On the doorman, and the power of a kind word

Earlier this week, I took Ian to his 6-month ear tube check-up. The ENT (whose name I can never remember) is housed in this large medical office building with a doorman. (Sometimes a doorwoman, but usually a man.) To have a doorman seems like an antiquated practice, but I think it’s because this building is full of different offices, and it keeps people from getting lost. Not to mention, it’s become pretty clear (during my limited observations) that most people entering and exiting the building are elderly; the doorman helps a lot of people to their cars in the snowy winter. One time, I was leaving an appointment right as a snow storm was beginning, and the guy stood with the boys in the doorway while I pulled up the car. So, I had filed the doorman under “a little unusual but very helpful.”

The kids and I are quite a spectacle these days, when I’m brave enough to venture out with all three in tow. Everywhere we go, we elicit comments like, “Wow! You are a busy lady!” and of course, “You sure have your hands full.” At the mall a few weeks ago, I actually overheard someone say, “I feel a little bit sorry for her. My boss only has 2 kids, and his life is miserable.”

I am not the type to give a snarky reply, though I usually think one silently in my head. (I’m nothing if not passive-aggressive.) What bothers me most is that none of these comments is ever offered as an impartial observation; they are always tinged with a hint of pity or even condescension. Sometimes, I really want to say, “Yes, my hands are full, so how about you handle this grocery shopping trip for me? I’ll sit here on this bench.” But of course, I don’t say that.

I walked into the doctor’s office lobby on Tuesday, Leo and Ruthie in the double stroller and Ian tagging along beside us. The diaper bag was slipping off my shoulder, overflowing with everything we might need to survive this outing. As we squeezed through the entrance, the doorman looked at me and said, “Wow! How old are your kids?”

I continued walking towards the elevator as I rattled off their ages and braced myself for the coming critique of my life choices.

But instead, as I glanced back over my shoulder, the doorman looked me in the eye and said, “Wow. You are so lucky.”

I was so caught off-guard by this. Not once–in the entire period of time since I was obviously pregnant with a third kid–has a stranger said something like this to me. I just smiled, and tried not to cry, and squeaked out a “Thank you.” And then the elevator door opened, and we were off to the most miserable doctor’s appointment I have ever endured.

We ended up waiting over an hour to see the doctor, and the actual appointment lasted less than 10 minutes. It fell in the middle of naptime, so all the kids were tired and cranky. In approximately 2 minutes, Leo ate through the snacks I had packed, and no one was interested in the toys I brought. I chased Leo through the office and carried him screaming back to the lobby. I kept straightening the magazine pile they were destroying and rocked the stroller back and forth to console whimpering Ruthie. I tried singing “Wheels on the Bus” loud enough to entertain them, but not loud enough to bother any of the other waiting patients. When we finally arrived into the exam room, Leo threw up everywhere (because, apparently, he had not actually chewed the fruit snacks I had given him 20 minutes before).  I actually considered ditching the appointment entirely and heading home, but we had already endured 50+ minutes of waiting.

I held Leo, trying to get the wet clothes off of him without getting covered myself, and I kept telling Ian not to step in the puddle of vomit he was dangerously close to. As I cleaned Leo with baby wipes, I heard the doorman’s voice in my head, and I prayed. I’m so lucky. Thank you. Jesus, for the privilege of being their mother. And I meant it.

I know me, and let me just tell you: I don’t handle situations like this well. Most days, I avoid going anywhere with all three kids because the chaos of it is too much for me. This was not at all my normal response to a moment like that, but the doorman’s words had changed the course of my morning.

I know we hear it all the time, but our words really are powerful.

When I’m out and about lately, I usually have tunnel vision, focused on the complicated logistics of bringing three needy children out in public. I’m hardly noticing the people around me. I don’t feel bad about it, exactly, because, you know, my hands are full and all that. But now, I’m determined to serve others the way that doorman served me. Even when offered in a quick, fleeting exchange, a kind word is a special kind of generosity.

So, to the parents: “You have a beautiful family.”

To the kids: “You have wonderful manners!”

To the cashiers: “Thank you for the good service.”

To the customer service person on the phone: “I appreciate your time.”And to the mothers with double strollers and heavy diaper bags and sleepy toddlers: “Aren’t we so lucky?”

And to the mothers with double strollers and heavy diaper bags and sleepy toddlers: “Aren’t we so lucky?”

 

What I’ve Read in 2017 (January-June)

Yikes! We’re already halfway through the year. I’m sure you don’t need me to say, “Where is the time going?” I know you feel it too.

I didn’t set any big reading goals this year, but I sort of informally decided to try to read what was already on my shelves. I’ve done that so far, with the exception of a few advanced reader copies.

When my dad was here a few months ago, we got to talking about how many unread books were on my shelf. (I counted about 20-30.) He said, “Oh! You could finish those in a month.” I wish. He grossly overestimated how many books I read. Usually, I read about 30 books/year, but 2017 has been a slow year. I’m at 12 books in about 6 months. But you know what? That’s ok. No matter how many books I read in a year, I always wish it was more. So I’m satisfied with this list so far.

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Today, I’m sharing quick reviews of what I’ve read this year and linking up with Anne Bogel’s Quick Lit.

1. My Name is Lucy Barton: My friend Melissa finished reading this book while she was here visiting, and she handed it off to me before she left. (I can always count on Melissa for great recommendations, and she’s super generous about passing her used copies on to me.) This was my first experience reading Elizabeth Strout, and she’s no slouch; a Pulitzer winner, after all. And I really did think the writing was excellent. The story is quite sad and melancholy, and even a little disturbing at times. What struck me about it was that the writing is very sparse; there is no extraneous detail. As Lucy Barton recalls events from her life, she often shares the bare minimum and leaves you wondering what actually happened. But that allows Strout to include a lot of stories, each interwoven just slightly. It left me wanting more. At the same time, it’s a phenomenal case study in clear and consistent voice. (I’m so curious to read more of Strout’s novels and see how the writing and voice compare.)

2. Essentialism: I started reading Essentialism a long time ago, right before we moved to Michigan. I’ve wanted to pick it up and finish ever since, and I finally made that a priority. It’s a good book to read at the beginning of the year or any time you’re looking for a reset. I found the few few chapters to be really challenging and even paradigm-shifting, but the second half of the book really dropped off for me. Most of the examples and ideas focus on the business world, and I found it difficult to make connections to my own life as a stay-at-home mom. I also think that the book could be a whole lot shorter, ironically. Still, a worthwhile read.

3. Bel Canto: I’m only on the third chapter, but I’m hooked. Ann Patchett is a phenomenal writer, and there are sentences and phrases that are sticking with me. And the concept is so interesting: a Japanese business man travels to Brazil to hear a private concert from an opera star, and they are all taken hostage by a group of rebels. With the hostage situation, I was a little nervous this would be too intense or violent for my taste, but not so thus far. Can’t wait to dig in more.

4. The Storied Life of A.J. Firky: This was another delightful book with a good mix of happy and sad. I’d say it’s about the unexpected relationships that come into our lives and how they change us over time. Not to mention, books and a bookstore play a prominent role in this story, so it’s ideal for book lovers (and, frankly, literary snobs). It’s a quick and easy read that I really enjoyed.

5. The One-in-a-Million Boy: I loved this story. It’s a wonderful mix of happy and sad. It reminded me of A Man Called Ove, in that it made me both laugh out loud and cry, and that a lot of the story is about how meaningful connections and friendships can develop among people from different generations. And indeed, those friendships are essential to understanding other human beings, and they enrich our lives and communities in meaningful ways. I also feel like this is a new genre of books: stories about people with special needs (usually the Autism spectrum) and their quirky behaviors, and how those turn out to be enriching. I’m thinking about The Rosie Project, Mockingbird, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and now this one as well. (Do you know of others? Please share them!) But what I loved most about this book, perhaps, was the writing. It is not overly poetic or romantic; it’s straightforward, but it’s still beautiful. It’s concise, but packs a punch. There were several phrases and sentences that I highlighted and came back to just because they struck me. Phenomenal.

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6. At Home in the World: I’ve been reading Tsh’s blog for years—long before she published her first book! But somehow, this is the first of her books that I’ve read. (I’ve checked both of the others out from the library but always had to return them before I got to them.) This is a wonderful memoir. Because of our budget, Evan’s work schedule, and three small children, we aren’t doing much traveling these days. I picked up this book thinking, “Great! I’ll live vicariously through Tsh and her family.” But this book was about much more than living vicariously through someone as they travel the globe. It is about how we reconcile a love of home with a love for travel, and how our restless feet can be a blessing whether we’re stuck in one place or not. Tsh touches on the truth revealed by seeing the world and by putting down roots. (If you read The Art of Simple, I think you’ll find her writing here familiar, but also better than what you’d encounter in a run of the mill blog post.)

7. A Family Shaped by Grace: I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of this book. It was different than I expected, in both good and bad ways. I knew tiny bits of Gary’s story—how he was an alcoholic from a long line of alcoholics, but has been sober for decades and changed his family’s legacy. I found I wanted a bit more of that story; I think it would have made the book more compelling. That said, I found the book to be convicting, and full of practical, straightforward advice. There’s one thing, in particular, I can’t stop thinking about, and it’s bringing a lot of healing to my motherhood journey. But that’s a whole other blog post.

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8. Chasing Slow: I really enjoyed this book. I love Erin’s blog; the way she writes about family, creativity, and life at home really resonated with me. This book was no exception. I especially appreciated her honesty and vulnerability in this book: she talks about her husband’s brain tumor, their bankruptcy, and more with candor. My word of the year is “dwell,” and this book was a perfect fit.

I also read a slew of home decor books while we waited to get into our new house. (Frankly, they skew my reading total a bit, because they were super image-heavy!) My favorite was Design Sponge at Home.

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What I’m Reading Now: Shalom Sistas by Osheta Moore, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, and The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.

I’d love to hear what you’ve read so far this year and what you’ve got on the docket!

Motherhood, Shaped by Grace

One of the greatest challenges of motherhood is the way is forces me to let go of my control freak tendencies. The mess. The unpredictable behavior. The demands on my time and energy. All of these things are out of my control.  I know you don’t need me to tell you all the ways toddlers and newborns can thwart our attempts at order, cleanliness, and calm; I’m sure you’ve seen all your mama-friends’ Instagram stories.

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But I don’t only like to control my environment. I really like feel in control of myself—my time, my emotions, my personal growth. I like to have it all together, and though I hate to admit it, I like for other people to think I have it all together. And if not, I at least want to have the choice. Dirty dishes in the sink? I decided to leave them there; I’ll deal with them tomorrow. Going out of the house with spit-up stains on my shirt? I chose not to check the mirror one last time before I left; I decided no one would notice or care; I decided I didn’t want to make the effort to find a clean shirt again. It’s all my choice. I am in control.

Until I’m not.

I’ve spent my entire life trying to keep it together, but postpartum depression was the thing that finally brought me to my knees.

I often describe my postpartum depression as something like an out-of-body experience. I was watching my anxiety attack from far away, trying to get through to that girl. I’d think, “There’s no reason to feel this way. Everything is ok. Take a deep breath. Calm down.” But those thoughts couldn’t reach whatever part of my mind was reeling. I was no longer in control of my emotions, my responses, my mind. It’s a scary feeling, to be honest.

Before this, I was white-knuckling my way through motherhood like a nervous new driver grips their steering wheel. The result was that I was often overwhelmed, because I was living like it was all up to me while believing I wasn’t up to the task.

I’ve heard it said that while we need not be grateful for every moment, there is something in every moment to be grateful for. This is how I’m thinking about my PPD; I wish I had never experienced it, but I’m on the hunt for things to be grateful for within the experience. And one of those things is the recognition that I need to cede control of my motherhood journey to Jesus.

In A Family Shaped by Grace, Gary Morland writes that even after we’ve eliminated bad habits and disharmony from our families and even after we’ve adopted more peaceful practices, we still need to hand over our families to Jesus. He writes that I need to release my family, my role, my limits, and the results. Releasing my role and my limits is what really got me thinking. Gary suggests this prayer: “Thank you that my limits are the beginning of your life being revealed in my mortal body.”

I have spent my entire motherhood journey trying to compensate for my limits, but postpartum depression taught me that I just need to release them to Jesus and trust him to fill in the gaps. Gary goes on to pray, “I act as if releasing control is a sacrifice that I have to do as n act of faith out of obedience. In reality, releasing is a relief. It’s a gift.”

This has been true for me. I’m grateful for my postpartum depression because somehow, miraculously, in its aftermath, I’m feeling a sense of sweet relief. Maybe this is how God is redeeming that hard, painful season. I feel as though God is healing not just the depression. He’s also redeeming the mothering I did before that point. I’m not merely returning to how I mothered before the PPD set in. Instead, I’m moving forward in an entirely new sort of freedom and grace.

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“You have been specifically wired and gifted to cover your specific assignment, your course on the river. Your family is your course on the river. But you were made to do this in union with God, not on your own.”

A Family Shaped by Grace releases today. It’s an easy read and very straightforward. As I read, I found myself wanting more Gary’s story of transformation, but maybe that will be his next book. 😉 In the meantime, A Family Shaped by Grace was a gentle, kind reminder about how living like Jesus really can transform our families for the better.

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What I Learned This Spring

Today, I’m linking up with Emily Freeman to share what I learned this spring. WHAT

  1. The phrase is “sleight of hand,” not “slight of hand.” I had no idea “sleight” was a word! I also learned that “carrot” and “caret” are two different words. Who knew?! (Well, not me, obviously.)
  2. An estimated 1 in 7 women experiences a perinatal mood disorder like postpartum depression. One in seven!! That is such a huge number, and I had no idea. PPD is not something that’s been discussed much in my circles, but I know now that it’s much more prevalent than I realized.
  3. Speaking of that, this spring is when I finally came to terms with the fact that from November 2015 to around January or February of this year, I was experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety.
  4. I also learned that May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s been observed since 1949. (!!!) That’s a real long time for me to just be hearing about it tthis year. (In the state of Michigan, it’s also Postpartum Depression Awareness Month.)
  5. Grammarly is like spell check, but for the entire internet. Whatever you’re typing–an email, blog post, Facebook comment, etc.–Grammarly will proofread for you. (It’s a free Chrome extension.)
  6. The Pomodoro method is pretty dang helpful, as far as productivity and focus are concerned. It goes like this, you work for 25 minutes and then take a short (~5 minute) break. Do that four times, then take a longer break. Then repeat.
  7. The Enneagram is far more interesting and complex than I initially thought. I’ve always loved personality typing, but I just started reading The Road Back to You, and I’m finding it completely fascinating.
  8. Mortgage paperwork is practically neverending. (Did we really just move into our house this season? Yup, we did. It’s only been about a month!)
  9. That bit about good fences being good neighbors? Totally false. We took down the fence in between our house and the next door neighbors’ house, and it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.
  10. Dressing a baby girl is so, so fun. And it’s super funny when your son may repeatedly ask if the baby is wearing a ball gown. (He learned about ball gowns from this book.)
  11. When there’s something big and important going on, but it’s hard for me to write about, I get stuck. I have been struggling big time to write about my postpartum depression experience, and it’s making it feel practically impossible to write about anything else. But for now, I’m content with list-making.
Going through this list is making me realize how very, very full this season has been. And there are so many good things to look forward to this summer and fall!

This spring, I’m feeling grateful for a new home, a healthy baby girl, and emerging from the postpartum depression fog.

Grace upon grace.

How I’ll make it through winter

When we lived in Florida, “winter” (the quotation marks are very important there) ended on January 2nd. “Winter” was basically synonymous with the holiday season, and once Christmas and New Years passed, we moved headlong into spring.

Not so now, living here near what feels like the very top of the world. It’s almost the end of January, and I have a long ways to go before I can enjoy the the fresh greens and pastels of Easter or my the sprouting tulips in the front yard. The ground is still frozen around me, snow is in the forecast for tomorrow, and I feel lucky if the sun ever pokes her head through the clouds.

This year, I embraced the fact that the “winter blues” may, in fact, be a real thing for me. I’d go so far as to call it Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I’m not really sure. I’ve also had a newborn this year, so HELLO, hormones. All of this is an excellent recipe for a bit of melancholy.

One of 2016’s greatest lessons to me was that I navigate hard seasons much better when I have things to look forward to. I also learned that I need to acknowledge what I’m looking forward to, in the same way that writing a gratitude list helps me recognize what I’m thankful for.

So, I’m trying to preempt whatever sadness might come wandering through the front door. With no further ado, here’s what I’m looking forward to throughout the rest of this winter.

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Visits from friends. Two of my very best friends, Courtney and Melissa, are both coming to visit us in February. I continue to be amazed and so very grateful that our friends and family are willing to trek all the way to Michigan to keep us company and engage in our life here.

Hearing Sarah Bessey speak in person! Part of the reason Melissa is coming to visit is because Sarah Bessey is coming to speak at our church! (It was just the excuse we needed to get Melissa up here.) I consider Sarah to be a pastor in my life, someone who talks about Jesus in a way that speaks right to my heart and whose writing has transformed my relationship with God in very meaningful ways. I can’t wait. I’ll probably cry.

Ruthie’s smiles and coos. Newborns are such sleepy little things, and this isn’t the most exciting phase. One of my favorite things about motherhood are those very first intentional smiles and coos, each a sign that our baby is finding her place and voice and joy within our family.

More snow. All our snow melted away over the past week or two. I’ve been grateful for a few warm days, but I don’t like the cold if there’s not at least a little snow to make it pretty! The world feels so gray and bland right now; some snow will brighten things up.

Hanging up our spring wreath. It’s the little things, you know?

A beer or glass of wine at the end of the day. #notpregnantanymore

Reading more of The Jesus Way. I set this book down for a very long time and am finally picking it back up again. I have basically underlined the entire book. It’s enlightening and convicting and helping me look at Scripture differently.

Getting my first issues of Real Simple in the mail. This is my favorite magazine, and my sister bought me a subscription for Christmas! Magazines feel like a small indulgence, a small pleasure, and while picking them up in the grocery store is fine, I enjoy them even more when they arrive in the mail.

Drinking more hot chocolate. It’s become Evan’s job to whip us up some hot chocolate on cold nights. It’s a lovely ritual.

Getting back to our small group. We took a few weeks off for the holidays, and then Ruthie was born, so we’ve missed both of January’s meetings. I am missing these Tuesday evening gatherings, and I’m excited to jump back in for February.

I’d love to know: what are you looking forward to this season?

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” –John Steinbeck

Advent, Week 3: Joy

Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:10-11, NKJV)

Back towards the beginning of November, I tweeted that I had started listening to Christmas music. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” I wrote. I said I wanted joy at all costs, even if it meant breaking my strict No Christmas Music Before Thanksgiving rule. But in the weeks since, I’ve mostly been listening to Joni Mitchell’s “River” on repeat (and every good cover of it I can find), with “Winter Song” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” sprinkled in for good measure. I made a “Contemplative Christmas” playlist, but that may just be an alliterative name for a playlist full of the saddest Christmas songs out there.

I know that Advent isn’t all about joy; it’s about the wait, the anticipation of the joy that will arrive with that baby’s first cries on Christmas Eve. I know that we are called to carry both our joy and our sadness, to feel them both fully, to not expect one to replace to other but to slog along, one bucket in each hand. Still, I really wish my melancholy would go away.

Back in January, I chose “joy” as my word of the year. If you know me much at all, you probably know that I chose “free” as my word of the year in both 2014 and 2015, and it quite literally changed my life. The ongoing conversation I had with Jesus about His promised freedom was the truest “renewing of my mind” (Romans 12:2) I’ve ever experienced. It’s how for the first time, God began to loosen the chains of striving, accomplishment, and perfectionism that had enslaved me all my life.

Near the end of 2015, I began asking: If I’m free from perfectionism, what do I want to be free for? The answer was clear: joy. I wanted and needed more joy. And I expected that “joy” would have the same profound effect on my life that “free” did. I was looking for tangible, profound, more than all I could ask or imagine change.

So, how did 2016 go? I haven’t done much of anything with my word (besides scribble “choose joy” on the tiny chalkboard by my front door). Lessons about joy haven’t shown up unexpectedly in my reading, writing, or podcast-listening. The word hasn’t leapt off the pages of Scripture. I feel like my word let me down a bit, or like I let myself down by not doing enough to make joy a reality.

During Advent, the temptation to manufacture joy is stronger than ever. If I bake just one more batch of our favorite chocolate chip cookies or hang one more cute printable on my wall, if I come up with another silly thing for our elf to do or serve up another batch of hot cocoa, then our Christmas season will feel joyful. Or maybe I just need to switch playlists and turn the Christmas music up a tiny bit louder.

But as I think about it, I know it deep in my soul: I’ve missed the point.

Joy isn’t something I can create by sheer force of will. Joy is not something I can chase. Joy is a fruit (Galatians 5:22). It is only something I can be filled up with, as I am filled up with the Holy Spirit. It’s something I can only receive. All year long, I acted (and prayed) like I just needed a better attitude, and then I would feel joy. While my attitude certainly needed adjusting some days, I think this is where the difference between happiness and joy can be found. Happiness has more to do with my attitude, and joy has more to do with my soul. Joy isn’t a response to my circumstances; it’s a gift I receive from Jesus in the midst of my circumstances, whatever they may be.

When the angels appeared to the shepherds, they didn’t say, “Go be joyful now!” Jesus’ very presence created and brought forth the joy; the shepherds could only receive it.

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Admittedly, I’m still trying to hash out what this actually means in the context of my real life. So, I pray.

Dear Jesus, help us not wait for the light to break through before we receive the gifts you offer us. I want my anticipation of your coming—your salvation, your redemption, your making all sad things untrue—to lend me real and tangible joy, even in the midst of the darkness. Help this be true of my life. Fill me with your spirit and transform my heart; in the process, may my whole life become a reason to rejoice.

Advent, Week 2: Peace

Last week, I wrote my Monday Benediction and a blog post all about hope, so as to match the theme for the first week of Advent. My plan was to do the same thing today, for peace, and so on through the rest of the season. But yesterday came and went and I found I had little to say about peace, and no clarity came this morning.

All day long, my boys seemed determined to get on each other’s nerves. They spent most of the day pushing and shoving one another, snatching toys from each other’s hands, crying each time the other got in his way. And doing it all at the loudest possible volume. I walked around the house thinking (because “praying” is probably too strong a word), “Isn’t this week supposed to be peaceful?!”

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This concept of peace also feels heavy this year, given all that’s happening in the world: Syria and refugees, Trump and tweets, Standing Rock and ISIS. We all have very different ideas about what peace entails and what will bring it about. Some of us believe letters, phone calls, and blog posts are the path forward. Some choose legislation while others choose sit-ins and picket lines, and still others believe in the power of boots on the ground. And I think each of us believes peace exists solely in the past, or in the status quo, or in the future.

Peace, like the rest of Advent, feels like a lesson in contradictions right now. On the one hand, I believe it’s something we need to work for, strive for, build, create, cultivate, even fight for. On the other hand, I believe peace is being handed to us, a fruit being offered, something we can only receive as a gift. It’s both an internal and external reality.

The other day I went through the Starbucks drive-through after dropping Ian off at preschool, and scrawled across my red cup were these words: “Love and joy, crafted by hand and by heart.” I snapped a photo, because it reminded me of one of my favorite Brené Brown quotes: “We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.” It was just a Starbucks cup, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

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As I’ve mulled over this post, I wanted to land in one spot or another: hand or heart? Which is it? Do we work for peace, or do we receive it as a gift from Jesus?

Of course, the answer is both. Just as both God’s spirit and Jesus’ physical presence are required for our redemption, both our hands and our hearts are essential for peacemaking. Advent is an irrational season of contradictions: darkness and light, impoverished little babies and kings, angels and shepherds, virgin unwed mothers, now but not yet. It is possible that while the entire world is walking away from peace, Peace is still coming. And peace is forged—simultaneously—through the transformation of our hearts and the work of our hands.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. —Galatians 5:22-26 (The Message)

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Dear Jesus, may we sense peace in our hearts and may be we create peace in the world. In this season and in every season moving forward, may we work out the implications of peace in every detail of our lives. And in your mercy, please bring peace to our hurting, broken, war-torn world.