Books that will grow me. Books that will feed me. Books that will teach me and move me closer to Christ.
Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson was my first. This guy rocks. His premise was that if the dreams that we have in our hearts are able to be accomplished by only ourselves - then they're not big enough. We need to dream God sized dreams...ones where He gets a chance to show up and show off - where He HAS to get all of the glory, because there is NO way I could have accomplished that by myself. Epic. I loved it. It challenged my view on the GREATNESS of God and on the size of the things He wants to accomplish THROUGH me. How blessed are we to GET to be a part of HIStory. He can write me in however He sees fit -- and I will give back to Him every ounce of honor and glory due His name.
Book number two is this: The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp.
This lady slays me.
Every time I get my hands on one of her writings, she rocks my world and my life is changed. I was reading her blog long before her first book - One Thousand Gifts was written. I followed the story of her Quest for Joy amidst her battle of depression and her past full of pain. A friend from miles away gave her some tough love one day and challenged her with the idea to daily count the gifts that God lavishes on her day after day after day. And maybe - just maybe - this could be a perspective shift. Maybe she needed the reminders of all of the parts of her life that were good and were full and were.....gifts. And so, One Thousand Gifts was birthed... and for years now -- with ebbs and flows, for sure -- I have counted my joys and I have named the graces....over 6,000 and counting now. That book changed my life. My Journey Joy has remade me.
And now her book, The Broken Way....
Mamas and wives....invest in this book. You don't like to read or you're too busy? Take snippets here and there and digest her words slowly. She has a perspective on life and on Jesus like no one I've ever read - and she speaks to my soul like no other author.
"You're guilty, but not condemned.
You're busted up, but believed in.
You're broken, but beloved." ~ page 101
How many days of motherhood -- and of wife-ing -- do you feel like a failure? Do you wonder if this is it? Do you feel the closing in of the constant ordering and re-ordering of your life back from chaos day in and day out....and the daily wash, rinse, and repeat of the laundry, schooling, and meals? How many nights do you lay your weary head on your pillow and wonder if you did enough.....if you loved enough...and if you listened enough? Were you harsh with your words? Did your hurry cause some hurt? Were you just too tired at the end of the day to pour out just a tiny bit more for your Love?
I didn't be enough...
I didn't say enough...
I didn't do enough, love enough, wasn't gentle enough, kind enough.....
"Whatever your'e caught in, I make you free. Whatever you're accused of, I hand you pardon. Whatever you're judged of, I give you release. Whatever binds you, I have broken. All sin and shame and guilt and lack I have made into beauty and abundance." ~ page 101
|His mercies are new EVERY morning.....GREAT is His faithfulness...|
"Because it's His grace and acceptance that enable you to break sin. You never have to overcome your brokenness to claim God's love. His love has already overcome your brokenness and claimed you." ~ page 104
So....what if we can change our weary perspective?
What if our daily to-do lists....could really be our daily to-love lists?
What if instead of having a bucket list of things that we can brag about accomplishing....we daily pour out our buckets in intentional love toward others....because the only way that we can have more of Christ is to first be poured OUT?
That's a perspective shift.
"When you fail to care for others,you don't care for yourself. When you help others live better, it's YOUR life that gets better. We are most fully Christlike when we are most emptying. Live for something worth dying for. Let love break into you and mess with you and loosen you and make you laugh and cry and give and hurt because this is the only way to really live." ~ page 95
Well, my goodness...
Isn't this Motherhood? Isn't this Marriage?
The Ministry of the Mundane - the day in and day out little sacrifices of life lived with your loved ones?
"The best way to say you love is always time. the best time to love is always now. Practice brokenness and givenness and a bit of the Kingdom is here now." ~ page 107
Every to-do list.......can be a to-love list.
Stooping low and really listening.
Mopping up puppy puddles for the love of my boys.
Warm bread, fresh from the oven, because one of my boys says "that's how I know you love me."
Rubbing tired shoulders and listening to weary hearts spilled out...
Reading that same book...one more time.
Making him his lunch....without him needing to ask.
The laundry....the never ever ending laundry...
The daily lists...
Can be the daily LOVES....
"God is love. . And because God is love, He gets to define love: 'This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.' You do something great with your life when you do all the small things with His great love." ~ Page 109
All the small things....
Well, I don't know about you....but that's MY life on the daily.
Helping him with his research paper.
Soothing her sadness over her still missed paci.
Encouraging him with his piano.
Wiping his tears from big brother teasing.
One more meal. One more load of dishes. One more load of laundry.
Powering down to really hear his heart once the house is finally quiet...
All the small things...
"You do something great with your life when you do all the small things with His great love. Real love dares you to the really dangerous: die in the diminutive. Be broken and given in the small, the moments so small no one may applaud you at all. Pour our your life in small moments - because it's only these moments that add up to the monumental. The only way to live a truly remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you, but to leave noticeable marks of His love everywhere you go. Love is so large that it has to live in the holiness of very small moments of sacrifice." ~ Page 110
Very small moments of sacrifice.
Marriage and Motherhood. Putting others first. Pouring out....to be able to be filled up again.
Real love -- deep love -- is simple, and small, and great, and complicated all at once.
It's easy to hold your tongue when you want to spew your venom -- but then again, it's NOT.
It's easy to speak his love language when you know his soul deep down -- but that requires sacrifice.
It's easy to hold them close and to listen to the all at once rambling -- but you need to die to YOU.
It's easy to slow and see...to stoop and be still -- but something of your own has to stop.
And so, sometimes, the easy simple....is the largest love of all.
Real love is not the movies....and most days it's kind of boring.
We pay the bills, we feed our babies, we do our jobs.
But it's that REAL love....that deep, accepting....always and forever no matter what unconditional love....that's the truest love of all. The faithful and the true. The daily dying to ourselves. And the moment by moment pouring out. Real love is in the really small gestures. The daily diminutive.
The sacred Holy...
Where we choose to be Wholey Here...
Stooping. Really seeing. Fully listening. Small acts...tiny graces....over and over again...
"Love Himself would make us into love, pour us out, and make our hearts into a roof for others to absorb their beating storms." ~ Page 108
And so.....maybe....we have big dreams that only Christ could accomplish for them to really happen. Dreams where He gets glory for ALL to see - like what Pastor Batterson says. And then, maybe we ALSO live a LOVE so large - in the moments so small that no one even sees - and that's the greatness of our Life. Doing small things with Great Love.
|Small things like getting a puppy because THIS boy has wanted one for about six years.|
Making Christ present.
God of Heaven come down....in all the Mamas....and all the faithful Daddies. In the wives and the husbands who love deep, and real, and true. Faithful to their families with eyes only for each other. And in the men and the women who die daily ....
Pouring out to fill up....
And filling up to pour out.
Push to reset.