Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In the Wilderness of Unexpectedness

Yes, it’s Tuesday [Okay, now it’s Wednesday].  Which means I should have already written and posted the next declaration installment for my manifesto.  [Yesterday.]   And yet, here I am, in the midst of trying to facilitate homework (the nightly struggle which crescendos to an epic war scene that would make Hollywood envious) and getting ready for tomorrow, for spirit week no less.  All while not cooking dinner.  There is a grocery list needing to be compiled before the morrow, lunches and breakfasts to be made, socks to be found, bags to be packed…  Obviously not the ideal time to try to bang out a post. 

But this week is greatly lacking in ideal.   You see, I won’t be posting any declarations this week.  My journal, my personal, private, and much coveted [by me] journal, is about two hours away.  Stranded in the car that is crumpled and smashed from a homecoming crash Sunday.  Five hours in an ER wasn’t exactly how I planned to spend my Sunday night.  Or the wee hours of my Monday morning, either.    
The good news, the amazing news, is that we’re all okay.  A little bruised from seatbelts [Always, ALWAYS wear them!  And booster seats, even if your nine-year-old-child argues every time they have to sit in one, MAKE THEM.], a little scratched from airbags, and a little shaken from the whole experience.  But otherwise, we’re okay.      

The less than desirable news is that all my stuff is in my car: my journal, my clothes, my toothbrush, the auburn-haired beauty’s homework that she diligently finished on the trip, the flaxen-haired boy’s jacket, my Bible.  All things we won’t get until Thursday.  Truly in light of everything, that’s not even news worthy.  Thinking about all our stuff, I shrug and utter, “meh.”

We’re okay.  That is quite literally all that matters. 

The other good news is that I get to practice grace.  With myself.  I planned to meticulously and faithfully share my personal manifesto every Tuesday and Thursday.  No-matter-what.

Except that I didn’t plan for the eventuality of an accident that would separate me from my journal.  From my Bible.  So what do I do?  Strain to remember what declaration came next?  Skip ahead to the ones I do recall?  No.  I exercise grace.  I’m not perfect, I won’t ever be perfect.  And an accident is just that: something outside of my control, that crumples my well-laid best-intentions. 

Thus, this week I am only writing this one post.  To let you know why I’ve seemingly failed.  But it's not really a failure, I haven’t quit, I’ve just paused.  I’ll be back next Tuesday, October 2, with the next point in my manifesto.  Until then, I’m going to spend some time in worship, in the word, and in prayer. 

And I’m gonna spend some time with my family.  More than usual.  Doing things that let them see how very, very much I love each one of them.  From the Officer, who drove back and forth three times to rescue us, to the amber-eyed girl, who has since made it her job to mother everyone, to the hazel-eyed boy who has now decided he is permanently a six on the pain scale.  [For clarification, he’s not.  He makes this assessment while scrambling up and down the slide in our favorite playland, and launching himself out of swings on playgrounds, and running, screaming, after his friends at school.  I think “six” is a bit of a hyperbolic cry for attention.  But my job as Mom is to furrow my brow sympathetically, frown, and ask, “Can I do anything to help?”  At which point he laughs and runs off.  I’ll take that “six” any day.]   

Remember, dear one, always force your kids to ride in their booster seats [even if they think they’re too old for them] and enforce the rule that The-Car-Doesn’t-Move-Until-Everyone-Is-Buckled-In.  And,

May the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you

and be gracious to you;

the Lord lift up his countenance upon you

and give you peace.

~ Numbers 6:24





Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Best of Me

Declaration 6 [part II]:  Putting on gentleness and kindness daily, the new creation that I am will seek to always see the good intentions in her children and her husband first. 

She will offer them the best parts of her,
Not the dilapidated leftovers after the whole world has had their turn.    

A few years ago, the Officer was enrolled in a mentoring class, and I remember the words of his wise professor at the end of the term: “[the Officer] is the only father his children have, he is the only husband to his wife.  His other roles can be filled by others, but these two are the ones for which he is irreplaceable.” 
Those words were sobering; mouth-hanging-open-because-it’s-obvious-yet-so-revelatory. Not because I wanted the Officer thusly convicted, but because I lifted his name out and inserted my own.  I am the only person who can be Mom to my kids.  I am the only woman who gets to be Wife to the Officer.  These privileged positions are the ones for which God choose me.  And only me.  The ones which nobody else in the history of human existence can do. 

All else: the cooking, the cleaning, the errand-ing, the blogging [oh, yes, even this], the encouraging, the fun-ing, the planning, the spontaneous-ing, the praying, the teaching, the learning, the serving.  All of it could be done by someone else.  And that’s how it should be.  Yes, we each bring our own, unique traits and ways of doing things to every task and friendship and ministry we engage in; and yes, no one else could do any of those like we do.  But that doesn’t mean that no one else could do them; it simply means nobody else could do them the way we do.    

The Mom-ing and the Wife-ing, those are mine alone.

So should these two roles/jobs/privileges come very last on my list?  Or should they be elevated to second-only-to-worship-of-God?  I know it’s the latter.  We all do.  Which means that I need to treat them as such.  I need to give the best parts of me, expend most of my energy, spend most of my time, give most of my attention to these two positions.  And then give the rest of the world what’s left.  Not the other way around.
Practically, this means that I need to ignore the little alert noises on my phone when I’m with the Officer, because he trumps email and facebook.  I need to be mentally alert and emotionally available to my kids after school and into the evening; even if I have to nap to make that happen.  It means dinner preparations need to be less important than the conversation around the table; because there are only so many of those left.  It means that picking up either has to wait until everyone else is in bed, or (as much as this bothers me now) until they’re all gone for the day; because my time with them is a gift, every breath of it.  This means that kindness I spend on the drive-through attendant should not exceed what I spend on my family; because I’m forming their identities with every interaction.  That my tone should be more pleasant to them than to the person on the other end of the phone; because they need to know how loved and important they truly are.   

It means that grace should come before any other reaction to failures and mistakes; because that is how God treats me.  It means that love should be the loudest, longest, and most obvious part of what I communicate to them; because that is what they need.

Thus I am resolving to fill the only two roles for which I was uniquely and purposefully chosen with the best of me, first.  And letting all the rest come, as it should, after. 



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The clothes I'm going to wear

Declaration 6 [part I]:   The new creation that I am wears gentleness and kindness every day.

I will admit that in my frazzled, distracted, striving existence, and despite numerous nightmares to the contrary, I have yet to leave the house without pants on.  Thank goodness.  Though for those of you who know me, you know that there are days when this is a feat in and of itself.  However, if I am honest I cannot count the number of days I’ve run out the door naked.
Spiritually naked.  My forgiveness coat slung over my comfy chair beside my Bible, where I’ll remember it after I’ve dug deep into the Word.  My gentleness chemise hanging on the back of the bathroom door, where I’ll no doubt put it on after a nice shower.  My kindness kilt hanging in my closet, ready for when I put my best foot forward as my public persona, and present by best self to non-family people.  And my foundation garments of love, the ones that keep me from *ahem* spilling out all over the place, lying in a rumpled pile beside my bed because I just didn’t have time to put them on in the morning rush.   

As comedic [and hopefully not horrifying] of a metaphor as the above is, I’m employing it to remind myself of how absolutely important it is for me to purposefully put each of these traits on every. single. day.  Before I leave the sanctity of my bedroom and face any member of the human race.
The crux of grace, the thesis of the gospel, the reason I can open my eyes each morning.  Giving what’s been given to me.  Letting go of the proprietary right to vengeance, because God has canceled my debt to Him through the blood of His one and only Son.  Releasing the right to retribution for the wrongs inflicted upon me, just as God has removed the wrongs I’ve inflicted upon Him.  Saying, “I forgive you,” to those who have hurt/offended/actually wronged me, when possible, and meaning it.  Even if I have to say it again [mentally to remind myself] every day thereafter.  Because forgiveness isn’t a feeling; it’s an active choice.

That attitude and behavior which turns away wrath, or at the very least won’t escalate the situation.  It’s the next logical step after forgiveness: “I forgive you for how you’re treating me.  I can answer you calmly.”  Or “I see your pain, through the cruelty in your words.  And I can respond with peace.”  It is the realization that every other breathing human (save the One) is sinful, and will at times fail, and is therefore in need of grace,  Just like me.  And I should treat them as such.

The mode of being which calls forth the best in others, which author Robert Louis Stevenson called the essence of love.  On the surface it sounds like gentleness.  But I think it goes deeper.  Gentleness is responsive.  Kindness is proactive.  Kindness notices the unique in each person, the thing about them that makes them completely different from every other person to walk this planet.  And kindness rejoices in that, with that person, for that person, and about that person.  It seeks out the good in others; the Imago Dei in those flesh-bound souls who were created with the greatest good in mind, by the only source possible: a perfect, holy, and Almighty God. 

The greatest of all virtues; the godliest of all emotions, attitudes, and behaviors.  Love is the foundation for all virtues in the preceding list.  It is the aim of humanity, the pinnacle of spirituality, the reality of Divinity.  God is Love.  Love gives and gives and gives; and when it seems impossible to give any more, Love sacrifices itself on behalf of the object of its adoration.  For those clothed in temporal flesh, love is dying to the will of self, and living for the benefit of another.     

I have to daily recognize that if I don’t purpose to choose and apply each of these traits to my spirit, just as I walk into my closet to select and put on clothes every morning, I will face the world as me.  Fleshly, worldly, sinful me.  The me that reflects none of Christ, none of the gospel, none of God’s image into this world in such aching need.
And that has me leaving the house as an uncovered, hopeless, aimless wanderer, who is just this side of nihilism.  Thus for my sake, as well as the sake of everyone with whom I come into contact, I promise to clothe myself daily with these traits, which are befitting a person of my station – a daughter of the King of Kings. 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trust Issues

Declaration 5:  The new creation that I am TRUSTS.  She will not allow the lies of the enemy to hijack her thinking.  She will believe that her God is at work in her and through her, towards the end that all things will be HIS good for her because of her love for him and her calling to his purpose.

Trust.  It shouldn’t be that hard.  The entire cosmos is a monument to God’s faithfulness.  Every breath I draw is a testimony of His enduring love.  Yet trust, the act of giving up my prideful I’ve-got-this or I-know-what’s-best-for-me delusions, is the oldest challenge to weak humanity.  It’s what seduced Eve into the bite that caused creation to crumble.  It’s what led Adam to abdication.  It’s what I struggle with daily.

Now, I have no problem believing God can [and did] literally speak the universe into existence.  Nor do I doubt that the blood of Jesus Christ is the sufficient once-for-all atonement for those who choose to accept it.  And I do not question the presence of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of His power, and the endowment of His gifts upon believers.  I don’t even wonder if God will act on behalf of other believers.  My struggle is with whether He’s going to act on behalf of me.

That sounds rather double-minded.  To believe in God for others; all the while doubting God for me.  Without treading too far into more exacting theological discussions: it is, but it isn’t.  The double-mindedness to which James, the biological, half-brother of Jesus Christ, refers is not whether God will give me what I ask for if I just believe hard enough.  It is doubting whether or not God will give wisdom to those who ask.  Not human knowledge, not intelligence; but the wisdom of the Psalms (119), the wisdom of Proverbs.  The wisdom that testifies: God is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He’s going to do.  A wisdom that asserts that fear of the Lord and love of the Lord are requirements of those who desire to follow Him.  Wisdom that ultimately leads to surrender.  Because this wisdom brings me to the realization that I am but a mote in His eternal light; momentary and fleeting, helpless and seemingly superfluous.  And as always, in desperate need of Him.               

Thus I can do naught but trust God.  Trust Him when things don’t go the way I want them to, or anticipate them going, or even worst-case-scenario them.  Trust Him when it feels like He is hiding His face from me.  Trust Him with the happy endings, as well as the sad ones.  Trust that when I don’t see it, or when it doesn’t feel like it, or when it drags on and on, God is at work in me and through me [assuming I’m submitting myself to Him].  That He is using my time and circumstances to bring about His perfect will.  That somehow, through even me, He will be glorified. 

I commend to you probably the most difficult passage of Richard Foster’s Prayer of Relinquishment, at least for me—the couplet I’ve come to call the surrender.      

I surrender to you

I could stop there.  I should stop there.  I surrender to God.  I surrender.  Surrender is a forfeit of control, or any attempt thereof; a relinquishment of authority; a voluntary submission to another, in regards to my own person and well-being.  Trusting someone other than myself with my welfare, my life.  No matter the outcome.  No matter the cost.    

I surrender to you

my hopes,

my dreams,

my ambitions.

My.  My.  My.  All mine.  All what I want for me.  Lord, let me want what You want for me. 

Do with them what you will,

when you will,

as you will.

This part is the hardest.  What if You don’t want for me, what I want for me?  What if it takes my whole, entire life for these dreams and hopes to come about; what if I feel like I’ve wasted my time until then?  What if, in the end, it doesn’t turn out how I’ve pictured, how I’ve planned?  Lord, help me to surrender.  My wants, my time, my outcome.  Let me trade them for Yours.

For the sake of Jesus Christ.

I will trust that the Divine Man Messiah who hung upon the cross at Golgotha and the God who allowed His Son to die in my stead, had my best interested at heart.  Both now and forever. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Love Story

Declaration 4:  The new creation that I am will not allow one day to pass without loving her husband well.  Thanking God for him; and with him, for their love. 

For sometimes, the heart lives outside the body.

What does love look like?  There are endless collections of books: secular and non, sermons, retreats, seminars, websites all dedicated to this very question.  [And no, I’m not going to touch headship, or submission, today.]  I’m seeking a picture of a love between husband and wife, one in which God delights.  Because I want my marriage to be a love story woven through with scripture, breathing the Spirit’s influence, hemmed in with Christ’s grace, and glorifying God.  But to which narrative in scripture do I turn?   Is the garden an ideal portrait?  Or do I find this in Song of Solomon?  Need I look for paper mentors in Priscilla and Aquila?  Abraham and Sarah?  The blessed parent and step, Mary and Joseph?  Ruth and Boaz?  Or the newly popular Ester and Xeres?
The trouble with each of these examples, no matter what your personal stance, is that each is a human relationship.  Therefore, each is flawed.  Flawed, like my marriage.  Because I’m a human and I fail every day.  And I’ll confess to you, dear one, that of late I’ve failed far more than my fair share.  Hence the declaration.  In the very recent past, I’ve exalted myself and my desires and my goals and my plans and my “needs” so that they have engulfed what love is meant to be.    


 Regardless of whether you’re a complimentarian or an egalitarian, we are all called to love one another well.  And the only formula I find in scripture for that love is sacrificial.  Treating your spouse as greater than you; placing their needs and well-being above your own.  Dying to myself so that I can give more of life to him.  Taming tongue and reigning in emotions; feeling them, yes, but not allowing them to rule in me.  Standing when he can no longer, fighting for him when there’s nothing left in him, and encouraging him in everything to which he is called.  Just as he has for me. 
In a perfect world, this goes both ways.  Sadly, ours is a fallen world.  We will wound one another.  We will fail each other.  We will give into our flesh and become selfish.  And we will abandon each other in a million little ways, both overt and with more subversive means. 

But for God. 
If I can keep asking God to give me the grace He was lavished upon me, that I might pour it out upon my beloved, He will provide it.  If I can keep begging for forgiveness for all the wounds I inflict, and trusting that my beloved will give it, freely, then I will experience it.  If I can recognize that his love is unique and different from my native tongue, but no less true and full, then I will know it.  If I can keep asking God for fresh eyes to see my loved as rejoiced-over, delighted-in, beloved child of the Almighty, God is faithful to give me exactly what I need.  

I can look across the table this very moment and see the face that for literal years I prayed to wake to.  I can reach out and touch the hand that I ached to hold in mine when he was so far away that all we had was a common star, set in the sky billions of years ago, by a God who knew we’d need to it to find one another someday.  I can sink deep into the eyes that have seen more of life and the world and its consuming darkness that I ever want to know.  And I can see why God chooses marriage as a picture of His love for His people.  For while God is perfect, even in our love for Him we fail.  And He must continue to forgive us, continue to love us through our selfishness, continue to see the best in us when we’re at our worst.  And continue to stay.  Right beside us through it all. 
Because love, both Holy and human, requires of us more than we think we have to give.  Yet in living this love, dying to ourselves and seeking the best for someone else, we become more than we ever thought we might. 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thankfulness: joy in the immediate and invested

Declaration 3:  The new creation that I am delights in her life in the present moment;

counting all of it as joy, whether immediate or invested. 

She is thankful for the totality of her life, and will delight in the treasures hidden therein.

Do not mistake me: there are times when joy is the furthest thing from the place I inhabit.  Or so it seems.   We’ve just concluded a series about elusive joy; the kind of joy that is solely the acknowledgment that God is sovereign.  There are seasons when this type of joy is the only rational response; when the present is so painful, so fraught with uncertainty, that all we want is for this season to end.  For resolution to come; for respite from our suffering.     

How will I feed the kids tomorrow?  Will they foreclose on the house?  What if he always chooses the internet over me?  Will the new cancer treatments work this time?  Will I ever see my son again?  What if tonight the phone rings, telling me that the tracks on my daughter’s arms finally took her life?

Conversely, it is easy to become lost in the day-to-day.  The mundane has such compelling power to pull one deep into mindless habit and joyless existence.  So that we seek to escape; we look for distraction from our lives, diversion from the space between the rising and setting sun.      

Make the bed, feed them breakfast, wash the dishes, rush off to school, do the laundry, buy the groceries, pick them up, make them dinner, get the homework is done, wash the dishes, mandate baths, get them into bed

Put on the tie, drive the same road, sit in the cubicle, listen to the same conversations, look at the same images, submit the same reports, drive home, mow the grass, take out the trash, go to bed

Just to do it over again the next day. 

How does one count it all as joy?  How do I find treasures hidden in my days, particularly when my days are monotonous or painful?

Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness (a la Ann Voskamp*). 

Now, I need you to know that I have spent years dedicated to one task alone: being the consummate perfect-joyful-Christian-woman.  The kind who rejoices over her laundry because it means her house is filled with family; or who prays over her dishes as she’s washing them because it means there was food to eat that day.  But I am not her anymore.  Because she wasn’t real in the first place.  Her thankfulness; this repetitive, resigned varietal formed in obligation and marinated in duty is not the kind of thankfulness of which I speak.**  For me, it was forced.  And fake.  It made me feel all kinds of inadequacy and guilt; because, in all honesty, I hate doing the dishes.  Plunging my hand into a sink full of dirty, food from someone else’s plate makes me gag.  Literally.  Laundry, cooking, cleaning all are activities for which I have no bent or desire.  And that’s okay.
No, the thankfulness to which I refer is one borne from a realization of whom I worship: the Almighty and Everlasting God.  And who I am: a sinner, in desperate need of saving.  Every day.  This truth  allows me to see the mundane as gifts, to find joy in the times of trial; to be genuinely grateful for every breath.  This thankfulness does not require that I enjoy every task before me; but allows me to rest in the knowledge that the God who spoke the universe into existence knows me.  Knows that I love the slivers of aspens with their twirling leaving dancing on autumnal winds and that they make me feel freedom in my chest and that I’d rather be out among them than cooped up inside up to my elbows in dish water.  Knows that words and music and touch are the ways in which my soul is revived from this dark and fallen world.  Knows my propensity for rebelling, for wandering, and loves me anyway. 

This kind of thankfulness allows me to be honest: if today sucks, I can say so.  But I can end like the psalmist, trusting in God’s sovereignty over the crappy times.  I can freely thank God for the mundane days, without treating him as the distant relative who really doesn’t know what I like, thus sends me gifts ill-fitting my person and personality; but for which I must be grateful anyway. It allows me to say, on the days of repetition, that God is enough; and His presence in my life is the greatest gift.  And when the days are good, I can rejoice with a pure heart; praising the God from which they came and for the delight they ignite in me.

 Know that some seasons are investments towards future joy. 
The hard times usually are for strengthening us.  For drawing me nearer to the throne of grace and the foot of the cross than I would have come in times of plenty.  When the tears I spill on brittle ground do not even hint at a coming harvest; and the waiting draws the strength from my veins until I cannot remember what life feels like anymore; so long as I stay mindful of whom I worship, and who I am, I can count every moment as an investment in a greater joy to come.      

And some are for immediate reaping.
When joy is all around you.  When you can feel it in your breath and catch hold of it in your bones.  When the sun delights upon your face; and snow rains love upon your head.  When you want to do nothing but dance and sing and hold perfectly still to keep this moment for as long as you can, all at the same time.  When the light playing off her hair mines tears from my eyes; and his laughter rouses my own.  When the kisses come soft and slow, dizzyingly true with perfect intent.  When laughter is the soundtrack of my days; and their pace marked by the comings and goings of beloved members; then the joy in my heart should overwhelm me, so that thankfulness is instinctual. 


I will find joy in every day, by finding God. 

I will be thankful for the moments which comprise my life,

for I have but the one. 

Knowing that if I seek first the Lord,

my life will be filled with the things in which my heart delights.




* Though as I read her blog today, I see she and I do not share the same view on monotony.  But that’s okay.  God made some wild and some meant to be domesticated; some delight in routine and take their rest in familiar practices.  Both are beautiful.

** By all means, if this practice will cultivate a thankful heart in you, do it!  And even if it doesn’t, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to be thankful for these things every once in a while, to attune one’s attention to how good we really do have it.  To find God’s handiwork even in the quiet and predictable moments. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to construct Love

Declaration 2:  This new creation that is me converses with her God every day: through prayer, reading and memorizing his word, still listening, and private worship; for

Love is built one moment at a time.

In our highly literate society, with the prevalence of words and shocking availability of scripture, I find a tendency towards reading about scripture…instead of reading scripture.  As western one-third-world dwellers, we’re more likely to attend a study taught by a favorite celebrity-teacher than to crack open our Bible with a group of believers.  We prefer readily distilled and easily digested lessons gleaned from others, from their scriptural immersion, to wading into the ocean of scripture for ourselves.  Why? 
We [myself first and foremost] can quote movies and books, sing entire operas, recite plays, speeches, and poems; even relate our favorite jokes.  But can only vaguely paraphrase the Holy Scriptures in our own tongue.  Memorization feels cumbersome, tiring, and more like a chore than the delight of a soul in love.

I lift friends and family and my needs up in prayer; tossing them to God like a last-ditch lateral with the clock working against me and the day pressing in like the defensive line: “here, take this; I’m about to be sacked.”  I ask questions, but don’t tarry for their answer.  More “status update/tweet” than genuine conversation. 
Worship.  This is the most embarrassing of all.  I worship corporately, I sing in the car.  But in my own house, all alone, I struggle to loose myself in it.  When it does overtake me, surprising and without warning, I pull back; like over-thinking a passionate kiss.  I should revel in the emotion and immediacy of it.  I should ache for it; physically crave it, as a lover craves her beloved’s touch.  But in the drought I have forgotten romance, left the flame of passion untended.  In doing so, my soul has become brittle; and my attempts increasingly awkward.      

How will I fall in love, if I never listen to the One for whom my soul longs?  How will I stay in love, if I let the day-to-day overrun spending time in Love?  How will I experience love, if I rebuff its intimate advances?
Today, I have resolved to pray as a lover.  I want to know my beloved; know his ways, his desires, what makes him happy, what makes him sad.  This means I have to listen.  I have to spend time alone with him.  I must be still.  Today, I have resolved to read the Holy Scriptures.  Every.  Single.  Day.  And to memorize it, that it might become the delight of my soul.  Today, I have resolved to worship; sometimes through music, through poetry, through enjoying beauty, through recognition of who God is.  And to let this worship fill me with pleasure and a growing desire for more of God. 

When I pray, I will begin with Richard Foster’s “Prayer of Relinquishment” so that I may set aside all of me to become more immersed in Christ.  Then I will be still; and listen.  Even if all I hear is silence, resting in the presence of God will be exactly what my soul needs.

The Officer began a new reading plan, and has shared it with me.  While I haven’t followed it as strictly as he, it is teaching me the discipline of carving out specific time every day, for God’s word.  A list of other plans can be found here, at David Platt’s Radical Experiment website.

I am going to shut the windows, draw the blinds, and silence the phone.  Then I will put on music and sing at the top of my lungs [even if it scares the dog] to my God.  I might dance a bit.  I might talk out loud to Him about how spectacularly awesome He is.  I might watch videos, or listen to lectures, or read the Ontological argument to try to wrap my mind around His majesty.  I might go outside and wonder at the petals of a flower, the quaking of leaves, or the stately grace of the mountain; and offer praises to the Creator.  But whatever I do, I will do in private; as a lover delights in her beloved.  I will save my worship for my God and create an intimacy in our relationship that is the picture of my love for God.

I encourage you to find ways to read, memorize, pray, listen, and worship daily.  I know that everyone’s lives look different; that we’re all in different places in our walks with the Lord.  Just don’t let creation become more important than the Creator.  And know that whatever you do, God will delight in meeting you right there, and with songs and rejoicing will overwhelm you with His love.