They don’t seem like much. It’s just the blank space in a book.
But try to live without them.
Have you ever picked up one of those economically printed books? The font is between size 9-10 and the margins are squeezed almost to the end of the page. I used to relish books like that. It meant that there was no wasted paper and each page would be packed with story!
Fast forward to now.
I pick up the same book. It has almost no margin, and the 9-10 sized font and I immediately put it down and shudder. It doesn’t matter if it is a book title I’ve wanted to collect or a story I want to read, I know I won’t. Why? Because there is no margin, no space for my mind on that crowded page.
Life, needs margins.
When I first published Annabeth’s War…
Well, I just hope there are very few copies of that book in the world. It needed help because I wasn’t a “professional author” but a passionate one who was still learning, and will always be learning. I see many new authors making the same mistakes I did and smile. It’s okay, it is not the most professional thing in the world, but we all start somewhere.
Looking over the last few years of my life. I realize that I’ve left very little room for margin, and I’ve paid a price. My creativity is bubbling over but also stumped because it hasn’t had a space to grow and just be. It’s been crammed into my life in size 9 font, with no spacing, and runs on like a Greek sentence. (They did not have punctuation btw.) My relationship with the Lord has been incredibly sweet but also cramped into the space carved out for it everyday, yes, it overflowed into other areas of my life but, it needed room for more roots and greater space for growth, instead it was stuck in a small pot and limited access to the sun. It should be the center of my heart’s universe, but it was stuck in a place where it got cramped up. In areas I have thrived–but other parts of me have paid the price.
Picking up a book I read a few years ago I had to laugh at myself I LOVED this book and wanted to adopt everything about it. I failed, because I didn’t stop to make time for margin in my life. But, I want to turn over a new leaf. A new space. I want to put margin in my life.
Recently, I was house-sitting for someone, the house contained two dogs, a turtle, and a fish. As with all house sitting tales go with fish involved. The fish. Died.
Now, this wasn’t due to my neglect, I fed the fish, I watched the fish, I cared for the fish–I was worried about the fish. Every time I sprinkled the fish food on the surface of the water. There was no reaction. It just sat there fluttering its beta fins, staring into the middle distance. I started to worry as the little guy wasn’t seeming to eat.
Then it happened.
I went to check on him and offer him food.
And all the food in the world wouldn’t bring that fish back to life. It was then it struck me. How often in my spiritual walk do I feed on the word in my thought life, do I meditate on scripture and truth, or do I grab a scripture snack in the morning and expect it to hold me throughout the day. Or even have you been around a child and they eat something healthy and after chewing it they spit it back out. It makes me think of the scripture in James 1
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Is scripture actually a part of my life, does your heartache when it hasn’t been open as much or as long as you would want it to be or is it just that thing that you pick up in the morning and forget about it the moment you “start your day.” You munch on the life-giving word and then spit it back out and continue to chew on the wad of worldly wisdom. I would argue dear friend that your day is not started, it is not functional without Jesus Christ.
It also struck me how I can also be like the fish, the word of God is there every day, it is always within reach by phone, laptop, app, and yet do I reach for it. Is my first reaction to reach for nourishment? For the little fish, food was prepared, sprinkled, and made ready–but he never partook. If I never eat what He has prepared for me will I not also starve? Won’t my spiritual well-being be gaunt and lacking?
One of my prayers over the last few months has been Lord, give me the heartbeat of heaven, let my heartbeat and long for what you long for, let me ache in what grieves you, let me rejoice in what brings you joy, let me lean into You with every breath I take. Now, I not saying I walk this perfectly or I’ve learned how to completely tune out the world, but it’s been a place of thought and teaching my heart to crave something higher, to not just glance at the word but to gaze at it and keep my eyes fixed so I do not forget. I don’t want to forget, I don’t want to walk away from the word in the morning and pat my Bible and thank it for that sweet little verse that was nice. I desire fellowship with my Savior, a faithful conviction, a feast sampling that something more.
Dear friend is your soul starving or feasting, are you dying with spiritual starvation or are you feasting and flourishing?
Personal note, this dear friend is just as much an exhortation of conviction to myself as to you. I am not walking perfectly, I am still learning and I have so far to go. I am merely a pilgrim along your journey sharing a piece of my heart.
Recently, I’ve been pondering the beautiful word desire.
In my daily bible reading Genesis chapter 3:16
And her desire shall be towards her husband.
Stopped me in my tracks, and I read them over and over again.
I love the movement in those few words.
Desire shall be towards…
There is action.
It is not passive.
The word desire in Hebrew paints a beautiful picture to yearn, long, reach toward…
Now, I am single so why would I meditate on this verse? Not so I can long for marriage, or my singleness to end. Mentally I reframed it. I am a bride. A member of the Bride of Christ, and if I am how should the bride long for her heavenly Groom?
I started looking for things that desire, where did I find desire in my own life?
Desire, has hunger in it. Cooking curry on the stovetop I realized I was leaning into the smell, I was going towards a simple thing, curry. A taste, of desire.
Currently, I am living in a basement. There is a small shamrock plant that sits in a window that barely gets any light. However the small plant, desires the sun. It sits on the ledge patiently waiting for the sun to appear. At night when the sun disappears it tucks it three little leaves down so they look like mini umbrellas. But in the morning….
I am an early riser, currently I rising before or right along with the sun. The other morning, I pulled myself from my cozy blankets and walked into our living room the sky had a grey hint of dawn, not the hopeful blue, or the inspiring pink, just a hint of lightness in the sky…and the little leaves of the shamrock had started to unfold from their umbrella position to stretch towards the coming sun. I blinked. They are on the west side of the house, in a basement window well it is going to be hours…and yet their anticipation had already grown to reach towards the sun.
Conviction pricked at my heart. Am I waiting for my Lord, my heavenly Groom with that same anticipation. When I wake is He my first thought and delight. Do my toes curl in anticipation of prayer time and Bible reading.
Is my heart turned towards His? Do I long for the heartbeat of Heaven? What is His throbbing heartbeat, does it have an echoing refrain in my own soul?
Being a storyteller—my thoughts turned towards a narrative. What if the shamrock that longs for the sun turned it’s attention to other objects? What if it sat under a lamp? Yes, the lamp seems to have the same effect as the sun, but it doesn’t have the same nourishment. The plant would eventually die. What if the plant decided to uproot itself and chase a bright yellow ball? Yes, the ball is round like the sun, and it seems to have the same color but what would you call such a plant that chases after things besides the sun?
Now let me rephrase that.
What do we call a Christian who chases after something besides Christ?
If those objects had names such as worldly security, or lust—they are a false sun, and a false sun—brings death. Yet, how often does my heart turn towards other things than Christ?
One thing have I desired said the Psalmist.
And that will I seek after.
To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…
To what end?
To behold the beauty of my Lord and to enquire in His temple.
Nearly two months ago… I got ‘vid. And by ‘vid, I mean IT And by IT, I mean… C Ohhhhhhh v i d. Honestly, I don’t even like saying it.
My sense of taste and smell disappeared right in the middle of dinner one night. That was fun. I had known, something was up, but I had been semi hoping, that it was it, semi hoping that it wasn’t. A mixed bag of the unknown, trusting for what was best.
When my test came back positive I was relieved and incredibly grateful. 1. I was able to quarantine without the risk of infecting ANYONE ELSE. 2. I got to spend a lot of time with Jesus. 3. It answered the whole “Are you getting the vaccine?” question…at least for now. 4. I couldn’t have asked for it at a better time truly I mean there is never a good time to get sick but I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, there were no tiny friendish events I was going to miss, God is just plain good at His timing.
Confession. It was also harder than I anticipated. Quarantining physically alone was hard. Around day six I might have been curled up in a ball on my bed crying. Maybe, who knows….
However, it was also a time of healing, in a unique way. While it was bothersome to be physically alone and unable to really see anyone at all…the community around me shocked me to tears multiple times.
A few years ago I was a missionary in a foreign country and I was sick. Very sick, not once but twice, and while I wasn’t physically alone, I was emotionally abandoned by my fellow coworkers. Who were….missionaries with me. I won’t go into detail, but it was difficult and I came away from that situation doubting Christianity…if this was the way Christians would treat others, did I really want to be one? I trembled at the edge with that question tipping the scale back and forth wondering if I wanted to stay on this “merry-go-round.” I wanted Jesus but the rest of it?
With this sickness two people reached out to me and offered to bring meals to me, which I was very reluctant to accept, however as I found I was getting weaker as ‘vid progressed I realized that I needed help and I needed to be okay, saying “Yes, please, I need help.” (I am stubborn about asking for assistance. It’s not something I like to say. I’d rather just…not inconvenience anyone, and as I mentioned in my previous experience abroad, sometimes I doubt that even if asked, help will arrive.)
To be honest, I was blown away. It was so different, the love, prayers and so much more from the body of Christ around me…awed my fractured and mistrusting heart. People reached out to me and let me know they cared and I was in their prayers and I wept. In some ways, I didn’t know what to do with it, or almost how to accept their love and outpouring of concern. The contrast was so sharp from my previous experience…I am struggling to find the words I want to say. But, it touched a scar in my soul and brought a deep healing balm to it.
In Taiwan–once I had asked God where He was in all of the mess, and immediately, He showed me, I was in His lap with my head on His shoulder. I realized that was all I needed, and I clung to that.
This experience, I didn’t doubt where He was, I knew I was in His lap, wrapped in His arms. leaning on Him, but this time it wasn’t just Him. There was a shield wall of warriors around me battling on my behalf. To be loved, sheltered, and cherished by the body of Christ…was a gift…that…I don’t know if I have words for, but, I want to say, Thank you.
Her eyes grew large as I rolled up to the drive-thru of Starbucks, she was a sweet bouncy barista with simplistic tattoos, short brown hair tucked into a messy bun. She turned to get my payment and this dear sweet soul’s eyes lit up! “You look like Taylor Swift!”
It took me a moment to take in what she had said and figure out how to respond.
My neat bun was slipping into a disaster, my red heart glasses were perched on top of my head, and I was desperately hoping that my eyes weren’t puffy from the amount of crying that had been going on in the last 24 hours. I felt like a wreck, so a compliment was the last thing on my mind. Fumbling for something to say, I think I managed “Aw! Thanks, I wish I could sing like her.”
She offered me a smile, and my coffee, I accepted both and returned the smile with “Thanks so much have a good rest of your day!”
Driving away, couldn’t help but mull over my response. Do I really want to be able to sing like TS? Not really, what would I do if I had a platform like that?Is that what I want people to look at me and say? Oh you look like…the world. There is nothing in TS’s life that I would like to imitate, so why am I flattered. And there was a sudden ache in my heart. And I realized what I really wanted. What I really want someone to be able to look at me and say. I want to live a life that when someone looks at my life they see One person.
You look like Jesus…
I want to resemble His heart, His passion, His pattern, to walk in His footsteps.
I want to be like Jesus.
So, dear reader, I leave you with the question…who do you want to look like?
The definition that popped into my head ran along the lines of extraordinary boring, dull beyond measure, *yaaaaaaawwwwn* etc.
The definition, suprised me.
Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve always heard mundane used in a negative context. That task is so mundane (aka boring). You know just doing the mundane things to survive (aka my life is like a wrecking ball of boredom, laundry, dishes, diapers, cleaning….you name it there is nothing interesting here please move on so I don’t fall asleep just talking about my life.)
It sounds like Monday…a day the jury is out on.
But say it a few times. Mundane…MUNDANE, mundane. Mundane.…mun…dane.
I know, you’re raising your eyebrow at me, wondering if I’ve gotten out of the loony bin. It might be my state bird, but I am not a loon. Just for clarification.
Mundane, according to Websters 1828 Dictionary is this: Belonging to the world; as mundane sphere; mundane space.
mid-15c., mondeine, “of this world, worldly, terrestrial,” from Old French mondain “of this world, worldly, earthly, secular;” also “pure, clean; noble, generous” (12c.) and directly from Late Latin mundanus “belonging to the world” (as distinct from the Church), in classical Latin “a citizen of the world, cosmopolite,” from mundus “universe, world,” which is identical to mundus “clean, elegant,” but the exact connection is uncertain and the etymology is unknown.
antemundane (adj.) is….
“existing or happening before the creation of the world,” 1731; see ante- + mundane.
So any clue as to what extramundane might be?
[ ek-struh-muhn-deyn, –muhn-deyn ]
beyond our world or the material universe
It struck me.
People seem to think that being a Christian is a mundane thing…when in reality is far beyond–it is an extramundane thing. It is beyond this world, it is otherworldly. There is a preacher who when he’s asked where he’s from surprises his listeners by declaring he’s a citizen of the New Jerusalem.
How often am I caught in the mundanity of life, when I should be captivated by the “extramundanity” of my Jesus? The extraordinariness, and wonder of who He is, of what He has done, of what He has promised…of who He is.
Jesus is my extra, He’s out of this world incredible.
So, next time someone asks how life is going and you’re doing well, tell them it’s extramundane…and maybe you’ll; get to share exactly how of this world good God is.
This world is not my home, I am just a passing through…
This mundane is not my home, I am just a passing through my treasure is laid up beyond the extramundane…
Okay, okay, I’ll stop but you get the idea…right?
Life is about One thing.
Don’t get so caught up in the mundane you miss the extramundane life….
There is something about flowers that can unlock the conversation of romance.
The conversation usually runs along the lines of things like…
What kind of flowers do you like? What flowers are romantic to you? What kind of wedding bouquet do you want?
I was cutting flowers with another single young lady and we talked about the lack of romance in our lives, the joys of singleness, and the delight of arranging flowers for others. As the years have gone by, I realize that my definition of romance has changed…though I am not even sure I was prepared for what came out of my mouth, but yet there is the deep sweet undertone of longing that I cannot deny.
Romance, as I’ve grown older, has never been the sappy gushy wishy-washy of a romance novel, it’s not Paris in spring, chocolates, outings with ambiance or a thousand other things…
That is not romance.
Restaurants with ambiance, boxes of chocolates for me to eat, and dozens of roses—is not the life or love I want.
Romance, is suffering.
To step forward and to sip from the same cup as the one we love, their joys their sorrows, their burdens their ups their downs the twirling whirlwind dance of life.
Those words awakened me in a way that I cannot explain.
It whispered of the visions of romance that I have glimpsed of in the film: Free Burma Rangers, and the tantalizing ever so relatable stories of Brother Andrew in God’s Smuggler.
Suffering, is romance…
The answer of the armor bearer…to Jonathan…
Later that week, martyrs deaths were brought up on a screen.
As I looked at stoning, beheadings, clubbing’s, boiling oil—I wondered: Am I ready?
Do I quaver to step forward?
My heart cried Lord please make me ready. Make me fit, bring glory to Your kingdom…these deaths…I’ve read portions of the Foxes Book of Martyrs, in riveted awe, wonder and horror…but am I ready to walk in those shoes?
Then He brought back the words I said to the young lady.
Romance, is suffering.
Looking up afresh on that list, I realized it was the most romantic thing in the world. Those were beloved, they knew the love of Christ…
Lord may I love you so much, that any of those would be romance to my soul.
This cup I take, this unleavened bread I hold, it is a token of His covenant. Communion not a mere symbol of Christianity—but so much more. Through the word, I have a record of my Christ. With the Bible He spells out with His words and life, His promises of provision, the life that He will lead, the inheritance of the Father—it is all spelled out in the promises of Old Covenant, and they are all fulfilled in the New, and given me the wedding gift of His Holy Spirit to prepare my heart.
He has called me to Him, to be His bride.
There is no detail spared, no hidden lines.
In boldness and love, He calls so tenderly:
Arise my love, my fair one, take up your cross and follow me.
To be one with Him, is to drink of that cup.
To follow in His divine footsteps, it to partake of that life.
The sufferings and sorrows, the rejoicing and His hope.
He has taken the wrath of God, He has drunk from the divine cup.
The cup now stands on the table for me to drink, to share, to pledge, to partake of what He promises—His life, His sufferings—and should the occasion require it—to partake of His death.
Starting the car, I grabbed the charger for my phone…
Then, I laughed at myself.
Minutes before it had been plugged in and charging…it was fully charged. I doubted that it had “uncharged” in the few minutes that it had taken me to walk downstairs, fill my water bottle, and walked to the car. Yet, here I was grabbing for something I didn’t need.
My reflex was to grab for the cord had become natural in my drive days before as the map app on my phone drained my battery like a fox holding a banquet in a hen house. Running to the small coffee shop that I knew the directions to certainly had no need of a map app or my phone being plugged in.
Then it struck me…
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. ~John 15:5
My heart needs to be turned towards Christ, the same way my hands were trained to plug in my un-eternal cell phone. I want to be hungry for Christ in that same way, to never be unattached from Christ, my life instict to be attached to Him, to cling to Him, to turn to Him, to look to Him as my life, my energy, my source, my joy, my love–my everything.
I wondered for a moment, how easily do I get my “charge” from Bible reading, fellowship, prayer, the slip onto battery saving mode and try to get on in my day without staying attached to Christ…who IS MY LIFE. There is no life outside of Christ…none whatsoever.
What are you plugged into? Where do you find life? How do you stay charged thoughout the day? Is Christ your life?
Apparently, I am into pulling out journal jots and making them entries. This one is not two years old, but it comes from late June this year…but it is still fresh and heavy on my heart a frequent meditation, I am a little hesitant to share because I know I do not live this yet but I crave it, I desire it…and I’ll stop explaining and just let you read it…
A horseshoe-shaped driveway, poised lion statues, two-story brick house lengthy windows, cars…more than I imagined anyone needed to own lining a side driveaway.
I pulled up at the home of my employer and gawked double-checking the address. I was in the right place. Stepping out of the car and walking up the flower-laden steps to the double front doors. I knocked. The door was answered by the mother of my employer, she asked what I was there for and I answered. “To clean the ice machine.”
I’ll be honest that is not an answer I ever expected to give anyone answering the door, but there I was ready to clean a tiny ice cube making machine. She ushered me into the house. Vaulted ceilings, sweeping half-spiral staircase, lush rugs that were the kind I imagined in princess stories, elegant dining table, and chairs, sparkling chandeliers. At last, we reached my destination, the laundry room.
If you cut my room in half the widthwise, then put it end on end…the laundry room was the size of my bedroom. Wall, length closet space, two washers and dryers, dog beds, and other things including the countertop ice machine. (This is one of those luxury items I didn’t know was a thing! For years I was our icemaker then we updated to a fancy fridge that made it for us…) I spent 20 minutes cleaning the little machine and it was all set and ready to go making fresh ice for my then boss.
I let myself out of the house.
Tears started to gather in my eyes.
Jesus, why did I ever think any of this was important?
Years ago, I might have said a house like that was my dream, but time has changed that, and as I sat in my car wiping tears from my eyes, the realization hit me that I would rather have Jesus and live in a cardboard box than sell myself out for the riches of this world and have a house like that. (I am not promoting homelessness btw, houses are good, just in perspective but if you have to make a choice, go for the cardboard box.) I listened to them anxious and angry at work about this and that person losing them money, I watched them throw fits about people not listening to them, and allowing their wealth to vindicate their attitude towards others.
I slipped the car into gear and started to drive away…
A story from many years before started to drift through my mind…
A little girl for her birthday had been given money to spend on herself. She went to the dollar store and chose a faux pearl dress-up necklace. She loved the necklace, she loved it so much she wore it everywhere she went, swimming, dance lessons, church, the playground, the sandbox, on a picnic, day or night she could not bear to be separated from her new treasured pearl necklace. Now, you can easily imagine the condition of this dollar store necklace after a few weeks. The faux pearl veneer had mostly chipped off and some pearls had become entirely bald of their shimmer revealing their true bland plastic selves. But still, she cherished it. One evening her father came in to bid her goodnight and asked her a question.
“Will you give me your pearl necklace?”
“No!” was her reply.
“Okay, I love you, goodnight.” Kissing her on the forehead he left, a touch of sadness in his demeanor.
This troubled his daughter. Why would Daddy want my necklace? Why did that make him sad? Daddy is a boy, what would he do with my pearl necklace?
The senario repeated itself the next evening.
“Will you give me your pearl necklace?”
“I love you, goodnight.” Kissing her on the forehead he left with that same touch of sadness.
Now, I don’t remember if it was three days or a week, but at last, the little girl decided if Daddy wanted her pearl necklace–he should have it.
He came in to say goodnight.
She looked at him anxiously, would he ask the same question? Would he have her give up her treasured faux pearl necklace? What could he possibly do with it?
“Will you give me your pearl necklace?”
Sorrowfully, she took it off. “Daddy, if you want my pearl necklace. You can have it.” she placed it in his open hand. A smile spread across his face. He sat down beside her on the bed, tucking the faux pearl necklace into his pocket.
“Thank you, dear daughter, I have something I’ve wanted to give you, but I couldn’t until you gave me these.” he pulled out from his other pocket a velvet box. In it. A string of real pearls.
The story struck afresh cord in my heart. How many times have I clung to things that seem important, how much have I clung to idols in my heart, cherishing them above all else, above the treasure that God is? The best thing I can do is exchange the idols in my heart for more of Jesus. Replacing the treasures of this world stored up in my heart with Jesus. I started realizing even aspects of my future I’ve clung to…is idolatry in my heart.
Marriage, children, job, secure and certain future…how I’ve pictured my life.
I laughed with tears in my eyes, joy and sorrow, that sweet mixed cup. My life, is not my own, how did I think I could ever plan on living it? I’ve had my road map turned all upside down. My life is found in Jesus, my life should be full of Jesus, all I should want in life is Jesus. This world has nothing to offer me–it cannot give me Jesus.
Recently, for the third time in the last six months I listened to the story of Darlene Deibler Rose. This is one of the true stories, that you wish you could reach through pages and time and give them a hug. Darlene, feels like one of those Kindred Spirits, a big sister in Christ, whose feet I could sit at and learn from all day long.
There is a special kinship as I dive into these pages that strikes a deep cord within.
Part of it I believe is we come from similar regions, she mentions a city twenty minutes from where I live in her book, and I can see the Midwest mindset in the way she thinks and even talks sometimes. The same rapt wonder that she expresses as she arrives in a tropical climate, is the same I felt arriving in a subtropical Taiwan. Some of the sights and smells she relates…and I am a moment later in her shoes, smelling the same strange market places and sweet wonder of night blooming jasmine. I relate to the intense heat of the day with no air conditioning, and loving a people whose language I am learning…
While I have not stood on the soil of New Guinea, I have stood on soil occupied by the Japanese forces during WWII and seen the aftermath, many, many years later. I have walked through the bomb shelters, and the structures they left behind when they lost the war. In some places they have become beautified as a tourist attraction, the sharp agony of occupation softening the scar with balm of time and forgotten by those did not feel it’s crushing heel. But still in others—it has left an angry wound, flared and festered with the feeling of being forgotten…
Living in the aftermath of this story—and so many others, having sipped from the cups of history through reading, but this is a story that can earthquake the soul.
This is one of those books I wish I had read earlier in life…especially before going to the mission field, but I passed up on reading the book for many years because my mom owned the VHS tapes of Darlene, as an enchanting, lovable, antiquated lady, giving her testimony seated in a chair against a dark blue background, the light casting a halo on her golden white hair; that was cut just like my Grandma. Many times I sat in rapt wonder watching the story of Darlene with my Mama….but somehow as she related her story, I missed something. Perhaps it was because I was young when we had the VHS 📼, and I myself had not felt the fires of life, nor drank from that bitter-sweet well of suffering, that I missed the beauty and golden treasures hidden in this book.
When it comes to trying to describe this book, words seem paltry and small, there is so much power delivered by Darlene’s pen as she walks us through the fires of her affliction, holding onto nothing but the hand of God. Her faith is eloquent in it’s simplicity, she bears her cross as she saw our Master bear His. She goes through a vast wilderness that would crush most into dust and ashes, as a light, shining into the monstrous darkness that claims to have her in it’s teeth. She held fast and did not waver, looking only, ever at the Savior. She was a good solider, who did not melt at persecution, did not give way in all the confusion. Her soul was not made of sweet sticky chocolate Christianity that melts at the moment heat is introduced to its life. Her soul, she was willing to let it be refined in the fire as gold, tried over and over and over again, until it reflected but one thing.