The Book That Wrecked Me

August 26, 2014 — 9 Comments

I was running errands with Starbucks as my final destination, where I’d settle in for a few uninterrupted hours of work (goodness, do I miss my East Nashville coffee shops!). I listened to the first several chapters of Hosea on audio while I drove as prep for the reading plan I would edit that afternoon.

Reading the Bible when it’s your job can be tricky. Sometimes I approach it like an assignment—almost like a textbook—and sometimes I approach it as a girl who just wants and needs to hear from God. Most times, because I’ve never been great at drawing lines, I approach it as both. But this particular day, listening to Hosea in the van, I had my work hat on. I was listening as a refresher, as a jump start on the work I had to do.

Maybe that’s why it knocked me down flat—I didn’t see it coming.

I don’t know if it was my physical fatigue or my depleted emotional and spiritual state (I get tired, you guys), or maybe it was the calming voice of the ESV audio guy (love him). Whatever it was, I lost it. I listened, incredulous at what I heard, and I kept rewinding to hear certain parts over and over. I didn’t make it all the way through the book on my drive, but by the time I pulled into the Starbucks parking lot I was weeping. I felt crushed and helpless, and I felt whole and seen and known. 

I was completely bowled over (as Ann Voskamp might say) at the ridiculous and relentless love of God.

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I went into the coffee shop, ordered something highly caffeinated, got situated at “my” table, and texted my friend/partner/business wife Raechel something along the lines of this:

“There comes a point in our relationship with Christ where we can’t go any further until we face our sin and shame head-on. That’s what Hosea does for me—it causes me to say things out loud to God that I don’t want to say, and then forces me to stand and listen as He says back to me, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’”

Then I admitted crying like a baby.

Repentance. That’s what this book is about for me. And I don’t know about you, but I NEED to repent. I need to come clean with the Lord and remember how He loves me, remember how He knows me even when I don’t know myself. I need to start back at square one of the Gospel and say, “Ok, Lord. I’m a friggin’ mess and here are all the reasons why. Are you sure you don’t want out?” Here’s the craziest part—He never, ever, ever wants out.

I invite you to come along with me and tens of thousands of other women (and some men!) as we read the book of Hosea together. You can follow along (for about 12 cents a day) on the She Reads Truth app, or you can follow along absolutely free (wheeee!) on the She Reads Truth site or via email.

I don’t always read along with each day of each plan (because we’re always reading/studying/writing a upcoming plans at the same time), but I’m committing to read along with this one.

I need to remember, I need to repent, and I need to be received all over again. I’d love it if you’d join me.

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In watering others, we are ourselves watered. - Spurgeon

I’ve never been much for growing things. I’ve killed nearly every plant I’ve ever had.

I do have one aloe vera plant that’s hanging on in spite of me, bless its heart, and a succulent who’s droopy but not technically dead. I bought it for my office and ended up moving it to the kitchen—right next to the sink—in hopes I’ll remember to water it or, at the very least, it will get a splash of dishwater now and then.

My grandmother had the world’s greenest thumb; iris seemed to bloom wherever she walked. She grew a quarter-acre of them on the hill behind her house, and she knew each variety by name. She even created varieties of her own, though I have no clue how. I’m pretty sure she talked to her flowers, so maybe that’s where I’ve gone wrong.

My mom and her sister took after their mother, yards always filled with lovely. Me, I was thrilled to inherit two healthy, already-planted flowerbeds when we moved into this new old house. I weeded them in the spring and they bloomed beautifully all summer, but now we have weeds growing up past the porch rails. I told you, I’m the worst.

“I don’t grow plants, I grow people,” I say. But the truth is, even my people could use some watering.

This season we’re in is one of planting. We’ve planted new roots in a new town just a few miles outside our old one. We’ve planted the kids in new schools and set our lives down in this rich plot of earth we’ve been given. All the while I’ve been digging deep roots for a dream that belongs more to God than to me. That may sound strange and awfully churchy, but it is the honest truth. He’s grafted this ministry into the heart of me and I can’t imagine ever letting it die, not so long as I have a can full of water.

The planting season is not easy. The work is hard and the hours are oh so long, and some days I forget things like the day of the week, or brushing my teeth, or that my children need clean clothes. There are still boxes in the hallway after nearly six months in this house, and I can’t even describe to you the pile of Everything on the far end of the kitchen counter.

There is an endless list of things I am not doing well right now, and the weight of it has overwhelmed me to tears. Yet, the whisper I hear in my heart is repeating one phrase, quiet and calm—

Tend what you’ve been given.

Tend what you’ve been given.

The work of life and the work of work are demanding all my emotional currency right now.
I am spent.
We are all exhausted.
And I’ve never felt the pleasure of God so deep down in my bones as I do with these circles under my eyes and the dirt of new beginnings under my nails.

You can see, then, why yesterday’s words from Spurgeon slayed me.

“Watering others makes us humble. We discover how much grace there is where we had not looked for it… Our own comfort is also increased by our working for others. We endeavor to cheer them, and the consolation gladdens our own heart. Like the two men in the snow; one chafed the other’s limbs to keep him from dying, and in so doing kept his own blood in circulation, and saved his own life.” — Morning and Evening, August 21

I can’t for the life of me understand it, just like I don’t understand why I’ve been gifted this white farmhouse to call home, these precious souls to call me Mama, or this sisterhood of women to walk arm-in-arm with me to Jesus. Me, the world’s worst gardener, invited onto holy ground.

I don’t know where you stand today, but I do know it’s by grand design. You’ve been given a hoe and a plow and two hands, and there is good work to be done. Do it. Tend the soil that’s under your toes. The work is hard but it’s worth it.

I’m telling you this now while I know it to be true, because soon enough—tomorrow, maybe?—I’ll need you to tell it back to me.

Tend the garden you’ve been given. (Green thumb not required.)

5 Good Things

February 18, 2014 — 8 Comments

Good morning, lovely people.

It is Tuesday, the temperature in Nashville is *supposed* to break 60 today, and Raechel and I spent hours last night scheming new ways to make She Reads Truth awesome. It’s a good day.

To celebrate, I present to you Five Things That Are Making Amanda Happy. Enjoy.

love 2.18.14

 

#1: As Sure As The Sun

I’ve been listening to Ellie Holcomb’s new record in the swagger wagon nonstop for a week, and I’m in love. Yesterday, while my three loud children were especially loud on our new FORTY MINUTE COMMUTE to school, I swear Ellie’s sweet voice and the words of these true songs – and a bit of deep breathing – saved my sanity and their lives.
The album released today. Get it.

#2: Antler Necklace from buraellen

I need more long necklaces and more antlers in my life. Voila! My new favorite. This adorable little Etsy shop, run by my internet friend Amy, also has some light and pretty infinity scarves perfect for spring. Use code SPRING now through Thursday for 20% off (making the antler necklace less than $15 including shipping!)

#3: You Are Special by Max Lucado

I rediscovered this storybook while living with my mom these last few weeks, and it’s just so good. The kids love it, and the  message is one I can’t hear enough. “The dots only stick if you let them.” (hashtag praise hands)
Buy it and you’ll see what I mean.

#4: David Kind eyewear

First of all, is Raechel not the cutest? Those are her David Kind specs we’re wearing, and I WANT. Like, real bad. David Kind operates a bit like Warby Parker in that they send you glasses to try on free before you order. The difference is that at David Kind, a stylist chooses frames for you, based on your facial features and personal style. Since I’ve worn my WP glasses a total of 10 times ever, I’m looking forward to potentially paying a bit more for a pair I’ll actually love and wear. My first try-on box comes soon. I’ll keep you posted (you’re welcome).
Go here to have David Kind style you for free, too.

#5: God’s love does not grow weary.

This quote is from our current study of 1, 2 & 3 John over at She Reads Truth. Just yes. Yes, yes, yes, and Amen.

Have a good Tuesday, friends.