NOT THE BOOKS!
If you are anything like me, then books might be a tender topic when it comes to minimizing. The smell of books and the adventure they carry you on can make you sentimentally captive. For many years my goal was to collect books, but the tide has shifted. I was recently asked for tips and took it as a sign to write this blog post.
Holding the bedtime storybook I read to all of my children, the emotional ties made want to hold onto it forever even though no one wanted to hear it anymore, including me! I have held onto a few of my favorites that I plan to read aloud to my kids as they mature. I also keep some uplifting books that I reread occasionally. It is okay to preserve some special things, but when it becomes a whole bookshelf worth for each person in the household, it might be time to reevaluate a little. Are we keeping books out of guilt, fear, sentimental obligation, or because we truly use and enjoy them?
It is a childhood right of passage to pull books off the shelf, but when it brings mom to tears regularly, it's time to make a change. Picking up the same pile, over and over again, gets old. My inner librarian needs books to be treated gently or reverently, and that was not happening because they were toddlers! To save my sanity during the season of littles, I moved all special books high and strewed only a few of the chunky board books at a time. Then I could breath a sigh of relief.
Through birthdays and Christmas, we collected more and more books. I kept having babies, so I saved them to read to the youngest. During those years, I hoarded books, but now that my youngest is no longer a toddler, the first to go were the board-books. I became aware of how my belongings weighed on me and was ready for a change.
The kids didn't often object to giving books away. I was the one with the attachment. The perpetual what if mentality plagued me for a while. They had already moved on to the bigger and better titles. If someone did happen to object, we would do one last read aloud and set it aside. After a week, it was inevitably forgotten, and I would donate it at our local library while mentally reassuring myself that we could always borrow it back. Immediately afterward, I felt lighter allowing our books to bless others rather than collect dust.
My youngest is a boy, so next to go were all the early readers that didn't catch his interest. Barbie and other girly readers were looked right over; he wanted superheroes! We were able to bless other families who had girls and my shelves are more under control. Once he graduates, his first readers will be passed onto friends as well.
I was hoping my girls would love Harry Potter as much as I did. After number three, their interests waned. I am still holding onto it for my boy in case the series works its magic on him. The girls have discovered other series, and I had to come to terms with that. Classics are great but getting stuck in the past isn't. Forcing them to love all the series that I did as a child is ridiculous, instead, I am cultivating a serious library addiction.
The more we let go, the more we have room for. Sometimes, it is best to wait and see if anyone goes looking for that title. Keep an ongoing pile for donation and encourage kids to be generous. The story they loved might bring adventure to a new reader because of their generosity!
These tips can overlap into other areas too. Minimalism isn't a destination, it is a mindset. Be mindful of the season you are in and keep refining.
Recently I came across a devotional which prompted me to put myself into the story of the blind beggar in the book of Mark.
One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband is the way he asks questions about situations. This practice took old, repetitive stories from the Bible and made them come alive in a fresh way.
This devotional prompted me in much the same way - to taste, feel and experience the story of encountering Christ. Jesus asked the beggar what he wanted Jesus to do for him. It then prompted me to answer it for myself. What would I ask of God? With sudden clarity, I realized I would ask the for the same thing the blind man did.
I have eyes to see physically, but spiritually I know I miss a lot. The circumstances of life, the hardships, and the joys distract me from walking in full connection to the power of Christ.
I have moments of breakthrough where I see what I believe God wants me to see. I want more of that! I want to walk closer so I can see things the way God does. Not just to see the opportunities, but also the lessons in day to day trials and joy.
Keep opening my eyes, Lord!
Identity is an ambiguous concept. A quick search revealed thirty plus personality tests from the well-known Myers-Briggs to the recently re-popularized Enneagram. If this doesn't give evidence to humanity's obsession with our identity, I don't know what will. People use descriptive labels, their relationships or occupation in their attempts to identify themselves. Using those parameters - I am an INTJ, Reformer, wife, mother, writer, teacher, etc - but I am not the same person I was even a year ago.
Our obsession with identity doesn't end there. Add the countless branches of religion and their subsets which reveal our efforts to interpret God's identity. Our attempts to understand, lead us to more labeling and staunch viewpoints that layer up over time creating our interpretation or perspective. Systems and methodology are born in our pursuit to define God, people, our reality, and ourselves by these accumulated beliefs. With that in mind - I believe in a loving God and strive to follow Jesus' example.
I know my perception of God may not match yours. That is normal and okay! If you ask my siblings to describe our parents you would get differing descriptions. We are all unique and have our respective experiences that have shaped our individual relationships with each other. Our experiences will vary and naturally produce differing perspectives about God, too. Let's talk about fundamentals or the deal-breakers. Even what you think is fundamental probably differs from what I think is important. Sorry, not sorry!
I am seeking to understand who I am but more importantly who God is. For me, I feel my identity is wrapped up with God's. When my experiences with God do not line up with my "knowledge" of what I've read or been taught, I must accept the challenge to keep seeking rather than angrily cling to something out of fear or allow myself to crumble. If I stop seeking and think I know, then I am in big trouble. Fitting God into a box of my finite understanding should be a given impossibility. The disciples appeared pretty thick at times and theologians have differed over the centuries, so I am okay with it taking a lifetime to discover or grasp.
I was shaped by loving parents in an environment rich in spiritual religion. My childhood was a nice Christian bubble. I am grateful because my grandparent's faith transformation impacted generations to seek after God. I got to experience "church" in many cultures all teaching a variety of theologies. At home I was taught that God loves me and to be a friend before you share THE friend. That basic ideology has not changed in my mind. God wasn't forced on me, so I refuse to "evangelize" out of fear, through man-made strategy or out of guilt-ridden compulsion.
The layers of religion are slowly being peeled away. This statement may scare some people, but I don't know a better way to describe the modifications. I only share my thoughts because I process best this way. This journey has been slow, sometimes painful and definitely personal. Whether it is the gentle patter of the keyboard, the scratch of pen on paper, or discussing it with a trusted friend, I thrive with puzzling things out. I'm getting warmer, but God's timing in revealing truth comes as I am open to receiving or revising.
Being a life-long learner is one of my identifying traits. I thirst and curiosity runs deep. Maturity has taught me to wait and hear all sides. The same way a prosecutor's remarks can seem absolute or persuasive until you hear the defense, our initial interpretation without proper perspective is often faulty. It's a good thing we have a Spirit inside to guide us. I like absolutes, but I've had to get used to disappointment. The pendulum swing is real, polarity's pull is strong, and dynamic tension isn't always pleasant. It hasn't killed me but made my faith stronger. 1 Cor 13:9 talks about how we know in part.
The freedom to seek was presented to me around the age of twelve. I brought my questions and doubts to my parents. They assured me that God instructs us to seek and was big enough to handle all my questions. That encouraging discussion started a deeper awareness of God's guidance. My frustration has grown when religious authority or culture tries to designate where and how I am permitted to seek or serve. At seventeen, when I was first on my own, the Spirit in me discerned how a spiritual authority was wrong and that experience strongly impacted me in my journey forward. Time has revealed more truths about modern missions, the current-day spiritual culture, ministerial expectations, healthy boundaries, resentments, and true freedom.
I know my seeking will never be done. I have found greater peace in releasing religious custom and walking in greater awareness of my identity in God. I am a daughter of God created to bring glory by sharing my perspective of God's transforming journey in my life.
I struggle in many areas. Some have been brought to light and gently dealt with or healed; others I am still blind to or need more rounds of wrestling to overcome. I continue to journey through one issue, one moment at a time.
One area of silly pride I held was the fact that I had never gotten drunk, until the day I did. The circumstances were right, and it happened. Rather than feeling that God was angry at me, I felt His gentleness. Through that situation, a gentle truth bloomed in my mind. BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I.
It wasn't my incredible will power or self-discipline that had kept me from drinking to excess, sleeping around and getting hurt, cussing like a sailor or fill in the blank. This voice in my soul whispered of how every step I take is known. He walks with me directing, protecting, and loving even when I make bad choices. Allowing pride to build is naive and childish because any credit is due to His strength.
In many ways growing up in the church and on the mission field provided a safe spiritual little bubble. Other surroundings and I would have chosen differently. I was never offered beer, drugs, or peer-pressured into anything. I was born into a healthy family in a privileged country. God is capable of shaping us no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in because none of it is a surprise to Him. I can only be thankful my childhood circumstances were pretty ideal.
Another area I had pride about was relationships. I didn't date around and get my heart broken like a lot of my peers. I had a ton of secret crushes, but I probably would have dated a lot, if I'd been asked. Males around me were apparently intimidated by me. (Later several admitted that my confidence relegated me to their friend-zone.) I know God gifted me that confidence and strong childlike faith to protect me from myself. God wired into me a loyalty that would surface quickly. God blindsided me with my complimentary mate at the perfect time. We were friends who fell in love. We've been married twelve years and are still choosing love and balancing one another out.
I get prideful about all sorts of ridiculous things. My kids behaving. The truth is my kids misbehave moments later. How I've never been pulled over. God knows I would have an anxiety attack and cry if I got pulled over. Pride about my house being clean. Truth is my house stays clean when my kids are asleep or out with their father, and I have time to clean it up without interference. Accomplishing a lot in a day. Often, I make productivity my idol and I'm trying to change that. By the Grace of God I accomplish or not. I shouldn't take the credit or put goals over relationships.
God wired me and designed my personality. He knows what to protect me from and what I need to walk through to become more like Jesus. Like a good parent, He knows I seek best in the midst of the tough stuff. A complete life of ease isn't actually that beneficial for shaping character. A little pain or uncertainty and He gets my attention.
I know if I had been brought up in a different set of circumstances, or around other people, I would be a different person. I am learning to be thankful in the midst of life's struggles. I still wish and pray for hardship to pass, but I try not to begrudge God the journey process in my life. He gently breaks down my pride and lavishes me with mercy, grace, and peace. But for the Grace of God, I am convinced, I could be pushed to the point of murder, theft, drug addiction, abuse, etc. I choose to trust that this path is for my good and that my God is good.
My heart is burning and I cannot sleep. Recently, our path was diverted from disaster. Many of you who know us might think that it was diverted by disaster, but trust me when I tell you that your perspective isn't ours. This shift in priorities was beyond needed! God knew how to get our attention.
In life we often have these pendulum swings, because our beliefs are tied to a dynamic tension with the Spirit of God. He is trying to bring us to a peaceful balance but in our finite understanding we take a lesson all the way to the wall. He is gracious and allows us to swing one way and then nudges or knocks us back the other way.
Maybe I am being too vague. Let me just put it this way. There is truth to the saying "too much of a good thing." God opened our eyes to how far we had strayed from our true values. We had slowly allowed the LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS value to become DO FOR GOD and DO FOR OTHERS. Our lives had become unmanageable.
Now we have been set free. We are grateful believers in Jesus who struggle with codependency. Our codependency was with ministry. Godly advice had replaced the Holy Spirit in our lives and doing "too much" had enslaved us. Out of desperation we prayed and He answered!
In recent years we have gotten wise to the necessity of healthy marriages. Date nights are preached and marriage seminars have become more prevalent. Our pendulum in Christian society has swung. But again we are missing the full picture. What about families? What about rhythms of life? We are still not seeing a balance!
We are running the race like it is a sprint and wondering why we have trouble hearing from God or resisting temptation. Exhaustion is a bi-product of having productivity for God as an idol! Guilt and shame about service are felt. But my battered soul cries out for the examples of Jesus' mountain-top time. Who is modeling a discipline of rest? Are we encouraging sabbath in balance with service?
I write this as your flawed sister. Rest is not your enemy. In the quiet God can speak. Are we too busy to listen? Stop asking him to join your agenda and see how you can join Him in the today. It is a battle of the mind to be still and know He is God. The battle is His not ours. Stop taking on what isn't yours to do. Ask and trust one moment at a time.
So back to my mantra.... Lord let me walk humbly with you and be faithful in this moment.
As I walk on the treadmill my mind wanders a lot. This morning I listened to my devotions and a podcast hoping to focus my mind while moving my body, killing two birds with one stone. Eventually, I realized that my thoughts had drifted to the city of Jericho and all that marching. Gee, I wonder what inspired that...
-How long did it take to walk around the city of Jericho?
-What were they thinking about as they walked around the city silently?
-Did they have to be silent the whole way or just when near Jericho?
-How far was their base camp from Jericho anyway?
-On the seventh day when they had to walk around seven times how hard was it not to whisper to a buddy?
This train of thought inspired me to do some digging.
I normally walk for an hour or about 3 miles to keep the joints lubricated and my sanity intact. My thoughts ramble disjointed and numerous. The city of Jericho with its protective walls is said to have been about 9 acres. Thank you, Google! So math whiz that I am... (haha) I figured out it would take me only about ten minutes to walk around the city itself. Ten minutes of silence is totally doable, but when I found out their base camp was in Gilgal it changed the whole picture. I had to tack on 9 or so miles from Gilgal to Jericho! So add three hours to that ten minutes and that is just one way!
We are talking a 6+ hour walk every day for 6 days and then about 7+ hours on the last day silently before the walls fell down! That is a lot of time to think!
I wonder if they were allowed to talk until Jericho came into sight? Imagine walking with thousands of people around without making any conversation. Eerie! Ten minutes of silently circling Jericho had to have those soldiers imagining what God was going to do... if anything. There had to be at least one doubter in a crowd that big.
Most periods of waiting aren't easy. Our brains fill the silence with worst-case scenarios, doubts, hopes, fear, anxiety, and prayer. Unknowns allow room for God to show off and with Jericho he definitely did. That seventh day is worth waiting for! I know, I know - I wish we could always know the waiting ended after seven days. Unknowns also allow fear to creep in. The end probably won't go in any of the hundred scenarios we run through our minds anyway.
Countless times the end "battle" turns out so much better than I could have hoped. Unforeseen consequences come and bless my socks off. The end result may be great, but the interim is the best place for me. Clinging to faith increases my spiritual muscle. No pain no gain! It also makes a greater testimony to God's glory!
Even when I feel like the end result was more massacre than victory I know I don't walk through it alone. I have learned to trust. Trust is something that is earned and learned through history together. God uses all things together for good. I like to add an eventually to this statement because His timing is not ours. Waiting is often the main point. In the valley, we get to choose to trust. We get to choose our focus. If we recall our history with God rather than our fears - that is our battle to fight. Our battle is in the heart and head! Choose to trust He will take care of the rest and walk with us through it.
In the midst, I feel like I can't make it through, but with His help I will. The waiting is still unpleasant. I mean who likes waiting? Uncertainty is still uncomfortable. Each valley of testing makes my faith grow and my certainty in God's love, protection, sustenance increases step by step.
My last random thoughts were on armor. How much did it psyche out the rulers of Jericho to see a massive army prepared for battle circle them day after day? They had no idea what God was doing. Maybe they were confident in their walls the first day, but some doubt had to be niggling in their mind with each passing day. I don't want to be waiting around unarmed. I want to keep Satan on his toes.
God wants my head protected with the knowledge of my salvation. My heart is safe, behind the breastplate of righteousness, knowing that God approves of me thanks to Jesus' sacrifice. Truth is my support knowing it should be shared in love. I am ready to share the Good news of peace with God wherever I go. I raise the shield of faith to block the arrows of doubt, shame, and fear Satan sends my way. The sword of the Spirit, the word of God, fights for me against the lies of Satan.
Let's keep growing in our waiting by asking questions and digging deeper into the word, so we will be stronger for the next valley. A good march makes the victory all the sweeter.
When I first started my blog I struggled to find a name. I finally settled on Misty Megaccino Moments. Megaccino was a nickname that friend gave me in Ukraine a long time ago. I feel called to share my journey so moments felt right, but the misty part came after reading the verse about how we see things hazy as through a glass. After taking a theology class I concluded that the more you get to know God the more you realize you don't know. More answers lead to more question and thus starts a lifetime of seeking.
I don't claim to have all the answers. In fact, I hope it comes across loud and clear that I am a seeker, not a teacher. If you have found something useful or touching in one of my blogs then that is because the Lord saw fit to use it. God's Spirit is the teacher, not me.
I started this blog for a few reasons: one, I wanted a record of things God has done because I have a poor memory. I knew I would need to go back and remind myself of His faithfulness. Two, I wanted my kids to have a chronicle of my life. Rather than an emotionally-charged diary that I wrote in when upset, I chose a public forum that helps me keep a more balanced perspective. And Lastly, I process by writing things out, so it is a therapeutic process.
During a conversation I had this morning, I bemoaned my tendency to cry. I especially hate crying in front of others. It seems I cry when attempting to speak about anything of importance; I hate confrontation, because people matter. I tear up in empathy when anyone else does. Waterworks should dissipate with maturity or time, right? I am still hoping, but this doesn't seem to be the case.
At eleven, emotions choked me as I tried to give my simple testimony at summer camp. In college speech class I read aloud a fictitious story and sobbed like it was true. I had to fight through tears to even finish the assignment because I had gotten too deep into my own story. Crazy! Talk about embarrassing! No doubt I looked like a crazy person which makes my logical brain mad. As a young adult, I co-lead a study about the book Lies Women Believe and balled my way through that. Vulnerability equals tears in my body at least. Ugh... For years I have struggled with this - I see it as a weakness. I feel like it is Satan's attempt to silence me. He likes to keep people isolated instead of openly sharing their faith journeys with each other. Shame and fear like the dark, so the best way to get rid of them is to expose it to the light! Others have tried to convince me that my tears are a strength?... yeah um OK, I still don't see it, but thanks!
Maybe, I am incapable of relating what the Lord had done or is revealing to me without leaking, but at least with writing, no one can see the tears. Haha! Mostly, it is annoying to have the meaning behind your tears be misread. I even cry when I am angry and that is extremely aggravating! Every opportunity of speaking has left me choking through tears. No matter how much I prepare or outline, my emotions of gratitude and freedom overwhelm me. I can think it dry-eyed in my head, but as soon as I break my silence tears flow. I will not be silenced though. If God compels me to speak despite my tears, I must.
So anyways... this morning as I was driving home, I had an epiphany. God spoke deeper meaning into the word MISTY. The moments I am sharing with you all are my misty moments. Here I lay out personal miracles and struggles, both of which have come with tears. Whether the meaning behind the tears is nostalgia, pain or gratitude matters not, God knows. All these years I thought the name originated from the hazy mist of our inability to understand an infinite God, but more deeply it is all the moments God collected my tears in a bottle.
I love that God has layers and he is showing me my own layers. I learn things and then learn them again at a whole-other-level. He takes us deeper in. He didn't take away the original meaning of Misty - that is still a huge revelation in my journey of how big God is! But, he added a deeper meaning of embracing who he created me to be - a woman chronicling her misty moments for whoever he brings to read them. May he be glorified by every tear and every moment!
I love that God has a sense of humor. He is so wise in timing. He knows when we are ready or in need of a revelation. He knows what we can handle and what we can't. I know that is why He enjoys blowing my mind with epiphanies that are personal and perfect in His timing. Haha - well played God!
Have you had an epiphany lately? Share it with me!
This is my current read. After finishing Jen's Of Mess and Moxie book I knew I had to read her previous one. I am only a few pages in but already her witty humor is a huge draw for me. I'll post at the end of the summer with a further review.
Below are two groups of titles. One group I have already read this summer and thoroughly enjoyed. Most are fiction because summer is for chilling, but several nonfiction found their way into my library bag. And boy am I glad they did!
The second group is my current random grab from the library and online, so we shall see how they work out.
From left to right:
My summer started with a tale about connection on a flight, continued through a historical piece on Jewish midwifery, followed by a spiritual visit at an Amish bed and breakfast and - oh how I enjoyed the diversity!
After that, I was introduced to two new-to-me authors. One had me shouting Amen! The other's work astounded me. The internal dialogue was authentic and the spiritual journey was alongside Frank Peretti or Ted Dekker. The last in this group was probably the most beneficial. I know a reread of this book is the only way for it to be fully absorbed, so this one I purchased!
I enjoyed my random library grabs so much! (I have three kids, so I will admit to judging covers and only reading the back of a few of these ahead of time!) I only ended up returning two to the library that I was unable to get into at this time - So yay for the random grab method!! I am a big believer in timing. Sometimes you attempt to read a highly recommended book and nothing resonates, but you read the same book in another season of life and you can't get enough! If it doesn't grab you, don't sweat it - maybe next time!
These are the titles that I random-grabbed this last library visit. The last two were offline. One is a new author to me. Another is second in a series. Two of these are actually the same author but different genres. ;) These should keep me busy for the next week or two, but then I will need some more suggestions.
Another handy tool of busy moms is putting things on hold to pick up at the desk! So,what is on your summer list? Comment below with your suggestions!!
Last fall I relaxed in my hammock enjoying the North Carolina mountains, the crisp air, and the golden leaves. There is something serene about untouched nature. It soothes the mind, It instigates a soul reset. Last week,
I felt it again as I sat on the beach not far from my central Florida home. Relishing in the sound of the rough waves as my skin was misted by the spray, I felt that same inner calm. Again, there is something magical about our world.
Even now, as I swing gently in my hammock under the shade of an epic tree my children climb, the promise of summer fills my heart as the warm breezes rock us. My son is napping in the hammock next to me and I feel at peace.
Why am I reluctant to rest? Why this need to fill the silence? Why is Satan so good at sending distractions? Why do we feel required to do more good stuff? Is it because we know that in the quiet God will find us?
This makes us uncomfortable. When we are quiet enough to listen God whispers things for us to work on. His Spirit cuts through the urgent and shows us the significant. Whether it is a pleasant overwhelm of His love for us or a correction we feel in our spirit, it remains uncomfortable because we like to be in charge of our emotions not humbled. Sometimes it means walking alone in our convictions or changing our priorities. We are not all called to the same life - that would be boring.
Whether this season is slow or busy, productive or not - that doesn't matter. God is calling. Relationships are best when we make time and space for them. My devotion time can easily become scheduled, rushed or dutiful. Jesus reveals himself in many ways; He is not strictly found on Sundays, in scripture or worship lyrics. I recognize His Spirit in my neighbor who always seems to be helping others. The cuddles of my children and the kindness of friends who really listen are all extensions of His love which speaks to me. Simple things can be divine appointments - gentle reminders that He cares about every detail of my life, not just what I can do for Him.
My word for this year is Embrace. I am still learning all the ways in which God means that. Embrace the moment is what first came to mind, but He is showing me it is so much more than that. The hard stuff, the challenge, the unknown. Those are harder to embrace, but they develop character. Jesus doesn't need me to rush around; my list of productivity does not impress Him. My faithfulness will never match His, but what He wants is me.
So my summer challenge is to embrace more:
Breezes in the trees
Laughter in the air
Good books to read
Fun projects to create
Glasses of lemonade with condensation trickling off
BBQ's with friends
And most importantly, to learn to look for Him in it all.
Seeing the world blossom is such a key reminder to appreciate life - it is a gift! I want to embrace the whole journey; the good, the bad, the ugly... and the spectacular! I want to praise Him, pray fierce when I should, sing loud and let the tears of gratitude flow, speak of His faithfulness, replace lies with truth and uplift those nearby through words and actions.
When I feel weak I KNOW God is made great. When I fail I TRUST that it will strengthen my grace and add beauty to the testimony of what God is doing in me. Our testimonies are all unique, but God is in them all. May summer be uncomfortably beautiful!
There is such a negative connotation with the words losing, failing and giving up. When I woke this morning my mind was filled with these three concepts not because I’m depressed and wanting to give up on life, but because I want to retrain my mind.
When I think of the word ‘lose’ I picture a race being lost or searching for a misplaced item. When I think of failing my mind goes to tests and trying new things. Giving up is the phrase often used for defeat, but this isn’t always the case.
If we look at the context, it can all change. Are we focusing on the negative or what comes with it?
Losing your mind is a bad thing, but losing excess weight is a good thing. What about losing ourselves in a good book or another activity we love?
I know God is trying to change the way I view failure and success.
Failure is not the opposite of success. I actually hate the word success because I feel its pursuit can steal the joy of the journey. One person’s view of success can be very different from another’s. Failing forward is progress. Failing shows attempt. And where does contentment fall in the process? Dream big, but don't forget to be thankful for here and now because it is all you have.
Giving up is another one that I laugh at. Giving up sounds so bad until you tack on what you are giving up. Giving up sugar? Wow! Giving up worry? Yes! Giving up control? By surrendering you may actually gain freedom and peace.
Maybe I am just a die-hard optimist, but once again my perspective is my choice. It doesn’t matter how someone else views it. How I choose to perceive and think on a topic can make or break my day, joy and ultimately my life. My responsibility is to keep my heart attentive to the Lord’s direction and enjoy life’s ups and downs.
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....