Quiet

I’m interested. I want to know if everyone else feels like I do and they’re just faking it (yes you–are YOU faking it?) or am I the only one?

Just a preface for all you Type-A personalities out there, I like to get things done. I do NOT lay in my bed for endless hours, watch TV or sip tea and eat bon bons all day. Even with the desire to achieve in me, I have to wonder if we’re ALL headed in the wrong direction with the “do more, succeed more” lifestyle standard we set for ourselves (and consequently others). I have to-do lists. I need to do laundry. Regularly. I need to build bookcases. I need to get to work on time. I need to cook for myself. I need to sleep a decent amount so I am worth something the following day. I need to eat. I need to answer texts, emails, Facebook messages, Snapchats, etc. I need to bathe. I need to interact with people. I need to pay bills. I need to organize my room. I need to clean out another one. I need to create more closet space in my typically 80’s style home. (Apparently there was no such thing as a coat or games in the 80’s because they SHOOOO didn’t build closets to stow said coats and games.) I need to read. I need to check in with friends. I need to stain my deck. I need to save money to put siding on my house so it doesn’t look like a haunted mansion year round. I need to volunteer at church. I need to love people better by hosting them in my home. I need to clean [again].

I neeeeeeeeeeeeed Jesus. Without His life and breath in me I cannot do any of these things. And he graciously gives it to me day after day, non-stop. But the thing I’ve been noticing lately is that NO ONE IS GOING TO STOP ME from doing all of those things. If anything, people are going to give me a glare the moment I slip or can’t keep up. I’ve heard that Georgia Power doesn’t like it when you don’t pay your bill on time, although I’ve never personally experienced paying a bill late (pfffft). I’m frankly kind of tired of the people around me enforcing the “work harder” lifestyle with no grace for fragility or a season of life that doesn’t allow for all-the-endless-nights-of-doing-stuff-because-you-think-you-should. (That word is starting another post in my mind.)

I also know that there are MANY things in my life that need to occur in the silence and quiet. I need mental space to plan, not think AND think. I need physical space to rest my body & admit that I am human and can’t run on 3 hours of sleep a night (for a great article on God-glorifying sleep, read this). I need spiritual space to remember, declare and believe truth in the face of many lies AND to just be with Jesus. I think the most difficult thing about defending soul care is that we may be perceived as selfish or under-productive. Do you know who knows if you meet God’s standards of productivity? God. Do you know who judges what is good use of your time at the end of the day? God. Caring for my heart (described in the Bible as mind, will and emotions) is one of the single-most important tasks of my life. Out of it overflows life when I am eating life. Out of it overflows burnt potpourri when I am eating things that look like life but are really killing me inside.

So, my encouragement to you in our “try-harder” world is to look around and ask yourself–not if you’re doing enough but if you’re doing the things that remind you that you are not enough. Only then will you not feel like a burnt-out soccer mom. Or a workaholic dad. Or a piece of Play-Doh stretched so thin that the next time you go through a spaghetti press, you might just end up being Capellini. Maybe say no for long enough that you can examine the question. That’s a start…

P.S. If you’re scoffing at this article and thinking that I’m a single (another post) idealist with too much time on my hands, please, PLEASE take the time to read the Gospels and discover what Jesus did on the urgent days in his ministry. People died. They were left without an answer. Mary was rewarded with Jesus’ presence and Martha went on wondering why Jesus would not “be in” the things that she was side-tracked doing. Surely if Jesus can trust God’s sovereignty for the people’s lives who He left “hanging in the balance”, we can too.

confessions of a caregiver

UPDATE: I just got a new job working for an elderly man. His wife has Alzheimer’s (she’s been diagnosed for 6 years but is in remarkable condition) and I am taking care of her on a daily basis.

Yesterday was a hard day. From the moment I walked in the door, O’Greta was obstinate and in a “no” mood.

Drink your water. No.

Let’s do your leg exercises. No.

I’m going to massage your arms and legs. No.

Let’s go for a ride in my car. No.

I started losing patience at about 11:30–after about an hour and a half of the no game–and didn’t know what to do. I sat and waited a lot. I asked the same questions hoping for different answers a lot, which often works. I got frustrated. Then, ah ha! I got creative! I was energetic! I was patient! All of the sudden I expected everything to be better…

Nothing changed.

Now I’m getting desperate. I need food, she needs action, we need to be able to leave the house so I don’t go stir crazy… There are a lot of variables in play that, given enough time, could all explode and leave us with a big mess.

I’m so desperate I text Molly and ask her to pray. I text Victor and ask him to pray. I need those prayers to work.

25 more minutes of “no.” Still nothing.

Then I pray. (What? Why didn’t I think of that way back there at desperate?! Simply, “Lord, please, if she doesn’t get in the car soon, I’m going to lose it.” O’Greta comes prancing out of her back bedroom with her coat on ready to go.

Miracle.

Then we get out and fear takes over. Do I let her out of the car? What if this all happens again in 20 minutes? I really will lose it. But alas, I need to do what’s best for her and walking helps her cool down and get into a good mood again.

We walked around the mall for almost an hour and she was happy as a lark. Prayers answered, feeling high, feeling grateful, infused with new patience, creativity and energy.

Time to go! My car won’t start.

Another prayer. “Lord, please help my car to start.” (It was raining, cold and she’s hungry and so is her husband back at home. Now is not even a good time to get a jump, I just needed it to start.) Car starts.

Miracle.

Head to Panera to grab lunch quickly and get home.

Walk through the rain and cold wind into Panera only to see a sweet friend’s face who brightens my day. She doesn’t frequent Panera to read but today she had decided to for the first time.

Miracle. 

The day got exponentially better. All day. But I could not shake the lesson learned. The gentle teaching of my Father.

He has made me creative, patient and energetic. I think he has specifically gifted me with what I need to work in this type of situation. I love it. But my creativity, my patience,  and my energy is not enough. Yesterday I looked back and saw how several times he drove me back to dependence on him and away from the me that I rely on.

He is gracious to teach me slowly and in real ways.

Colossians 1:29 – For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Settled

Hey y’all / yous!

I am here. And I am stuck in!🙂 That’s Irish for: “we’re going full-tilt.” The first two weeks of being with the American students and the first week with the Irish students/staff have been great! YOU CAN PRAY that we’ll continue in unity and love.

The Americans have really accepted the challenge of entering Irish culture and have done a really fantastic job of engaging with people in the streets the first few days (as they learned about Irish culture and life) and now at Encounter with the Irish interns. They’ve got integration down pat! YOU CAN PRAY that where my cultural lack runs down, I’ll trust God with grace to interact positively and not offensively with the Irish.

It has also been encouraging for me to get to see old friends again and reconnect with Irish staff and interns that I know, as well as getting to know new ones. It is a beautiful thing to be able to go halfway around the world and still find a home among other believers! YOU CAN PRAY that I would be an encouragement to the girls my age that may only have a few other close God-loving friends.

As I said, we are wrapping up our first week of Encounter and we’ve all been exposed to teaching from Galatians regarding our true SONSHIP in Christ. Such topics as: orphans vs. sons mentality, God’s confident sons, repentance, law and gospel, the Pharisee and prostitute, maturing as a son, etc. have been covered in a pretty fast paced format! The SONSHIP course is like drinking from a fire hydrant and requires long breaths in between gulps! YOU CAN PRAY that students would have/use adequate time to reflect and listen to what God may be speaking to their hearts through the word preached.

That said, tomorrow evening we’ll be having a barbecue with many of the student’s parents, friends and potential future interns in order for them to see what Encounter is all about. YOU CAN PRAY that we are well rested and ready to share openly about the transforming truth we are taking on board. YOU CAN PRAY that logistically everything runs smoothly and there is enough food for everyone to eat!🙂 (There will be about 100 people around the Y for the BBQ.)

YOU CAN PRAY for Ireland… This time more than any other time I’ve been here I’ve sensed a hopelessness that is weighty. Many Irish can’t find employment, there is an oppression that is learned because of the oppression so recent in Irish history, and there is just a sense of “running out” of all the things that were giving the Irish hope. More than 1100 Irish per week are leaving the country in search of better economic circumstances–the Celtic Tiger of the 80s/90s/00s is a thing of the past. Really, the prayer is that they would run out & that they would trust God in their lack.

In the same way would you pray for me? This week especially has revealed that in many ways I would much rather depend on other people than trust God. I would rather be in control than allow God to reign. I would rather ignore hurt and pain rather than allow God to heal me and find my identity in him. These things are all huge an affect the way I functionally trust God. This is a battle we’re fighting here… Satan certainly doesn’t want me to be assured in God’s love and plans because then he has lost. So would you pray that my heart would be strengthened and that I would continue to dig down to the dark places of my heart that keep me from living in the freedom I so desire?

Thanks for your love and support!

BREAKING FREE,
E

Alive and Well in Ireland

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I arrived safely in Ireland yesterday morning (June 1st) and excitement quickly gave way to a myriad of emotions as I walked through Dublin airport!

1.) I am here because God wants me here. There is no other explanation. He knows I only have $13.54 in my bank account back home, he knows I’ve left behind a lot and he even knows more than I do when it comes to how exactly I’ll be used and minister grace here. I am excited to see what the next few weeks hold… As I reflected on last summer on the way over here, I was awed at remembrances of where I was and how I was thinking and feeling just a year ago. God has been good to transform me and will continue…

2.) This place is home. Weeping in the streets of Dublin isn’t exhaustion (though there was definitely some to be sure), it’s returning to a place that truly feels like home. I laughed as I walked into Starbucks and they were playing Adele’s “Live from Royal Albert Hall.” Home. 12/13 year olds walking the streets for lunch in their tartan shirts & wool skirts. Home. The enjoyment of the culture, the pace of life, the friendliness… It makes my heart leap inside my chest! And that’s just the outset… The real “home” here is the people. Last night I got to stay with one of the girls whom I went through the internship last summer with! What a grace… We were able to reminisce about last summer and be excited about seeing others we know go through the program this summer. The Lord has journeyed us for sure.

3.) I am humbled. Many of you know at this stage that I feel like the Lord is calling me here to Ireland for mission work–I’m assuming using my counseling degree that I will be acquiring but who knows, maybe there’s a shortage of birthday clowns in Ireland! Anyway, the support needed to return and explore this possibility further has been graciously given by each and every one of you who are praying, believing, giving, letting me go–and I’m grateful and humbled. We do not live this life for ourselves, we live it knit together and it has taken movement and flexibility to allow me to be free to come here, so, thank you!

Pictures to come tonight hopefully!

a coffee date and a heart overflowing…

A couple of days ago I was able to go to coffee with a wise woman of God and towards the end of our [FUN] date she said something that stuck with me. After recounting a story of Job-esque pain and fear, she said, “But Eliza, I am rich…” And I couldn’t agree with her more. We are rich because of Christ, may his riches not be lost on us… Her words were used to explode inside of my heart and 20 minutes after we were together, I had written this poem:

The benefit of Christ is not lost on me,
For only in Him am I fully free.
When battles rage on and swirl all around,
Only peace within Christ can be found.

And He himself is my Peace,
Not love, money or security.
Alone, poor and pursuing this life,
He himself is my lover, my wealth and my guide.

The benefit of Christ is not lost on me,
For only in Him can I finally be:
All sinful, all exposed–all very real,
But at the same time all holy, blameless and healed.

And He himself is my health,
Not self-esteem, good feelings or self-help.
Hurting, sick and more-than-once used,
For my health He himself was broken and abused.

May the benefit of Christ not be lost on me,
I am rich, alive and yet still full of need.
Peace and health! Yes! They’re mine–I accept,
But Christ himself is my benefit.

Thank you Mrs. Townsend for your obedience to Christ over a lifetime… They pave the way for you to speak words of life with the Holy Spirit’s power. (THIS is why you will be a GREAT counselor!)

First Walmart, Then the Judgment (The Gospel in Everyday Life)

Wow, just got back from Walmart in Nicholasville, KY. No, I did NOT travel 700 miles to go to this specific Walmart. I am dogsitting for my uncle (who lives here in Lancaster, KY) for a week. In an effort to fight cabin fever, I took a shower today (sick) and decided to get out of the house. Naturally, my first thought is Walmart. It has Mountain Dew and chips and Christmas stuff… Why not?

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, this was my thought (and I went on to air the thought on Twitter):

“So glad I went the extra mile to look presentable today because I’m pretty sure this Walmart should have #peopleofwalmart cameras built in!”

Funny. Just a glance around the parking lot and that was what I came up with. So funny! Quick-witted even. But what I didn’t know was that little bit of “humor” and social analysis was a red flag connected to an area of sin deep in my heart.

As I walked into the store I noticed everyone staring at me. I mean everyone. For a few minutes I pretended like I didn’t see the poor, white trash people staring at me. My mind went a million directions:

Really? Have you never seen someone with makeup on before?

Honestly! Is confidence something they don’t breed in Kentucky?

Wow, maybe I shouldn’t have worn the cute boots AND the hat…

Horrible. Look at that girl, her mama has never told her what she looks like… She probably wants to look just like me.

And on, and on, and on my sinful heart jeered.

Get in the car:

Wow, I cannot believe that just happened. I really just judged people based on their clothing and outward appearances? Everything I never wanted to be just came out in the wash.

When I’m alone, when there’s quiet, I find out who I really am.

I’m not going to pretend like this is a rare occasion for me. I’d be lying to say that this dialogue or one very similar doesn’t take place fairly frequently in my head/heart.

And I can hear you already, “Gosh Eliza, it was just a trip to Walmart, aren’t you being a little hard on yourself?” or “Really, how did you get that from those few seconds of internal dialogue?!”

The truth is that I can never be too hard on myself. For this one situation where the Holy Spirit pricked my conscience and graciously taught me about his grace, there are 1,000 more that I’m too busy or too uninterested to recognize. The depths of my heart are dreadfully dark and cold.

BUT GOD.

God in his mercy…

MERCY!

Looked on me and said, “You’re mine. Your clothes are unpardonably dirty and worn but I’ll replace them with MY righteousness. You’re not lovable but I’ll love you. You are illegitimate and born into sin but I will adopt You. Your heart is so self-centered and self-absorbed but I’ll die for it.”

I can’t handle the Gospel. I don’t understand it. When my heart quiets down enough to see the firestorm of sin that is truly all around me, I am wrecked again by God’s ability to break down my own walls of sin to save me.

I went to Walmart and God taught me the Gospel (again).

Dogsitting, Day 3


 

Who EVER thought a remote could be so important?! Nothing to inspire a little neuroticism than to lose a shock collar remote in a house full of 9 dogs…

My non-doggy thought for today is: Christopher Hitchens is dead and the evangelical world is sad. If people choose Hell, shouldn’t we all be happy for him that he finally got what he always wanted? Read more.