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Letting Go and Holding On

Peace Makers“The peace-makers- those who are themselves of a peaceable temper, and endeavor to promote peace in others: who study to be quiet, and, as much as in them lieth, to live peaceably with all men: who are so far from sowing the seeds of discord between any of their fellow creatures, that they both studiously avoid contention themselves, and labour to extinguish it wherever it prevails, laying themselves out to heal the differences of brethren and neighbors, to reconcile contending parties, and to restore peace wherever it is broken, as well as to preserve it where it is…” Excerpt from Benson Commentary on Matthew 5:9

My pastor started a series this past Sunday called Blessed are the Peacemakers.

As he was preaching, I felt a mixture of both excitement and a sort of impending doom, HA. My flesh knows what’s coming.

It’s like finally sitting down in the long-awaited seat of a roller coaster, but the kind that’s like, WAY too high up. All of a sudden you’re buckled in; someone gives a tug on the bar to make sure you’re secure. You’re then thrust forward, slowly inching your way up to the terrifying top. Click, click…click, goes the notches, and there’s no turning back now. You’re not sure what’s really about to happen- you could have a ton of screaming fun, you could be petrified silent (that’s usually me), you could spew your lunch on all of the spectators, your phone could slip out of your pocket and go hurling towards the ground (that’s my brother, hehe), or worst case scenario, the ride could fail to remain intact and you could be flung into oblivion (I actually knew someone that that happened to, which is why you’ll never catch me on the Gravitron ever again). Either way, you’re fastened in tight, so the only thing left to do is to let go and hold on.

The conflict of letting go and holding on; to let go of your illusion of any control and to hold on to the one Who’s got the whole universe spinning in His will.

If I’m going to get through the hard things as a Christ follower, I HAVE to surrender. It’s my failings to do so that gets me stuck. And even my stuck-ness is in His grasp. I don’t hear something until I’m meant to hear it. Concepts doing turn into beliefs until the Holy Spirit reveals it to my heart. I can’t start to really live those beliefs out until I am sold on them, and even then, there’s a constant need to surrender so that walking away doesn’t become more attractive.

That description up there, the one about the peace-maker… I want to be that person. However, the amount of relenting required for that to become my reality… it just feels scary. The temptation to believe that God isn’t who He says he is; the lure to believe He indeed will fail me, leaving me to be flung into oblivion, is so strong a lot of the time. Even though He’s proven himself time and time again, I’m still so frustratingly bent. The rocks cry out, and so do I.

Dale talked about the importance of peace to God, and it got me thinking.

The measures God took to bridge the much deserved divide between Himself and I, it’s hard to fathom. To take a piece of Himself, the part He calls His Son, and allow His broken flesh and spilled blood to be the extension that reconciles me to Him and makes available a peace that transcends any kind of human mastery…

In light of that truth, I think I want peace to be important to me.

Blessed are the peace-makers, for they will be called children of God. 

Why, Though?

Why, Though?
I realized last week that I do not live intentionally. I know, I know- that familiar saying, “live intentionally” is very cliche and at this point, almost void of any meaning. But when I change it up a bit and ask myself, “Do I live with intention as I make my daily plans?” That invokes much more of a stir in my heart. And the truth is, I have been living most of my existence without really, truly knowing why I”m doing the things I do. I’m not referring to the part of my life that is in service to my church and community- I feel like it’s easy to remember why I’m doing what I’m doing when it comes to that, even when it’s hard or I don’t necessarily like it. But the daily ins-and-outs of “stay at home” motherhood, the monotonous, regular, ordinary moments that make up most of my week- well in that, the purpose has been unclear and the intention lost.
I think this last very challenging season that I feel as though I’m coming out of has started helping me see that there shouldn’t be any difference between my purpose in church and community life and every other part of my life. Last year I would have said that I already knew that, and arguably, there was at least a head knowledge of it. But it’s clear to me now that it wasn’t a principle that my life was marked by. Faith and it’s purpose should travel across the plane. And if my purpose is clear- to love God and worship Him by advancing His kingdom and enjoying/being content with the plan He has for my life- then intentionality seems much more reasonable.
Last week I started to ask myself why I feel like I need to obtain and accomplish certain things; why I put so much thought and stress into them. It was very eye opening. I couldn’t answer myself when confronted with the question, “why, though?”
Why do you want that extra money so badly? So that I can build a patio deck in the backyard.
Why do you want that patio? Well… then I’ll be happier?
Really Megan, you’ll be happier? I… think… so? I mean, I’ll get to sit on it and enjoy being outside. And we can have people over for cook outs.
Can’t you just take a chair out there, or better yet, sit on the grass, and enjoy being outside? Why is marveling at creation contingent upon making that experience more comfortable? Why would engaging in fellowship ever be put on hold over the arrangement of trivial backyard space? ….I… umm…
Megan, of what eternal value does that patio hold? ….
 
A week later, as I am typing that line of questioning with myself, I tear up a little. Such precious moments lost trying toiling with no understanding of why I’m even toiling.
Living unintentionally has proven to be chaotic, disorganized and ultimately unsatisfying. I feel myself continuously being nudged towards the edge of not wanting to live that way anymore. It’s such a gross waste of our most out-of-our-control resource- time.
Last year I wrote a blog post about the bravery in being content. I want to confess that while I believe that what I wrote is true, I don’t think it was necessarily true of my life. In all honesty, I thought I was content and living with intention, but I think that was also because life happened to be fairly easy at that time. I see how the last 7 1/2 months partly existed to show me that I wasn’t really subscribing to what I was saying I believe. But what a beautiful, gracious God I serve, that He would love me enough to expose me for the fraud I can be and then allow me to get low enough to experience the truth and the consequential freedom it brings.
Purpose, intention, and contentment are tethered to each other, and this year has felt like a journey in finding out how that is so and what that looks like. It’s a hard journey, but so far it’s proving one worth being taken by.

Dan DIY-ed: Industrial Buffet Table

Industrial Buffet TableI’ve been waiting for this project to come to fruition for quite a while now, and I’m so pleased with the outcome. About two years ago, that metal frame caught my eye as I was driving home to our old house. I saw it in the yard of a little vintage shop that I love to visit from time to time, so I pulled in and asked how much. I don’t remember the exact price, but I know it wasn’t more than $20. The number 16 rings a bell, so we will just say I spent $16 on it. It had a wooden top, but the wood was really nasty looking, so I removed it. I decided that I’d build a new top for it, and we’d use it as a table for decoration.

Well, it ended up staying in our garage, untouched until we moved… and then it ended up sitting in our new garage. We finally finished unpacking everything from our move about a month or so ago, and since then we’ve been doing little projects to decorate our home with. Daniel and I have never quite seen eye to eye when it comes to projects like this, as he has an idea of how it should look and I have my own. We’ve had a few tiffs over this piece. What we’ve discovered about each other is that I like to come up with frugal ideas on how to make something with spending little to no money on it, and he likes to go about things a little more classically, while using all of the right methods and tools (which is usually expensive). We are learning how to come to a happy middle when it comes to these kinds of things.

Last weekend, I thought he was cleaning out the garage. Him and Abe were out there forever, and when I went to see what they were doing, he was actually starting to work on this table. He found some wood pieces in the garage that he wanted to use, but didn’t have enough. It made me smile seeing him go for it, even though he didn’t have the perfect set up. A few days later, he came home from work with a couple of wood palettes. Usually when I mention anything having to do with palettes, he scoffs in disgust, so I was surprised he brought these home to work with. As he pulled it apart, he discovered several of the pieces were oak.

Industrial Buffet TableHe didn’t have an electric sander or even a table to work on, so he started sanding each piece by hand. He worked for a while and then put it away and came inside.

Over the weekend, he decided to drive out to his late grandpa’s house and check out the massive loads of stuff in his wood shop. His grandpa was a cabinet maker/ overall handyman and builder, and had decades worth of tools and things just sitting. Daniel came home on Sunday night with everything he needed to sand and build the table top efficiently. He also had a great/kinda sad time out at his grandpa’s property, looking through his things and discovering that he and his grandpa had a lot in common, down to the way they would organize their tools. I know if his grandpa was still alive, he’d be so glad to see that his natural ability was inherited by Daniel.

Industrial Buffet TableI’m so excited about the final product. I love the look of the raw and unfinished wood against the white wall and in contrast with the black metal and red floors. We probably will end up putting a coat of finish on it though, if we are going to use it to serve food on when we have people over. I’m just excited about having a buffet table to put dishes on for dinner parties! I’ve been patiently waiting to hang those beautiful botanical prints above the table, so it was the first thing we did when he brought it in. They were free printables, and you can actually download them from Poppytalk. I used clear glue strips (the glue dots brand) to attach them to 9×14 watercolor paper, because I like the differences in paper textures. I grabbed a gold roll of washi tape out of a Target $1 last week and used that to stick it to the wall, and I’m really into it. We were going to use industrial clips to hang them up, but I think I like this better. We can remove them if we want and not have holes to show for it.

I like little splashes of gold, anyway.