Magnificent Spring

308-1I’m reading the book Wonderstruck, Awaken to the Nearness of God, by Margaret Feinberg. It’s a lovely book — being read in perfect timing — and it reminds us to see how near God is each and every moment of our lives. (You can read the post that convinced me to buy the book over at Ann Voskamp’s blog.)

Reading it has challenged me to revive The Magnificence of God series I started a while back.

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Spring is my favorite. Its first warm breeze seems to blow life back into my soul. The singing birds. The popping flowers. The promise of new life.

Spring has been a bit of a tease around my home this year. April has been chillier than normal. The grass is turning green. The birds are chirping. The flowers are starting to bloom. But the warm breezes have come and gone. I’d like them to stay.

But even in the chill, I can see the signs of new life. The beauty God created for us to enjoy. Here is some magnificence from my yard.

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This post is part of Magnificence Mondays. Do you have something marvelous to share? A story, a picture, or anything that comes to mind. Write a post or comment below! And more importantly, notice and remember.

Here

Here.

Part of my year of Dance was the idea of being spontaneous, in the moment, fully present. It seems like a fleeting thing, as a mom, to fully live in. this. exact. moment. There are so many thoughts always running through my head. What’s for supper? Who needs to do homework? Where is that missing birth certificate? Why did I say that to so-and-so yesterday? What did the teacher think when I forgot the T-shirt form?

It’s so much easier to rehash the past or worry about the future.

I had a moment of just being here today. My four-year-old asked me to pick her up and dance with her around the kitchen. I was making a grocery list and we needed to keep moving so we could get to the store and to pick up her siblings from school on time. I could have said no.

But, I didn’t. I took the time to be here, and it was well worth my time.

#KitchenDanceParty

#KitchenDanceParty

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5 minute fridayThis post is part of Five Minute Friday, a writing exercise from Lisa-Jo Baker. She posts a writing prompt each Friday and we write for five minutes, and five minutes only. 

Magnificent Weather

We have had the most amazing weather for winter in Iowa! We had a few dustings of snow in December that were gone by the end of the day. Lately, we’ve had temperatures in the 50s and even 60s, which is almost unheard of for this time of year.

Usually — the past few years especially — my kids look like this:

Recently, they’ve been spotted like this:

  

To say we’re not complaining would be an understatement!

And this is what Magnificence Mondays is all about. We must bottle up the beauty of a warm winter day, so that when the snow starts flying we can remember the goodness and bundle up against the cold wind that tries to steal our joy.

 

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This post is part of Magnificence Mondays. Do you have something marvelous to share? A story, a picture, or anything that comes to mind. Write a post or comment below! And more importantly, notice and remember.

Song for a Savior

We are going through the book of Luke during Sunday morning sermons at our church right now. I was really struck by Mary’s response after being told she would carry and deliver the Son of God. While none of us will get the honor of giving birth to the Savior of the world, those of us who are Christians have Christ living in us! Mary’s song can really be our song, too.

Mary’s Song

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

— Luke 1:46-55

Pockets of Joy

I have been amazed with the energy and excitement of my 2-year-old daughter.

If she’s in one part of the house and wants something in another room, she runs to find it as fast as her little legs will carry her.

She’s always asking, “Where we going next?” As though every place we go is a new adventure.

She is very interested in trying new things and doing them by herself. “Me do it!” she says.

She notices the sound of trains, planes and loud trucks.

She sees sparrows in the grocery store parking lot.

She finds bugs outside — and sometimes inside the house.

She proudly shows me how she properly used the potty.

And she gets very excited when her shorts, skirts or pants have pockets. “Oooooooo! Pockets!” she says, as if it’s the most joyful thing to be found.

Thank you, Lord, for little legs, planes, trains, bugs, birds, potties and pockets. And for little children who remind me how blessed I am to have all those little things I often don’t even notice.

Love & War

I remember a conversation with my brother about a friend of his who was from a culture that practices arranged marriages. I remember talking about how we can hardly fathom the idea and how bizarre it seems to us.

Then my brother said, “But the divorce rate there is almost zero.”

My immediate thought was, “Ah, but are they happy?”

And then, I immediately was disappointed in myself for thinking that, because I “know” that marriage is more than “being happy.”

So, what is marriage all about anyway? Why did God design marriage in the first place? I think the book Love & War: Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of, by John and Stasi Eldredge, can answer those questions.

This is not your typical “Seven Steps to a Happy Marriage” book written by an author who shares about the people he/she has counseled to a better marriage. Yes, there are some stories about other couples, but mainly the authors tell their own story  — the lows and highs, the bad and good, the ugly and beautiful — of a real marriage. I mean really sharing about their marriage. [Can you imagine writing a book about your marriage for all the world to read? Yeah, me neither.]

It is their realness and honesty that makes this book so good. I read it and felt normal, because as I read about their story I felt like I was reading my own. And while I related to the frustrations, misunderstandings and just general hardness of marriage, I also had the overwhelming feeling of hope. It’s as if the book says, “Hey, it’s Okay! You are normal! But there is something more. Marriage can be so much more … you can do it!”

But, not just that I can do it alone. And not even that Ben and I can do it in our marriage. But that God can do it when we invite Him into our marriage and into our lives. And isn’t that the message of Jesus? He accepts us as we are and invites us to something better.

Like I said, the book isn’t as much a how-to with a list of suggestions, but a story of how John and Stasi have invited God into their marriage. How they have learned to listen to God. How they’ve learned to love. And how they’ve learned that the “war” is not against each other, but against Satan, the enemy who wants to destroy everything God has called good. And most importantly that God offers us something better when we invite Him into our lives. It can seem like a risk — and it is! — but it is worth it.

And so begins the book: ”

It can be done. And it is worth it. Of all the things a man or woman needs to hear about marriage, this is perhaps the most important of all. It can be done. And it is worth it.” (Introduction, page 7)

The book is worth it, too. I find no coincidence in the fact that I finished reading the book in the week Ben and I celebrated our 10th anniversary! Thank you, God, for the gift of marriage! And thank you for the hope you give us!

My Flip Flap

My brother and sister-in-law recently visited from their current home in China, and they came bearing gifts. Meet my new Flip Flap:

This little solar-powered flower dances back-and-forth in my kitchen window. I tried putting it on my car dash, as is the Chinese custom, but it just rolled around as I turned corners. After hearing stories of Chinese drivers, I’m curious how they keep theirs in place?

Anyway, sometimes it scares me for a second, as I see it moving out of the corner of my eye and wonder what’s in my kitchen. But, mostly I’ve been surprised at the inspiration this little plastic flower has provided.

It’s always dancing.

Even on overcast days, it captures enough light to have the energy to dance.

I don’t think I live that way. I tend to have a bad day and use it as an excuse to be grouchy or lazy or just anti-social.

The truth is I am alive!

I have a God who loves me no matter what! (Romans 8:28-29)

I have an amazing husband, awesome kids and a fabulous family!

I am blessed!

I could go on, but you get the idea. When I focus on the blessings, I am thankful and can rejoice. It just takes a little bit of light to make my flower dance, why don’t I focus on The Light and take some time to dance before Him? (Psalm 27:1; 2 Corinthians 4)

Now, my dancing flower does not dance in complete darkness, and I’m not here to suggest we can always just be happy. There are times in life when it’s very dark. I don’t believe God wants a mechanical response that isn’t heartfelt. He is OK when we are not — just read some of Psalms — we are supposed to grieve. If you are dealing with a tragic situation, this dancing flower analogy is not for you.

But, if you are like me, and sometimes focus on little frustrations instead of huge blessings, remember my Flip Flap.

Who knew I could learn so much from a piece of plastic?