Wednesday, May 16, 2012

draw near

Intimacy: closeness of observation, or knowledge of a subject; detailed, familiar with, involving very close connection; personal.

I've been craving intimacy with God lately.  It's one thing to chat with Him on and off throughout the course of the day, and it's another to give Him the firstfruits of your day, earnestly seeking Him first  (Matthew 6:33) before the demands of the day and life rush in.  There's a filling and a peace that happens in those intimate morning moments.
I've learned to love them.
Depend on them.
Cherish them.
Pursue them.
(and miss them).

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."
Psalm 90:14

Prior to Brayden's hospitalizations and medical issues, 
and before pulling the kids out of public school to homeschool them,  
I was thick in the middle of a Bible study, 
and mornings like this with God were daily. 
That, and hitting the gym a few times a week.
There was a balance in the physical and spiritual.
Healthy life-giving habits.

With all of the sudden life changes that were thrown upon us,
I have been craving routine as well.
As we struggle to embrace these changes and wriggle ourselves into a new seat of normal, it's put many of my old habits and "taking care of me" things on the backburner a bit
(like exercise and my morning quiet time with the Lord).

And it is showing.

I've noticed I have been growing more and more impatient with the kids,
and my joy is being squelched a bit too quickly.
Last week I had to give myself timeouts 2 days in a row.
Yep. Locked myself in my bedroom and refused to answer any knocks by anyone whose age was still in the single-digits.
Just folded laundry for a few minutes while I regained my composure.
Don't get me wrong, things have been going well, but with the demands of this new lifestyle, I am finding less and less time for things regarding "me," and I know it's time to find a way to incorporate them back into my lifestyle, even if they'll "look" different than they did before.

Another adjustment has been with this new curriculum, there is much more individualized teaching, and since Brayden and Brooke are at different levels of learning, I am trying to spend a good portion of my time teaching one on one with a loud, distracting, needy toddler at my feet.  My expectations and visions of sitting at my corner desk with my pupils simultaneously on each side of me is quickly fading.  It wasn't much as I wanted it to.  In fact, completing school for the day before lunch time is also a reality that is not going to happen either.  Realistically, I need to teach the kids some of their lessons while Berlyn is napping and there is absolutely no 2 year old distractions.  So, we are adjusting our expectations and trying to find a routine with this all (still!)  

I've also found that it is easier to have one of the kids play with and watch Berlyn (out of the classroom completely) while I work with the other, and then we do a "switch."  So, the only time I actually have them in the classroom with me together is when she is napping.  These were not my initial wishes, and fell short of my original expectations for homeschooling.  Things also aren't as structured as I had imagined, but we are finding a way to make this work considering all of the circumstances.  I'm learning to like it, and I think a routine is on the horizon.  In addition, the kids (and myself) are getting more and more acquainted with this curriculum and what is expected each day.  With that, things are going much more smoothly.

Routine is getting ready to bloom here...finally.

And because of this, I'm finding that my old healthy habits of regular exercise and intentional, isolated time alone with God need to become priority again.
These things are life-giving to me...
deprived for too long and I grow weary and unhappy.   
Now that the dust has settled a bit on this new lifestyle,
I'm looking to do just this. Carving them out and making them once again a priority. It makes me a much better (and more centered) wife and mother.

So, yesterday morning I woke up early to satisfy my hunger for God...
desiring His presence and the filling that only He can give.
I thought of that verse:
"Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you." 
James 4:8
So, I decided I would do just that.
And it was just what I needed.

I haven't been able to take the classes I've grown to love at the gym, and my exercising habits have suffered, so I'm trying to incorporate this back into my life from a different angle.
So, after my quiet time with the Lord, I put on my running gear, grabbed my ipod, and headed outside for a short 25 minute jog (before Darcy had to leave for work).  This was such a great way to start my day, and I felt refreshed and renewed in body and spirit.

When I arrived home after my jog, I trotted up the path to our front door and couldn't believe what laid before me.  My all-time favorite flower is the peony.  I grew up with white peony bushes framing the back porch of our old farm house.  Each home Darcy and I have owned, we have planted peony bushes (but unfortunately, have had to move before enjoying them in full bloom).  We moved into this house last September.  I hadn't a clue what plants and flowers were in store to bloom around us.  My heart was clapping when I took notice of these peony bushes right off of our front porch.  Not planted by myself or my husband, yet we will be here to reap their full and fragrant bloom.  

The fact that they are here to enjoy is a blessing, but the discovery of them yesterday was not coincidence.  I've been outside every day with my kids and hadn't noticed them until after my morning jog yesterday.  They were overlooked because I was yet to draw near to them.  It wasn't until after giving Him my firstfruits of the day and intentionally drawing near to Him that I took notice.  It felt like a little gift.  Isn't that just the way He works too?  Blessing us in personal tangible ways when we do seek Him first and draw near?  Intimacy.  Closeness. Familiarity. To be noticed and known. Favored with things (such as peony) that bring personal meaning and beauty and reminder to our spirit.  He has such knowledge of each of us, and is in all the details of our lives.  There's nothing unfamiliar to Him that we bring (or hide from Him).  He understands our hearts and what makes them beat.  Yesterday's peony (that is yet to bloom) is so symbolic to me.  I'm certain of one thing...I don't want to miss out on finding Him, discovering Him, beholding the beauty He is yet to blossom and unfold in my life.
Yes, much is yet to bloom.
I don't want to overlook or  miss Him.
I'm drawing near.
Being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from bad things happening.  The weeds of life will spring up regardless of who we follow.  But, as I've mentioned several times before,

He works all things out for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28

This isn't my opinion or my philosophy on life.  This is truth based on the inspired Word of God. This is a promise.  A life-giving one.  So, as lovers and followers of Jesus, we have this to sink our teeth into, this promise that can satisfy and sustain, this hope that in seasons of pain and hardship, when things don't make sense and we ask over and over again, "but, why?"...even in seasons of waiting, stillness, and the mundane, we can anticipate that in some holy way, in a way that matters eternally, things are yet to bloom.

"Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you." 
James 4:8
I should note that this verse so happened to be in my daily devotional after I wrote this post.  Ironic? Coincidence? I think not... but rather a reminder that  He is at work in creation and in my own heart, and in all that is around us (including you).
And He's inviting us to draw near and be a part of it.

What is it you are facing and consumed with now?
Perhaps it's a reflection of what you are drawing near to.
Why not make it Him?

He is the Gardener of heart and life in all forms.
From the peony to the soul,
a blossom awaits.
All artwork points to its creator.
He can't help but be found.
And He's even more visible when we draw close with intention.

Not all before us is quite yet in bloom,
so we wait with expectancy.
Embracing what is,
and searching for Him in the midst... 
for His joy and unsurpassable peace
in the moments in between.
For life and beauty (and routine) to unfold.
Petal by petal.
It can be found.
And we trust in His promises
that He is at work in everything.
In us.
And in the world around us...
even in the blooming of something as simple as a flower. 
Praise Him that He may be found when we
draw near.

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