Yesterday, Elisabeth Elliot went Home.  I never met her, yet her death leaves me with a sense of loss.  I can’t think of any other author who has affected me and shaped me as much as Elisabeth Elliot.  Before there was a “Jinny” or “Mama Esther” or any other spiritual mother in my life, she (via her writings, many books, and radio transcripts) taught me how to be a woman and live and rejoice and suffer well in His “everlasting arms.”

I wondered where she was or what she was doing the past decade of her life since she ended her radio show and newsletters … and it turns out she had dementia.  Even as she began to lose her mental faculties and other abilities, her husband said in so many words, she put her trust in God.

My human hero was laid to rest yesterday, but my Savior still lives.  Thank God for earthly heroes and spiritual “giants” … but they, too, pass away.  I will see her some Day, but the luster of Elisabeth Elliot’s life was not Elisabeth Elliot.  It was Christ in Elisabeth Elliot.

Thank you for shining Jesus, Elisabeth.  The beauty we saw was Him in you.

Oh to live like you did.

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A reminder.

June 3, 2015

God help me keep these reminders ever at the forefront of my mind as I navigate this season with a toddler and a newborn:

  • They are little boys, not robots.
  • If I become lazy in motherhood and am content to parent for convenience sake, then I will find myself content to raise Pharisees rather than godly men.
  • If I want the right behavior more than I want the right heart, I will be content to be harsh and not gentle in my tone and method.
  • My highest aim is to glorify God (regardless of outcome!), to raise men who love Jesus, and to adorn the gospel as I live with them … my highest aim is not to maximize my own sleep or comfort … or to raise quiet, good sleepers.  (So silly but trust me, I forget this!)
  • Discipline is for the Lord’s purposes, not my own.  I discipline their hearts away from wickedness … not to get my way in my time.
  • They’re little boys.  May I lead them, teach them, raise them with love.
  • May my heart be wide open, my service sacrificial, my tongue kind.
  • Let me steadfastly love JE, cheerfully submit to and help his leadership, and remember to take care of him in the little ways, too.
  • Little boys will make messes.  Making a mess is not a sin. :]
  • And as JE used to always say when Ian was first born, “They’re only this little once.”
  • Let me remember to give thanks in everything, in every season.  A grumbling and complaining spirit will go on grumbling and complaining even as God gives tremendous blessings, like these two little lives.

God help me, that my mothering would be a blessing to my husband and children, not a curse.

“At the time, I did not understand how much I had wrongly identified myself with my coffee shop dream … I continually have to lay down who I think I am or who I want to be if it is anything different from God’s plan for me to be transformed into the image of His Son … For now, I do want to say that it wasn’t as if ‘Coffee Shop Aimee’ weren’t part of the real me.  It’s a huge part of my story.  God taught me so much through that experience … But another thing I learned is that not every dream is worth pursuing.  I had to lay that dream down — I had put it way above everything else in priority order.  I was serving God in my own way, not his.”

(Aimee Byrd, Housewife Theologian, p. 77)

Whooooo.

November 4, 2014

(Written on Saturday)

Brushing the dust off this blog.  It’s been a while.

I can hear JE and Ian romping around upstairs.  Ian is laughing and declaring, “Noooo,” in turn.  Saturday mornings at home are sweet.  Ian is most content when we’re both home.  Maybe his 1.5 year old heart grasps the fact that we are most complete when appa is home, too.  Or maybe he senses my quieted heart when appa‘s home.

Since marriage and Ian’s birth, I’ve become more … private?  Less heart-spilling on this blog to a wide, unknown audience and a deepening devotion to my little family, our church, and wherever our home’s branches reach.  I’m not great at wearing many hats and juggling many things at the same time, so with changed, sometimes-overwhelming new priorities, my tree has been stripped bare of all but a few branches.  Even those few things are hard to do well, but I’m learning and each day is a clean slate.

Life is less dramatic, less heartbreaking, less agonizing in this season, and it’s … different.  College and the single life felt like going through one fire after another, but my new “home” is actually a place of peace.  And rest.  Sin is here, too, in rampant measure, but I’m trying to learn to love and cherish God in the quiet, unremarkable duties of everyday life.  It’s easier for me to trust Him in moments of crisis than these moments that require a more steady faith — moment after moment determining I’d rather have Jesus than selfish melancholy, a hasty remark, a quick temper, or rebellious ingratitude.

And I’ve only recently begun to have any kind of regular rhythm in reading Scripture and prayer since Ian was born.  Whenever my routine is interrupted, it takes me sooo loooong to establish a new normal.  Where is God in this change?  How does my new role not undermine my eternal one?  How do I devote my heart’s affections to God when I’m so singly focused on adapting to the new thing in my life?  But His patience is unwearied.  Such a tender love.

In another 6 months or so, my hands will be full with an added stewardship, another precious gift, another little one to love and raise in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.”  I hope it’ll take me less time in the afterbirth to locate my life’s anchor and to operate out of that single spot … because a wife and mama whose heart and emotions are tossed here and there causes big waves in a little family.  But a wife and mama well-anchored in Christ holds much of her home steady with her … and speaks to the stability and beauty of her Rock.

Moments for reflection are more scarce than they used to be.  But my greatest prayer is that I would adorn the gospel in everything, particularly my marriage and motherhood — that my husband’s service to Christ wouldn’t be hindered, that my children would treasure Jesus, and that the world may taste the gospel in our home and friendship.

To make much of Jesus, this is all.

… Now to remember that once I stop typing. ;]

It’ll be Ian’s first Christmas.  When I look at him, I understand a little more of the cost of Jesus’ incarnation.  Mostly because I’ve never spent so much time with an infant before.  My omnipotent God condescended to become someone’s completely helpless and needy, kissable baby.  He bowed His head and came.  Not just as a man.  Not just as a grown, fully competent man of trade, though that would have been humiliating enough for the Son who simply spoke the universe into existence.  But He came as a baby who had to nurse at the breast of a fumbling first time mom.  And I can’t wrap my mind around it.  The nearness of it.

But other thoughts come knocking this Christmas, too.  They aren’t completely unrelated.

In this season at least — and I don’t know, maybe for the rest of his life — Ian won’t know the fullness of my side of the family.  At least not all at once.  He can’t pick up on everything yet of course, but he’ll experience it by the things he doesn’t experience.  The loved ones he doesn’t get to interact with as much, his family he won’t grow to know as well, just because it’s harder to foster relationships with everyone when each fractured piece has to be cherished separately.  And because of our limited nature, some pieces will be neglected.  Some loved ones will be strangers to him.  And I grieve over this.  Sometimes bitterly.  My son won’t know the fullness and richness that is my side of the family.  At least not as continuously and intimately as I’d known it in my childhood.  (I know this is extremely common.  I know it could be worse.  But common never eases the pain, does it?)  This is not my first fractured Christmas.  It hurt as a daughter.  It hurt as a wife.  But ah — it hurts in a different way as a mother.  I don’t mean Christmas holds no joy.  Not at all.  But it’s a joy mingled with pain.  And I think that’s okay — at least when I consider Christmas in its original glory and un-glory.  Stripped down to a manger, but one containing no one less than the Lamb of God.

So last night before bed, I jotted everything I wanted to remember and tell myself as long as this season of brokenness lasts.  The tone may come across strong.  I really needed “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” kind of language last night.  Nothing spineless would do against “Apollyon” and Giant Despair.  So in raw form, and in the order they came to mind:

Don’t become bitter.  Who are you to hold a charge against anyone?  You are no better.  The gospel says you are no better.

Adjust your expectations.  They are not Jesus.  You are not Jesus.  That’s why He came.  We all fall short.

Don’t become bitter.  This is worth repeating twice.

Pray.

Our earthly families aren’t the end-all be-all.  They point to a greater, more eternal reality.

God is sovereign.  You weren’t meant for the next home over. He placed you in your family with precision.  Don’t waste it.

Your family doesn’t cause you to sin.  They can tempt you to sin, but sin is always of personal volition.

May it never be that you echo Adam and accuse God with, “…the woman You gave me” — or rather, “the family You gave me.”

Your family is not beyond hope.  That’s why Christmas happened.  Christmas didn’t come for those who are whole — or who look whole or think they are whole.  It came for the diseased and broken.

We don’t celebrate Christmas because our family is together and happy.  We don’t celebrate Christmas for any other earthly reason than this: Jesus entered our world to rescue us from the power and penalty and pervasiveness of sin.

The goal is God’s glory.  Don’t idolize the image of a perfect family.  Is a stable family a blessing?  Yes.  But do not bow to it.

All families are broken in some way — at least on this side of eternity.  You cannot escape heartache or grief or brokenness in any relationship, even as a hermit.  Where memories might cease to assault you, the absence of relationship will takes its place.  Only your relationship with God is safe — and really, only on His part, not yours.  Thank God He is faithful and able to make us faithful to the end.

It’s better to be broken than hardened.  It’s better to be broken than hardened.  It’s better to be broken than hardened.

Don’t forget your church family.  Ask for prayer.  Embrace their encouragement and exhortation.  Love them well.  Remember they’re broken people being sanctified, too.

Love your family, period.  Remember the costly manner in which Jesus laid down His life and by His grace, do the same.  But remember this key difference between you and Jesus in this: He was better than than those for whom He laid down His life.  You are not.

No matter how wearying and how long the labor, or whatever the results or lack thereof, you are called to be a peacemaker.  Peacemaking is dirty work, and you are completely unqualified except in Christ.  Don’t grow weary of doing good.  The labor is ours, the fruit is God’s to give.

Look brokenness in the face.  Don’t pretend it away.  And then tell brokenness to look Jesus in the face.  See who wins.

Happy birthday, Oppah!

September 19, 2013

Happy birthday, Oppah!  To the favoritest biggest onliest brother there ever was!

I always knew I loved you quite a lot much many big … but this past year, I learned it was also the kind of love where I really wanted to hurt those who hurt you and dole out evil to those who meant evil toward you. Really, it’s one thing to learn to love my enemies but it’s another thing to learn to love yours.  I never knew how deeply I could hurt because of evil directed toward you.  My brother.  My first friend.  My childhood advisor in all things social and fashion (haha) and how-all-things-mechanical-work (I still don’t get it).

But look!  It’s your birthday!  We made it!  Or at least, we’re making it.  We haven’t arrived yet, but we’re getting there.  By His grace. :]

And I pray He would place you right beside Himself, where the road only becomes brighter and brighter because of His nearness.  His friendship.  His joy.  His perfect will.  Not protection from evil in a temporal sense, and not necessarily the immediate unfolding of good coming from evil … but better, in an ultimate sense.  In eternity.  For eternity.

I love you!

Tonight, I was dragging my feet to gospel group.  I wanted to stay home, get some needed rest, read, journal.  But t minus 17 minutes, I dragged myself to the door, to my car, to the road.  And I’m so glad.

We spent time sharing tonight.  Initially, as people shared, my burden felt heavier and heavier.  Maybe I should’ve stayed home tonight.  I have enough going on in my own life.  We were a pretty discouraged, weary group going in.  Raw.  Many cares.  Heavy burdens.

But as the sharing continued, and as faint traces of faith and hope began to surface, I felt my vision widening.  And my heart with it.  Strangely, in shouldering their burdens with them and praying for them, my own became lighter.  Their burdens didn’t crush me, as I assumed they would.  Paradoxical.

And in praying they would remember God’s truths, I was reminded, too.  God’s grace given as the truths I repeat are the truths I desperately need to hear, too.  Gosh, I’d forgotten what that was like.  Somewhere, I slowly bought into the lie that my own little world was enough for me.  That my own mountainous burdens were broad enough for all my roamings.  Little did I see I was only justifying navel gazing.

Sometimes, I wonder what people see when they see groups like ours.  People pouring out their cares to one another.  Closing their eyes and talking to Someone.  Opening their eyes, sometimes a little more cheered, sometimes not.  But there’s a whole invisible kingdom pushing down roots and growing.  Unseen, yes, but sure.  One that is very much here.  In our hearts.  Where it counts.  Through the gospel.

As for our burdens, the reminder comes strongly tonight:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

The eternal weight of glory makes these crushing afflictions seem light and momentary.  That’s crazy, because sometimes I can’t imagine anything heavier than these afflictions.  But perhaps that speaks more to my weakness than to their heaviness.

Oh, to be crushed by the glory of our God, not by these light and momentary things.  But this is no ojalá.  One day, it’ll be just as He said.  And His invisible kingdom will be made visible.  We will see it with our eyes.

I can’t weight. :]