Tag: faith

they believe

she asks me again today, out of nowhere, for the eleventy-seventh time in eight months.

Mommy, when are you going to find me a new dance class?

I found her one. I found it before we even moved here. And I emailed the teacher over the summer, though I never got a response. then more life happened, and part of the foundation fell out, and dance class, so close to the top of Priorities For Them in my heart, fell way down on a list that included rent, tuition, groceries, hopefully not falling farther behind on that sponsorship, maybe eventually finding a second car…

I can only pride myself in the thought that they don’t know. I have carefully concealed my turmoil, worries, tears, depression, best case scenarios, worst case scenarios, don’t want to get out of bed scenarios away from them. They go to school each day. They eat dinner each night. They have books and games and each other. They bake and paint and make music. They love trips to the beach and church and Sunday lunch. They have our laps and arms and bedtime prayers. They have phone calls to grandparents, siblings, and buddies.

They believe Jesus heals their special friends’ cancer and their coughs and skinned knees.

They believe that every day will begin and end the same, with a home, a family, and the security of life as they know it, even if what they know often changes.

They believe we will someday have a new puppy, a minivan, and maybe even a baby brother.

They believe in dance classes and a a theater with magic and oldies and gospel music.

and I pray: help my unbelief.

~

(written january 21, 2012; feeling less bleak these days)

a new life Verse

For, oh, 16 years now, “my” verse has been:

“Behold, I will do a new thing. Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19

My youth pastor read this to me when I was 19, almost 20, and floundering in every aspect of my life. For years, it stayed with me…as I discovered newness in myself, the newness of God’s grace, and actual new life. It was a license plate on my car, read at our wedding, a theme for our children’s births, and of course, perfectly fitting for our move to South Carolina.

But last week, quite unexpectedly, a friend gave me a verse that won’t leave my psyche. There is so much good stuff in God’s word, but for some reason, this Word seems not only to fit where I am now but what I want to take forward with me out of this (disastrous? desolate? confusing? all the above and also necessary) season.

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-9

When I spoke to my friend, I was coming toward the end of a low week. I lamented to her in big honesty that one of the things bugging me right now is that I don’t have the capacity to give that I used to have, planned to have, want to have. Another thing is that quite in contrast, people are giving to me. I’m not ungrateful, but I am uncomfortable.

D ministered to me in the way she has…with her personal experience, her knowledge of God’s word, and her deep desire to help families focus on Christ and Biblical principals. She spoke simple truths to me, such as No matter whether your bills are paid because of a paycheck or because of a gift, God is your provider.

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She read to me from 2 Corinthians 9. And I have to reiterate how much verse 9 is stuck on me:
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Whether it is a season of abundance, a season of getting by, a season of lack, may I always, always, always believe that I will have enough for my family and enough to share. The “what” we have enough of might change. It might be resources. It might be space. It might be the bulk beef in the freezer. It might be encouragement. It might be love. But if He is continually giving to our need, it is ours to share.

Dear God, let me receive and share out of my faith in YOUR HAND. Amen.

cold, wet, solid

I often joke with people that “I do my best work on Facebook.” Well, I say it jokingly, but it isn’t really in jest. FB, while possessing all the trappings for drama and discord, is a beautiful tool for communication, outreach, and creativity when used with careful intention and thought. Today, I posted something that I wanted to ensure I inscribed in a more permanent web presence.

It had been about a month since I spent some quality time with my friend.

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There is really no one else there right now… a few stray morning walkers with dogs, Bluetooths, or each other, bundled up against what Carolinians consider cold (and what my inner Chicagoan considers ‘early spring’).

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This morning, I wore jeans, a t-shirt, a jacket, and easily removable shoes with no socks. I had a plan to reconnect, not just with the beach, its smells and feel and sound, but with myself.

Last week found me buried deep in a place of little hope and big fear. Friends who spoke words of life and the promises of God’s Word helped me claw out. I went to the beach to seal the deal.

As I have said somewhat exhaustively, there I can SEE Him. I can see with my own eyes, without strain, how big my God is, how small I and my world and its associated challenges are.

There were many birds there… not the skittish sparrows who jump when they see movement, but the sturdier seagulls. They don’t mind sharing their space.

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…but I am careful not to crowd them, because I don’t really want people sharing my beach time.

I spent about 30 minutes there, mostly listening to music, but always the last few minutes listening to the waves. It’s not even hard to get regrounded in this place.

This is what I wrote afterwards:

There’s this section of beach between the saturated shore and the dry sand that is just wet enough to be solid. It’s a little cold, but totally worth it. {Today’s obvious ocean metaphor brought to you by my freezing feet & warmed soul}

Perhaps at some point I will get tired of using the ocean as the parallel for my life, for its change and adventure. I don’t see that happening soon, though. If you grow tired of reading it, I understand. But I think we all have – or should have – one place where it is easier to think, pray, dream, and breathe.

I’m so thankful for my place, and the promises it brings to mind~

The Lord’s home reaches up to the heavens, while its foundation is on the earth. He draws up water from the oceans and pours it down as rain on the land. The Lord is his name! Amos 9:6 NLT

I thought I knew the story

Half a year of Chicagolina.
We are commemorating 6 months this weekend. It has been six months since we said goodbye to the only home that KK, Miranda, and I have ever known, the home where our family was created, and left for our new life.

I’ve told this story so many times, but I’ve never written it, and now that I am, it looks so much different than it did before. Here goes:

The introductory facts:
– On August 5, 2009, just weeks after the first Branson Gospel Music Revival, Rod was ‘severanced out’ of his full time job. We were given a financially secure opportunity to pursue full time ministry, though we were a little unsure what it would look like. We thought it would involve more events like BGMR, growing BGMR, starting a record label, growing a publication, and growing Rod’s solo career and the group he was getting ready to tour with. We thought we’d move to Branson, MO or Nashville, TN, and took a few months to decide.

– On May 1, 2010, Rod and I put our house in Homewood, IL up for sale. We had decided Nashville was the place. A few weeks later, Rod left the group he was singing with. BGMR had a great year, but not one quite how we expected.

– By the end of the year, we’d had many people look at our house, but no offers. We were still pursuing all the other avenues, but we were also both applying for more conventional jobs in order to support our family. I had resigned myself to the idea that maybe it wasn’t time to move yet. Chicago had one of the worst housing markets in the country, and I was pretty comfortable in our church and the lovely circle of friends and homeschool buddies we had.

The signs
During December of 2010, Rod was put back in touch with a man whose company we had worked for in the late 90s. In fact, it was the company that had brought Rod from Ohio to Chicago. Glenn was opening a theater in Myrtle Beach and thought it would be fun to have Rod sing there some time. They talked a bit more and decided we should get together for lunch and catch up.

20111118-111850.jpg On the night of December 29, I finished reading the novel Fly Away Home by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner. Her books always involve some kind of coming together at The Beach. The Beach is almost like a character in her stories. It offers her other characters a place to commune, find sanctuary, find themselves.

I grew up in the Midwest, and while we weren’t far from Lake Michigan, I didn’t belong to a beach-going family. So while I had some fond memories of the beach – a few lake outings with my cousins when I was a kid, our honeymoon in Hawaii, and our first family-of-5 vacation (to Myrtle Beach) in 2007, I had never cared much about it one way or the other.

But as I closed the book that night – the night before we were having lunch with Glenn – I had a big warm fuzzy about The Beach. The story of Fly Away Home is a bittersweet one, involving failed and reconciled relationships. I enjoyed reading it, and my favorite parts were those describing the solace and home that the main character, the matriarch, found at an old family beach house.

So I closed the book, on a night in the midst of one of the worst winters I can remember, looked at my husband, and said these words:

Why are we moving to Nashville?…It’s just as cold there as it is here. But when it snows there, everything shuts down. We’d be trapped in the house half the winter. Why can’t WE move to The Beach?

Rod kind of laughed, as he does at half the off-the-cuff things I say. And we went to sleep under our down comforter.

The next day, we had lunch with Glenn. Turned out that in the 10ish years since we’d known him, his life had changed even more than ours had. (That’s his story to tell). We hadn’t known anything about where he’d been nor did he about us. But Rod and I drove away from that lunch with a sense of bewildering wonder –

We knew we were going to Myrtle Beach to run that theater.

It wasn’t exactly a roll downhill from there. Glenn was still working out the road to get there. For a few months, every time Rod’s cell rang, I was jumping out of my skin, sometimes actually calling out, Is this the call, Lord? It wasn’t that I was in a hurry to leave my home and my loved ones, but I was anxious to get to what’s next. I know God creates holding patterns for us as well as seasons of much business, but as the weeks went on, I was quickened. I was sick of being stagnant. And so, when the call came toward the end of April, we were ready. Our house was rented out. Our peace was made. And by May 20, we were here.

End of story, right?
Of course not. I’m not even sure that was the beginning of the story. The script has gone off in places that this lover and student of stories never saw coming. And it’s not a choose-your-own-adventure kind of tale. Nope. Rod and I are being led, taught, directed. The Burtons Who Kick Down The Doors, the people some of you applauded for starting a new thing, have been told to be still, shut up, listen, wait.

We struggle with it. Daily.

(And if you are trying to read between the lines, it’s still the same stuff…we are still employed by the theater, but it’s not opening in the timeframe we expected, and living through that is unstable and tough in a myriad of ways).

That said… we are happy. We are happy in our souls, because all this sunshine and fresh air and saltwater makes us (especially me, we agree) feel alive in ways we never have before. Our kids are growing, are content, are settled. We are grateful, because we haven’t replaced the relationships we left behind; they have continued. We have started new ones, though, and they have been our anchors through some dark days. And we are healthy. Rod’s overall health is better. Kaity’s asthma has barely been a blip. Randa is less of a couch potato. I finally seem to have found the motivation to get fit. Being here is good for us

even though it’s not easy
or simple
or what we thought.
even though we don’t know what’s next.
even though we don’t know all the WHYs yet
even though it’s hard for me to talk about, so sometimes I don’t return the calls (I’m sorry)
even though,
even so…

I thought closing the cover of that novel on the eve of beginning our new chapter was a great story.

Turns out it’s not a story at all… it’s just a sign or wonder on the way to figuring out what our story is.

I know when my story is nearing its conclusion, I will likely look back at this itty-bitty chapter as pivotal, but small…difficult, but nurturing. So I’m going to get a head start being grateful for it.

Happy Six Months to the Chicagolina Burtons.

~
Reminder: You have until midnight tomorrow, Monday, 11/21, to go here and tell me what you are ‘ever grateful’ for, for a chance to win a $20 gift from DaySpring!

gotta start somewhere

My mojo is missing.

Part of it is returning from a lovely, jam-packed, long-weekend trip to Chicago, one that included three birthday celebrations, 2 lunch dates, 2 girls’ nights in, visit to church, and successfully navigating a Monday morning flight out of O’Hare with the girls.

Aren’t you tired just reading that?

Part of it is some stalling and uncertainty in my job. Part of it is rain, here in our Carolina paradise where it happens so rarely, especially for several days straight. Part of it is my physical state; be it from allergies or something else, my eyes are all dry and burning for the third day running, and be it from nerves or something else, my stomach doesn’t seem to like anything I eat or if I eat nothing at all.

And after kvetching about it for two years…and after looking through Mom’s photo album of me and baby Randa, after I lost some baby weight and before I was pregnant with KK ( a period that lasted about 4 minutes).. I am convinced I need to Take Off The Pounds.

Because I am sick of buying clothes based on how forgiving they are.
I am sick of placing something strategically in front of my waist for pictures.
I am sick of explaining that I am not pregnant, it’s just leftovers.
and I am sick of being a young person in the prime of my life who has never been less in shape.

and yet, today, my motivation to do anything about anything lags.

I am using a few simple tools in my arsenal to get me through, until my inner ‘Eye of the Tiger’ returns~

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– one good cup of coffee
– one hot bowl of oatmeal
– My Fitness Pal, to track every calorie I ingest. It is much easier to use on my iPhone than it was on that darn Droid.
– a bottle job hair sprucing.
– fall decorations
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– promises set to song, like this one:

You make Your mercy new every day.
You changed my life in so many ways.
You cradle me in Your sweet grace.
You fill me.
Yesterday, today, forevermore.
There’s one thing I know for sure…
Fresh as the morning dew, You make Your mercy new.

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I have to start somewhere. I choose to begin improving circumstances i can, even when I don’t feel like it. Standing atop a foundation of grace is a real fine place to start.