joy soaked words

finding my way

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burning bush

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a poem many years ago that speaks to what God is doing in my life right now – this is just a part of it.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” -EBB

There are bushes on fire everywhere around us, and when you ask the Lord to open your eyes to these little bush fires, you wonder why you still have your shoes on. You wonder why you still have your shoes on, because the ground you are walking on is holy, because the presence of Jesus is near.

I’m walking through a place of wondering why I am still wearing shoes, asking myself, why have I not kicked them off yet? When I start to become aware that this ground that I am walking on, planting my roots in, carries the presence of my Abba Father within the dirt, within the bushes that are on fire. There are so many burning bushes in my life and I am just starting to see them in this way, the little moments where I see the hand of God in my life. These burning bushes have come through random affirmations from people who don’t know me and my story, apple cider soaked conversations and late night sobey’s runs. When I started thinking about these moments, these moments over breakfast dates every wednesday morning and the chats on my favourite bench in the school, these moments that leaves me in tears because of how far I’ve come, and the fact that there is life. The fact that I am able to declare victory over the low seasons in my life. These are burning bushes in my life, the pure, unrelenting love of God and his presence, showing up in my life, over and over and over again.

I’m taking off my shoes, because I’m walking on holy ground.

When I started to process these moments, these kairos moments that I was having, seeing the way that God kept giving me more glimpses into his heart for me, he showed me that I was standing in front of a bush that was on fire with him. I’ve put down my basket that was filled with blackberries, and I’ve slipped off my shoes, because I have become aware of how many bushes are actually on fire in my life.

I am standing on the other side of a heavy season, a lot of processing and tears and late night “I don’t knows” have come out of this season, but I am standing on the other side, declaring victory over it. I am declaring victory over that season, as I look back and see all the burning bushes that are still on fire, bushes that I walked past without acknowledging them – just the smell of something burning was all that I noticed because I was so preoccupied with other aspects of that season. The smell of something burning was enough to remind me that God was still near, but now I am becoming aware of the bushes that were on fire around me.

So many bushes, all of them on fire.

My prayer for you dear reader, is that you notice the bushes when you smell the smoke.

This blog post is a jumble of words that have come together to somewhat form my thoughts on what I am learning right now – so thank you for reading.

njl.

Kicking Fear out of his room.

The reality of rejection, comparison and telling fear to leave – it’s a rainy day outside, the leaves are falling and I’m grabbing another cup of coffee and digging deep into these topics today on the blog.

Welcome, dear reader. Welcome to my little space in the corner of the internet, where we dive deep into topics of raw vulnerability, seasons that I am walking and things that I am learning and processing.

I opened an old instagram account recently, and began to post. This particular account was one in which I had actually started 2 years ago – an account dedicated directly to words that I had written, but never posted in it. Because of fear. Fear of what people might think, fear of rejection, of comparison. Fear ruled my writing, it was holding onto all the pages that I had written and told me that I would never be enough, that I would never become a writer, nobody wanted to read the words that I had written.

I am aware that these are all lies. Fully aware, although fully aware, Fear still had control of my writing and my ability to put myself out there.

This year has been a lot of telling Fear to leave, in different aspects of my life. I started writing poetry for people, and tucking it into letters in the mail system, something I had never done before. Aside from this blog, any words that I wrote for people, or just in general, are tucked away in various notebooks, written on scraps of paper and at the top of class notes.

I could tell Fear, that it was time for him to pack up his suitcases and move out, and he could take rejection and comparison along with him, but I wasn’t actually doing a good job of kicking him out. I wasn’t holding open the door and asking him leave, I was just mentioning it offhandedly like you might ask a roommate for the rent. He was really just moving room to room in my mind, and rejection and comparison were always having sleepovers with him.

I had become comfortable with the mess that fear left behind him, it was something I had become so used to, picking up after him and his friends, rejection and comparison. The three amigos.

For one of my classes, I wrote a short story on the idea of “home” and a daughter’s view on a restless parent with a desire to move with the moon cycles. I let a few close friends read it, because I needed feedback, I needed to get out of my head where fear ruled, with rejection and comparison at his sides. It was a story that took weeks to write, and as I printed it off to give to a few people to read, I knew that it was nothing like the short stories that we had been reading in class. It covered a topic that was more of a feeling, then something physical and I wrote it in a voice that left things open to interpretation for the reader.

I handed it in when it was due, holding my breath. As I pressed send, I felt Fear start to pack his bags. He was still hanging around, waiting at the kitchen table, but at least his bags were packed.

I was standing in the kitchen in dorm 2. The kitchen is a place where I meet God often, over dishes or cookie batter. It’s the place where, next to writing, I feel most alive. I got an email back, with feedback from my professor regarding the short story that I handed in. He told me, that I had the beginnings of a novel with my short story, it was something that I could chose to turn into a full blown novel. It was so encouraging that I called my parents to read it out to them, and the rest of the day, I was on such a high that I didn’t even realize that Fear had slipped out, he was just gone when I came back to clean up after him and realized that there was nothing to clean up.

I also realized through this short story, that this was three long years in the coming. Three years of learning what makes a home, three years of learning how to write, and three years of learning how to tell Fear to leave when it came to my writing. It was a reminder, that nothing worthwhile is going to happen overnight, and it takes time to hone the craft, to learn how to do something well.

I know that as I continue to write, to share these words that are so precious to me, that there will be times where Fear will come back, he will come knocking. I also know that, I have the ability to shut the door in his face, I don’t have to let him move in.

Because I am allowed to say no to fear. I have every right. And so do you.

njl.

grace like sunscreen

I’ll wait while you grab a coffee and get comfy, we are chatting about all things Narnia, slathering grace like sunscreen and why I am asking Jesus to dig his fingernails into me on Joy Soaked Words today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I am currently walking through with Jesus, and aspects of who I am, that need work – there’s a lot. There’s a lot, but he shows me in pieces, it’s not a dump on me and then he walks away, it’s more like a hey, this is something you need to work on and I’m here to work on it with you. If we are going to do this, then allow me to work on this with you. It feels a bit like a constant conversation between me and the Lord right now, he keeps reminding me that he is with me in this season.

I am a lover of the Chronicles of Narnia, I grew up reading and listening to the stories over and over. In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, (An epic story and by far my most favourite) one of the characters, Eustace is turned into a dragon because of his greed and a golden bracelet. Through a turn of events, Eustace is unable to be turned back into a boy, until Aslan steps in. Leading Eustace (who is still a dragon) to a small pool of water, he tells him to undress and then get into the water. Eustace looks down at his scales, and tells Aslan that he isn’t wearing any clothes. Aslan gently tells him, that he has to remove his skin and scales before he is able to get into the water. Eustace begins to pull and tear at his skin, pulling one layer off to find yet another underneath. He keeps taking off layers of his skin and scales, before he realizes that he isn’t getting anywhere. At this point in the story, Aslan asks Eustace to lay down, and tells him that it is going to be very painful, but he will be able to help him. Aslan digs his claws deep into Eustace, creating an incredibly painful moment for Eustace, but he grits his teeth because he is aware that he needs to go through it if it means that he is able to be a boy again.

I don’t know about you, reader, but I feel like Eustace somedays. Tearing at this ‘skin and scales’ because I know that there is stuff that that I need to deal with, things below the surface that I am aware of – but unaware of how deep those wounds actually are until I start to pull away the ‘skin and scales’ that have grown over these wounds. I feel like Eustace, because regardless of how many times I try and deal with these things on my own, I can’t deal fully with everything. There are surface level things that I can address, but it goes hand in hand with this whole idea of open heart surgery that I have talked about in the past.

I need Jesus to dig in his fingernails and pull.

I need Jesus to dig his fingernails deep into me, and pull, because I can’t, like Eustace, do this on my own. As much as I hate the idea of it, because I know that whatever he finds is going to be incredibly painful, but I can’t leave these things to fester. I can’t leave these wounds to become infected, they need to be dealt with.

There has been one thing after another, the not so nice parts of who I am, being called out by people in my life. These conversations have come out of asking hard questions, of random comments that have been made towards me – comments that hit a wound and I react in ways that are not how I should react, often back in anger or frustration. I react, because it hurts when somebody touches that wound within me. I react, because I don’t like the idea that I don’t have it all together – real talk. It reminds me of my humanness – that I am a broken human being. It’s painful and messy, but also gloriously beautiful to become aware of this. I need Jesus to dig his fingernails into me, because these issues in my life are way deeper then this idea of something being skin deep.

Jesus and I are working away at these wounds together, slowly. Because each one is painful enough on it’s own, to look at more than one at a time. He has brought people into my life, to work through these wounds with me too. These people don’t run when I open up and show them the ugly parts of who I am, instead they show me their wounds too – because they are the type of people that love deep. They understand the call of community and living vulnerably with those who they love – they get it. They get the humanness, because they are beautifully, gloriously and messily human too.

In saying all of this, and knowing that there will always be things that I need to work on, and work through with Jesus – there is grace for these moments. There will always be grace for these moments, these seasons that I am walking through.

In a paraphrased version of what a fellow blogger once said – We need to slather on grace like sunscreen. (HB)

I’m slathering grace on like that thick white stuff I don’t like to wear, over all over these wounds, and all over this season.

Here’s to allowing Jesus to dig his fingernails into me and pull, for these moments where I need to slather on more grace.

Thank you for reading my words – If they reached you in someway, I want to hear about it. You can leave a comment below – I appreciate hearing from my readers.

njl.

what’s on your shelf?

Breadcrumbs – these blog posts and instagram posts, are breadcrumbs of my journey to where I am now. I often catch myself scrolling through old posts, needing to become aware of how far I have come, when I have forgotten. There have been some really hard days, and some really good days too. Sometimes, it feels like those breadcrumbs are soaked from my tears, and it isn’t worth putting the soggy mess down on paper. But that, my dear reader is where I have grown the most. Pressing post, after putting my vulnerable heart out into the internet, and walking away because of the fear that creeps in. When these tears soaked bread crumbs are laid down, that’s when the real work begins to happen, it’s when I get random messages from people I don’t know, thanking me for sharing that crumb with them, thanking me for the raw vulnerability.

Show up.

These words echo through my fingertips everytime I open this blog. Lay out those breadcrumbs, sprinkle them along the way, because there is somebody who needs that trail.

There are days when I need that breadcrumb trail too. Days that are dark, and lonely, stuck in the “I don’t knows” of what I am feeling. The thing is, I know that I am not alone in this, and neither are you, reader. I keep showing up to these words packed inside my brain, for myself, but also for you, as my reader. Whoever you are, these breadcrumbs are for both of us.

Last night, I shared my story and talked on the idea of home at Identify, a women’s ministry that I lead here on campus. I had never done a speaking engagement like this, and I was terrified walking in, unsure of even how you do this whole speaking thing, I am much more of a behind the scenes type of person. I shared bits of a story as breadcrumbs for these women on campus, breadcrumbs about home and what that means for a university student, living away from home but also in regards to the deep need to plant roots where our feet are.

I showed up. Jesus also showed up.

It was incredible. A reminder that the Lord is calling me to lead this ministry again this year, a reminder that I needed.

When I got to Redeemer this year, I did not feel like myself, it was almost as if I was walking in autopilot. Write this paper, send this email, you don’t have time to cry, you have to be strong for this new group of ladies you are living with. It took much longer then I expected for these feelings to fade, it was not something that I woke up and I felt normal again, it was a slow fade back into the comfortable person I know and love. As I learned what it meant to take myself off of these autopilot controls, there were days where I thought things would never go back to being the same. I was terrified of burnout, of hitting rock bottom again. I was terrified to mess up, I was terrified that I wasn’t going to be around for this women in my life because of my schedule, and the list goes on.

A good friend of mine, reminds me of my humanness on a near daily basis, a reminder that sometimes I need to hear more then I think I do. The beautiful, gloriously, messy idea of being human and what this means.

You are human.

This whole idea of human, is deeper than the skin and bones that surround these organs that beat to the drum of life. It’s more than my brain that thinks and calculates and keeps the rest of my body in functioning order. To be human, is to mess up. Is to be okay with the mess, jumping in because we are all human. There is not one person here on earth, that is not human. To be human, means that you are not perfect, and you never will be. You will get head colds, and burn your tongue on hot coffee, you will have days of deep belly laughter from the depths within, and days of deep sadness that ravages your entire being. Because, you were created to be human, gloriously beautiful, and gloriously messy. Embrace the mess of your humanness.

Through my writing, my instagram and this blog, I am inviting you into the mess of my life and the seasons that I am walking though, into this journey of my humanness. I invite you in, sprinkling bread crumbs along the way, because I understand the desperate need for vulnerability.

Vulnerability is a hard place to be, to show up and be vulnerable is when breakthrough begins. Even if it’s just a crack, to let the light to shine though, it means you aren’t standing in complete darkness anymore. The opening of your soul, to let someone in, to see the raw parts of your humanness, the nasty parts that you hide, the painful parts where you tucked away, in a shelf in your mind because you don’t want to deal with them. I have been there, am there. There are things, still tucked away on that shelf because I don’t really want to deal with them, and they will sit there until I am ready, they don’t go away. I know that each of us, has something different sitting on those shelves, and someday, you are going to take it out, blow the dust off and begin the process of dealing with it.

What’s on your shelf?

I need to ask myself that question too.

Well reader, we have come to the end of another Nat rambling. My coffee is cold, but my fingers are ready for more words. Thank you for showing up, for continually showing up. Even if it’s your first time here, thank you for showing up. If you read this blog, I would love to hear from you and your thoughts. My email is natlantz64@gmail.com if you ever want to drop a line. There will be more words coming your way soon.

njl.

the individualist

Before you begin to read this blog, I invite you to grab a coffee and take a moment to spend some time in these words. It might seem like a jumble all of these different thoughts that are currently going on in my head, but I think you might find that the Lord is speaking through these words to your weary heart as much as He is speaking to mine, it is my prayer for you as my reader everytime I push publish on this online journal of mine.

Walking through a season of “I don’t know” currently, and it’s a hard place to be. It’s a hard place to be, when I am the type of person to invite others into my mess, and what is going on in my life, but now, not sure what mess I am even in, I just feel like my blundstones are full of feelings and emotions that I don’t know how to express and it’s dragging me down. There has been a lot of journaling and sitting quietly with The Lord, trying to understand exactly what is going on, and it’s slow. I’m thankful for this slow season, because coming off of a summer that was so intense and busy and I hardly had time to sit down, let alone drink a full mug of coffee, I need this. I am also aware of how much The Lord knew I needed this.

For as long as I can remember, I have been an internal processor. I would go through something, or even as small as my day, and not really want to talk about it. I would go into my room, and curl up on the rocking chair in the corner, and think about everything that had gone on, sometimes journaling and sometimes just sitting. Ever since camp, since basically being surrounded by people 24/7 and having rare moments of alone time, I started processing what I am going through externally, which helps because now I have an outsider point of view on what is going on.

I don’t know if any of you as the readers of this blog, are lovers of the enneagram test. I am, because I feel as if it is finally allowing me to understand why I am the way that I am, without putting our unique souls into a box. For the longest time, I thought I was a two. The helper. There were a couple of things that I didn’t really think I fit in with the two, but went with it anyway because I needed something concrete in my life to explain something in this seasons of so many unknowns and trying to figure outs. The other day, a friend tells me that she thinks I am a four. Mind blown. Seriously. These numbers mean nothing to you if you don’t use the enneagram, but stick with me here, I’ll explain.

The enneagram four, is the individualist. They have a desire to stand out and be seen as unique, feeling loved and feel everything incredibly deeply. They have fears of not having a purpose, being alone and not being understood. They also struggle with comparison.

ME. ME. ME. I read these things, over and over. The whole purpose thing? I want to be a writer, I want to be published, and it is always an awkward conversation to have when somebody asks what you want to do.

“I want to be a writer”

Other person backs away slowly.

It’s a thing, because people either tell me that it’s not going to be enough to make a living, or they don’t even know how to respond. THANK YOU, I AM FULLY AWARE THAT WRITING IS HARD TO MAKE A LIVING OUT OF IT. I love to write though, so I am going to keep writing.

Struggle with comparison? First off, I know that this is something that every single human being on this earth has struggled with, because that is the reality of life. It’s a daily thing for me, in my friendships, the way I dress, the marks I get back on papers, it is something that The Lord and I are working out together right now. BUT I WOULD LIKE TO REMIND YOU THAT WE ARE ALL SO DANG HUMAN THAT WE WILL ALWAYS COMPARE, it’s the reality of sin in our lives.

Not being understood? or FEELING like you aren’t understood? Been there. Are there. Will be there. Especially when I don’t even know where to begin with everything that is built up inside of me as I begin to learn this whole external processing thing.

These are just bits of what the enneagram four looks like, but there is a lot that lines up with who I am as a person, the way I deal with things and how I feel inside. It’s a huge learning curve, but one that I am so excited to go on, because I feel as if I have something that is finally able to begin to put to words what I feel inside.

I am also aware that this is not a one and done thing. I’m going to say it louder for the people in the back.

THIS IS NOT A ONE AND DONE THING.

This is simply part of my story, written and figuratively. Learning more about myself, and why I am the way I am. Knowing that I am unique, but also an ordinary person who will do ordinary things because I am human. (Shout out to liturgy of the ordinary).

This blog has always been a mashup of random musings and things that I am learning, sometimes vulnerable to the point where I have to walk away for a day before I hit publish, because I am scared of what people are going to think. I don’t even know who reads this blog, (aside from my parents) but it still scares me. Today is no different, and it is okay.

I am still going to tell people that yes, I want to and will be a writer “When I grow up.” I am still going to struggle with comparison and external processing. I am still going to feel everything incredibly deeply, nothing is surface level in my life if you know me at all.

I hope that by the end of this, you have not only finished your coffee, but you’ve learned something new about yourself through these words. Maybe the Lord is whispering something over you that you needed to hear, or maybe you simply needed to sit with virtual Nat musings.

Thank you, reader. For coming alongside me in whatever this journey looks like, all the valleys and mountains and plains in between. The cold cups of coffee and letters of rejection but also letters of acceptions. For silently cheering me on from your favourite spot on the couch, and telling me that these words have touched your weary souls.

njl.

multiplied hotdogs

Opening this blog after such a long time feels like cracking open an old book, blowing off the dust and inhaling that musty scent that old books carry.

I’m back in school, my first years moved in and school starts again on tuesday. I also can’t believe that camp is done – that I am back here. I catch myself trying to process camp for all that it was and all that the Lord showed me through those 2 and a half months that I was cooking for over 100 people, and I can’t. There were so many moments, where the Lord poured his goodness out over that kitchen, over me, that continually brings me to tears.

A little backstory, I am not a camp person, never liked going when I was young, and worked one summer as a cabin leader three years ago before deciding that camp was just not for me. This year, every single summer job was falling through, and I was sitting with the Lord, asking him what I was going to do because nothing was working out and I was beginning to get a tad bit stressed about this whole make money during the summer because you are a student sort of situation. He told me to wait – I have patience issues sometimes and the Lord is well aware of this, we are working on it together. The director of my camp and his wife had come for dinner right around exam season for me, which wasn’t great timing, but I made it home anyways. He was joking around and said that the Head Cook role was still available, and immediately the Lord told me, that’s where I have you. So, I ended up in a kitchen all summer long, and absolutely loving my job for all aspects of it.

So here I am, back at school. Feeling like the summer was almost like a dream, but enjoying the fact that I can have more then two sips of coffee before somebody needs me for dietary options.

I’m not entirely sure where I wanted to take this blog post, other than perhaps an update on my life – so, cool.

Also, had a total loaves and fish story that involved hotdogs this summer, which was absolutely wild – the Lord really does provide if you ask him.

I am heading into my third year of university, running a women’s ministry, being an RA to a lovely bunch of women, and am also on the school newspaper. It is going to be great, I can feel it in my bones, the Lord has some big things in store for this year.

There is such a small update on my life, if you want to hear more, let’s grab coffee.

njl

she’s a writer.

Words falling onto this page, early mornings and bleary eyes. In school, I study words. At home, I write words. Words have become who I am, they flow through my veins like blood cells on the way to my fingertips. A writer, an artist, a creative brain. Some words taste bitter off the tongue, delete. Some words roll, sweet off the lips. Sometimes I feel like writing is like riding a bike, skinned knees and all. You get up and try again, and again. Rejection comes as fast as the pavement to your shins, the unexpected, stinging blow.

I struggle with the term writer. I’ve been published in a few Redeemer related publications, but that is the extent of what work has gone beyond this blog, my journal or my instagram.

I have random pieces of poetry, written on the back of receipts and scrap paper that I keep tucked away. Sometimes, Fear speaks louder than Courage in my mind. Fear likes to tell me that I’m not enough, that my writing doesn’t matter, so why bother. Courage is a different voice than fear, because Courage allows me to share my story. I’ve learned how to give Courage the ability to speak up for herself. To give Courage the ability to speak up for herself, means the creative side of her is aloud to present itself. It allows her to share these marked up receipts and paper torn out of old journals. To give her the ability to say no to things, instead of giving in. Courage yells sometimes, when I know I need to listen to her. I’m learning how to tune out Fear and listen closely for the voice of Courage.

Discipline is a large part of this journey, choosing discipline regardless of what is going on, discipline in my writing, discipline in showing up, in my running and many other areas of my life.

I’m all about the redemption process, the dirt and grime. I’m all ears for how Jesus has stepped into your life, traded out old for new. I want to capture these stories, in words written on paper.

This blog post has come out of soapy water, and cracking over 300 eggs. It comes from the silence in the big room, with my feet tucked under me, and my shoes off and beside me, the rest that I crave after a busy morning of meal making. This blog post has been a paragraph here and there, between cups of coffee and massive pots of macaroni.

It’s how I fully expect this summer to go, little breaks here and there. Sentences in holding, waiting to be.

This is the cool thing about writing, it doesn’t define me. Nor does being a runner, or anything else I enjoy doing, and make time for in my day. I don’t like to be put in a box, being told what I should call myself, or how I should define myself.

There is something so beautiful about mismatched patterns on clothes, having very specific ways I like my coffee, and how I could happily eat cotton candy for every single meal. It doesn’t define me anymore then being a writer does. Writing is in my genes, it’s apart of this bigger story that I am apart of, for I am the pen in His hand.

anyways, meal planning is calling my name.

till next time, little corner of the internet.

njl.

show up.

So far I have cooked 3 meals for over 100 people, without running out of food or burning anything. My feet are aching, but this heart is oh so full. I was chatting with somebody yesterday about how this season is exactly where God has me for right now, and it is so obvious. Through this season, I know that he is preparing me for the next, I can see the gold strands of him throughout it all. Being the head cook at camp this summer, I felt a lot of pressure, I didn’t want there to be strife between the staff I was working with, I wanted to create a menu that was not only camp food, but food that people enjoyed eating. I wanted to create a space in camp, where people felt welcome to come and chat, spend time (washing dishes) with me and my fellow cooks, as well as just a place where good food and good converstation came out of. So far, all of these things are happening, and it’s a joy to stand back and watch how the Lord provides to those who ask. I know that there are going to be days where I want to throw in the towel, and days where the dishes are literally never ending. But I also know that the Lord has asked me to be here, for now. So I am going to keep showing up. Showing up to cook good food, and showing up to those never ending dishes.

Showing up to my writing is just as important, I tend to push off my writing, my blog and any other creative writing. I don’t schedule time to blog, like I schdule everything else in my life. My planner is my best friend, and keeps me organized, but I don’t set aside an hour to just write. I’m changing that, I am setting goals for myself because I work hard to accomplish them. I set a goal to run a 5k in the fall a couple of months ago, and I have been running close to 6 days a week, because of that goal I set.

800 words. That is how many words I want to write in a week, through a blog post, a short story or poetry. 800 words is doable, and it will force me to keep showing up to this blog, to my writing. I can’t be a writer, if I don’t write. I can’t be a runner, if I don’t run. When I first started training, I could hardly run for 30 seconds without having to stop, a couple of weeks ago, I ran 2, 8 minute stretches. I know that isn’t terribly long, but I also am aware of how far I have come since I started.

The first step in my writing dream, was buying my domain. This is my space to write, to create.

Next, 800 words weekly.

Like this kitchen, I have to keep showing up. It’s my anthem.

Also, I just wanted to remind whoever reads this blog and also remind myself, that it is also very okay to mess up. You will mess up, you will forget things, you will burn food and forget to show up sometimes.

Keep showing up. Keep messing up. You have to learn somehow.

This is my way of keeping myself accountable. If the words are in my corner of the internet, I feel as if I know have accountability in this. Accountability in showing up, and sometimes messing up.

Until next time.

njl.

our kitchen table

My mom is the most hospitable person I know, she opens her home to anybody who needs a hot meal, or a warm bed to sleep in for a night. I don’t think there was ever a time that she has turned someone away, because in opening her home, she is loving whoever walks through our front door in the best way she knows how. My mom is a lover through the art of hospitality, and I hope that I can love to the exent that she loves one day, opening my home like she does so often.

My parents have also instilled in us the importance of sharing a meal together, coming together to break bread together. Our kitchen table is in the main area of our home, it serves as a beacon of family and comfort when life is feeling like a chaos of appointments, job schedules and music lessons. As a family, we make time every single day to come together and sit at our table, usually over a meal, but sometimes a card game or two.

The kitchen table that we all grew up eating around, was a table that my dad had made. A labor of love, through his gift in woodworking. That table was full of memories sitting around, laughter and joy echoing off it’s scratched surface. My parents bought a new table, made by an amish woodworker a couple of years ago. Knowing the importance of how my mom loves, they bought a table that can be extended to fit 20 people around it. Fully extended, it basically goes to the other end of the living room. It takes people by surprise every single time they walk into our home for a large gathering.

I think that in Heaven, there is going to be a table that fits every single person at it, because that’s how Jesus loved while he was here on earth. Breaking bread, sharing a meal. He loved in ways that people didn’t understand, turning 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish into enough food to feed 5000, with leftovers. Jesus’s mission here on earth, was a labor of love, loving in the best way he knew how. Being there alongside his followers, healing the sick and sharing the good news.

My parents have shown me how to love others well, through our kitchen table. Love doesn’t have to complicated, it’s knowing a few recipes that go over well with a crowd, and opening your home, even when you don’t want to.

People have walked into our home, and said that they feel at home. That is the kind of atmosphere I want to create when I own a home. A kitchen table full of memories and scratches from dishes being passed around the table.

Thank you, Mom for showing me the importance of a kitchen table.

Thank you, Dad for building that first table, through your labor of love, I have learned how to love others well through good food and laughter.

njl.

forks and swords.

I tend to forget that I have this little corner of the internet to write in, dusting off the URL after a bit of a hiatus. I’ve been in such a sweet season of life of rest, preparing for camp and all the craziness that comes with the role of head cook.

I’m writing this post on the art of discipline, rest and the table that Jesus calls us to sit at, two things that are somewhat connected in this walk of life I’m in.

I am currently training for a 5k run. I started training just over a month ago, and those first couple of days were the hardest. Getting up in the morning, putting on my workout clothes and telling myself that it will get easier, but I have to stick with it. Exercise has never been something I have stuck with for long, without a goal I slowly fizzle out of the pattern of working out everyday. Since I now have a goal, to complete a 5k run, and then hopefully longer runs after I have a 5k run under my belt, I feel like I can do it.

Somedays, it’s the last thing I want to do, but I’ve kept up with it for the past month and I am already seeing results. There are a lot more areas in my life that I need more discipline, writing is one of them. I will never get good at something if I never work at it, because it takes time.

In the same breath, rest.

I can’t push the idea of rest enough, even with discipline in other areas of your life. You also need to have rest as a discipline, because without rest, you will eventually burn out. I run between 5 and 6 days a week, but have always scheduled Sunday as a full day of rest. To a certain extent, because church is busy and tiring, but I still set aside the day of Sabbath to spend time with family and friends, not worrying about trying to get a run in that day, because the Lord himself even rested on the 7th day.

On Sunday, my pastor spoke on the idea of Psalm 23, and how the Lord has prepared a table for us in front of our enemies, the idea of how he calls us to sit down and rest instead of fighting our battles, because he will fight them for us.

“He calls us to pick up a fork and drop the sword”

– Mike Rutledge

The idea of how he has prepared a table with all of our favorite foods, I imagine a table full of cotton candy, BBQ chicken and green and red jelly beans, a table full of laughter and sweet conversation, a table where rest is fully present.

We need to have discipline in our walk with the Lord, with tithing and simply setting aside time to spend time in his presence, to find the rest we are craving with him. The discipline in sitting down at the table that he has prepared for us, in the presence of our enemies.

I understand why discipline is hard, I get it. I understand why people just don’t start, and I understand why people don’t stick with whatever they are doing. It takes time to build up the endurance, but with time, you will see the results.

I think it’s time to drop that sword you have been holding onto, and pick up the fork. Pull out a chair at the table you have been yearning to sit at.

njl.