On Being Winsome

I adore Jimmy Fallon.

Jimmy Fallon (Credit: AP/Lloyd Bishop)

Jimmy Fallon (Credit: AP/Lloyd Bishop)

Like in the “I want my family to be best friends with him and his wife and his beautiful baby girl and hang out on weekends” kind of way. I think he is brilliant, hilarious, creative, and most of all, winsome.

win·some

adjective \ˈwin(t)-səm\

generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence (source)

If you watch Late Night, one thing you will quickly notice is that Jimmy Fallon isn’t polished or cool – in fact he’s hilariously awkward at times. He is a genuine fan and encourager of the people who come on his show, and they are put immediately at ease because he shows a love for their art. His show isn’t about him and his ego and his sense of humor. It is about them, and having fun, and enjoying life, and it works.

It’s lovely.

So often, when I think of Jimmy Fallon, I think, “That’s the kind of Christian I want to be.” I want to be winsome. I  think as a culture we’ve lost that art. Look at the comment section of any article and you’ll see just how far we have fallen from speaking to one another with respect, joy, and encouragement. (I mean really, who are these people who comment such vile things?) Even as Christians, so often we aren’t concerned with being winsome as much as we are concerned with being right. And yes – truth is important. But truth delivered without love and humility isn’t received by the hearer.

I think by doing this one little thing, by communicating to the world around us with love and with almost childlike enthusiasm and charm, we can demonstrate a radical difference from the culture at large. And maybe then they’ll be interested in what makes us different.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:29

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Col. 4:6

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 1 Peter 4:8

I’m working on being winsome. I think it is an easy way to love the world well. I want to draw people in and make them feel at ease, like my future best friend Jimmy Fallon does.

Thanks, Jimmy!

My favorite Late Night Moments:

“SexyBack” the Barbershop Quartet Version

Brian Williams Raps

“Call Me Maybe” with Classroom Instruments

John Krasinski Lip Synch Off

History of Rap One, Two, and Three

Talking Ourselves Out of Being Flawsome

Between stimulus and response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our happiness. Stephen Covey

We are all pretty smart people. God gave us brilliant brains that operate simultaneously on many different levels. We have a thought life, and a personality, and a personal history, we have areas of strength, and areas we feel insecure about, and all of those thoughts result in words, actions, and eventual consequences for those around us. Most of the time the areas of our mind work together to make us sensitive and smart and caring toward the feelings of others.

But occasionally, our actions or our personality can hurt someone around us, damaging a relationship. Or we can feel a sense of conviction about an area of our life that maybe needs improvement, correction, or healing. Someone may even confront us about something that we don’t ourselves see, but as they are speaking, something in our spirit agrees that yes, maybe our actions could be construed a certain way that could be hurtful.

And that is a big important moment in our lives. That is the space Covey described above.

When we are convicted, or realize we’ve hurt someone, or are confronted, it stings. Suddenly we feel tattooed with the scarlet “flaw” and we feel exposed to the world. There is no part of that process that is fun or feels good. And we have this very natural defense mechanism that kicks into high gear when this discomfort of conviction or hurting someone happens. Suddenly our brain rushes to our defense. Our rationalization and reasoning and sense of self-preservation are churning in our minds, minimizing the damage we’ve done and shifting the blame to others. And it is quick and subconscious and completely natural to us as humans (a perfect example is Adam and Eve when they hid their nakedness in the garden and blamed someone else for them eating the apple). We may even have friends or family members who also jump to our defense, ready to do battle with not only our own convictions but with anyone who implies we aren’t perfect, ready to take anyone on who questions our motives. Because in our world, our Christian hard-working world, although we know how dependent we are on grace, it is still hard to admit and deal with flaws and sin in ourselves or people we love.

So there are a cacophony of voices in that important moment of choice. There is the discomfort of conviction. There is the loud insistent voice of defense. There is the voice of embarrassment or shame. There is the stranger in our head of another person’s perspective. There is our anger at being exposed or confronted.

And, if we will stop and listen to it, there is the quiet whisper of our Father.

He is HARD to hear in that moment. I would say, in my life, I have stopped and listened to his voice before reacting maybe 15% of the time. The rest of the time? I have gone off full-bore while listening to one of the other voices. His voice speaks, but is hard to hear in that moment not just because it is quiet but because most of the time, in fact in my case always, He is going to say what I don’t want to hear. He is going to call us to “die to ourselves” and to “take up our cross” and to “turn the other cheek” and to “humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord.”

And let’s be honest. We much prefer the scenario where the other person is just “too sensitive” or the standard is “impossibly high” or we just had a “moment of weakness,” where we can shrug our shoulders and say “we’re human and we’ve done our best” and we can go on, unchanged but fully justified in our reasoning.

2017

Image courtesy wearealight.com

But when we listen to His voice, his quiet voice, something amazing happens. I worked with a speaker last week who talked about being “flawsome” (and can I tell you how much I love that word?). He said in our failures, there is always an opportunity to grow, and if we could learn to “fail forward,” learning and growing as we fail fearlessly, we could transform ourselves, and our relationships, to where we are truly living a healthy, flawsome life.

It’s comforting to convince yourself that your biggest problems are outside you; the problem is, it’s not true, and for this you need grace. Paul David Tripp

So how do we turn the uncomfortable moment of conviction into the flawsome life? How do we silence the loud voices of rationalization and hear the quiet voice of Jesus calling us to confess sin? How do we go from feeling crummy and flawed to feeling flawsome? I think we do what the Bible tells us to do. We humble ourselves. We approach our God and confess our sin. We admit again that we need his grace. We approach each other with love and humility – even when it is hard. We say we are sorry, even if the offense was never our intent. We lay down our lives for each other. We heal. We grow.

The tragedy is not that we hurt each other or that we fail. The tragedy is that we settle for that – we leave ourselves and our relationships there, instead of growing beyond it. And doing so is beneath us, as Christ followers, and beneath the genuine community to which we have been called. We must confess to each other and forgive each other. I have an aunt who does this so well. She and I have battled, and she has forgiven me and she chooses to love me, despite me. Our relationship is stronger because it has scar tissue reinforcing it. I treasure my relationship with her. It is an example to me.

When we follow Jesus’ way, we all get a little more flawsome, together. It’s hard. It hurts. It means listening to the still small voice. But it is so much better than talking ourselves out of change, and healing, and being flawsome. It reminds us that it has always been not about our goodness, but about his grace. And that is awesome.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. Titus 3:4

Jesus I can talk myself out of so much that is good for my soul. Help me with this. Please help me to not be afraid of the flaws that I know are inherent to my nature. Please help me hear your voice of conviction in my many moments of sin and hurting others, and to act on that conviction without hiding my sin and shame. Thank you for your grace that covers over all that is flawed in us.

What Women Fear

Something is going on in my heart right now and has been for a few months, and I pray it continues. I feel like I’m experiencing a personal revival of sort, except that the word “revival” makes me nervous to type because for me it conjures images of old big-haired men and bad “special” music and manipulative invitations. But what is happening to me has much to do with hearing the Lord and having a tender heart and this feeling that the Lord loves me and has His hand on my life, and nothing to do with guilt or manipulation, so I am trying to redeem the word revival from even my own perception. The Lord has been speaking and I find myself more open than I’ve been in the past. It’s been priceless to me. I’m grateful for it.

One of the things I have loved about these past few months is that I have read some amazing books that have shown me new things about the goodness of the Lord. This week I read “What Women Fear” by Angie Smith, and it really touched my heart. Many of you may have heard of Angie Smith, and many more of you have likely prayed for her. Her husband, Todd, is in the group Selah and she began to blog in 2008 when they found out that the child she was carrying, a beautiful little girl named Audrey, would likely not be born alive because of serious complications. I stumbled onto her blog during that time and was so moved by her heart for the Lord and her honesty in writing through such an incredibly difficult time. It’s interesting that I prayed for her without knowing her and now the Lord is using her and her story to draw me closer to Himself. This is why I love the body of Christ.

And I loved this book. Angie has struggled with fear throughout her life, as I certainly have and I know most of us do, and she writes honestly and insightfully about the struggle with fear and what we can do to live a full life trusting the God who made us. I saw so much of myself in her writing. I saw so much of my daughter Grace in her writing. It made me weep. I think I highlighted about 70% of the book in my Kindle. It is a powerful message straight from the Holy Spirit.

In the book, which is written with prayerful intention, full of kindness and love for the reader, she takes a fear, explains how it has impacted her life, shows it manifested in the life of a character in the Bible, and explores how the Lord speaks to that particular fear. Reading it, I saw common Bible stories I have read a thousand times come to new light, and it was extraordinary. She opens herself up to the reader, exposing her fears and her story, and in it there is grace. So much grace.

It was a really precious book. I’m starting it over today – rereading it because there is so much in here that needs to settle into my heart. I wanted to quote it for this post, but everything weaves together so well in context that taking anything out doesn’t communicate the message like I would wish. I just hope that some of you will read it. I highly highly recommend What Women Fear.

A Faithful Man

This past weekend, a man walked into my church, and when I saw him I started to cry. He was hard to miss, tall and broad, a former Dallas Cowboy, but that wasn’t how I knew him. I knew him because he had given the eulogy at the funeral of a man I deeply respected, John Weber, and I hadn’t seen him since that day. It shocked me how much it impacted me to see this stranger and how quickly all of the emotion from the day of Mr. Weber’s funeral came rushing back.

John Weber was a wonderful man. He had an important job – he was the chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys. But when I met him, I didn’t know that. I knew him as my friend Sarah’s dad. I was in high school, new to faith, new to church, and new to the idea of a Christian family that prayed together more frequently than at Christmas and Thanksgiving. And what I saw in the Weber’s home was absolutely amazing to me. I studied it like a creature from another world.

They loved extraordinarily. They laughed freely and cried bravely. They somehow seemed more together than other families. They all seemed to have this amazing ability to look directly into your soul and they cared about everyone around them. They valued people – me included. They loved Jesus. We had a few Bible studies in their home and stayed there for a Disciple Now – and every time I was there I basked in the love and the light of their family, feeling part of something extraordinary. As an adult I know that the warmth of their home was due to real community and the nearness of Christ, but then I only knew that it was different and wonderful and I never wanted to leave.

After Sarah had gone away to college, my encounters with the Webers became less frequent but always that feeling of being a part of them and valued by them remained. I loved them and looked up to them. Mr. Weber was not a tall man (in fact the Webers are all tiny people with massive hearts) but he was huge to me. Every time he saw me he focused on me, hugged me tightly, and asked about me and my family by name. I could tell he genuine loved me, and frankly, that both shocked me and made me feel important. Since his death I’ve heard dozens of people say it and it’s true. When you talked to Mr. Weber you felt like you were the most important person in his world. I certainly felt that. He had a gift of making others feel significant.

Mr. Weber

After I was married, I saw Mr. Weber a few times when he would come to speak at churches where I worked. He always touched people’s lives and it was fun to see the effect he had on others. Men, in particular, were impacted by him. He would speak at a men’s retreat at our church and men would return home changed – more loving and present and serious about leading their families in the way God intended. Mr. Weber was powerfully used by the Lord.

One fall morning my mom called to tell me Mr. Weber had passed away suddenly. I remember the shock. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that he was gone. What a light he had been to so many. I thought of Mrs. Weber and his kids – I couldn’t imagine how they felt. I ached for their hurt. I called the Weber’s house to offer to make a video for his service and to tell them I loved them. To my surprise, they took me up on my offer. I was humbled to get to honor him in this way.

As I went to the Weber’s home to get the pictures for the video – I was a little anxious. This place was always one of love and warmth for me, and I walked in afraid to intrude on their grief. But there were people everywhere, crying, hugging, laughing, sharing. The same love and energy that had been there in the bright days of my high school memories was there that day, on the hardest day. I was so grateful. It felt like the Lord was near. The magic wasn’t broken. Death hadn’t won.

I’ve written before about his memorial, but I don’t think it’s possible to overstate how it impacted me. I honestly feel like, at the end of my life, it will be one of the pivotal moments in my journey with the Lord. Person after person filled that room, some very famous by the world’s standards, but all equal in our hurt and our powerlessness in the face of grief and death. It made us humble. It made us listen. We all wanted to matter like Mr. Weber mattered. That room was so full not because of fame, but because of impact, and every word spoken about him was so honoring. He had gotten it – the elusive key to a life well lived. And we all wanted to get it too.

In my mind that day is frozen – as real as if it occurred yesterday. That’s why I cried when I saw the poor Cowboy who had no idea he was inspiring a minor breakdown. I remembered.

Person after person spoke – all calling Mr. Weber their hero. But their words weren’t trite – they were genuine. He had changed their life. They talked about the value of a name and a reputation, and someone very famous with a well-known name said “Nobody ever had a better name than John Weber.”

His kids all spoke at that service, and their love and honor of their dad was overwhelming. I was a brand new mom, clinging to my husband’s hand, and in my head I was begging the Lord, “Please let us parent like this.” Each one spoke of Mr. Weber’s faithfulness and his wisdom. I didn’t know this until that day, but he had a saying he told his kids countless times and each of them talked about it in their eulogy.

Don’t strive to be extraordinary. Strive to be faithful.

It was his life goal. When I heard it – it rang so true. That was what Mr. Weber was – he was faithful. A faithful man. A faithful husband. A faithful father. A faithful friend. And his faithfulness made him extraordinary.

Last week after I saw the poor man who made me cry, I took a walk around the church building to pull myself together. But I couldn’t shake the memories. I cried as I walked and prayed. Again I begged the Lord to use me like He used that faithful man, both in my home and in the world around me. I begged Him to raise up men like Mr. Weber in our new little church. On the day of Mr. Weber’s memorial service I had seen a glimpse of the potential of a life lived in faithful service of our God, and I was changed by it.

Mr. Weber’s life made me want more God, more love, more humility, more purpose and most of all more faithfulness in my small life. He was ready for death because he lived a life faithfully focused on Christ. I have no doubt in my mind that the moment he closed his eyes on this earth he opened them in the presence of Jesus. And that gives me hope.

Lord, please let me be, both at the end of my life and everyday until then, a faithful woman. I confess that my flesh cries out to be extraordinary, but I want more to be faithful. I thank you for Mr. Weber’s faithful life. Please be near to his family today and everyday, give them more of You and fill the void of their loss. You are good and we are grateful.

The Revolution of Motherhood

When I became a wife, I advanced as a person. I (slowly) began to consider another person’s feelings, I (slowly) began to realize that my way of thought and action was not always the perfect path, and I (slowly) grew into someone grateful for the protection and release of control that my husband brought into my life. Going from single to married was, and in fact still is, an experience of sanctification, where I am slowly transforming from sinful and selfish to graceful and considerate.

Becoming a mother, however, was a revolution for me. It wasn’t slow, in fact it was instantaneous. And the change in me can only be defined as “a sudden, radical, or complete change”. 2

I became, literally overnight, a creature that I myself didn’t recognize. I transformed from a very practical person into one who was often driven by sentiment. I was overwhelmed with the insecurity and enormity of parenthood. I remember being in the hospital with my oldest daughter Grace on her second day of life, looking at this beautiful frail little human reliant on me for survival, and feeling utterly incompetent for the task. I was humbled. Before I was a mom, I was convinced I would be great at it. Since becoming a mom, I am painfully aware of how far I have to go. I have cried many tears over my girls, begging God to make me more than I am for their sake. I want to be better for them. I want to be rid of the things in me that hurt them – the anger and selfishness and coldness to their needs that often stubbornly remains. I am changed. Even my body changed, from angular and thin to curvy with pounds I cannot seem to ever shed. I was shocked at the power, both during my pregnancies and immediately postpartum, of the hormones that rushed through my system. It was profound, definite, and sudden. I was altered by things completely out of my ability to control. I was vulnerable. My first daughter was sick through most of her first year of life with kidney and esophageal reflux, and I was acutely aware of how little I could do to control her health and welfare. I would pray over my girls’  beds as they went to sleep, begging the Lord to protect them and fight for them through the night. I so often felt powerless, but for God. It made me desperate for Him – fully aware of my dependence. As they grew older, I would watch them on a playground, praying to calm my anxious mother-heart, watching for slights or falls and telling myself the truth that letting go is good for me and them. I have had to learn to hold my children in an open hand and not a clenched fist – daily lessons in trusting my Father’s heart for them. Parts of me have died, replaced by stronger stuff. My friends laugh about even the small, silly ways I changed. I went from a fast, reckless driver to a hands-at-10-and-2, slow, deliberate driver and I went from a person impatient with silliness to regularly shopping on the Disney aisle of Target and actually enjoying it. It was revolutionary.

When we left the hospital with our first child, we were terrified. We had this little person in our backseat, and we didn’t feel up to the task. If the hospital would have allowed it, I would have loaded my nurse Diana into the backseat with me. I was frozen with fear that I could not do this without her. Driving home (so slowly and carefully that we laugh about it now), the world looked different to me. I kept staring around me in shock and exhaustion. Was I really that different? Why did everything look so weird? The actual road to our house looked different, and it took me a moment in my ‘new mother haze’ to realize what had happened.

Here in Texas, we have thousands of different variations of pear trees. And during the 4 days I was in the hospital, the pear trees that lined our street had gone from fully green to fully bloomed with white. It was beautiful, and completely unexpected. In the dark little cave of a hospital room where I met my daughter, I didn’t see the gradual but complete transformation. But it happened, and driving home I experienced it, and I cried because it seemed a metaphor for what I was feeling.

It was like the world was new, and I with it.

My girls’ birthdays are a day apart and this week, as they do every year on their birthdays, the pear trees have begun to bloom. Every year when I see them change I am moved – remembering the change in me now 5 years ago. I tell my girls that all of these trees are their trees – that they bloom on their birthday as a sign from God that they are loved and special. And I believe it is true, and that I share in that blessing. The girls even call the trees “Gracie and Bekah Trees” and they squeal in glee when they see them. And I’m touched by them too. Every year their bloom is like my own personal love-note from the Lord – a reminder that every little death in me is good and only serves to bring life because of our resurrection Savior.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and springs in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Becoming a mother was a revolution. It has been the most difficult, overwhelming, priceless, beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. I am forever altered by it. I am constantly reminded that in my weakness, He is strong. I know now that I need Jesus desperately, and I’m so grateful for that lesson of dependence.

I have loved being a mother. This week, as my girls turn five and three, and as the pear trees bloom transforming the world once again, I am grateful that I was chosen, incompetent as I might be, to be Grace and Rebekah’s mother, by a Father that does not leave us in our sin and selfishness, but transforms us into people of grace and holiness like His Son.

We are all being made new, friends, and that is revolutionary.

*I am always aware as I write a blog like this that many of my friends, despite a desire for marriage and children, have not yet been granted that desire. I pray nothing in this blog would discourage you. A friend once told me that she believed she had gotten married early because the Lord knew she needed the sanctification of marriage to grow. I thought that was a great perspective and that idea resonated. I am fully confident that the Lord who loves us is good, whether He chooses to sanctify us through marriage, through greater lengths of singleness than we would desire, through financial or other difficulty, or through parenthood. I pray that today you would rest in the truth that the Lord has a perfect plan for each of His sons and daughters and that He loves you and has not forgotten you.

Family Talk

I have an amazing friend named Jan, and she truly is one of the women I want to emulate in my life. She brilliantly shines Jesus and grace and beauty and love. Many of you reading this have been impacted by her and love her dearly.

She has this expression she uses often, and I love it. She’ll be sharing something, and right before she shares, she’ll say, “This is family talk.” When I hear it, I feel treasured. I know she considers me family. She trusts me. Also when I hear it, my spirit agrees with her. We are family. We share a purpose and a Father. We can rejoice together in the good and pray together in the hard because we give each other grace.

Family talk.

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Acts 9:31

I was talking with Justin and another friend this week about the family of God. We certainly have our moments of frustration and division. We certainly have been through struggles together and sometimes there are hurts that need to be healed. But still we are family. We rejoice when God uses a member of our family to bring Him glory, wherever that may be. We pray when a member of our family is hurting. When someone from the outside of our family criticizes someone inside of our family, we can get a little defensive.

When I joined the family of God, it was at a large precious church that I still adore. Many many people became my family members at that place. I had father-figures and mother-figures and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters all over the place. We saw God move there. We were used by God to do big things there. It was an amazing time.

Image courtesy of calvaryinglewood.org

A few years later, that place went through some struggles. There was hurt. Many of us scattered all over the place during that time of transition. We were like baby birds pushed out of the safe warm nest. For a while there was some division and confusion and hurt. There were things we all needed to confess and forgive. We needed to let go of the former things (Isaiah 43:18). But if you look around that family, whether people left or stayed, wherever people landed, God continues to use us. He took us from ministering at one church to ministering at that church plus a dozen more. He was faithful. He did not give up on us. We healed. We grew. We were forgiven for our part in the struggle. We forgave others.

We are family – even across the miles and across the hurts. We don’t have to agree on everything because we agree on the important things. We can still rejoice in the good, we can still ache and pray in the difficulty, because we are family.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I appeal to you, brothers,by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:9-10

We serve in an area with many churches. And it’s easy and human to compare and compete a little. It’s easy to focus on our differences and not on what unites us. But we are not called to live easy and human. We are called to be set apart. We are commanded to rejoice with each other and pray for each other. God is moving in many ways across the world, and every move He makes deserves to be celebrated by us all whether we have a part in it or not. Because we aren’t just an organization, we are parts of an organism. We are family, parts of the same body. We are joined together with Christ, and there is no room for division in this body.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6

I am just filled with gratitude today for my family. I want each of you to know I love you and thank my God for you – truly. You have welcomed me into your family, and you have welcomed my brave wonderful husband and my beautiful little girls. You have treated us with grace. You love us, and I am so grateful for you. I love the Lord more because I know you and because you have treated me with love. I am grateful.

A Semi-Silent Pause

For the month of February, I have severely reduced my media intake by cutting out TV, Facebook, and Twitter and reducing internet, music, and iPhone ap use (For those of your familiar with 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, I’m doing media month along with Justin, my sister, and some friends). It has been an amazing time of the Lord speaking and revealing Himself, and although I feel a little disconnected from people, I have also made some incredible connections.

For example, tonight I spoke on the phone with a woman from Indiana who is helping start a school in Ethiopia, and who the Lord allowed me to “meet” through my blog. Incredible. I have a feeling as this relationship continues to develop, I’ll be blogging about it (A chance to help love, support and encourage little school kids in Ethiopia? I know about 87% of you will be ALL over it with me). That’s pretty amazing, right?

I’ve found that although I can’t FB stalk people I love – I can pray for them and that helps me feel connected. A friend going through an insanely difficult trial, friends experiencing great difficulty with one of their children, friends adopting from China this week, and another friend adopting a sweet baby girl domestically that was fraught with uncertainty until the Lord moved and opened doors – all chances for me to join with these people in prayer. I’ve tried to pray for friends when they come to my mind and heart and I miss them, instead of logging on a leaving them a wall post, like I would have done pre-media month. I will confess that I have “cheated” a few times and logged on because I didn’t realize how many people I only communicate with through Facebook, even to the point that I don’t have their phone number and email in my contacts. I must get better at transitioning Facebook friends to real friends. Some of you may start getting random phone calls from me in an effort to do that. 🙂

During this month I’ve read so much and studied and gotten clarity on some things, and dreamed of big God things and started to pray for the Lord to do more through me than I could do on my own without Him. I’ve said before that the Lord works in my life by stringing together little threads and this past month has felt more like three months as dozens and dozens of threads have come together to show me that He is working out something amazing just under the surface of my seemingly mundane life.

I’m telling you – the men in the Bible who advocated fasts weren’t just trying to make us miserable – something special happens when we do with less to leave room for God to speak. He is definitely speaking.

And not only to me – He’s speaking to my kids (who have watched a tiny fraction of TV this month compared to “normal”). So they’re playing more and asking more questions and having more fun, really. And I, not being as distracted, am listening to their questions and responding. I have loved it. Grace is really processing the idea of Jesus (she’s like me – such a little processor) and she’s trying to figure Him out. These are a few of the hilarious things she’s said this month:

“Mommy – if Jesus is in my heart but He tries to come out, will he break my throat?”

“Mommy – how can Jesus be in your heart and my heart at the same time?”

“Mommy – how can we hear Jesus talk because He is WAY down in our hearts and our ears are up here?”

Today, she wanted me to show her pictures of our blood and our hearts from my anatomy textbook because we’ve been talking about blood after Bekah cut her leg. I’m the kind of mom who thinks that is fun – so I broke out my book and gave them both a little anatomy lesson. So Grace is looking at a picture of the heart, and she says, “OK, then where is Jesus in this picture?” and looked up at me with those big blue eyes.

“Uhhh. Well honey that’s hard to explain… Anybody hungry?”

Yep – it’s pretty much Stump the Mommy all day everyday at our house. But it’s sweet too. It reminds me that we accept Jesus at the level we understand. She doesn’t have to understand all of this (How can she? God is so big none of us fully can). But in her own little way, she trusts. She believes. She loves Jesus. It makes me so happy and hopeful for her.

It also makes me want to hold her and tell her that I don’t understand all of this God stuff either, sweet girl, but we’ll learn together. I don’t understand what God will do with us in the future, but I know He’s good. I don’t understand how my heart for kids and my heart for Africa and our heart for the Lord all will come together – but I feel assured that they will.

All of this stuff makes me excited for the future. It makes my hope rise. I’m excited to see all of the threads come together into a picture when He allows it. I just hope that after this month, as we add media back into our lives, that we will remember to leave time for silence, for learning, for listening to the Lord and our kids, for prayer, for thinking, and for studying. I don’t want the noise of our world to drown out what really matters.

Because although I do love TV (Downton Abbey, anyone?) and Twitter and Facebook, it’s all so loud and so predominately silly. There are redemptive aspects, of course, but it’s easy for me to allow it to suck away hours and hours and hours in insignificance. And I think that’s the lesson of this month. There are important eternal things I can do with my time if I’ll allow them in. Looking into my kids’ eyes and discussing anything – that’s big. Praying through something hard and interceding with passion – that’s real. Reading eternal truths and attempting to apply them – that can change me.

So I think that’s the lesson of the silent pause I’ve been on in February (and it’s only been about half-silent really – imagine if I was more disciplined to cut out all media!) If any of you want to join us in the rest of our 7 experiments, send me a note. Month one has been fun and it’s been great doing them together to encourage as we go.