lessons in the losses: lay your burdens down & other elliptical epiphanies

lesson #8: laying your burdens down & picking up your choices

i am quite proud of my gym experience. not just the physical progress but more the social progress {relationships}. as any other "shellfish" out there might empathize, making new friends can be hard when you're afraid to talk to new people. and this "shellfish" just happens to be married to the world's greatest extrovert {which means i almost never have to work on my shyness}. but i go to a women's only gym which means no extroverted mediator for me.  and so i was surprised when relationships kinda happened, accidentally. without meaning to, i mean. i think if i have thought about them too hard, they might have never happened.

anyways, the relationship i'm most proud of, isn't the grey haired spandex ladies who love to kiss the babies, or the super friendly trainers alway joking with me about my "mommy curves" but katie.  she's like me.  four kids, having a break at the gym.  she often appears beside me on the elliptical at the exact right time. and we bare our unusual stories together as we unravel "the hard part" of what we are currently facing between cardio pulsing breaths & the latest diaper blowout story.  and as out of breath we both end up being after realizing that we've jogged quite a few miles further than we meant to, i always feel like i have finally caught my breath in real life.

at one such perfect time, she told me about this family therapist she's heard about.  the one who is known as the saviour of parents, strengthening feeble knees. katie says this dr. mammon is wise to the mother's plight.  that she knows how to dismantle their low self-esteem & pick up their shattered dreams & breath life into the woman they want to be. she's not really about parenting methods.  she's more about choices.  the many choices that make up a mother's life. she boils down everything to a choice. dr. mammon says there are very few things in a day that you have to do. you don't have to do the laundry.  you don't have to wipe the counter.  you don't have to sweep the floor.  you don't have to answer that baby's cry in the night. you don't have to go to that mommy & me class. and by being conscious of the choices that we are making & not seeing them as something you have to do, but rather something we choose to do, we are empowered.  she wants us to change our language from i have to, to i'm going to.  i am going to do the grocery shopping. i am going to get dressed today. i am going to have a great day.  it's responsible & decisive instead of burdensome & victim-ish. sometimes all a burden needs is the simple tweak of perspective. and it's being aware of how my own perspective, my own words can burden or liberate me.  it's the power of words. and it is powerful to know that i control what i do, even with a great many little people who occasionally appear like they're in control.  but there is always a choice available.  it's choices that make up any great day and it's choices that make up any great mom.


so shake him off

florence & the machine is one of those secular prophets to me. although it is unclear as to whether or not florence is a bonafide christian, i suspect that she may have had an encounter or two with Jesus.  regardless of where the lyrics came from, this song has been deliverance to me. and it is one of those marker songs, that mark a changing point.  they transformed my struggle.  empowered my constitution. changed me. this one is an absolute must on this song journey.

and it's hard to dance with the devil on your back
so shake him off. 

Regrets collect like old friends Here to relive your darkest moments I can see no way, I can see no way And all of the ghouls come out to play And every demon wants his pound of flesh But I like to keep some things to myself I like to keep my issues drawn It's always darkest before the dawn
And I've been a fool and I've been blind I can never leave the past behind I can see no way, I can see no way I'm always dragging that horse around And our love is pastured such a mournful sound Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground So I like to keep my issues drawn But it's always darkest before the dawn

I am done with my graceless heart So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart Cause I like to keep my issues drawn It's always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back So shake him off, oh woah


to see me in Your eyes.

just this. soaking this in this afternoon. learning to live as one who is outrageously loved. being set free from myself, from my small thinking about myself. expanding my ability to receive.

love basking if you will. :)


show me Your glory

 it is 6:30 am. four little sleepy bundles are carried out to a cold mini van. no sign of day yet. the starry sky still hung out from the night before.  one little bundle peaks over my shoulder as i carry her down grandma & grandpa's front stoop. 'wow.' she whispers to the dark sky splendour.  she's never seen the heavens sparkle before.
there's not another soul in sight, other than the silhouette of two groggy grandparents waving goodbye from the barely lit doorway. we pull out of the driveway & begin our journey home down winding roads. a deep, dark fog envelops our van.  cloud so thick it sticks to the windshield. i wonder if this is what moses saw? i wonder if this is what glory looks like? nothing else distinguishable. everything, all swallowed up in this all consuming cloud. this closeness that dwells, that burns from the outside in.  this face-to-face intimacy.
"You cannot see My face, for no man can see my face and live!" 
{exodus 33:20}
"but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was." 
{exodus 20:20-21}
seeing God is costly.  something has to die. something is always transfigured.  like Jacob's limp.  there is always a cost.  do i truly want to meet Him in all His reality? in all His truth? in all His grace? 
formless vapour blankets us as we rise & fall on rolling hilltops. we're intensely focused on navigating the fog now, only anticipating a few feet ahead of us at a time, aware of the veiled peril on each side of these country roads.
"when God only gives us the guidance we need for the moment, it tends to keep us closer"
{bill johnson}
i've felt that glory before. that sweet glory.  the presence that answers that desperate hannah cry. the glory that cloaks, that hides, that sheathes & shelters.
waves billow over the hood as we descend into another valley until we disappear again. what does glory, so purifying it could kill, look like? sound like? smell like? 
"all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.  they said to moses, 'speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us or we will die." {exodus 20:18-19}
those poor israelites, terrified they'd die if they heard His voice not realizing that the death they feared was in the absence of His all sustaining voice.  they chose to have a mediator to have those death-defying encounters with their God. they outsourced to moses.  i look at my own life, and i realize i'm not so different from my israelite brothers. and i know there can be no authentic relationship with Him for those who prefer a mediator.  there is no outsourcing for this kind of intimacy. no shortcut. no substitute. no lamb to sacrifice. just me. all of me.  a living sacrifice to be burnt up by His purifying presence.
the fog begins to disperse as the stars get rolled up and the sunrise lifts on the horizon. the outlines of roofs & treetops appear.   cloud lingers at the base of trees & livestock begin to emerge as heavy sky begins to ascend. butterflies flutter around in my stomach. i'm not sure if i'm carsick or glory hungry. the more i think, the more i wonder. what does His face look like?  what does it feel like to look into His eyes?
"i saw the Lord... with the train of His robe filling the temple." {isaiah 6:1} 
filling, like a cloud that came but also kept coming & billowing in, wave upon wave. i look at how far i have ridden on my past encounters with Him & i think of the potency of those now seemingly small experiences. what could happen if out of desperation i cried out for that weighty, thick Presence continually? what would happen to me? i'd be ruined for anything else. how could i ever be content knowing there is more of the One who never ends to explore & experience? how could i ever conceptualize something like this? there is no framework, no theory, no words in any language that could support this kind of an encounter. impossible to impart or mediate to someone else. and i am jealous for it and i am suddenly starving, desperate for glory.
“safe?” said mr. beaver; “don’t you hear what mrs. beaver tells you? who said anything about safe? ‘course he isn’t safe. he's wild, you know. not like a tame lion. but he’s good. he’s the King, i tell you.” 

His presence is never safe but He is always the good & rightful King. 
this is what i was created for.  this is where i belong.
to see the cloud & step in...


as long as i live {what a privilege}

this song has spent a year or two at the top of my favourite list. it demands my best. demands my all. in every situation, every circumstance.
...praise the Lord, oh my soul, and let all that's within me praise His name...
it is truth to me.  perspective altering truth, no matter where i find myself.
...i get to love You through, whatever comes, what a privilege,
that i get to love You through, whatever comes, oh how sweet it is...
it is my declaration. my lifesong, i think.
...and nothings gonna take your praise out of mouth, as long as i shall live...