Disillusionment

Un-ironically—family is the solution. But you will have to be willing to step out on the water, to allow family to be for you what you have maybe not yet trusted it to be.

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This was written with my church family from WHO in mind–but you’re welcome to peak in on my love letters. Whomever reads, I pray healing and courage result. – DRH

Lately I’ve been feeling a conviction that I want to share with you.

For several years at WHO, we’ve been practicing with each other, in every sense of the word, what it means to be God’s family. What it means to be home with the Father in our spirits, as well as home with one another. Figuring out what it means to have open hearts. If you’ve been around a while, you know we have learned a lot, and we get a lot of things right.

And I celebrate every advancement we take in Him in us, because He is so good and so full and rich. He’s the whole point. What He has done with our beginnings is nothing short of miraculous–akin to changing water into wine. We are His glory, in every sense.

But we are literally practicing, and learning….and we’re sort of always in some state of progress…  allowing the Father’s ideas about love and family to override our former, imperfect biases and broken experiences. We’re rough sometimes. We’re not always good at what we say we’re after, and we each have blind spots. We have identities that are being exhumed and insecurities that sometimes take a while to walk away from.

Long story short: sometimes it’s painfully clear we’re practicing—and are not yet in mastery—of what we see He’s after. Our flaws show. And that’s OK. It has to be—His grace is made for these gaps, and frankly, His strength and love shine in these places. Our imperfect is the showcase for His perfect.

But sometimes…  sigh.

Sometimes our shortcomings in being family together are more painful–or less palatable– than we’ve had to endure before, and it hurts more than we ever expected. Love always does. The ideal meets the playing field and scores as many fouls as points.

It can be tough to remember to cover one another in love when we feel victimized by a lack of it. We face disappointment and are brought to pressure points that we usually avoid. Typically, these things include a need for confrontation, a feeling of rejection, or other relational crimes…  things we formerly felt the freedom to subtlely distance ourselves from.

When we encounter these things in other areas of our lives, we complain, and just casually stop engaging.

But in the family culture, engagement is everything. We know we shouldn’t “leave” (meaning, tune out)—and truly, we don’t mean to. However, we also feel clueless on how to bridge the gap we’re facing (and the gap, unaddressed, becomes distance.)

We’re in pain—or we’re confused—or we’re angry—and we stand there, sort of at a loss on what to do next. We don’t know how to “holy it up” to say it right. We don’t want to come off rude. Sometimes a wall goes up, purely by instinct. We judge, we mope, or we click into survival mode in the very place where we are called to thrive. Forward progress stops.

This is where I sense some of us are, and there is where I feel we need to come together in prayer.

I feel the hard work of practicing family has left some of us with unforgiven disappointment that has begun to transition into disillusionment.

This disillusionment—a hopeless, guarded cynicism about something you previously found valuable—is very dangerous to your heart and identity. It will fuel distance, empower victimized thinking, validate gossip and—most tragically—allow you to justify a domino-effect of unjust offenses or poor decisions. It will steal your freedom, and make it very hard to hear the Father accurately. In this place, faith literally starves to death.

This is completely avoidable, and un-ironically—family is the solution. But you will have to be willing to step out on the water, to allow family to be for you what you have maybe not yet trusted it to be.

You need to open up, and say what’s going on inside. When we say open up, we mean it. We know it won’t always sound good, be eloquent or even make sense. Choose your moment, your audience, and your spirit well. But you need to open, without attack, and lay all the poison that’s been swirling around inside to vomit out on the Father’s Table before you—before us. Submitting yourself to us, in Him. Remember, we’re all sitting here in Him together, practicing, learning, bringing each other to perfection. So you need to let it come out,

and trust us to meet you there.

You can’t go to your room in the Father’s metaphorical house, behind a soundly closed door, and argue that you’re in the house, just not at the table. That’s silly. There’s a feast going on here, and you have a seat at the table.

*Straight talk warning* Also, hiding in your room is a form of tantrum–and eventually, mature sons have to grow out of the idea that someone should come and appease them. You have been entrusted with every necessary ingredient of restoration. Be strong, take courage, and use them!)

It is not OK to be silent in this place, at least not long term. It is good, for a time, to wisely weigh the things you’re thinking and feeling and ask the Father to help you… To expand your love, your grace for others, your freedom in forgiveness, as well as unselfishness to see the full picture.

Ask for help to lay aside whatever expectations or fears you might have about how you’re received. We probably won’t validate everything you say or agree with everything you feel. It we did that, we’d be operating outside our identities, bringing temporary comfort but no lasting brotherhood.

Being your family takes as much courage for us as is does for you to trust us to BE your family. (That sentence is a doozy–sorry. Basically, we’re all learning courage in being exactly who we are.)

There might be a small moment or two of angst. There might be a hot word or a spat. Someone might cry, or need a little time to process. But no one is going to run. No one is going to leave, or give up. What’s happening in you has almost definitely happened, on some level, inside of us too.

Our promise to you is—if you want—to help you build the bridge and take the climb to step out of this particular cave on our way up the mountain.

I really feel we need to pray together: pray about disillusionment. Pray for healing from whatever idol we once built about the idea of family that has been torn down as we’ve actually bravely begun to WALK OUT the real heavenly Family of God.

Pray that the Father Himself wins inside each heart, that mercy and humility and unity overcome, and that peace and rest can reign in places that right now are anything but calm.

Our family is strong because it is literally BUILT and SUSTAINED by the person of Jesus, revealed in our practice and ever-deepening maturity. Let’s give each other room, let’s commit to communicate, and let’s each hold our own part of things.

I believe in what He’s doing. I always will.

Like Vampires in the Sun

Daughters well-seated in Home do not prefer imagined conversations to real ones.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who isn’t in the room?

Like, you’re engaging them in your head,
sparing and defending
projecting their responses
through your own judgments and grudges,
entertaining the fantasy that they are entirely wrong
and you are entirely right.

I do that a lot.
Not on purpose.
It just happens when I let my mind drift.

I can always tell what’s really going on inside of me
if I’m arguing with someone in my head.

I hear their imagined words in my head
arguments spawned out of my heartache
and I answer them audibly
over my steering wheel
over my dishes.

Often my kids say,
“Mama, who are you talking to?”
And I say, “myself.”

I lie, and I tell the truth.

In that moment,
I am always full of confusion and heartache.

Paul calls these moments logismos:
vain imaginations
speculations
They are the bitter bricks that strongholds and fortresses are made of.

Speculations are castles of strongholds we build when we mate with a lie.

I have built entire cities in my heart before I even realized I had picked up the first stone.

Without mincing words,
meek Paul is unflinchingly strong
that vain imaginations must be destroyed.

They are contrary to the Spirit,
stealing and wielding and dividing
Piling layers of fat and sluggishness
on my precious and perfect spirit.

I knew all my vain imaginations merely reflected
where I did not yet know His realness,
did not yet trust others,
or did not trust myself.

Daughters well-seated in Home do not prefer imagined conversations to real ones.

So I have been brokenly tearing these things down
diligently
over and over and over
opening my naked heart, quivering and shaky and standing and learning and failing and sometimes winning.

I’m making it sound like work I’ve been doing, but truly,
Jesus has been doing it.
My entire effort has been stay-open-and-do-not-run.

When I catch myself arguing
with the imagined and invisible,
I repent immediately,
turn myself to Jesus and say,
“Ok. This is You and me.

“Let’s tear this stronghold down.
Remind me about this precious person
and expand Your love in me for them.
Source me in this.
Show me where You are in this.
Discipline me; search me.
Help me test my emotions and affix to You as truth.
I hide nothing. I am afraid of no one.
I am beautiful and loved and highly valued.
This is You and me. Let’s talk.”

And in some places
I’ve been experiencing extraordinary freedom,
a clear, strong gentleness.

I can not overstate the deep, abiding steadiness and fearlessness.

and yet, some parts of me…
they simply will not submit.

I have been laying them open to the light,
waiting for them to burn to ash like vampires in the sun.
Waiting to be loved, reproved, and rebuilt.
Waiting to be told where I was wrong, where I had faltered, what needed fixing

so that I could heal. (read: so I could stop hurting)

I think I thought that if I could just get them to Jesus,
if I could just get these things to Him,
they’d come into context and lose their bite.

But instead of burning dry and floating away,
I instead seemed to be like a miner
slicing through black ore
and hitting solid rock.

The hammer clanged and recoiled.

And I could not figure out why these things
these firm unyielding darknesses
these things embedded in me
would not yield to Jesus.

If anything, they became unspeakably more pronounced,
seemingly immune to death.

I’ll be honest.
I begged for their destruction.
I rejected them.

But they refused to die.
They stand here even now in me,
constructed of something that absolutely will not consent
to dismissal.

And it dawned in me, What if

what if those things aren’t meant to go?

After years of unreserved drilling,
had I finally begun to hit the core?

What if these things will not die
because they are made of life?

Had I discovered the fortresses of Jesus in me?
Had I finally set my eyes on the foundational aspects of my life?

Had I discovered something I could keep?

I was covered in black mud.
I leaned back and brushed my brow,
breathing hard
leaving streaks across my face.

I peered down, testing and mistrusting
any idea that I would deliberately fail to
tear down my enemy.

But there it was,
peeking through the sediment.
A solid footer of solid gold,
Smeared and grimed but gleaming.

I sat down,
sat back,
and wept.

Prairie Fire

During a series of months of difficulty several years ago, Jesus brought me to this place in my imagination. Very very real to me.

I knew it as a wide sky of eternal twilight,
just after the sun evaporated behind the mountains,
a purple sky freckled with stars.

I could come here anytime.

There was calm sea of waving grass,
low rolling hills by a private sea
where I would go and meet with Him.

In my heart, this was a place of faithfulness,
a place where I could lean my spirit into His.

He was always here, sitting on the dock with His toes dangling,
ready to talk with me. Ready to listen and be my friend.
Ready to open for me His innermost.

Today I didn’t mean to go to that place,
but I closed my eyes and there it was.
Me and Dad’s oasis.

But it almost unrecognizable.

I looked down where grass should have cushioned my feet
and it was black.
No grass, no growth of any kind, not even ash.
Cracked and barren, with hot redness in the gashes.

This place of my deepest intimacy had been slain to wasteland.

He had burned it.

He had taken what was beautiful and precious to me
and set fire.

Except that He was still here,
(I could sense Him),
there was no comfort, no beauty left.
Only a earth so torched that it still glowed beneath.

I wept for a moment.
I looked around and mourned to see this precious place so utterly destroyed.
Such violence could not be love.
Was nothing sacred?

I looked for Him and found Him easily,
sensing His quietness over my left shoulder.
My Rock, my Friend, the Fire-Kindler.

I didn’t ask any questions. I didn’t need to.
I knew what this was.
The heaviness of mourning lay in my chest,
the necessary medallion of suffering
in what Love must do when it’s time to burn the prairie.

He took my hand and we stood there,
silent and together
and entirely at peace.

Wisdom had lit the match.

The fire would redeem a great many things that my eye had missed.
How good He is!
There were parasites, thorns and weeds sneaking a living,
hiding and skimming and stealing.
Brown grass strands in the green,
signaling the hints of dryness and death.
There were old, expired things
mixed foolishly with new, creative courage,
old cynicism stealing power and vigor from the field.

Be the fire hot enough, decay will surrender.

A wide countryside of fresh, perfect growth was dormant
just beneath,
waiting for fire to pave aside a new spring.

He loves this place as much as me.
He burned it to show me just how much He loves to be with me.

Fire is my friend.
The black earth will absorb tomorrow’s sun
and the seeds will germinate again.

Soon, these rolling Spirit hills will frame His precious face
not with soot, but with green.
She’s a prairie, wild and at rest,
Black today
but only today.

Tomorrow comes the green and the purple.
He burned because He knows how bright her colors will be.

———–

The incredible image on this post is an oil painting by Louis Copt, as part of his Prairie Fire series. To see more of his work, click here: http://www.louiscopt.com/prairie-fire-1/

To Care Well

Was it possible that I could love others without the corresponding, crippling pressure to source their current need?

For a while now, the Father has laid a series of words in my heart. When I first heard them, I understood them immediately. They carried a scent of freedom in them, like the smell of the sea and of open skies. I knew I was hearing Him, but I immediately felt my stomach cramp.

Here’s what He said: It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”

Wait. Give me a minute to translate.

Some of my walk deeper into Jesus included healing out of a really ugly performance mentality. I felt that to be loved, I had to perform. When others left slack, left things undone, left things uncarried and unfinished, I felt the impetus to carry them. When others said no, said later, didn’t say anything at all, I filled the void, determined not to let the thing fall, determined to be faithful so others could be where they needed or wanted to be.

I’ll say it straight: I liked to be the hero, even if I was the only one who knew it.

(And I want to be clear in saying that I still have a strong standpoint in which I feel the Father’s sons carry weight. They commit. They labor and produce. They serve at great personal expense. Jesus really modeled the convergence of selflessness and identity perfectly.)

But over time, I realized my day-to-day life had somehow become comprised of things I didn’t want to carry, things that didn’t feel alive inside, and things that weren’t fun, important or inspired. Most of what I spent my life for seemed invisible, lonely and even wasted. It seemed there was no outlet for the enormity that lives in my depths. I started to cry when I reviewed my week and saw only glimpses of myself in it. All the rest had been spent bravely trying to stay faithful in the fog, happiness be damned.

I looked again, purposefully reminding myself that I’m a mom of young ones and so a certain amount of mundane repetitiveness is non-negotiable. And that helped, when I took away the dishes, diapers and laundry from the equation. No one gets fulfillment out of cleaning toothpaste off the bathroom counter; it’s the price of being Mom. And Paul himself recognized to Timothy that the duties of being mom brings about our sozo salvation.

But from that, I realized that some monotony, some mundane-ness, is important for all of us. The dull, dispassionate moments of plodding faithfulness are incredible times of refinement, discovery and development. Just as boredom is important for children, tedium tends to force our creativity to surface.

So could it be possible that the Father had brought me to this time of yawning doldrums, like a ship without wind, so that something new could be propelled up?

I sat over my kitchen sink, with all of this rustling around inside. I was unsure how to make room, to make space, for fresh new things without somehow becoming unfaithful to the things I had already given my word to. All of my give-a-damn was used up. That’s when He said it: It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”

I want to share this thought, but I know how most people will likely read that statement. But Jesus knows how to talk to me–and I get that this one might need translation for many other people. I knew what He meant, immediately. He wasn’t giving me permission to divest myself from the burdens of giving my heart to humanity. He was liberating me in how I think about it, so that I could do it well. Let me explain.

It was time to, thoughtful bit by gentle bit, and in the right spirit, lay aside actions and expressions that weren’t mine to begin with. They were scripts, shoulds and sacrifices not compelled by the Spirit in the first place. Not that it was wrong on occasion to pick up something just for the heck of making sure it got done. But it was time to lay aside the savior complex, the hero complex, the assistant complex, the hey-can-I-play? complex, and especially the obnoxious hey-do-you-see-me? complex.

Like you, the love of Jesus alive in me cares about everything. Everything. He cares about it because we do. So if someone has a loss, a fear, a concern, a question, a need, or a thought, He cares. I hear His voice and I know how much He deeply cares. And so, many times, I respond in what I should could must do to participate in caring. I also feel their emotions and I empathize with them, so I feel a fleshly urgency to comfort that.

And gosh, I want to be all things for everybody. I want to pray about everything, help with everything, participate with everyone, show up for everything, support everyone… but here’s the thing. Sometimes, honestly, inside: I don’t really care.

That’s not to say I don’t care about the person. OH MY HOW I LOVE PEOPLE. I mean, deeply, people are my wealth. It’s still very important for me to stay. Stay in relationship, stay in participation, stay in faithfulness, stay in love. But the pressure I put on myself to express what is not inside of me drove into a renewed performance act that left no room for really me in Really Him. The pressure just left me at my kitchen sink, crying that I was not enough, that I could not care any more than I already had, tender though I was.

Literally, trying to care about everything was making it impossible to care anymore.

It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”  The spirit of His words to me being: Diane, I trust your heart. I know who you are. I know you’ll engage well with your whole heart at the right time. Care when My Spirit takes you right into My purposes in you for them.

I heard His words to me and they shocked me, even while a deep breath opened up. Was it possible that I could love others without the corresponding, crippling pressure to source their current need?

Immediately I realized what we do: in our haste to prove we care, we leave the Spirit behind and respond in ways that calm the flesh of one another, soothes the need, throws the emotional life raft, carries the obligation—but often at the cost of entirely betraying our identities and our Source.

I wondered how many times our care-feigned response actually worked against the purposes of the Father inside a child that is crying for life in every place but the True Vine? I wonder how many times my response to the pressure to care was in reality theft against the very real, caring love He was endeavoring to reveal–in Spirit and in Truth, by identity and in full power, through living sons and daughters in their right places.

Look, here’s what Papa wasn’t saying: cross your arms and let your heart get cold. Tell them you don’t care. Be harsh and unfeeling. Don’t invest. Move on by like the priest and the Levite, elite and religious and dispassionate. 

No. That’s not it.

Daddy was teaching me that we are all compassionate Samaritans–and each of us must fulfill that in the exact way He made us. If we, bravely and trustingly and faithfully, offer the custom blend of care that is genuine and generous in us, we will find that the full picture and revelation of His reality will be startlingly clear and powerful and glorious. But as it stands now, we keep stepping on each others toes trying to care in the way we feel we should, instead of in the who we are. And we are painfully abusing a vibrant symphony with a single, feebly-strung violin.

Some of us are going to always minister tenderly, with hugs and tears and comfort. It’s who we are. Some of us are going to bandage, heal and offer beds for rest. It’s who we are. Others of us will make sure needs are met. It’s who we are. Some will observe, some will carry, some will anoint. It’s who we are.

Some of us are huggers–it’s who we are. (And I wasn’t–but you are on notice that I have been converted and now need hugs quite regularly.)

And Jesus Himself–His love in us–will always be increasing, growing and becoming more and more fruitful and abundant. That is Who He is in us.

But it’s ok–in fact, I think it’s important, to know when it isn’t our time to care. Meaning, we quiet our flesh and talk to Holy Spirit: is this my window? Are you compelling me to respond, to act, to be, to do? Love, alive in me, be unleashed! What is love here–stillness or motion? Compel me into alignment with the heart of my Father. Pour Your nature and reality through the reality of me in this moment–either by doing something, or by doing nothing at all. I trust You to provide all their needs, to meet their heart, to join us together as one body. I care about them–show me where and when and how to put my care in motion. I lay down “should”…help me to trust my heart.

I think when we are compelled authentically in this way, we will only ever be moving in synchronization with His best ideas–imagine the harmony! We will be in beautiful partnership with His possibilities–for them, and for us, because truly, His grace is fully employed to ensure both of us are empowered to overcome and arise.

This clears the table inside of us, to care well, to give ourselves, to serve, even to participate faithfully in the mundane.  The pressure is off—in fact, can I say, the time is over—for fake caring. For gestures meant to meet demand. For playing the part not alive in our heart. In its place comes a fantastic opportunity to care well, to love in Spirit and in Truth. This is true worship. And in my opinion, that is far, far more valuable.

Hey, Are you Getting This?

I asked Him to fill it. I asked Him to be my source for it. And then I fell asleep.

Last night in bed, I read for a while and then turned out the light. The cool dark settled around me as my heart turned to talk to Dad.

I had been sort of wrestling all day, in a place I didn’t really understand. He already knew, but I’ve learned to trust how He restrains Himself to encounter me, letting me reveal myself. He’s such a gentleman and makes no assumptions about us.

His Presence was renewing and I took delight in His attention. I was honest about my heart and asked for a pretty specific thing–not stuff, but supply for an empty place in my heart.

I asked Him to fill it. I asked Him to be my source for it. And then I fell asleep.

This morning, I honestly didn’t give any thought to the empty thing in me. That’s the thing about giving an empty thing to a Faithful Father: His heart is to fill us. His heart is to perfectly complete us. When we know His nature and goodness, we can pay Him the compliment of drawing upon His goodness–waiting confidently in steady trust. It’s faith of sweet aroma to Him.

what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a bread, will give him a stone?…If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him…  (Matt 7:9-11)

I went about my day in the regular routine. But a moment came mid-morning when I heard Him whisper to me Hey, are you getting this?

And my head sort of popped up–Huh?–not sure what He meant. I was sort of preoccupied in the groove of busy-ness. But immediately to mind came my prayer for supply for that very specific thing. I looked around at the moment I was in, the conversation I was part of, and the people I was sharing it with. And suddenly I understood.

In that moment, He had pieced together an unlikely moment of perfect supply. It was so seamlessly provided that it was almost hidden within what seemed to be an ordinary conversation. I had almost missed it, so neatly packaged. And it wasn’t at all what I had pictured when I prayed. But there it was–rather, there He was, holding out bread for the vacant place I had brought to Him.

I smiled so wide, and I knew He was too. I felt Him take delight in being again discovered as perfectly faithful, in being Himself for me.

Seek Me…You’re gonna find Me.
Ask me…You can’t make Me weary. – (Matt 7, paraphrased by Jess Ray)

Let’s ask Him, brave and honest and open. And then let’s trust Him in the space between the empty and the full. He’s perfectly faithful. He is perfectly good.

Home: The Most Powerful Seat On Earth

God established parenting before sin entered into the world. “Be fruitful…multiply!”

To me, this means our ultimate endeavor in parenting is not to instill a set of mechanisms that manage sin, but training up each child as a unique individual who powerfully understands and wields the unique and finished work of Jesus. 

This triggers a ripple effect: generations of families who are truly free and pure, operating by the law of love, boldly ruling well by the Spirit. 

This makes parenting a passionate, powerful, exhilarating adventure. Any seduction of sin in us or our kids is overcome by the nature of the Father practiced actively and transparently in the family unit. 

We do not fear sin and we do not fall into sin prevention strategies. We watch it lose hold of us as relationship with Jesus takes preeminence. We repent and deal with thoughts and appetites and practices that fall short. Sin holds no power, has no foothold, in our home and shared life. Rather, we find that even sin reminds us that we prefer to live in the freedom we have tasted, rather than chained in suffocating slavery. All roads lead home. 

Parenting establishes the Kingdom of Christ, in purity and practice, at the most powerful seat on earth: AT HOME.

Basically–our best parenting is done when aligned to the genesis heart of our Perfect Father for family. We walk bravely, firmly rooted in the reality that Jesus fully redeemed what Man could never repair, and that our children are made to walk side by side with us in reclaiming the wild land. We trust our kids and empower strong identities and good decisions. We prize love and its ability to put every broken pattern into order. If we fear sin and what the world might expose our children to, we are thinking too small. We fear no evil, for He is with us. The Light in us dissolves all darkness. 

We are the parents of the Kingdom, kings aligned to the King, multiplying, filling the earth, subduing it. We are presiding over homes of reconciliation, righteousness, peace and joy, growing strong and working out the kinks. There ARE kinks, but we are not caught behind them. We do not become tangled in the weeds. 

To parent is mighty work. It is holy work. It’s important we understand the stakes, and the glorious possibilities. 

Things & Time

I took down the long curtains in the dining room and let the light pour in.

A few weeks ago, Nick and I pulled 4 black bags of Things from our room. We both remarked later that if we had to suddenly pack up our room, we would each only need one large box. Our room feels restful and simple now, like us.

Two days later, I went through every cabinet in our kitchen and gleaned two full bags of Things from the shelves and drawers and cranies. I took every single appliance off the counter except for the coffee maker (because let’s be honest). I gave real analysis to if I’ve ever used the nut chopper, or if I always just mulch through them with a sharp knife (consequently, I got rid of the nut chopper, and many such “conveniences.”)  Nothing stayed just because a kitchen should have one. Because of the open counters, clutter-free shelves and easy cleanup, cooking is much less frustrating–and even sort of relaxing–these days. It looks like me.

A few more days later, I emptied 10 black bags of Things from Aly’s room and the back room. I realized I had been unfair with Aly: hard on her about a clean room, but filling her room so full of Things that the job was often overwhelming and complex. She says her room is now much more fun and she sleeps better (and it’s now fair for me to set a standard for her tidy room).

This week,  I took 2 full bags of Things out of the boys room. Theirs was least neglected, because we painted last fall and I set up some good organization for them at that time. However, I removed toys that it was time to admit we were never going to find the pieces for, and even one expensive toy whose annoying clicking noise put Nick and me on edge every time we heard it. I threw away books that had been torn or damaged. Clean up is now a snap, and even Tyce can do it.

I went through a big armoire in our dining room that was used for storing Things and quickly determined we did not it–the entire piece of furniture–at all. Some of the stored items were decorative, which I put in a yard sale box. Some were kids games, which I found another recently-emptied drawer for. Some was filing and paperwork, which I found a convenient new (and smaller) place for.  Oh, and our common theme: 2 black bags of Things. We’re going to remove the entire piece of furniture from our home and bring our digital piano up from exile in the basement to take its place.

I took down the long curtains in the dining room and let the light pour in.

I removed all the decorative items from my big farmhouse table. I was surprised to realize how much they factored into my use of the table. Before, the cute little green topiaries sat right in the middle, and mentally divided my table in two. I was less likely to spread out a simple task on it because in my mind, the table was in two small pieces, divided by decor. Silly–but I just didn’t realize how my mind works. Now, I have really enjoyed my table that much more–spreading laundry, paperwork and groceries out in quick easy sorting.  (The kids’ legos, too, stress me out less because there’s nothing for them to shove off the table or mess up).

Last night I did a really important clean up–my phone. I deleted 50% of the apps off my phone. The idea came from my sister Steph, and after some thought, I realized my phone, too, was cluttered with Things. I kept a few recreational apps that I enjoy, but I put them all in a folder labeled “Time.” Every time I go to them now, I see that word Time and it causes me to pause: do I really want to give Time and my mind to this? Am I on autopilot? Is this really where I want to go?  Sometimes yes, its a good moment. Other times, I become aware of the quiet moment, and reach out differently, into my heart and into my Father.   All of my phone apps now fit on one screen, and I lay it aside much more regularly.

We have more places and Things to dig ourselves out of. The basement, ugh. The garage. The back porch. The bathrooms. But it’s not overwhelming anymore to grab a box of trash bags, a broom, and a canister of Clorox wipes and begin. It’s becoming exhilarating to excavate our family home from Things. As I get better at it, I’ve begun to give things away or prepare a yard sale box, but in the beginning I was overwhelmed by the task before me. So it was important just to begin. I couldn’t comprehend donation boxes or give aways (though Nick did take 2 bags to Goodwill). I decided just to begin where we could, as we could, and let ourselves gain strength.

This morning, alone and walking back from Aly’s school drop-off, I pulled out my phone by habit. The app I wanted was tucked there neatly in a sparse folder labeled Time.

But something was different inside of me. The morning air was strangely crisp and friendly, and I felt clear and light. The breeze nipped at my hair. A song drifted through my heart that I hadn’t heard in a long time. The swirling morning hum of things I need to do, remember, and think about seemed neatly compiled into manageable and even inspiring categories. I felt the perpetual furrow in my brow relax. And this moment–the 3 minute walk from Aly’s school to our house–was all mine.

I didn’t see just three minutes. I saw three whole minutes.

And there stared at me the reminder, in my hand. Time, and a mind open and free, unencumbered by piles of old Things. I tucked the phone back in my pocket and strolled easily home all those three minutes not caught in a cyclone of voices. Just me, a simple morning walk, and three whole minutes.

When I got to the house, the quiet inside of me continued. Even with the boys there playing, I still felt wrapped in peace and I relished it.

The peace is coming from inside of me now.