Learning to Savor Instead of Straining to Understand

Borrowing these piercing words from the great mind of G.K. Chesterton today (via Emily Freeman’s blog post a couple of days ago).

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“Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom.”

“One great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic . . . Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health.

Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets . . . Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain.

The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who sees to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain.  Savoring, in essence, goes a step beyond accepting to actually enjoying.  Therein is the exceptional challenge for me.  Not only to accept, but to say to the Lord, “Even in this, Lord, even this I choose to delight in.  To savor.  To give thanks for.”  May He perfect in us that work, that supernatural work of giving thanks in all things.

“In everything, give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” {1 Thess. 5:18}

Fall at the Farm

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October is simply the best month to live in North Carolina.  We try to savor every minute of it before all the beauty and color falls from the trees and the long, cold winter comes upon us.

A couple weekends ago we visited our favorite local farm again, which is the most fun to do in the fall.  There are hay rides, kiddie cart rides, apples + pumpkins, beehives and fresh cider being made, goats that wander in the barn above your head, rope + tire swings, pigs, chicks, turkeys, a corn maze, a creek to play in, and a quaint little farm store to buy all the lovely things the farm produces.  And little cider pops for 50 cents!  Recently, we saw a Groupon for a free ticket to the farm so we planned to go when my husband’s parents would be in town and take the kids.

My pictures from the day are sort of haphazard, as was my brain that day, but we were busy enjoying the fun.  Phoebe got to see her friend from dance, also named Phoebe, and they rode the kiddie cart ride together (the highlight of the day for Phoebe, outside of being with her Baba + Nain).  I’ve written before about the farm here.

And, of course you know I stopped at the Flying Cloud Farm stand on the way back and bought some blooms!

The Gift Of Time

Must have been sometime around my first girl’s birth that I stumbled upon her book.  It was a newer release then; she, an unfamiliar name to me.  But something about it drew me.  I started it on a flight across the US from east coast to west, then up to Vancouver, a visit to my sister for her 30th birthday gift.

I had no idea then how impacted I would be by her words, how it would be so pivotal for me to read in that season, with my then 3-month old firstborn, a strained marriage and broken heart.  I had no idea I would think about her words nearly every day since.  Few books come along at just the right time and mark us in that way.  So, you will often see her words reflected or quoted here, as I think of them and return to them often.

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“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing” {Psalm 39:6}.

 “I speak it to God: I don’t really want more time; I just want enough time.  Time to breathe deep and time to see real and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven, or wild to get it all done—yesterday.  In a world with cows to buy and fields to see and work to do, in the beep and blink of the twenty-first century, with its ‘live in the moment’ buzz phrase that none of the whirl-weary seem to know how to do, who actually knows how to take time and live with soul and body and God all in sync?  To have the time to grab the jacket off the hook and time to go out to all air and sky and green and time to wonder at all of them in all this light, the time refracting in prism.  I just want time to do my one life well.”

“Time is a relentless river.  It rages on, a respecter of no one.  And this, this is the only way to slow time: when I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here.  I can slow the torrent by being all here.  I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment.  And when I’m always looking for the next glimpse of glory, I slow and enter.  And time slows.  Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time’s river slows, slows, slows.” (Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts, 67, 68)

Savoring, when you have “a case of the Mondays”

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Mondays are usually not our happiest day of the week.  Try us on Thursday, when we’re usually off on a morning adventure or play-date, or on Fridays when we are making pizza dough and filled with silly glee over the weekend and  having Daddy home.  But Monday?  We are tired, grumpy, slow to work, slow to get back into our rhythm, and overwhelmed with tasks.  And by “we,” I mean “I.”

Mondays are all bill paying, grocery shopping, weekly bread-making, menu planning, laundry, library runs, bank deposits, and cleaning.  I don’t know why we try to tackle so much on the first day of the week, I try to spread tasks over the course of the week, but usually Mondays are our one for-sure free day to get the house back in order after a fun weekend and a restful Sunday.  I sort of dread it, but I’d rather bite the bullet and get it done early in the week so we are freed up.

Usually, Mondays find me sort of stressed, grumpy, irritable, and weary.  There’s a lot to do, and the children are moving at their usual pace: slow.  Children instinctively know how to savor things.  That’s why I find myself saying a hundred times on a Monday “Hurry!”

But not today.  For some reason, not today.  Focusing on the theme of savoring and rest and delighting via this writing challenge really has helped today.  It’s been an unusual Monday.  One where we started off snuggled in front of the fire on a chilly fall morning, and I forced myself to sit there with the kids until I had finished my WHOLE cup of coffee (without reheating it once.. no small miracle.)  One where the first errand we ran was to a local gymnasium where the kids can free-play for an hour on trampolines, foam pits, and balance beams.  We went a little slower, we spoke a little softer, we allowed for a bit more enjoyment.  Remarkably, I was still able to accomplish my usual set of errands, the necessities for the day.  There is still much to do, but there was a lot less yelling and a lot more deep-breath-taking.

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There is the sabbath-word, the word that I have been reflecting on so often lately on our rest days.

But today, it is my Monday word.  Right where I need it: the busiest day of the week.  When I am caught up in the hurry and the mundane is nearly suffocating, this is when I need such a word.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” {Matt. 11:28-30 msg}

I’m slowly, slowly learning what it means to live in the unforced rhythms of grace.  A kind of life that can be full, busy with work, and yet feels free and light.  Where I can choose trust over stress.  Where “hurry” doesn’t have to be a regular part of our vocabulary.  Where we plan for the tasks and account for the interruptions.

Savoring the light burden and the easy yoke of Jesus is a daily grace we so often forfeit!  May you find joy enough to savor this Monday, even when you have a “case of the Mondays.”

Savoring the Sovereignty of God

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There is perhaps no doctrine that has consumed my thinking so much over the years as has the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.  If you have ever greatly loved God and ever been greatly wounded by God, you know what I mean.  As Piper says, “Many of us have gone through a period of deep struggle with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.  If we take our doctrines into our hearts where they belong, they can cause upheavals of emotion and sleepless nights.  This is far better than toying with academic ideas that never touch real life.  The possibility at least exists that out of the upheavals will come a new era of calm and confidence”  {Desiring God}.

Such has been the case for me.  Truly, countless nights that I have spent tossing and turning over this doctrine in particular and its glorious and difficult implications.

As Jonathan Edwards said, “It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me.  But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God” {quoted in Desiring God}.

So what is this doctrine, some of you may ask?  Essentially it is that God is always utterly in control, that He has the right and the power to do that which pleases Him at all times.  None of His purposes can ever be thwarted or frustrated {Ps. 33:10-11, Ps. 115:3, Isa. 46:9-10}.

Of course, therein lies the rub.  The greatest of minds have wrestled with and labored over this doctrine, volumes upon volumes written about it, and yet it remains somewhat enshrouded in mystery.  If God is utterly in control, and none of His purposes can be frustrated, then what He intends to occur always occurs, and what He sets forth to accomplish is always perfectly, completely accomplished.  So how can He be good, if He not only permits evil to occur, but actually allows it with great intention?  As Piper says, “People lift their hand to rebel against the Most High only to find that their rebellion is unwitting service in the wonderful designs of God.  Even sin cannot frustrate the purposes of the Almighty.  He Himself does not commit sin, but He has decreed that there be acts which are sin–for the acts of Pilate and Herod were predestined by God’s plan” {Desiring God}.

What Piper is referring to here is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the ultimate and most evil act every committed by mankind in the course of history.  And yet, “the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely” {Isa. 53:10 HCSB}.  Because God saw the greater design in allowing, no, in foreordaining such evil {Acts 2:23}, He was pleased.  He was pleased for the joy that would come.  He was pleased for the redemption that would be wrought.

“Consider that God has the capacity to view the world through two lenses.  Through the narrow one He is grieved and angered at sin and pain.  Through the wide one He sees evil in relation to its eternal purposes.  Reality is like a mosaic.  The parts may be ugly in themselves, but the whole is beautiful.” {Piper, Desiring God}.

Of course, the mystery can never be exhausted.  Of course, if God could be utterly explained and reasoned away, attainable by our finite minds, He would cease to be infinite, He would cease to be God.  But what He has revealed of Himself brings great comfort.

What a comfort it brings to my soul to know:

He is never surprised by what occurs.
He is never frustrated.
He is never impotent.
He is never scrambling to come up with plan B.  (The crucifixion of Christ, “the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world {Rev. 13:8}” was never His plan B to rectify the sin problem of man.  It was the plan before the world was created.)
He accomplishes whatever He purposes, always and all times.

To hold this doctrine together with the truth that “He is good and His tender mercies are over all His works” {Ps. 145:9} brings such comfort, though not perfect understanding, in times of trial and confusion.

We were not meant to understand everything about our pain, our suffering, our trials.  We were not meant to have all the answers.  But we have these truths: He is in control, and He is trustworthy because He is good.  And one day we WILL have all the answers.  One day we will know completely, even as we are known {1 Cor. 13:12}.

What peace, what security I find here.

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing; and He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What are you doing?'” {Dan. 4:34-35}.

Everything is Good

Today, savoring looks like:

sleeping in {till 8am!}
toast with pumpkin butter
bundled morning family walks with steaming mugs
kisses, laughter, snuggles
saying sorry and making up
unpacking boxes and hanging shelves
holding hands
staying home and slowing
cleaning and uncluttering

Today, meditating on this word:

“Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks.  Nothing is to be sneered at or thrown out.  God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.”  {1 Tim. 4:4-5}

Every item in creation.. holy.  Everything, good.  To be received with thanks.  Every day, He has made, and what He makes is good.  Let us rejoice in it.

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rainy friday

Late in posting today.. busy “savoring” this rainy afternoon with the little ones.  Snuggles after naps, decorating cookies, and movie time.

“Life is dessert–too brief to hurry.” {Ann Voskamp}

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Feasting on God

The light comes through the window in dappled, twinkled glory in the evenings.  At the weary end of the day, when the shadows grow long and there is laughter and chatter at the table over dinner together, this is my view.

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My back and feet are aching, and though I’m savoring the sweetness of this moment together as a family gathered around full steaming plates, I know dishes and laundry and baths and bedtime stories and bible reading are still ahead of me.  My soul longs to just curl up in the chair, in that spot of light, and be still.  Or read.  And the time for that will come in the darkness when the house is {mostly} clean and the children are giggling back and forth in their room and all is finally done.  Always, this temptation during the day to forsake the necessary work for the pleasure.  Always, the temptation to forsake the present season for the next one.  Always, the temptation to forsake the ultimate in order to satisfy the immediate.

My soul is hungry, often dissatisfied.  It grumbles at me throughout the day to be satiated, to be fed.  It looks for quick and natural solutions.

“This is the great business of life–to ‘put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.’  I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term, than to gain a distaste for it, because of a superior satisfaction in God…God remains gloriously all-satisfying.  The human heart remains a ceaseless factory of desires.  Sin remains powerfully and suicidally appealing.  The battle remains: where will we drink?  Where will we feast?”  -John Piper, Desiring God

Our appetites for lesser things are quieted and quelled with feasting on something Greater.  Ah, yes, I remember.  This is the way.

Feast on God.

31 Days to Savor

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SAVOR:

  • To enjoy the taste or smell of (something) for as long as possible.
  • To enjoy (something) for a long time.
  • To delight in.

I’m participating for the first time in this little community of bloggers who aim to write every day for 31 days about various topics of interest.  {Scroll to end to see later posts.}

This October finds me busy, pulled in a few different directions, distracted, tired, and a bit overwhelmed.  We recently moved to a new part of town and are still in the process of unpacking and settling in.  I spend most days loving on, taking care of, and keeping up with my three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son, while expecting baby #3 in November.  I’ve deliberated about whether or not adding another commitment to my plate would be beneficial.

October is my very favorite month in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  I love fall, the first hints of color on the trees, the smell that fills the air, the cool, crisp air and chilly nights.  The apple orchards and pumpkins on every doorstep.  I love tugging my favorite bulky sweaters close, and bundling scarves around my neck.  Coffee seems to taste better, and soups with crusty bread warm the soul.  And then, of course, the anticipation of the Christmas season to come, and all its wonder + loveliness.

But this October, it seems I will be especially challenged to stay present in the moment, to enjoy and soak up every minute of this glorious month, and this final season as a family of four before we welcome our new baby girl in November.  I feel the desperate need to slow and to SAVOR.  “Savor” is the word that kept coming up every time I’ve been rushing around and crying out to the Lord that my soul feels harried.  “Savor this,” I have heard Him whisper.  “Don’t miss this.”

“The hallowed here,” as Ann Voskamp has called it.  This never-to-be-repeated season is glorious, ordinary, precious.  So, here’s to 31 days of savoring.

To savor the beautiful moments, the sweet memories.  To learn to savor even the ugly, the painful, the things that prick tears.  To savor ordinary grace, which is really the most extraordinary of all.  To savor good books, good food, good friends.  To savor work + rest, to savor the sabbath.  To savor my two beautiful children + the last stages of pregnancy.  To savor the Gospel.  To savor Jesus, His Word and His presence, which is the sweetest of all.

I hope you will join me, read along with me as I journey through the twists and turns of this month, and maybe even share your own triumphs in savoring this one wild life we’ve been given.

May our souls breathe deep such daily grace

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{Title of blog post and links will be added here after each day’s post is published.}

{ Day 2: Feasting on God }
{ Day 3: Rainy Friday }
{ Day 4: Everything is Good }
{ Day 5: Savoring the Sovereignty of God }
{ Day 6: Savoring, When You Have a “Case of the Mondays” }
{ Day 7: The Gift of Time }
{ Day 8: Fall at the Farm }
{ Day 9: Learning to Savor Instead of Straining to Understand }
{ Day 10: Happy Friday! }
{ Day 11 }
{ Day 12: He Withholds No Good Thing }
{ Day 13: Tastes of Fall: Black Bean Soup }
{ Day 14: The Measure of Success }
{ Day 15: One Month From Today }
{ Day 16: Rhythms }
{ Day 17: Happy Friday! }
{ Day 18: Playing in the Leaves }
{ Day 19: When You’re Falling Apart a Little Bit }
{ Day 20: Tastes of Fall: Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash + Quinoa }
{ Day 21: Brown Paper Packages }
{ Day 22 }
{ Day 23: Leaves are Falling }
{ Day 24: There is Good News }
{ Day 25: Savoring the Gospel When You Fail }
{ Day 26: My Soul’s Delight }
{ Day 27: How to Turn a Bent Soul }
{ Day 28: Finish the Day }
{ Day 29 }
{ Day 30: Savoring These Two }
{ Day 31: Savoring the End }