Soul Amnesia and The Parable of the Sower

I used to think that once I wrote something here it was a lesson learned.

After two years of writing I’ve come to realize that anything I create exists to remind me of things I’ll be forever learning.

Today I’m returning to my first post of 2014:

It’s early in the afternoon and I’ve buckled my girls into their car seats to go on a drive.
After closing the rear door and before opening my own, I pause for a moment.
I rub my eyes until little sparkles dance behind my eyelids.

Do you ever feel tangled and trapped in your own life too?

I slide into my seat and before I’ve clicked my seatbelt there is a request from a tiny voice:
“Can we have windows down and music up loud?”
I look in the rearview mirror and see them swinging their skinny legs and I nod.

It’s God’s grace that the girls think these mid-afternoon drives are for them
and I’ll never tell that they are really for me.
for when I get all upset and start sighing over nothing
for when I start muttering and stomping up and down the hall
for when I’ve completely lost sight of who I am and what I am doing
We drive down the 210 east and exit at the base of the foothills.
I make a left and we take the side streets home.
The windows are down and as we stop at a red light in front of the colleges, I smell them.
Climbing over the crumbling wall, the white roses tangle and spill their fragrant all over the sidewalk and into the street.

It’s a mess of beauty.

The girls smell them too and ask to pull over and pick one.
And because I want to say yes as often as I can, I turn the car around and park at the curb.
Hannah scoops the fallen petals from the sidewalk.
Adella scouts out the perfect rose to pick.
I stand watching aphids crawl over the tiny green thorns covering the stems.
Adella chooses her rose as well as a rose for Hannah, who is sitting on the sidewalk with her petal pile.
Using my keys and my fingers, I awkwardly saw off the chosen blooms and scrape away the thorns.
As I peel them off I poke myself repeatedly and The Parable of the Sower comes to mind…

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all artwork credit: GodInspires.me

In Bible Study Fellowship we have been studying Matthew 13 over the Christmas break and
Jesus’ explanation of the parable has been bouncing around in my brain for the past two weeks:

“Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart.
This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.

The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

The seed cast in the thorns is the person who hears the kingdom news, but thorns of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard,
and nothing comes of it.

The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News,
and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”

Matthew 13:18-23

I’m confident that my heart is the “good earth”.
It has heard the Good News, taken it in and longs to be a place where God can create a harvest beyond my wildest dreams.
But I can’t deny that I feel thorns and while they are not big enough to choke me out, they hurt.
…and I know I’m not the only one getting pricked, scraped and slowed down…

Adam and Eve toiled in thorns as they worked the land after being removed for the Garden.
The Israelites suffered with “thorny” people they should have removed from their lives.

Paul struggled with the metaphorical thorn in his flesh that be begged God to remove.

…and I stomp and sigh and ask for the thorns of worry and wanting to be removed from me…

Then it occurs to me as I merge back into traffic:
God already has dealt with all of the thorns.
He removed them when He removed our debt at the cross.
He used the hands of fallen man to place them on the head of Jesus.

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and I can’t get the thought out of my head that it was not accidental that the thorns woven throughout the Bible
were woven into a crown for our Savior as he destroyed sin.

and I can’t get the feeling out of my heart that this will be my theme in the new year:
when I find myself toiling in the thorny patches of my heart I will pluck them out,
weave them into a crown and place it at the feet of the One who wore them for me

It will be my song in 2014
…the melody of freedom in Christ…
…the harmony of plucking, weaving and letting go…


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Belong

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dear man at the park,

I am so sorry my daughter asked you if you were “dame-gerous”.

please understand that it had nothing to do with you.

I have been talking to her a lot lately about the feeling inside that tells us something isn’t right.

I have been telling her to trust that feeling because it belongs in us.

I think she was working all of that out inside her little heart and saw you, felt something and wondered if you were safe.

Even though we shared an awkward moment I know teaching her to own that feeling of warning is worth anything uncomfortable for you and me.

you see, there were times that I thought the feelings of warning didn’t belong in me and I made them be quiet.

But I learned (the hard way) that they do and so I’m teaching my precious girls to let those feeling belong in them.

so thank you for the kind smile.

thank you for being so understanding.


Today I’m joining with Lisa-Jo and a bunch of my friends for Five Minute Friday.
We are spending five whole, free and unedited minutes writing about the word belong.
If you are interested you can read their wonderful words by clicking here.

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When The Popsicles Melt

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it is over a hundred degrees outside and her popsicle is distengrating

the tiny ice crystals snap and break and travel down, rolling between her fingers and under her elbow, they leap to her knee and trickle slowly down her leg and into her shoe as she pushes the creaky pedal around and around riding happily home paying no mind to the stickiness

we stop in the shade for a rest and I sit on the sidewalk and watch her slurp and play with the tassels on her tricycle and I’m filled with a prayer that pounds out of my heart: I will rejoice over the sweet things in life even when they melt and drip and slip through my fingers.

soon it will be school and homework and uniforms and work and dinners on time so baths and bed can be on time so waking for tomorrow can be on time and I’ll think back to these sweet days and I’ll wish this one back – when it was one hundred degrees and her popsicle was disintegrating.

 


Hi friends!  I am slowing down my posting for the month of July while I spend time in quiet and in the Word, plan for this next year, start some new writing projects and spend time focusing on my not-virtual world.  I’ll still be here but just a little less active.  Thank you for your support and your grace.

Empowering Women in Worship with Ashely Beckford

It is with great joy that I introduce to you my friend and most favorite worship leader Ashley Beckford.

Ashley is a full-time worship leader at my home church, Christ’s Church of the Valley in Southern California.

Her heart is to point people to God and His word through music and I love worshipping with her every single week.

About a month ago Ashley launched a project titled Empowering Women in Worship with the goal being to equip the next generation of female worship leaders to lead from what Ashley calls their sweet spot.

 I watched a video about her project that detailed why women worship leaders need unique support and what Ashley desires to provide through Empowering Women in Worship.

I was so moved by the video and Ashley’s heart that I have to share it with you:

I’m convinced that God is already using Ashley  and that He will continue to use her because she remains willing to venture out in His name.  My prayer is for Ashley to secure the funding she needs to create an album that will be a blessing to other female worship leaders and the congregations they serve.  If you are interested in supporting Ashley you can get more information and donate by clicking on this link.  You can also connect with Ashley on Facebook, InstagramTwitter and at her website www.AshleyBeckfordMusic.com.

 


 

 

 

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Ashley has been leading worship since 2006 and has been on staff at Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) in San Dimas, CA, since 2009. Finding inspiration in the truth and power of the Word of God, Ashley attempts to craft original worship songs accessible to both individuals and congregations alike. Her goal is to point people to God and His Word through passionate and refreshing music. In February 2013, she released her first solo worship album, Heart After You, and recently released a new single titled, “Light of the World”. Ashley has also been a part of several original worship recording projects with her church’s songwriting community, Valley Worship.

 

 

In The Tile

photo-5I’ve taken my girls into this bathroom since my oldest slept in her car seat on the floor.

I’ve changed diapers in this bathroom.

I’ve fed babies in this bathroom.

I’ve wiped spit up out of my hair in this bathroom.

I have hovered little bottoms over the toilet in this bathroom.

I have laid out the seat covers and unrolled toilet tissue, splashed water on soapy hands and distributed hundreds of paper towels in this bathroom.

I don’t know why but tonight as I helped my little people navigate this bathroom the reality of them growing from babies to toddlers to preschoolers to these two little amazing people just clobbered me.

I thought of all those people who stopped me when my girls were tiny and told me that the days of babies wouldn’t last forever.  I thought about how much I hated hearing those those words because those days felt like one long, exhausting blur and I didn’t believe that I would ever adjust to being a momma.

But, tonight I stand looking at the tile in this bathroom as my girls put out their own seat covers and wipe their own bottoms and lather up their own little hands and I wish the smallest wish for another moment with my girls as babies.

 

We Stop

 

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I want my girls to be the ones who stop.

The ones who pull the car over on the side of the road to take a look at a field of flowers or a nightstand at a yardsale or into a box of kittens that are being given away.

The ones who look up from their work to appreciate the way the sunlight streams onto the carpet or the shape of the clouds when they look scratched into the sunset.

I want them to be the ones really see people.

I want them to be the ones who are not to busy to savor a moment.

but the only way to teach them to stop is to stop.

so we stop at the display and we sit on the tile and people zip their carts past us while we look at the toys.  and I take a breath and sush the voice inside that tells me to rush because the most important thing I can do today is stop.

Momma In The Margin

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my most humbling moments have happened in the grocery store.

I’m guessing every momma can relate.

…like the time I forgot to buy milk and took my overly-tired girls to store when they should have been in bed.  and they wanted the pink race car cart instead of the red fire engine cart and they wanted to choose a little stuffed animal from the stand by the door and they wanted to by apples and donuts and popsicles and by the time we made it back to the milk they were completely melting down.  they wailed and I clenched my jaw tight and put the milk in my cart.  critical ugly thoughts pierced me like fiery arrows as I made my way to the check out line…us mommas are hardest on ourselves, aren’t we?  after waiting behind two people it was our turn to pay and I realized I had left my wallet in the car.  Before I could even explain and apologize the college age guy behind me handed the checker a five dollar bill.  He wasn’t judgy or irritated.  He just paid and smiled and I was so horribly embarrassed I’m not even sure I thanked him.  I just grabbed my milk and my screeching children and walked out in tears.

nothing has humbled me quite like motherhood.

but I’m seeing a priceless beauty in those moments that strip me down to my weakness because when I am made aware of my glaring inadequacies I am able to see God fill the margin between the momma I am and the momma my girls need.

 

Remembering The Margins

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two years ago I asked Adella if she knew who was in this picture.
she replied, “Bert!”
it was poignant because when I looked in the margins of this photo and found

a stack of JC Penny catalogs,

a white cup and saucer with the familiar blue pattern along the edges,

a sliding glass door that was always blocked with oversized rocking chairs,

his black-banded wrist watch with the shining silver hands ticking ticking ticking,

and the used brick hearth

I saw more of myself than I ever would have seen if I looked directly at that little girl in her Papa’s lap.

Five Minute Friday: CLOSE

 

She holds my hand and wiggles her feet deep into the sand before kicking it into the air.

I close my eyes and feel the tiny grains rain down into my hair and I don’t care because in this moment the sun bursts through the clouds and the ocean bubbles over our toes and she is the absolute embodiment of everything perfect and beautiful.

 I’m reminded that I will gladly take a little grit if it means being with her because when she thinks back to her childhood I want her to remember me being thisclose.

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Click on this link to learn more about LisaJo and the Five Minute Friday community.