When I first started a blog in 2004 (and now you know how ancient I am) blogs were so rare that when I told my friends and family about it, I called it my "online journal" because I knew they would not know what a blog was.
We had just moved to our Texas homestead, two Yankees who had grown up by the beach. The extent of our agricultural experience was raising a few tomato plants and a dog. And a hamster or two. I was pretty sure that our life was going to be one long funny story of mishap and disaster. It was.
For three or four years I would sporadically update the blog, keeping our far-flung loved ones apprised of the current insanity and mayhem. During those years the internet slowly and steadily exploded and everyone, including lots of scary people, got online. And after a while I kind of freaked out. I started panicking about privacy and such, and pretty much shut down my internet activity.
But time went by and I kept feeling a little niggling sense that I was wrong. After all, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love" (1 John 4:18). God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7)!
I realized that our way of life, a life where we tried to put God first, where we made uncomfortable sacrfices to give our children the healthiest environment we could, a life centered around family, was beginning to fade away in our culture. I felt a pressure to talk about what we believe, about a life of beauty in the middle of endless dirt. A life sparkling with hope.
So because God is funny and likes to make me grow, I found myself in August of 2010 starting another blog, this time not a journal of daily life, but a place where I poured my deepest heart, my love for Him, and the amazing things He had done in my life.
I don't know if it is clear through my writing, but I am really a fairly shy person. I am not a woman who stands on street corners handing out tracts. I will seek out the one person who looks uncomfortable in a room and talk to her about her necklace or her kids, or something that might make her feel less out of place, but I am not likely to go up to a stranger and ask them if they know Jesus as their personal savior. I am definitely more in the business of helping people feel comfortable than making them feel uncomfortable.
The good news of Jesus Christ makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable.
And part of what I have had to do, as I have been drawn further up and further into this writing dance, is to continue to shed the cloaks of fear that want to wrap around me. The fear of making people uncomfortable, the fear of rejection, the fear of criticism.
Here's the thing: If I believe this, and I do, I have to tell you. If I truly believe that Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God, that everything changed when He died and rose again, that because of this the whole creation has changed how it can relate to the God of the Universe, well then that is a pretty big deal. And I wouldn't really be a good steward of this gift if I didn't share it would I?
Why do I blog now? I blog because the world needs hope. And the only hope I have found that is really hope is this: that Jesus Christ came to save sinners.
That hope is what makes it possible for me to wash the seventh stinky load of laundry for my family. It's what gets me out of bed at 5:30am. It's why I don't give up.
He is why I don't give up.
I know a lot of Christians who avoid the internet. I understand that. I really do. I know Christians who are even pretty dogmatic about it. Who contend that good Christians have no business being online.
But here's what I have learned: God can use everything. EVERYthing.
I have seen people distracted by online Christian activities. But I have also seen women inspired to start reading their bibles for the first time because of the internet. I have seen women forsake face-to-face community for online community. But I have also seen isolated women with absolutely no fellowship enter into community for the first time online and be girded and grow.
Now I blog because I have a passionate desire, need almost, to tell women: "There IS hope!" I want to shout from the rooftops, "You, yes YOU, exhausted mama, YOU can find joy!"
I want to tell you to love and love and love, and when you think you can't love any more, get on your knees and be flooded with the impossible endless love of the Lover of your soul, then get up and love some more.
I want you to know that every time, every single time, you choose to love over choosing yourself, the heavens rejoice, that your cheering section is loud indeed, and if I knew about it, I'd be cheering too!
It's just not what our culture tells us. But guess what? It's truth.
And that's why I blog.
photo copyright 123RF Stock Photos
When our youngest was four I started knitting a pair of socks for him. He wanted camouflage socks, which at the time were impossible to find, even online, so I promised him I would figure out a way to make him some. I picked two colors that suited and cast on.
The pattern was fussy, I spent a lot of time with my head in the pattern book, painstakingly knitting stitch by stitch.
Then one day we found camo socks at Target. We weren't even looking for them. The urgency was gone. I stuffed the socks, needles and yarn in a Ziploc bag and tucked them away.
Knowing the way I knit (slowly!) I had cast on a large size back in 2011. This fall I got to thinking that maybe I could finish them and give them to him for Christmas.
They were still the same fussy socks.
It was a challenge just to find my place in the pattern. I finally did, and inched forward. I inched right past Christmas.
Today is Valentine's Day. I keep chipping away at these socks. Maybe it's a race against time, against those sweet feet outgrowing them. Or my old knitting rule, "don't give up." Either way, stitch by stitch they are looking more like socks.
Several times I have discovered I have the wrong number of stitches on my needle. I've just added or decreased to make it right - out the window with the pattern!
Because now he is six. Yes, I am racing aren't I?
I realized he won't care if there's a little hole where I had to add a missing stitch, or a little bump where I had to turn two stitches into one. He will love them.
And anyway they're socks. They go in shoes. You can't even see them.
I was telling my husband about my latest foibles with the now legendary camo socks - how for days I have been vexed by a complete disconnect between the number of stitches the book said I should have and the number I actually had. How I did the math over and over again and I was sure I was right and the book was wrong... until I realized I had followed the directions for turning the heel in a smaller size than the size I had knit the foot.
And those socks just seemed like a big flashing light all of a sudden.
A hey-take-life-less-seriously-holes-can-be-hidden reminder.
An are-you-asking-the-right-questions query.
A love-covers-over-a-multitude-of-knit2togethers-and-make1s comfort.
They're just socks.
It's just life.
And I'm just a slow-paced, holey, bumpy, mama who still gets loads of love.
I can look at the holes and bumps, or I can look at the love. I choose. They're both there, and that's not going to stop.
Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you get all your lumps and bumps squeezed tight by the people in your life today. And if your house is as disastrous as mine, I hope that we both will see all the love in the middle of this beautiful mess.
It's all a big holey holy gift.
That last line reminds me... If you are looking for something to read this Lenten season, consider getting a copy of Kris Camealy's Holey Wholly Holy. You'll be challenged and blessed!
On the second Thursday of almost every month we flutter in, a flock of motley mama birds, feathers all akimbo.
Some sling baby carriers, others treats to share. All carry bibles.
We are weary mamas, worn with the endless joys of growing with little people, and we circle our wagons once a month to love each other and sit at Jesus' feet.
More walks in with us than what is in our hands. Burdens that are too heavy to be borne alone. Disappointments that crush. Loss too great to fathom. Fear for the future.
But first we smile and hug and chit chat.
"How ARE you?" "Oh that looks delicious!" "How's your husband feeling?"
We visit and fill plates and pour tea, then we sit.
Why it is I don't know, but it always seems the first five sitting minutes are strained. Like we are finding each other's hearts again after a month away from this safe space. We talk about the book we have been reading while apart, we turn pages of our bibles and read God's Word. We think about true things.
As we settle deeper into our chairs, we settle deeper into ourselves. Questions are asked and hard answers are given. Answers that squeek out thinly, answers laced with self-reproach. Conviction is a commodity at our monthly bible study.
But condemnation? Condemnation doesn't cross the threshold. Grace abounds... it sings with these ladies.
We round out the second hour of sitting, and (if I am minding the clock) we change to prayer posture. Slowly we work around the room, each sharing her deep needs, some sharing many. It often takes an hour, sometimes more.
The sharing is interspersed with helping. One mama needs prayer for a child struggling with math, another has experienced the same problem and gives advice. The circled wagons are so tight now, we each strain toward the speaker as if our leaning in can buoy her up.
Grief incomprehensible is voiced, impossible mountains revealed, answered prayers shared. We mourn together. We rejoice together.
As the circle of sharing closes upon itself we bow heads and kneel hearts. Earnestly we offer each need. Sometimes words fail, but we know that the Spirit Himself intercedes with groanings too deep for words.
After the amens gently whisper into the quiet living room, eyes are wiped and plates gathered. The clanking and rustle bring us back to earth and the music of voices gradually grows again.
Some stand at the sink splashing soapy water, others package food. Awake-past-bedtime babies are passed around while counters are wiped gleaming.
We laugh as we gather up books and bags, and lean into each other to hug goodbyes.
And into the dark we walk to our cars to drive home, girded with renewed hope.