I’m a big fan of journaling. In fact, I’ve been writing in a diary or journal since I was in the fifth grade, and I’ve kept each and every one of them. They’re precious to me—an integral part of my spiritual life and essential to my sanity. Writing things down helps me to remember not only where I’ve been, but also where I’m going.
A few weeks ago, we went to Starkville for Super Bulldog Weekend, and as I strolled through the bookstore on campus, I was smitten by this journal by Katie Daisy. I’ve long been a fan of Katie’s work, and her etsy shop is one of my favorites. When we get settled into a new home of our own, I fully intend to fill up my walls with some of her gorgeous and uplifting art.
But all of that’s beside the point.
There’s something about the blank pages in a brand new journal that makes me want to sit down and write for hours. I love the freshness and the newness—the blank slate—the clean start. It’s one of the simplest pleasures in life, and it’s one I enjoy immensely.
As for this particular journal, well, I chose it because I need the daily reminder to be filled with joy. If I’m not careful, I can skate my way through an entire day…or week…or month…without stopping to count my blessings or truly experience the joy of the little moments that make up my life.
I know that as far as resolutions go, the beginning of May is a little late to be making one, but oh well. Who says that resolutions are just for new years, anyway? I’m resolved that 2013 (the rest of it, anyway) will be a year of great joy.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
This verse is my anthem. I’m looking for wonder and praying for joy in the everyday moments that make up my life.
What about you?
Until next time, grace and peace.
I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking over the past few months, and I’m just now starting to wake up. I mean, I’ve been here, going through the motions, feeding the girls and changing diapers and playing outside, but at the same time, I haven’t been here. I’ve been missing out on the wonder of everyday life.
The other day, I was reading through the first chapter of Margaret Feinberg’s Wonderstruck again, and her words resonated with me. They fit me like a glove – I very well could have written them myself.
“Faith invites us into an enchanting journey—one marked by mysteries of divine beauty, holy courage, irrepressible hope, unending love. But in my life, any sense of the splendor of God had faded. I knew I needed a fresh encounter with God to awaken me from my sleep, to disturb me from my slumber.
And so I prayed for wonder.”
I know I’m not alone here. As I played outside with the girls yesterday, Kendall was absolutely mesmerized by these bubbles. Something so simple and commonplace – and yet they were nothing of the sort to her. She was wonderstruck…and I was convicted. I’m afraid that I’ve stopped allowing myself to be wonderstruck, not just by God, but by anything at all.
I have stopped expecting to meet God in this everyday life. Instead of straining to hear His voice, I’ve all but tuned Him out. And that, my friends, has got to change. These days, I’m praying for wonder. I desperately need a fresh dose of it in my life. As a stay at home mom, it’s entirely too easy to get sucked into the monotony of wiping snotty noses and fixing peanut butter sandwiches…again.
It doesn’t have to be that way, y’all. We can choose to be awestruck instead of rundown, filled with wonder instead of running on empty. It’s a matter of perspective.
I don’t want to miss out on amazing things simply because I was too groggy to see them. I’m waking up and praying for wonder.
What are you praying for?
Until next time, grace and peace.
When Dennis and I first moved into our house in Iuka, we were excited to be out of our cramped little apartment and have a little bit of space to move around. Then we started walking through the yard and noticed that where there should have been grass, there was a thick layer of dandelions. And, in case you didn’t know, dandelions are like the black plague of landscaping. They’re tough little boogers to get rid of.
Right now, I’m realizing that pride has taken root in my heart like a yard full of dandelions. It’s a sneaky thing, really, because you don’t realize how dangerous it is and how deeply its roots have burrowed until you start trying to rip them out.
My most recent battle with pride has to do with my girls. When others gush over my girls’ gorgeous blue eyes (they are stunning, if I do say so myself) and praise Micah’s smarts (because she’s a child genius, y’all) or Kendall’s laid-back personality (who doesn’t love an easy-going baby?), I swell with pride. And not just a little bit of pride. It’s a lot of it.
If it were just those things that I’m prideful over, it might not be so bad, but it goes deeper than that.
For three and a half years I’ve gloated over the relatively good health of my kids. As if I had anything to do with it. Seriously. Micah NEVER got an ear infection as a baby. She was rarely sick, and when she did come down with a cold, she bounced back quickly. Other people’s children suffered from chronic ear infections and were always sick, but not mine. My kids were perfect, and I was proud of it.
Until now. When Micah came home from preschool in early December with a nagging cough, I never dreamed that we would still be battling its lingering effects two months later. And yet, here we are. First it was Micah. Then it was me. We both hacked and sniffled for nearly a month before the antibiotics finally did their work and we got better.
But then Kendall started coughing. And then she got her first little ear infection and took her first round of antibiotics. Ever. And then the ear infection came back, so we stepped it up to the next level of antibiotics. Ten days of that, and I thought she’d be better (because my kids ALWAYS bounce back), but over the weekend, she started going downhill AGAIN, so I took her back to the doctor yesterday morning.
Guess what? The infection is back and worse than ever before. Her poor little eardrum is so swollen that it’s on the verge of rupture.
And I nearly cried. Especially when I realized that I was taking these ear infections personally. I’m ashamed to admit that they have seriously wounded my pride. Yes, I’m concerned about my daughter and her health, but I’m also concerned about my track record as a parent, and that’s shameful.
The crazy thing is, I know how ridiculous this all sounds. It’s stupid for me to be prideful of my daughters’ health because the truth is that their wellness has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the grace of God. The only reason that we have enjoyed three and a half years without any major issues is because the Lord has willed it so. Period.
As a mom, it’s far too easy to take credit for how great my kids are, even if I have nothing to do with whatever it is that people are praising. My greatest temptation is to pass off the work of the Lord as my own – to accept all the credit when really, all the glory is due to Him alone.
It’s no secret that the baby years are hard for me. When I see other mothers floating through the early months of their kids’ lives on a fluffy pink cloud of bliss, I want to gag. I always assume that they’re just pretending. The reason that I assume that? Well, in my experience, God has used both marriage and motherhood as chisels, chipping away at my character and removing anything that doesn’t reflect His likeness.
Apparently, there was a lot of junk that needed to be cleared away, and, in case you’re wondering, it’s not exactly fun. It’s painful. But hey, I’ve heard that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. So this is my confession. My name is Leslie Ann Jones, and I’m a recovering pride-a-holic.
When stuff like this happens, I am reminded that God is still working on me. Right now He’s helping me realize that the pride that I have tolerated for so long has taken root in my heart, and it’s time to do something about it. Thankfully, He’s pretty good at wrenching out things that don’t belong.
Until next time, grace and peace.
It’s no secret that I’m not a morning person. I never have been, and, most likely, I never will be. Back in 2011, I embarked on a journey to become more disciplined and intentional. I started the year with the lofty goal of getting up with Dennis every morning at 5 a.m. I think that lasted for about three days before I quit.
It’s just not for me, y’all.
My entire life, I’ve been OK with being a night owl. Growing up, the hour before I went to bed was my time to journal and study scripture. Since I always rolled out of bed with precisely enough time to get myself ready and out the door, having a quiet time in the morning was never really in the cards.
Then I got married, and suddenly my time alone each evening disappeared. Evenings were spent making supper and hanging out with Dennis. Life changed, and so did my quiet times. I started journaling and studying Scripture in the mornings when I woke up alone, since Dennis had long been gone for work.
That worked fine for a few years, then I had a baby, and, once more, everything changed. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out when I was supposed to spend any time alone with the Lord. Every night, I fell into bed exhausted from a day of feeding a hungry little mouth and wiping a cute little hiney. The blogosphere is full of all these happy little mamas who cheerfully get up at 5 a.m. to sip coffee and enjoy the solitude of the morning. I think they’re crazy. Sleep and I are way too happy together for me to give it up for a little time alone.
These days, I’ve decided to follow the advice of Tim Gunn. I’m making it work, y’all. I sit at the dining table while Micah eats breakfast and watches Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Kendall rolls around on the floor. I’m frequently interrupted by squeals of laughter and Micah’s questions, but that doesn’t make my time with the Lord any less sweet. In fact, I think it makes it sweeter.
This is my life. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m probably not going to have a solid hour alone each day, but if I can sit on my tail and read blogs and catch up on facebook while my kids entertain themselves, there’s no reason why I can’t read my Bible and write in my journal instead. An added bonus to this solution is that as my girls grow up, they will see their mama begin each day in the word of God, and I think that’s important. It’s called leading by example.
Over the years, I’ve seriously had to alter my concept of what an acceptable “quiet time” is. Way back in the day, I would plug in my headphones, listen to some praise music, write in my journal, study my Bible, and read a book. In that order, every single time. Alone in my room, usually with a candle lit. It was my special time with the Lord. Sometimes we insist that a quiet time isn’t right if it’s not absolutely silent and serene. Like God doesn’t hear our prayers if we don’t utter them solemnly while we’re all alone in our rooms. As if we’re doing it wrong if it doesn’t follow some silly preset formula or format.
It’s taken me 30 years to realize that time with the Lord doesn’t have to be silent to be meaningful. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be purposeful. Today, I’m reminded that Jesus has called me to walk with Him and to talk with Him. It’s that simple.
Until next time, grace and peace.
It’s been my great privilege over the past few weeks to be a part of the launch team for Margaret Feinberg’s latest book, Wonderstruck. In this busy season, it’s always a challenge to maintain sanity, much less wonder, but I’ve been greatly encouraged by Margaret’s wisdom. She’s graciously agreed to share a bit of the background to Wonderstruck on snippets today. Here’s what Margaret had to say:
There have been more seasons in my life devoid of the wonder of God than I can keep track of. I think we all have them. I know I’ve had those seasons when it just feels like I’m going through the motions of faith and God feels ten million miles away.
In fact, Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God was founded out of such a time. Leif and I had just gone through one of the roughest years of our lives. Those who read the Wonderstruck book will learn of many of the challenges and intimate details of that time.
But what was born out of that time of essentially saying, “God, where are you?” was this resounding prayer and desire for the wonder of God. Essentially I was saying, God reveal yourself, your whole self to me. I want to know you like I’ve never known you before. I want to see you in places I’ve never seen you before.
And God did not disappoint.
We began seeing God show up in relationships, our finances, our chance conversations, our everyday interactions—in the most surprising ways. Scripture passages that I’d read many times suddenly came alive in a whole new way. The passion for God returned, not something forced or manipulated, but just burned inside.
So if you are in that place where you feel millions of miles from God. Can I ask you to stop and pray right now and ask for God’s wonder. Ask Him that he would reveal the whole of Himself to the whole of you. And will you live wide-eyed to the ways God answers. Because you never know what miracle, what divine moment, what insight into the character of God that transforms you forever just might be waiting.
To promote her new book, Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, which releases on Christmas Day, Margaret’s publisher is offering 6 EXCLUSIVE GIFTS (worth over $300) to anyone who pre-orders Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God for only $7.57, from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, CBD.com or their favorite retailer:
1. Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Presence of God as an eBook ($9.99 available on Kindle, Nook, iPad and other formats)
2. Fourteen Days of Wonder Journal eBook ($19.99 as a download)
3. How to Hold an Unforgettable Retreat eBook (a $29.99 download)
4. Pursuing God 14-Day Devotional ($12.99 download)
5. You will be automatically entered to win a brand new Kindle Fire pre-loaded with a suggested retail value of more than $100 worth of books from Worthy ($259.00)
6. Ten people will randomly be selected to receive a free audio version of Wonderstruck ($9.99)
Simply buy and send the receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org This offer is only valid through the end of the day, December 25th. At that point, this offer goes away FOREVER.
From what I know of Margaret’s writing, it will be the best $7.57 you spend this Christmas!
Margaret Feinberg is a speaker and author of Scouting the Divine and The Sacred Echo. Become a Fan on Facebook or Follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg.
May you reclaim wonder during this Christmas season.
Until next time, grace and peace.
Enter your e-mail address below to have snippets delivered to your inbox daily.