Yesterday, I got a package in the mail from a friend I met through this blog. We’ve chatted a few times in person and now I put a face and voice to the comments she leaves on my blog posts. There are literally hundreds of connections that have been made through this space. Spilling words and stories for the last 4 years, I’ve made some heart-deep friendships.
In some ways it seems like I’ve done this forever and in other ways, I’d have thought I’d know more, been further, had my book written, had something cohesive to say. I pictured this all turning out different. But blogging has been one long undoing. A redirection of sorts, this way and that. Writing sifts the soul in ways I never imagined.
It’s revelatory to write out your guts and see them on the page and it’s only human to question their worth, their impact. Blogging can make you feel irrelevant and silly real quick because there’s no shortage of good stuff out there. And when you show up and say the same thing again and again, you can wonder why you’re doing it at all. Didn’t someone else say it first or better? I ran across this good word my friend Deidra posted when she was facing the same questions as she worked on her second book.
“We as believers must see there is no one save Satan who stills our fingers over a keyboard when we, with fear and trembling, begin to write our ‘human attestation’ to the role of grace in our lives.” (Bret Lott, Letters & Life)
I read that and felt inspired again. What more do I have to offer than my ‘human attestation’ of grace? And maybe it’s redundant to some but it’s the only story I have to tell. Of course I had to look up Letters and Life and add it to my wish list on Amazon because that line is brilliant and it makes me want to read more. And then the weeks went on and I forgot I believed that because there were some really rough patches and my stilled fingers couldn’t seem to make it to the keys and I know for certain that I can’t keep pace with the blogs that crank out content ceaselessly. And every time I start writing again, I get sick or hospitalized or life just generally kicks me in the teeth and I feel like I’m starting over again and again and getting nowhere at all.
God is in the process but sometimes the dark comes restful and still and filters out stars and status updates and the words go silent for a bit and the night is so thick and cool against my skin. The world gets real quiet without the internet and I wonder if I will ever make my way back to writing online again. Or if I even want to. Sometimes I’d rather be silent and stare at the wide open spaces.
But here is another truth I can’t get away from. The awe and wonder that come from silencing things and just taking it all in isn’t complete until it’s shared. Not in the oversaturated way we do when we’re connected 24-7, but in the nudge of the person next to you to say, did you see that? Wasn’t it glorious!
The nature of praise is proclamation. It’s meant to be shared. It’s directional, we use it to navigate our way back to the heart of God. We wander so easily, after all. We are always shuffling back to the place where we see anew, blinking our eyes like newborns and the haze clears and we see God in our midst. We see God come down, with us, in the broken moments and the beautiful ones. In the ordinary and miraculous, God is present.
I have a lot to point to when I think about what God does. Even still. In the midst of anxiety, depression, sorrow, life in general, it is a resounding truth that God is good. If I summed up my testimony in 3 words these would be them. If I told you my life story, you might wonder how I came to know this so well. You might say I was deluded to believe in a good God when suffering has always been so near. If you didn’t know this truth of God’s goodness yourself, you might question how I could come to this conclusion without lying to myself.
Sometimes this blog is that conversation. It’s the space to say, did you see that? Are you paying attention? Because God’s glory is everywhere and it’s too much to take in and hold quiet. Even when I hurt, He is near. Even when I don’t understand, He knows. Even when I am scared or alone or doubting, He has come.
It’s the space to say, even still, God is good. Are you listening to God’s lovesong? The chords are strung everywhere. I hope you hear them here when you read my blog. I’ve started hasthagging my Instagram pictures with #livewithwonder. It’s been a reminder to me to hear those notes.
A wonder-filled life is simply admitting that we’re looking and paying attention.
We’re noticing and acknowledging that we are loved through strong tea and warm mugs, crackling fireplaces, and beautiful sunsets. We are loved by warm hands laid on broken bodies, faithful tongues gathered in prayer, and the strum of messy chords on a battered guitar. We are loved by a perfect red lipstick, children’s laughter, a warm meal shared. We are loved by buds blooming in the spring, poking their lids up from winter’s slumber. We are loved by brilliant words and good stories, and the musty splendor of an old book. We are loved by the casserole bringers, by the lady in line who smiles in solidarity and lets you go first when your kids are shrieking. We are loved by kind eyes and me too’s. We are loved by the slant of the old roof, the architecture, and the brick walls embraced by creeping vine on the walk home. We are loved by the squish of our boots in the first snowfall. We are loved by the sway of our limbs and swish of our hips when that song comes on.
We are loved by the ways we love. The things we love. We are loved by the way we take notice when our souls feel alive, and the way we remember or are reminded when our souls don’t.
We are loved by the whisper of community that promises that you belong and when you feel as if you don’t, you are loved by the promise that you’re not part of a clique but a body. One that’s lived an eternity and made space for us just as we are. One that loved us until death and beyond to love us back to life.
We are heartsick for wholeness. And there is only one who fills the emptiness, but he does it in a thousand different ways. He loves us in a million different moments and they can look different to every single person. Are we listening?
I’m not made for busy. Truthfully, none of us are. The soul strains with hustle but sometimes it feels it can’t be helped. Ask any mama with small ones when the last time she ate a hot meal or took a long steaming shower and stood under the cascade of water and just breathed real deep for a second. Ask anyone suffering from anxiety or despair how easy it is so recall God’s goodness when your mind is sludge or racing so fast you can’t capture a clear thought. Ask anyone drowning in resolutions how easy it is to let the chore of life and the litany of must dos go.
Ask anyone in a hard season how easy it is to wonder at the goodness of God. I’ve wondered if He could really be good for so many years. I had loads of proof that He might not be. I had a case to indict God, to say He couldn’t possibly love me or be good when so much bad had happened, kept happening. Watch the news and tell me God is good, I’d say.
This past year I spent a lot of time questioning if I wanted to continue writing. Maybe the past years were a season of writing and that season had come to a close.
It’s no secret that I’m rubbish at multitasking. And I have a lot of tasks. Mothering well, loving strong, living day-to-day in my actual life is no small thing. These are not small additions but the better part I choose. So this year when I considered quitting the blog to be more faithful to the things I know I’m called to do, I really struggled with answers.
The allure of being a successful blogger sailed years ago. I’m content with small. I’m content with personal and close and knowing my readers by face, name, and often story. But still, it costs to write. It’s time and energy and pouring out. I’m not always good at making space for it in my life when there are so many other demands and sometimes it feels frivolous or irrelevant to blog but my family has reminded me that it’s ok to take the time.
It’s ok to say it’s necessary and right to do what you love. It’s a way we are loved. It’s good to love something and commit to it because the enjoyment of it, the praise in it, points back to God.
There is no divide between secular and sacred. Do the things you love, do them well.
Enjoying God is the strongest proof that the gospel is real and enough.
So cook that gourmet meal, paint that picture, sing that song at the top of your lungs. Write poems on the backs of receipts and scraps of paper with your to-do list. Play in the snow and make angels with your arms spread wide like worship. Run till your heart pounds in your ears. Each fresh peaches and burn the good candles on a weeknight. Decorate your house with pops of color and wear flowers in your hair. Master the perfect smoky eye or laugh until you cry and it’s all messed up. Go barefoot on the beach or in your garden or the cold hard floor. Let your feet feel the ground beneath you and know you are planted deep, loved by a good God, standing again today by grace. Take notice.
I knew that in the past year of illness and bed rest and hospitals and so many tears, God was solidifying my resolve to see His goodness. To understand it in a way that isn’t shattered by circumstances. To know that the Joy of the Lord is my strength.
So this year my one word is Enjoy.
I want to live with wonder. I want to tune in to the lovesong God’s been singing to me all my days. I want to enjoy God in a million different ways starting with writing, the thing I do and feel His great pleasure.
So I’m resurrecting this space, not to be busy, but to be present. To make space to say, did you see that? Isn’t God good? Even still.