The revolving devotion book

A couple of months ago, my friend sent me one of the devotion books that she wrote.

I let it sit, untouched, on my bedroom dresser.

It had a happy cover and I liked the look of it for decoration. I knew it was meant to be used, though, so the guilt kind of gnawed at me to crack it open.

Still it sat.

Why? I don’t know. It’s a devotion book for pity’s sake. It doesn’t require fifty pages be read in a night, it doesn’t really require anything of me, but to soak it in. Emily is a beautiful writer, with precious words that feel like lotion on your heart in the dry season. Knowing that, I still let the book sit.

Some unseen force kept me from reading even page one.

And then I did. Getting dressed one morning I opened the undisturbed spine and began to read.

The first devotion spoke exactly to the turmoil in my home and my heart as a mother. It talked about children and their many and incessant needs that can’t be helped, Emily spoke with vulnerability and honesty about shouting and brimming over with frustration, followed by a plea for God to work in her weakness and a reminder of His mercy flowing over into our day.

“The world is out of balance when parents act like children. Why in the world am I entrusted with these precious little souls?” 

“What needs do your children have today? What needs are not yours to meet? Pray about them now.”

These statements, what I have felt for so long – the fear of what my children needed and what I couldn’t provide for them. I saw it laid out and put into words, followed by words of grace and the knowledge that Christ’s mercy covers even this. Christ’s love fills my gaps. These are the words Satan didn’t want me to read. He wanted me to look at the pretty cover, enjoy the book on my dresser…anything but read about forgiveness and mercy and grace.

Then I dug down into another layer of truth. Knowing that as someone who ministers to women every day, I get thwarted trying to open a devotion book, I wondered how I could help other women get past that unseen force keeping the book closed, the bookshelf full, the heart still in need of the Word?

Why do I fill my bookshelf with devotions and Bible studies read once in their time and then to gather dust?

I decided to embrace something different…

I’m going to pass them on.

I’ve decided to create the revolving devotion book.

I take a book that is new, or one passed on to me from a friend. I pass it along to another friend. They pass it to their own friend. The book gets passed on from friend to friend with a lot of love and a wee bit of accountability.

I wrote my name on the inside of the cover. I don’t expect the book back, but I want others that receive it to see and be encouraged by the list of women that are in this life together. We are all trying to do this woman thing, this family thing, this Jesus thing, the best we can. We need to rest in a whole lot of mercy and grace.

Then it occurred to me, instead of just passing it on, though, I’m could check in on the friend who received it. “Did you like it? Did you read that one part? Such and such a part really spoke to me.”

I’m could create conversation. She’ll pass it on to some friend un-known to me, but a fellow sojourner all the same. She’ll create conversation too. His Word will be shared. Compassion and grace will go out. It’s not about me or my system, but it is about fighting past the things that keep us from His Word, His forgiveness, and keep us in the isolation battle, hiding in shame and sinking in failure, and wishing for another life.

Maybe you’ve been there, with the devotion sitting unread on your dresser. Maybe you have a book and a friend to pass it on to. Let His word sooth your soul and connect you to His people. May He fill you with His new mercies every morning and care for you, as you care for one another.


Tend to Me by Emily Cook

 

My New Year’s “Things I Don’t Do” List

My friend gave me one of Shauna Niequist’s books recently,

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way.

It’s worth a read! The book was really helpful to me during a really difficult period of my life. But…this isn’t a book review. 🙂

One idea the author shared was that she started a “Things I Don’t Do List.”

She talks about her struggle with comparing herself to everyone around her, trying to “measure up”, and do all things well.

Oh boy, did this strike a cord with me.

I have perfectionist tendencies to say the least, that have gotten better (I think!) with 4 kids, graduate school, and life happenings that leave me well aware of the complete lack of control I have in most things. Surrounded by expectations, mostly of my own making, most days I felt a bit harried, under appreciated, and outside the community, of friends and the church, God intended me to be in.

All that said, the “Things I Don’t Do List” sounded just like a good idea of celebrating doing what I do well, and leaving some stuff out that just isn’t me, and that’s O.K.

Things I Don’t Do:

1) Make delectable potluck dishes… It’s a fact. I can cook, I love having people at my table. I just can’t get it together for a potluck. I bring chips, multigrain. Yum.

2) Act as my husband’s secretary… I don’t take messages. I know it may seem easier, but I will forget because a baby will need their diaper changed or someone will hit their sister or a youth group member will share about a life changing event. I just am no good with messages.

3) Ask my children to be completely quiet in worship… I don’t believe in this. They are loud children. Sometimes I wish we were quiet people, but that’s not our strength. I will ask them to be respectful of others, participate fully, and give their whole heart to worship. They will not always sit and stand at just the right time, they will ask lots of questions and I will remind them to ask more quietly, and they will belt out “This is the Feast” even when they don’t know all the words.

4) Read less… I love books. I love them like no one’s business. I carry a book around for stolen moments of quietness. I’m not going to judge myself for spending time reading.

5) Debate financial, educational, and relational choices with strangers…we make the best decisions we can for our children and our family, regardless of other people’s opinions. We take the church into account and society’s general opinions, but beyond that, it’s us and God, and moving in the direction we feel He points us.

6) Eat mediocre chocolate…I need to stop wasting my calories. I love dark chocolate, good wine, yummy food, and good friends to share it with.

7) Hide my testimony… I come from a lot of dark and difficult places. God has brought me from the pit. Redeemed it. Made it Holy. Given it purpose. It’s meant to glorify Him, nothing more, nothing less. May it be so.

What would be on your “Things I Don’t Do List”?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, silly, serious, or anywhere in between!

Please see me for me

I am relatively new to the cell phone world. It’s not that I’m a hermit and never knew about them, it’s just that I didn’t own one for years. I semi-shared with my husband because of the cost factor of an extra phone. I stole his when I went on a trip or was “in the city” for the day. Then, I got the awesome opportunity to be his secretary (note the sarcasm), taking messages right and left. So, as a tiny bit of extra income came in, we made the jump to being a two cell phone family.

Yesterday, I realized I put people in my contacts by who they are to me, not necessarily their proper name. My sister is in there according to her childhood nickname and favorite affectionate title from my kids “Ney-Ney.” My friend Jen is “Jen, Mark’s Love.” (We love her too!) Another friend is in there as “Jaime College.” Obviously these aren’t the only dimensions I see of these people, but they are my primary goggles I evidentially identify people by without even thinking.

So, a few weeks ago when I went to put my friend Emily in, I found myself contemplating what to put her in under. Her husband is a vicar and we met through a circuit picnic, so it was really tempting to put her in as “Emily Vicar’s Wife.” But would I want someone to identify me like that? No. I wouldn’t. Somewhere deep down, while I love being the “Pastor’s Wife”, I desperately want people to see me as something else, something more, something deeper.

Being a pastor’s wife is deeply fulfilling. It’s wonderful and scary, and frustrating, and special all at the same time.

But it’s not who I am.

It’s a role I serve, a vocation even. I love being a pastor’s wife. I love being your pastor’s wife. But please see me for all of me. See me as a mom, a deaconess, a social worker, a great conversationalist, a person with a serious problem with being on time, a not so great driver, but a person with passion and exuberance.

But where is my real identity? It’s not actually in any of that. I pray that when you see me, you see Christ. Because that’s the real and true Biblical truth- I am Christ living in me. That is me.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

What do you wish people saw in you, or do you wish they saw if they looked beyond a certain title – pastor’s wife, mom, teacher?

I’m sure one thing they see is Christ. That is what we live for. This life I live, I live not just in service to Him, but as His body on earth. He lives in me and shines in me, and I am a little less me every day and a little more Him, which is a good thing.

All that said, when you go to put your pastor’s wife in your phone, put her in as Sue She Who Rocks a Cheesecake or Mary She’s Super Thoughtful, or even better Elizabeth My Friend.

And if you want, you can put my name in your phone as Heidi Crucified with Christ. I take it as a great complement.