a song in the night

fly

It’s good to feel small.

Perspective is the remedy I need sometimes to pull me out of myself. Out of my questions, my wanderings, my worries, and my pain.

And sometimes I need to feel small.

A few months ago my middle boy and I returned to Missouri where we had moved from last year. He had a weekend of camp fun, and I had a weekend of girlfriend fun. It was just what we needed to regain focus of our new life in Colorado away from so much that is familiar and meaningful. It was hard to return to our new home but even harder for my melancholy son. Seems that God made us like two peas in a pod. We were both a mess of emotions returning to Colorado on the plane that afternoon.

The view from our window in the plane was oddly comforting. Flying high and feeling small and out of control, I was reminded again that God is in control. His ways are higher than ours. His purposes, although often hidden, are better. He always writes a better story. He has a big plan for our seemingly small lives. He quietly sings over us in the dark nights of our soul, and His song is always love. I tried to comfort my son with these truths as we peered out the window. My heart was just starting to get it; his was far from understanding.

The waves of emotions hit again this week. News of our Missouri home renter brought back strong emotions and tied me back to a place I’ve tried to leave again and again in my heart. My middle guy hit the wall last night as he was getting ready for a Dr. Seuss themed field day the next day. It only reminded him of sweet memories from home of track event styled field days with familiar homeschool friends and families. Dr. Seuss at his impersonal public school just wasn’t going to cut it this year and only brought back a wave of loneliness and homesickness.

I fell into bed pleading with God again to heal our homesick hearts and take away the pain. My heart cried for God, my Maker, to give me a song in the night.

And then I remembered Job.

I love how God doesn’t give us lectures or lists of rules and guidelines for life. Instead, he gives us stories. Of real people. Real pain. Real life. The stories of God’s people–messy people with messy lives–draws me in again and again and as I see a window into Job’s world, I catch a glimpse of perhaps what God is doing in mine. For Job, it was real loss and real pain, and just the fact that God tells us the story of Job’s losses speaks into the pain of my losses, as well. Oh, I haven’t lost family, health, and wealth, but my losses are real.

Like Job, it is good to come to the conclusion that I am of small account. It is good to remember that my Creator and Redeemer lives. That He is a God who gives songs in the night, who can bring back my soul from the pit. As I stop and consider the wondrous works of God, yes, even as I fall and repent and beg for mercy, beg for light, beg for life, then slowly, surely, my pain subsides and begins to give way to hope again. I can ever so faintly begin to join the chorus of Job as he boldly proclaims, “But now my eye sees you.”

This is the song I sing when the pain floods in again and again as it did this week. When the unrelenting “whys” and the unbelieving “hows” lead me to the All Wise, All Loving, All Powerful Who. Jesus, help me see You.

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a letter of thanks

photoDear Shauna,

I can breathe again. Reading your heartfelt, sacred and silly stories was like finding a friend when I’ve been lost in a crowd of strangers. I am enchanted by your writing. You are an artist with words. So real and honest and authentic and true. I have devoured your books these past few weeks like a hungry girl with a bag of her favorite potato chips. I just couldn’t get enough. How many times have I whispered, “You too? I thought it was only me.” You have a gift.

Your stories made me laugh, cry, and whisper a profound “Amen” and “Halleluiah” over and over and over again. If we lived in the same town, I would be tempted to stalk your local coffee shops in the slim chance that I could meet you in real life and beg you to be my friend. To teach me your craft and art of real living and real loving.

You’ve taught me to embrace the good, the holy, the hard and the sad. Together. Maybe that’s the best lesson I’ve learned by far. You’ve given me courage to share my stories, live a deep, rich, sacred life, and celebrate. Celebrate. Because yes, life can be bitter, but life is also sweet, and when you put the two together, you have something rich and smooth and deep. Something so delicious that you want to share it with a friend.

If you came to my house, I’d serve you fancy, dark chocolate and sweet, chilled tangerines and ask endless questions around the table about motherhood, ministry, reading, writing, and of course, cooking. I’d confess to you my weaknesses and fears about friendship and homemaking and hostessing and starting a cooking club. You’d listen and nod your head in understanding, I’m sure, but then I picture you taking my hand and gently saying, “You can do this. Not perfectly, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be done. Just be you and see what great things God can do when you let him.”

How do I say “thank you” in a million little ways?

I’ll simply start with, “Thank you.”

With a happy, hopeful heart,

Kara

{Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and newly released Bread & Wine. She is my new favorite writer. Check out her personal blog at shaunaniequist.com.}

Introducing…

Today my dear friend and cheerleader in the faith, Christan, is the Daily Guest on Dayspring’s (in)courage home for the hearts of woman site. Yippee! She is a gifted writer, but even more than that, she has a heart for God and encouraging women. You can visit her at Repurposed Heart and get to know her a bit. Please do…you’ll be blessed a thousand times over!

Parenting the Generations


I stumbled upon these wise words recently in a post by Ann Voskamp entitled, “How Every Parent Actually Parents Thousands of Children.” They challenge me. Big time.

“Inside the frames, the bodies, the souls of our children, reside the children still to come. And the children then still to come. Like nestled dolls, future generations dwell within the child whose eyes I now look into, whose hands I now touch. Every day we parent not one child, or even a few children, but every day we parent innumerable, countless children. When I raise my voice, frustrated with a child, I speak to generations of children. When I wipe away a tear, comfort, listen, I honor centuries of children. When we meet our children, children we will not live to meet on this earth, are met, shaped, formed. Parented.”

Rethinking Parenting

Rethinking the whole parenting thing these days. Oh, we’ve decided to keep the kids {*wink*}, we’re just trying to figure out how to keep our sanity. And lead them to Jesus. And get some sleep at night. And…well, you get the picture.

So I can’t wait to read the rest of this post by Kevin DeYoung I stumbled across at the Gospel Coalition today. I’ve skimmed through the beginning, but in the middle of spelling, math, laundry, and birthday parties, I’ll have to wait to read the rest until I have a moment to myself. Or until I lock myself in my bathroom for privacy.

In the meantime…check it out, and let me know what you think!

Mother’s Day Thoughts


This past week the mama bird who built her mansion of a nest in our front door wreath, so big in fact that it fell out of our wreath, lost all of her eggs. All five eggs.

My heart sank at the sight, and I really did shed a tear for those baby birds that died and their mourning mother. And for our children who were counting eggs and so looking forward to witnessing their miraculous birth.

And I had to remind myself just the opposite of what I usually have to remind myself daily: that as much as God loves me, He also loves the sparrow, and he takes care of the birds of the air, too. Yes, He’ll even take care of this sorrowing mama bird, too.

This Mother’s Day, I have been thinking more about the women who have lost. Women who have lost babies. Women who have lost their dreams. Women who need to remember that God knows and cares and loves them–deeply.

I read a post this past week that helps us understand how to celebrate Mother’s Day. It’s helpful and gives hope especially to women that will struggle with this day.

I have one dear friend who has been walking a long, hard road of wanting to be a mother but who is still waiting patiently for children. Although she would write her story differently, she chooses each day to say “yes” to the story that God has written for her. I’m praying for her this Mother’s Day, that God would fill the emptiness in her heart with His love and hope for the day that her longing heart will be filled. Her heart’s desire for children may not be fulfilled in this lifetime, but one day her heart’s burden will be completely lifted and she will long no more.

I have another friend who is spending what could be the last days with her dear mother. The news came unexpected, and while they are praying for many more days together, they are also preparing for loss. Getting ready to say good-bye this Mother’s Day weekend was not in the story she would have written for her life, but she, too, says “yes” to God and chooses to trust Him in these hard, hard days.

Dear Jesus, You care for the birds of the air. Yes, and how much more you care for your own children! Wrap your arms of comfort around your daughters who are grieving the loss of a child, the loss of a dream, and the loss of a mother and friend. Remind them of your never-ending love, even when they don’t understand. Especially today. Come, Lord Jesus!

Growing in Grace

I’ve been obsessed with all things green lately. Maybe it’s been all this rain, or maybe it’s that my inner green thumb is starting to come out. (Is that even possible?) Every time I see something green poking out of the earth, I am almost beside myself. Growth after a cold, barren winter is so, so encouraging. For the earth, and for my soul, too.

Scotty Smith has been a longtime favorite pastor of mine. While he’s not my pastor, he pastors all who are who are his “friends” on Facebook and those who follow him on Twitter. And while his online prayers are super inspiring, I’ve also been encouraged by the daily shots of wisdom he’s been serving up lately in a series of posts I’ll call “Signs of Growing in Grace.” For me, it’s kind of a check-list for my heart. I live in a world where I can’t measure much these days, so it’s been a good little inventory to assess just how my heart is doing. And when I see little green shoots of love, joy, or peace poking out of my heart, I’m greatly encouraged.

Here’s a few of my favorites posts to share with you, thanks to Scotty Smith.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You’re beginning to understand that suffering is good soil for growing a gospel heart.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You care about the impact you have on others, because you know you’re capable of harm.

A sign you’re growing in grace: Your commitment to loving well trumps your “need” to be understood and liked.

A sign you’re growing in grace: The little book in which you keep a record of wrongs done to you has less pages than ever.

A sign you’re growing in grace: While not condemning you, the gospel is exposing the depth of your selfishness & greed.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You’re always coming back to the gospel in order to move forward in the Kingdom.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You fully enjoy Christian liberty & you fully enjoy limiting your freedom out of love.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You’re learning how to correct your children without crushing their spirits.

A sign you’re growing in grace: You look to grow through things, not just get over things. Change means more than relief.

A sign you’re growing in grace: Fewer sighs of irritation, more signs of sanctification.

And my personal favorite…

A sign you’re growing in grace: The hope of the gospel is freeing you from Pollyanna-like denial & Eeyore-like despondency.

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