A Song that Anchors

When I really sit for a moment to realize how fragile my wayward human heart is, its pretty humiliating. No matter the intention I set (and maybe even accomplished) in the morning, by noon I almost forget that girl and the temporal things seem to completely consume me. How a few unmet expectations can have the power to change the trajectory of my day, I will never know. We are a fragile people needing to anchor our days on a sure foundation. That much I’m confident of.

One practice that we do in our home to not only anchor us, but give us a current to keep moving forward is to sing. Sometimes even in the VERY thick of things, a quiet hum that grows into words will attract the frazzled little people to me like a moth to a flame. There is comfort in holding on to words that you know to be true. Words that are larger than your misunderstanding. That are surer than your capabilities.

I have put the lyrics below to the song “A Christian’s Daily Prayer” (and even the Youtube link at the bottom). The first verse I sing before they wake, and then at the breakfast table together. The second we try to sing at the lunch table and then I usually sing after they go down for a rest. And the third verse we sing to them as they go to sleep and then I find myself singing again looking at the night sky. The humbling thing about it is that every single time I sing the next verse in the day my soul was parched for it as if dehydrated.

May this song be an encouragement to you. May it anchor your soul on truth, lift your chin to the light, and carry you like a current from dawn to dusk.


MORNING

As morning dawns and day awakes 
To you I bring my need 
Oh gracious God, my source of strength 
In you I live and breathe 
Each hour is yours, by wisdom planned
Each deed empowered by Sovereign hands 
Renew my spirit, help me stand 
Be glorified today.

AFTERNOON

As day unfolds, I seek your will
In all of life's demands
And though the tempter tries me still
I cling to your commands
Let every effort of my life
Display the matchless worth of Christ
Make me a living sacrifice
Be glorified today.

EVENING

As sun gives way to darkest night
Your spirit still is here
And though my strength fades like the light
New mercies will appear
I rest in You, abide with me
Until our trials and suffering
Give way to final victory
Be glorified today.
Be glorified I pray.

I would so love to hear what anchors you and/or your family to carry you from dawn to dusk. Feel free to comment!


Count your Awkward

After a really long day I often (through gritted teeth) hum to myself “count your blessings name them one by one.” But you know what? Sometimes it really ought to be “count your awkward name them one by one.”


Easter came to a close on Sunday and all I really felt like doing was recounting the “off.” Not to complain, but to just speak it instead of it getting choked in my throat and being allowed to morph into an afterthought of bitterness. When babies wake up from naps with fevers resulting in Easter dinners being canceled and the crockpot dries out the chicken to an inedible degree, you thank the Lord that your children are not on social media seeing everyone else’s bright and shining Easter memories. When you’re tucking your child in bed that evening and hear the pained words of “Mom, this was such a tricky day” I just nod and remind her His mercies are new. Then we recount the awkward together. But not without recounting the blessings to give them the last word.


I looked over and saw that she had picked her own little wooden camera to document the beauty she sees.

No, we did not get to have Mimi and Papa over for dinner. But phew! It was for the better because that chicken was terrible anyway.

No, the sun wasn’t out dancing with us this afternoon and the gloom led us all the way to bedtime. But the morning was filled with all the celebration from yesterday’s “Easter Eve” preparation (french toast casserole + empty egg banners).

No, Christ’s resurrected body did not resurrect the fact that we still argue with our sisters and feel big emotions and slam doors. But it does give us hope that evil doesn’t have the last word and tomorrow is a new day.

No, Zoom church is not the same as real church. But isn’t it cool how there’s a mute button? (Okay, maybe that was just me recounting the blessing there).

Don’t let social media make you think that there is no place for awkward days and that you’re a total loser mom/person/kid/whatever if your day was just blah. Blah days come. Recount the awkward, recount the blessing, and call it a day. Tomorrow is a new one.

“May the angel of memory surprise you in bleak times with new gifts from the harvest of your vanished days.”

“A blessing for beauty”, John O’Donohue

Holding tension

As I sit here in real time wrestling with the conflicting paradoxes of my personal life, I am not lost to the weight and measure of this day – Good Friday. How the tragic destruction of someone so guiltless is considered GOOD. How through his death we are given life and the fullness of relationship with him forever. How the ugly and beautiful sit in the space together. This cannot be overlooked. There is grief, there is joy. There is sorrow, there is forgiveness. There is weeping which will turn into rejoicing. These things must sit together.


But this holy day of sitting in the grief of the cross knowing that we can also hold his absolute conquering over death in our other hand is a habit, a liturgy, that we can carry in our everyday.

It looks like reading spelling words to one child while the toddler is pulling on your leg and the other one is opening up the paints.


It looks like “Mom can I sew on your sewing machine?” while you can hardly open your eyelids from exhaustion.


It looks like dishes piled in both sinks while putting your shoes on to collect flowers like you told them you would.


It’s singing a hymn in the middle of the living room WHILE they are all squabbling.


It’s letting them on the counter while you cook when you just want to be efficient.


It’s biting your tongue when you want to finish their sentences for them.

Grief + Joy.
Exhaustion + Connection.
Bickering + Singing.
Creating + Destroying.
Misunderstanding + Peace.

Let’s let them sit together.

“One foot in front of the other my darling. Lift up your face so the sun can shine on it.”

Palm Lines, Lowland Hum

Solitude

“Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Yes, I see the irony in talking about solitude at a time when our world is unitedly canceling social events and anything that has to do with other people. But just being alone is not solitude. Even quarantined to our homes, we have relentless opportunity for distraction and noise and the constant lure of “but what are other people doing, thinking, reacting?”

No. We were not created to be alone. But I dare say we were also not created to be so together that we don’t know how to be alone anymore.

I have said many times to other people how external forces like being an expat in a foreign country and motherhood have indirectly led me to create a very small social circle around my weary body. Now keep adding more children to the mix and I feel like my circle looks like I’m tracing my shadow at noon. Anytime I go beyond the lines, my body triggers that I need to do something to catch my breath.

Being vulnerably honest about my own personal limitations and being creative to accept what a breath of fresh air can look like have completely rewired my brain. It need not be a trip to a coffee shop for 2 hours to be a moment of grounding solitude. I want to gently comfort you that it can be made available to everyone in any moment. We do not need a car, coffee shop and music in our ears to catch our breath. We actually don’t even need to be physically alone every time. We need acknowledgement about who we are, and a creative mind to find the oasis where we are.

“In life’s stillness
So sweet in repose
Renewing and filling your lungs
…Take a breath in and wait
It’ll be okay.
In this moment so still and stagnate
But, not stuck
Just paused, soon to move on”

Rosie Wisniewski, A Sweet Repose – Hello Poetry

We need not romanticize this pause in our day to be alone with our thoughts or be alone in a moment. Feeling cold grass under your feet while you look up at the trees requires only your presence. Laying on your back and watching as the clouds morph from strips into blobs requires only your presence. Sitting for at least 15 seconds as a wallflower to marvel at your children deep in play requires only your presence. I know saying only your presence feels like an offering as big as the world sometimes. But be brave, look at your task list for a hot minute and say “QUIET!” (audibly if you must).

If we allow the “amputation” as Lindbergh refers to it, even for a moment, life comes back to us fuller and richer in ways that the constant consumption of other lives and entertainment could never offer. She further notes that “even daydreaming was more creative than this [entertainment/social media] because it demanded something of oneself.”

I leave you sweet friends with this continued thought from Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. May we become comfortable in this time of tension where we long for people but also long to know ourselves. Let’s sit here in this space together and allow life to rush back at us moment by moment. Not in an overwhelming tidal wave, but like a waterfall that we can marvel at.


“It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

Waking Expectant

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

Psalm 5:3

Right now to be completely honest, I really don’t feel like waking up expectant. All three of my little ones must have concocted a plan (unbeknownst to me) to simultaneously need my attention all throughout the night.

Yet in the darkness of this space before everyone tiptoes out of their rooms, I sit. Coffee’s hot. No one needs me. A wide open day spread before me. I used to tremble at that wide open space, not knowing how in the world I was to be everything for my people all day every waking moment, especially if I got hardly any sleep. No wonder I used to tremble. Where did I veer off the path of His peace to begin plodding on one that is full of frenzy and such self-importance? Actually…I think I was on that path yesterday. There is not a lot of distance between the right now me and the frenzied me. Such is life. Drink in the grace, Lauren.

But before the dawning of a new day, if I allow myself a moment to sit in the presence of the Lord stripping away every self-made part of me, I take off expectations of productivity and stellar family memories and happiness abounding and instead expect this:

“There will be beauty found here. ”

When I frame the day like this, then beauty begins to pop out of the wood work everywhere. Glittering brown sugar on aprons, band-aid donned knees, new books being read, laughter, “I’m sorry” that came without a prompt from me, pine trees swaying, “I lOVE Dabby” written lovingly on an envelope.

A Sweet Repose

Welcome.

Welcome to the result of my heart bulging past the seams of an Instagram caption. I don’t intend to get long winded here, but I wanted a space that allowed me to if I so desired. To run through the empty field of a thought process, or simply stay quiet and post pictures of delight instead. Photos that are proof of presence like carrot peels, and twirly dresses, or abandoned bananas and weed arrangements. There is freedom here. And I’m realizing every day that I stand in the doorway of my own liberation most of the time.

I’ve given the name for this space “A Sweet Repose.” In Latin, the word repose is broken down to be re- (“again”) + pausare (“to pause, to rest, to halt”). Throughout our day it is easy to remember that we need to once again feed our bodies, once again brush our teeth, once again vacuum the floor, once again, once again, once again (insert whatever outward maintenance we rarely neglect). But our hearts need this once again. This re-pausing, this repose. This worshipful maintenance.

While I don a lot of different hats, this space is less a home education/living minimally/motherhood/nature loving blog and more a space to re-posture my heart and hold the beauty in the midst of all the hat wearing. There is a lot of talk these days about finding the “root of health” for our bodies, but what about our souls? Where can true rest be found? How can we not only experience it, but create rhythms to anchor us making it a sustainable wellspring no matter the noise outside of our hearts?

I have a particular personality that is pretty decent at coming up with an idea, and not too bad at maintaining it. But the starting it? Well now. That’s where the whole plan gets shelved (for a considerable amount of time) until someone who knows my heart and my seed-like plan and reminds me it’s a worthy goal after all. So in knowing this about myself, I will end this first post here and comfort my trembling heart with these words:

“You’re finally set free to keep this space going. The hard part is behind you.”