightful.

And don’t even get me started on the avocado. Praise you, Jesus.

Ok, so I’m going to say here, on day eleven, that Chris Seay is not nutty (also not a lot of those in the Congo. Especially hazlenuts. Of course.) And my friend Kate is not evil (she’s a pastor’s wife, so evil is not a part of her genetic make-up.) And that I will continue to be smushed up, and stretched out, and pulled and pushed in all sorts of ways because God doesnt really do star charts. “We’re not done here,” God tells me. “But I love you like crazy, so if you really want a star chart just grab a banana and go out at night and look up. Boom. Biggest one you’ll ever get.”

God is a bit of a smart aleck sometimes, isn’t he?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get lots of Netflix and rest, and call me in the morning.

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My friends, lately we have been besieged by the sickness. Also, I have been hiding from social media because everyone is mad and yelling, and so I just want to post pictures of puppies. Here, like this one:

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I would like to make a plea, for my own sanity.

PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS, STOP YELLING. I KNOW I’M YELLING WHILE I TELL YOU THIS BUT I AM ALL ABOUT IRONY RIGHT NOW. AND, I’M DESPERATE.

OH,  AND THROWING UP. STOP THAT, TOO.

There are times when life just seems to be twisting around,  full of dark ships circling at night, all malaise and doom and puking and glooooooom.

Here. Have another one of these:

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Sometimes… the best thing to do is hibernate with happy things.

Or, you can hibernate with Netflix and fight the doom and gloom with a series of unfortunate events.

I was hooked on this series of books because they are dark and hilarious and twisty-turny. And, the Netflix adaptation of David Handler’s books is really really REALLY good. Like, dark and funny and so perfectly cast.

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I have to warn you. The events in this series are really, truly unfortunate. And there are moments where there is sadness and true villainy. But, there is heart too. And real empathy.

The show is not for wee ones. It’s for those that find sarcasm and dark humor their love language, so… anyone in middle school, pretty much.

Because middle schoolers know, probably better than anyone, that a twisty-turny world can sometimes only be combated with an equal dose of dark and stormy.

At one point in the introduction, just as in the books, Lemony Snicket warns us to not continue. He warns that any sort of continuation of this sad and gloomy affair will only keep piling on more sad and gloomy. Life is like that. Relentless.

And then he then turns to the camera and says,

“Trouble and strife can cover this world like the dark of night, or like smoke from a suspicious fire.. .and when that happens all good, true, and decent people know that it’s time to volunteer.”

He had me at trouble and strife.

And, volunteer.

Enjoy your dark and gloomy and enjoy the SUPERB cast, and just, you know, enjoy a little twisty-turny. It is a children’s book after all. You know, after a long series of unfortunate events, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. It might be a long tunnel, but I have the time. Last I checked, my evenings are free, except for Lysoling everything in sight.

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Nothing is Wasted.

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Summer is here. This means pool time, a very messy house, late nights for the boys, and for me?

Books. Lots and lots of books.

I have a stack of them next to my bed that is slowly growing and thus slowly leaaaannning to the side because of gravity. Fine. Go forth and multiply, books! You have my blessing.

One of my favorite blogging gigs is reviewing new releases for Beacon Hill Press, a Christian publishing company based out out of Kansas City.

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I just finished Joseph Bentz’s book Nothing is Wasted: How God Redeems What is Broken.

You know, I think God is pretty funny. And by funny, I mean, He always seems to send me stuff right when I really need to hear it. Right? Isn’t God funny that way?

He’s clever, that God.

About a week ago I kind of fell apart on the husband. Things at our house had been kind of hard. Death. Illness. Cancer. Broken relationships. It had been piling on lately, and I had had enough. Like, I just needed to rant a little. And as par for the course in marriage, the spouse was the best option for being the rant-ee. I told Brian, in kind of a wail, that I don’t like our earth. I don’t like what my kids are going to grow up in. I don’t like all the anger and chaos and cancer and politics, and how all of this is terrifically UNFAIR. The world is supposed to be basically likeable, isn’t it?

I mean, isn’t it?

Bentz kind of summed up my thoughts in the very first page:

You’re worried about money. You fret about work. What about the crisis in your family? What about all the sickness among the people you love? Where is your life headed? Even if your life is going well now, you wonder how long it can last. All around you, everything is falling apart… The possibility of disaster lurks in every automobile trip, every medical checkup, every unknown terrorist’s scheme.

I think Bentz and I stay up at night, worrying about the same things.

But then, Bentz added:

“God held out the promise of something eternally good being pulled from the muck of the sin-damaged world.”

I remember reading this and thinking, “Oh, yea. I know. You’re gonna tell us it’s all gonna work for good and Romans 8:28 all over on me. I know. I have heard it before. But tell me, when a brother dies, or an addict picks up again, or a child is hurt, what do we DO with the pain in the meantime? What do we do with it? Just hold it and wait for heaven to make it all better?”

Well my friends, this book does not do tidy. Bentz is willing to ask the really, really messy questions. They are the kind of questions that I ask too, because I am one who is, or was (I’m working on it) addicted to numbing out pain:

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I know. My scribbles are immature and petulant but honest. Don’t we all feel that way, sometimes? What is the point, God?

Along with all those messy questions, Bentz doesn’t provide an easy answer. I wouldn’t trust it if it did. Bentz does not follow with an easy acronym about how life is HARD (Help others! Ask for help! Really don’t give up! D#%@ this sucks!) or such cuteness.  He digs deep. In fact, he uses soil, insects, decaying flesh, and something in chapter 9 he refers to as “melting down to your essential goo” to help us understand. Literally, the next chapter is entitled “Dirt and Muck and other Yucky Things.”

Messy stuff. Really messy stuff.

He tells us about the tiny seed that must, if it’s to produce a plant, die in the soil. And, if the seed is going to die, either way, don’t we want it to count for something?

But then, Bentz really made me smile  because he subtitled this chapter in a way that so sounded like something I would say:

I Like My Seed the Way It Is. (*Insert foot stomp here. Entirely mine.*)

I want to make a prediction. No matter how positive all this talk of seeds and plants may sound at the moment, when you are called on to bury your seed to let it die so it can be transformed into what it was meant to be, you won’t want to do it. Seed burial, rather than seed preservation, is so counterintuitive, and often so painful, that resistence is built into it.

 This is a good book about bad things. Or seemingly bad things. Well, no, really just bad things, like heart break and sickness and circumstances that tear at us. I don’t want to tell you more, because I want you to read it. You will be glad you did.

You will get messy, but you will be glad you did.

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