when you feel like it all depends on you

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There seems to be a magic to these longer June evenings, where the light stretches long and we let the kids stay up a little later just to savor it.  This is our last summer before we start schooling, and it is sobering a little.  I was reminded earlier this week that we only have 18 summers with our children.  I only have 13 left with Phoebe.  I read these words by Ann Voskamp earlier this week and brim with tears.  Soon I will be on the other side of all of these busy childrearing years.  And so I make plans and ideas to really enjoy this summer together, most of them simple.  And the laundry overflows, the bills pile, the decisions need to be made, and the headlines scream news that breaks my heart and makes me feel helpless.

And we have dinner together as we usually do, and I laugh as I look over to see Noah pushing buttons on his pretend phone.  We have a “no phones at the table” rule, we remind him with twinkling eyes.  He says he is “just checking the Bible,” already wise to the powers of persuasion.

They bathe and get in their jammies, and then beg us to go out for a walk.  We relent, and I grab my camera as we head out the door.  Phoebe carries a bucket to collect her treasures (whatever flowers, pinecones, and leaves that catch her eye).  We head down to our little neighborhood lake to check on the new baby goslings, and are happy to see momma duck and all 8 of her ducklings.  We tell the kids to sit down and be quiet so we don’t scare them away and much to our surprise, momma duck brings all her babies right up the hillside to us.  They are peeping quietly and pecking around on the road and then promptly head back to the water.  It is such a sweet moment, all the children hushed in wonder.  It is as if momma duck wanted to show off all her babies to us.  This will be our third summer in this neighborhood and the first time there has been so much wildlife at the lake.  It provides a lot of opportunities to teach and observe and then go find library books and explore topics and questions further.

And I quiet my soul and praise God for the way He provides perspective.  My soul hungers for wilderness places, even ones as tame as our little lake, because I remember, I see again.  Getting up into the high places far from the noise of machines and man, as my husband and I did recently, gives perspective.  I see the city and houses lying far below, tucked into the hillside and valleys and I wonder at God’s perspective.  How small we all are!  How tiny our little homes and streets and lights and city buildings!  In the grand wide world, smaller still.  But then to get knees down in the dirt of my own plot of ground and wonder at how much is going on here without my involvement or help or notice — fiddleheads unfurling, birds finding food and shelter, trees growing leaves again, bees pollinating, ducklings hatching.  What a vast bounty is here, teaching me of the abundance of God through the incredible diversity and variety of creation.  The species of trees and flowers that I cannot even name or identify, the rain that falls on the mountain peaks dripping through the mossy ground into springs that form streams of water cutting down the valley and crevices, nurturing it all, slowly finding its way into my kitchen sink.

God is above it all.  God looks on it all.  God sustains it all.  God does not need my help in order to accomplish it all.  This land is a loud song of His abundance.  His creativity.  His ability.  His goodness.  His control + sovereignty.

This land is a loud song of my smallness.
My dependency.
My limitations.
My frailty.
My humility.

These are good things to remember.

And maybe you need to remember, too.  Even a small walk in your neighborhood or a nearby trail with the intent of noticing the small things, the hidden things that are growing and living without a hint of your involvement, can be helpful.  It can help loose the tight bonds of worry and fear and self-sufficiency, to a joyful restful dependency on a good God.

The laundry, the gritty floors, the decisions, the finances, the needs and the headlines: it all matters, and I am responsible to be a faithful with what He gives me, busy working.  But He holds me together.  It is all falling apart, but He holds me together.  He holds you together.

Do you not know? Do you not hear?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
 who brings princes to nothing,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

 To whom then will you compare me,
    that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
    calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
    and because he is strong in power
    not one is missing.

 Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:21-31


Catching up


Well, I bit off a bit more than I could chew.  I’m terribly behind in posting reviews on the last few books I received so I’m going to lump them together here.


The Beauty of Grace by Dawn Camp

This book was a fun read, something easy and encouraging, a great way to wind down before bed.  It is a compilation of writings on various topics such as purpose, surrender, trust, + worship, written by some of today’s most popular writers and bloggers.  Some of the contributors were old favorites of mine such as Tsh Oxenreider, Ann Voskamp, Lisa-Jo Baker, Emily Freeman.  Others such as Kristen Strong, Kayla Aimee, Bonnie Gray, Leeana Tankersley, Maggie Whitley, + Deidra Riggs, were new to me.  There were many other contributors, each offering a short meditation or reflection on the topic, along with a scripture. Since it was a compilation of writers writing on a variety of topics, I would classify it as more inspirational rather than instructional.

Some of my favorite features are the accompanying photographs and the brevity of the chapters, as well as the fact that it’s arranged topically so you can flip through it to whatever interests you.

(Thank you to Revell Publishing for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.)


Worry Less So You Can Live More by Jane Rubietta

I was drawn to this book…. for a friend. Ha. Just kidding. Yes, I admit it: I’m a worrier. Rubietta is a new author to me, though as an author of fifteen books, she is certainly not new to the writing scene.  I was initially struck and refreshed by her writing, which was poetic + depthy. She writes this book to share her own story of moving from worry to delight and encouraging readers to do the same, and yet her style is such that you are drawn in and lost in her words.  It reads gently, more like a memoir than a self-help book.  Probably my favorite feature is how she ends each chapter in an application section with scripture, some provoking questions, and then prayer, called Votum, and a response from God, sung back over us, a Benedictus, all written by Rubietta herself.

She covers how to delight even in our most anxious seasons, the dailyness of God’s presence, the way worry boxes us in when God invites us to live in wide open spaces, how our tears are tools, and our difficulties are gifts that give us empathy.  Truly beautiful.  One not to miss.

A little excerpt for you:

“I quit reading fiction–too frivolous if people are perishing.  No more cracking jokes.  Somewhere along the journey I stopped laughing, lost all perspective and balance.  Everything seemed overly important, everything an issue, whether it was paying two cents too much for a gallon of milk or gasoline (Good Christian Women save money, and furrow our brows while doing so) or being two minutes late for a commitment.

But all this seriousness is killing me.  It’s killing my heart, probably literally, but also figuratively.  Joie de vivre–joy of living, of life–is not a reality, only a fun French phrase.  Isn’t the root of such dreadful seriousness…worry?  And isn’t worry a misunderstanding of the God who carries the whole world in his hands?…

Forgoing delight is like an emotional vow of poverty, based on a poor understanding of God.  Will God love us more if we live our devout and holy life without cracking a smile or having our heart turn somersaults over the sunset or the erratic path of a butterfly?  As though God were a great big Curmudgeon in the Sky, with furrowed brows and a tight fist.  This isn’t God the Abba-Daddy, this is God the judgmental, finger-pointing, shaming miser.  But looking around, where’s the evidence of a God like that on this globe?  Enormous generosity blossoms from the earth, drips from heaven, appears at the lip of the world every single morning and every single evening.  Unfailingly generous, it seems to me, is this God we love and serve and maybe try to keep a safe distance from.”

(Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.)


Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson

Oh, friends.  This one is a good one!  A great one.  Clarkson is a trusted source of wisdom, a biblically grounded woman with a heart heavily inclined toward discipleship, a seasoned mother of adult children, a gifted and engaging writer.  Sitting with this book feels much like sitting with Clarkson in a cabin in the snowy Colorado mountains over a cup of steaming tea as she reaches hands across the table and takes your hand and implores + encourages you to own your life.  We live in an age of incredible distraction.  All of our technology has afforded us unprecedented levels of busyness.  As women, we need a call to live lives of great intention + purpose, lives grounded in scripture where we find our identity, our worth, and the very reason for our existence.  Clarkson’s book is just such a siren call, reminding, encouraging, exhorting, all the while pouring out from her own deep well of lessons learned and life lived.  What will your legacy be?  Are you living today with your legacy in mind?  Are you living carried to and fro by the whims of your circumstances?  Maybe you would be helped by Clarkson’s book.  I certainly have been!  Rather than heaping on further guilt or a heavier burden to carry, Clarkson writes in such a way as to inspire and gently instruct and gives courage that we really can fulfill the purposes God has for us individually while we walk out our time here.

A little excerpt for you:

“My counsel to all those crying out for help: in order to move from chaos to order, we must each make  plan that will move us away from a never-ending flurry of activities toward God’s design for our lives.  That plan begins by identifying the drainers and sources of chaos that steal our spiritual and emotional energy.  To move forward, in other words, we must first recognize what is holding us back…Often there is a subtle confusion about how life ‘got’ this way.  Nonstop activity is a cultural badge of honor that supposedly means a person is making progress.  Busyness falsely promises productivity.  Frankly, our culture encourages us to take on more and more, and busyness and distraction can be addicting.  Yet we are drifting further from the life God designed us to live.  Surely this is not the abundant life God promised.  Is there a better way to find purpose and satisfaction?”

(Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.)

Happy reading, folks!  As always, I love to hear from you: what you’ve been reading and enjoying lately?




Worry is Replaced by Worship


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing?  

“Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are?  And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?  

“Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these!  And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith?  

“So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”

{Matthew 6:25-34 NET}

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Worry robs us of joy.

Worry reveals that to our deepest core we believe God is not good, He will not come through.

“He is able, and He is present, and He is good.  Worry is replaced by worship.  And it may be that you have to sing all day long.  It may be that you have to worship all night long.  But you have the power in your mouth to proclaim what you see and hear of the One who killed your giant.  And as you worship Him, worry doesn’t have room to take up a foothold in your heart and in your life.”  {Louie Giglio}