Monday, 28 September 2015

Choosing Light

What happens when you decide to choose joy, and your week starts off horribly wrong?

Somehow I manage to wake up more tired than when I went to bed. There’s no milk in the house to put in my coffee.

Arden wakes up sobbing because she didn’t see the red moon last night. She “stayed up” in a chair by the window, and we promised to wake her up when the moon was red. We did. We brought her out to the chilly porch, and talked to her, and turned her around, and keep talking, and she mumbled a bit and opened her eyes and kept falling back asleep. She doesn’t remember. Now, all she knows this morning is that she didn’t get to see the red moon. She’s crying bitter tears of disappointment, I’m crying too, then the two-year old starts.

Two of out two pigs are supposed to be on their way to the butcher today. After wrestling, wrangling, multiple escapes, stepped on toes, and general pig stubbornness, there’s only one pig in the trailer. Jack’s apple fell in the pig muck, and he’s more upset about that than the fact that he nearly got plowed over by an animal eight times his weight. At the end of it all I’ve got pig poop smeared up my legs and there are a dozen burs stuck to the back pockets of my jeans. I need another coffee.

It’s going to be a long day.

How do you choose joy when Monday morning brings everyone to tears?

At the Rend Collective concert on Saturday night, amid riotous singing and dancing, they paused to say joy was a spiritual discipline. It’s something we need to cultivate. It’s a choice. I knew I needed to choose it again. For too long this giant of discouragement has been looming large over what I thought was going to be a happy season. I’ve been living in a shadow, where I know the light exists but somehow it just can’t get to me. I’ve been eclipsed.

I was given a beautiful painting earlier this year. It’s called “Choosing Light.”* It meant something then, at the beginning of the year. And now on this wearisome Monday, I go into the living room, pull back the curtains, and stand before it. The sun isn’t immediately visible in the brush strokes. But it’s there, behind the clouds. And if I look closely, I can see its golden presence, the promise that if I reach out for it, it will shine back.

So I determine, again, to choose joy.

As the kids are waiting in the car to go on the ride to the butcher with Daddy, with just one pig in the trailer, I make funny faces at the window. I press my face right up on the glass, squishing it into all kinds of contortions which little children find hilarious. There could be bird poop on this window for all I know, but I don’t care. I’m going to make myself a little ridiculous if it means putting a smile on their faces. I stand back to wipe the drool off the glass. I can see my reflection. Sure, a little tried, maybe a little harried. But I’m smiling.

I can do this, even when the week starts off all wrong. I won’t be eclipsed. I’m choosing light. I’m choosing joy.


* "Choosing Light" by Katy Rose. See more of her beautiful work and the goodwill living it supports on her website

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Falling in Love

No one tells you, when you choose this life of marriage and family and sticking to covenant, that you will get to fall in love again.

It happens all at once one morning, when you are drinking coffee at the breakfast table, and there is a little boy sitting there eating bread with jam and chatting about airplanes and bad guys.

It happens when she sidles up unannounced and slips her hand into yours, even though she's a big girl and doesn't need you in the same way she once did.

It happens when you catch a particular smile you've never seen before, because he's just discovered something of importance and his hair has never been that shade of sun-kissed before.

It happens when she jumps off a new height and puts a little dizzy in the pit of your stomach, but you hide it because you are so flushed with pride, and as she turns to grin she has suddenly sprung up taller.

No one tells you the unending capacity children have to make you see things new, to be plunged into love in a thousand wondrous ways. You thought that "to forsake all others" was to shut up your heart to the thrill of love, but this narrow path of two-become-one floods into acres of freedom. This life of co-creation is deep and wide, and here is all your heart's desire.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

A.W. Tozer on Private Prayer

"Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart heart and a sense of God's presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Don't try to know what will be of no service to you. Avoid the digest type of mind - short bits of unrelated facts, cute stories and bright sayings. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your mind remain scattered for very long. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration."

A. W. Tozer
- Of God and Men

Thursday, 10 September 2015


I lay beside you under the dragonfly quilt. We've said goodnight to the moon and all the cars and trucks and things that go. The room is almost dark, but I can still see your sleepy face.

"Can I hear your heartbeat?" I ask. A smile, a nod, then I lay my ear over your small chest. "Lub-dub, lub-dub," I whisper, in time with the beats. You always find that funny.

"Do you want to hear mine?"

I jump out of bed, do a little dance to get things pumping, then settle back in. You lay your head down, and I put my arms around you.

"Can you hear it?"
You nod. Pause.

"Is that your heart?" you ask, wide-eyed.
"The one that God gave you?"

Yes, yes, yes.

How is it possible to feel my heart beating in two bodies? How can I give adequate thanks for these three year old kisses and chubby arms around my neck? How can so much wonder be wrapped up in a dragonfly quilt?

Sometimes prayer is simply this, quiet breaths of awe.


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