home, and that’s okay.

There isn’t much in my planner that needs to be crossed off at this point. After a couple weeks of frantic canceling, the little white squares just stopped filling up with places to go, and zoom calls took their place. But tonight still says, “Academy Night,” the end of the year spring concert and presentation for our homeschool group. And the next 2+ weeks have a big long arrow through them with large letters that say, “EUROPE!”

I thought that by today, my bedroom would house two carefully packed, correctly sized carry-ons, filled with clothing appropriate for the weather in Paris, Florence, and London. I thought that in two days, we would leave our little clan with my parents and fly away, just Ryan and me, a “real” vacation for the first time in…well, ever. The first “for fun” travel I would ever do. It was too good to be true, and so the glass-half-empty me has to laugh a little. But the grounded in Jesus me smiles and says, it’s okay. My cup overflows. OVERFLOWS.

…and I in you.

Abide in Me, and I in you.

How many times have I read that the last few months, poring over John 15, mining for gold. And each time, it glimmers in a unique way, catching my eye, my breath. “Come, let us reason together,” I hear a whisper say. “Follow Me.”

Something tells me that those few words are like the door at the back of a wardrobe. Dare I step through? How could I not?

I read it again.

And I in you.

My mind scrambles to comprehend, even as the world goes spinning a bit off kilter. Him? Live in me?

“Lose your life in Mine,” the whisper says. “Lay down your nets. Count it all loss. Take up your cross.”

And then?

“Find life. My life. My powerful, pulsing, abundant life pouring into you. Abiding in you.”

Fruit, much fruit. Fruit that remains. Leaves, always green. Never withering, even in drought. A mystery?

Yes, a mystery. An invitation to step through the door, leaving my world behind, finding life that I never could imagine until I experience it. In me.

But leave it all behind? Lose my life?

Suddenly I see “my life,” this treasure I’m so apt to cling to desperately, as a branch laying on the ground. What, exactly, is a branch unless connected to its life-source? A stick. A stick! And I would count that as gain to me?

Be my own branch — my own dead stick — or lose my life in Him, only to have His life pulse through me, working miraculously, producing fruit, becoming a part of Him?

Yes, yes, yes. “Come, let us reason together…” and I nudge that door open, take that first step through into a world I can’t believe I’m invited into.

being present

Saw this today. Thought, YES. A thousand times, YES.

We read a lot about being present. Showing up for our own life. Setting down the phone and looking into someone’s eyes. Pausing the housework for long enough to notice your baby before they’re walking out the door to their first job.

Be present.

Trouble is, we want to be present in a world that isn’t real. We want to show up for a dream life that doesn’t exist.

I want being present to always look like reading a favorite book with a sweet child nestled in my lap. I want it to be taking a walk while we hold hands. I want there to be candles and joyful laughter but quiet when I’m tired. I want us to listen to classical music while we study paintings together and have a deep conversation. Movie nights and board games and make-your-own-pizza in a perpetually clean kitchen.

What it really looks like is putting the laundry down to help with a shoe. Inviting the toddler to pull up a chair even though dinner is already late. Stopping your racing brain to realize your son is telling you about all the nicknames for Japanese fighter jets and it matters to him. Setting a timer for 5 minutes and all chipping into pull the house together, and then sharing a deep sigh and some high fives. And over and over, more times than you can count, it’s not ignoring the tantrum or eye roll or sibling bickering, but pressing in and dealing with it, no matter how much you want to pretend you can’t hear it from the laundry room.

Welcome to the real world. The best part about this world is that it’s the one Jesus came to save, and it’s where His Spirit is moving. He’s not so much into instagram fantasies. But this one — the one with noses that run and math that needs a mom and 4-square that sure could use a fourth man — this one He’s all in for.

life at home: seeing increase

As the world is rocked and shaken by lives lost and fingers pointed and political plays or not-plays, I turn my eyes to the life here at my feet, inside my door, and find myself simply blessed. For weeks now I have been living a very simple life with seven people, most of whom can’t reach the top shelf of dishes, and I couldn’t be happier. This home, this atmosphere, is proving to my soul the goodness and faithfulness of God. He calls us to loosen ground, to fertilize, to plant, to water, to weed, to tend, and we do so as faithfully as we can, stumbling many days, aware of how not expert we are as garden-tenders. But we do it with hearts that are looking to Him to bring the increase. We trust that when He says we will reap, it will happen. We don’t always know when, but we know He is not like man, that He should lie. We trust Him.

And this month, as our wings are seriously trimmed and our lives never extend further than a walk down the road, I am seeing fruit. I’m not just seeing it, I am being fed by it. My soul is nourished by the joy, camaraderie, responsibility, servanthood, kindness, laughter, and just plain old enjoyment all around me. These aren’t things that come naturally to us as humans. They are the result of training and discipleship — both in me and in my children. And thirteen years later, as not only I but also my older children set the tone, I am astounded to see genuine and nourishing fruit.

This isn’t to say life is perfect, and that we aren’t continuing every day to water, weed, prune, and stake. We are. We must choose Jesus moment by moment, and sometimes we need a lot of help to get there. But I am saying, Fellow Parents!! Stay the course! Invest by faith! Man your post and allow your weakness to not be an excuse but an invitation for the strength of God! Stay humble and learn! We’ve been commissioned to make disciples, and He will equip us and bring us success.

There are seasons of toil and work and nothing to show for it. But – but! There is that cold spring day when snow has barely cleared the ground, and suddenly you spy with your little eye the faintest trace of pink, pushing through the ground — signs of life! It’s coming! Maybe your garden isn’t producing fruit quite yet, but oh, those leaf buds are so exciting. Notice them. Give thanks for them! And put your gloves on and stay in the game. Sow the Word, invest your life.

And put your trust in Jesus. He will not forsake us.

a culture of celebration

One of the words that Ryan recently used to describe our home culture was celebration. He laughed a bit and looked pointedly at my mom, who can turn anything into a celebration. (I will never forget, when I was around 5 years old, one particular “bedroom blitz” when, at the end of our 15 minutes, we were rewarded with ice cream served in little dishes right at our play kitchen table. I felt very celebrated!)

A culture of celebration is different than just throwing parties because parties are fun. Celebrating requires an object of celebration, and it confers value upon that object — whether it be the value of a person on their birthday, the completion of 13 years of school, or 15 minutes of hard and productive work.

Celebration is part of our home culture, but not just because I love to make my life complicated. Ha! No, celebration is a culture we learn from observing the Heavenly Kingdom. Reading the Old Testament makes clear that God understands the connection between celebration and value. Studying the glimpses we have of heaven reveals that celebration will go on forever!

And so we celebrate as a way to, with time and energy and creativity, point out what’s important.

Celebrations can be ever so simple. They need not require much money. But all celebrations require a bit of sacrifice, because that time and energy and creativity has to come from somewhere, and chances are, you don’t have any of those things lying around in excess. There are some seasons when I have had more of those things to give than others. New babies, fledgling businesses, and sickness all come to mind. There have been times when the weight of life — incredible grief and heaviness of soul — have tempted me to skip the traditions of rejoicing. But those are the times when a culture of celebration bolsters. Celebrating isn’t just having a party; it’s reminding others as well as our own souls of what matters most. (Does grief matter most? Disappointment?) The celebration might be smaller when life is demanding, more creative when managed by a mother in bed with illness or a baby, but it can still exist. It might take unusual twists and turns when we’re, say, sheltering in place, but sometimes those become our most memorable celebrations! No matter the method, our souls need to remember what we’re valuing.

So this week we’ve been celebrating (because really, all the preparations for the celebration are part of it!) We’ve paused the usual school routines and made room for sending cards, making foods, prepping clothes, and special moments as a family. More than any other celebration, this week deserves every communication we can offer of its worth. Jesus, crucified, resurrected, and forever victorious. The Holy Spirit, poured out on us. The Father, inviting us into His presence with arms wide open. This is everything, and so we celebrate.