on my nightstand [#1]

in an effort both to blog more consistently and to stay realistic about the amount of original content i can actually produce, i’m going to try my hand at a blog series or two. the first is this – on my nightstand – in which i’ll share a few of the books i’m reading these days. once i finish them, i’ll post a little review and share the next set of books i’m starting.

here are the books that are on my nightstand:

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Boundaries: Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
“Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not.”
At least three people have encouraged me to read this book. I’m pretty sure that says something about me, so I’m going to finally crack the cover and find out what that “something” might be.

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Last Child in the Woods: Richard Louv
“Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families, and communities. There are solutions, though, and they’re right in our own backyards. Last child in the Woods is the first book to bring together cutting-edge research showing that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development—physical, emotional, and spiritual. ”
I was encouraged to pick this book up after reading Al Mohler’s post about it.

the secret keepr

The Secret Keeper: Kate Morton
“From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton, a spellbinding new novel filled with mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.”
Morton’s The House at Riverton is one of my favorite novels, so I’m very much looking forward to getting lost inside the pages of this one as well.

This series was inspired by similar posts from Jen HatmakerKristen Howerton and Al Mohler.

keep the rhythm.

the quest for more and better and why comes alongside ten grasping fingers and ten curled toes. the doctor calls out height and weight and the undercurrent that this being is ever so much more than a tiny body could contain engulfs each one present. a soul determined to seek, find and seek again. from the second a life enters the world it sets out to search and discover, adamant that the well never run dry and perhaps faith like a child is the confidence that it never will.

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seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened unto you. 

what i stand to learn from the little life i spend my days watching over is a chest of treasure never fully unearthed and the few jewels i’m aware and blessed enough to grasp are precious and weighty as gold.

he lives for each moment yet anticipates the next.
he learns by repetition and relentlessly pursues mastery of new concepts.

the simplest tasks bring the sweetest thrills.
the greatest sorrows are undone by the remembrance of the deepest joys.

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of all the truths Owen’s life has already taught me, none has struck me so deeply as his innate understanding of and desire for rhythm, for a beat by which to march. not two hours this side of reality and his whole being cried out to be sustained, to initiate a pattern of filling and emptying, filling and emptying that will go on until his final moment on earth. not six months old and he swayed to the drums of Bob Marley playing in our Dallas neighborhood Starbucks. not one year yet celebrated and he hands me books with words that flow like poetry, his head bobbing to the well-known pattern.

rhythm. the craving burrowed deep, near inextricable from the human soul yet years gone by and plans left behind and moments inexplicable tempt me away from the Keeper of the Rhythm and it’s ironic at best that i seek a new beat when His is the one breathed into me. i think back to Owen and am amazed (better, aghast) as i realize that he already knows this battle of the inner man. he already knows the thread of common grace humming a life-giving song through his core and he already knows the warring impulse to stray from the melody. he knows peace and he knows turmoil, he knows the joy of discovery and he knows the pains of an earthly body. and somehow, even now, he knows what is to choose obedience that breeds life and disobedience that breeds despair. photo 4

my dreams for Owen aren’t all that different than my dreams for myself.

may your penchant for mastery of new concepts never die and may you repeat, repeat, repeat the the Truths set in stone as you navigate the expanse for exploration. the rhythm will guide you toward what is good and set a song in your heart that spills forth from your mouth the sweetest of harmonies.  keep the rhythm, little one, and above all know the Keeper. 

expanse for exploration.

i’m starting to think that there might be more to life than feeling like i have it all under control.

recently, most days have been characterized by a few ends still loose and threads slightly unraveled and leaks slowly dripping yet the world does not end nor stall nor perhaps even slow and i’m still breathing and moving and maybe just a touch more free.

unfortunately, in general, it turns out that i rarely give any of this a chance to occur. i spend time, exert energy and direct attention toward grabbing the control panel, punching buttons and making connections and managing outcomes and i wonder sometimes what i’m missing in the gray as i strive for the white and the black. i’m closer now to engaging the depths of the less than assured than i’ve ever been and i laugh while typing this because i get so nervous when i read posts and articles that say things like that.

i’m serious about doctrine. i’m serious about righteousness and goodness and gospel at all times for all people and, therefore, i’m amazed to learn that in the backyard of all the Truth set in stone there is a vast expanse for exploration and, despite my trepidation, wild grace abounds as i seek to understand the landscape.

Ireland

i’ve been long obsessed with doing things right and keeping the peace and seeing all people pleased. my heart is itching for the world beyond those confining borders and as it yearns for depth and reason, i rack my brain for those i know who dwell in that sacred space and haven’t worked through the hard things, held the tough positions, thought the challenging notions and none come to mind. my cry is not original or unique, and i sense it resonating throughout the peers of my generation. i want to join them as they dream and breathe and navigate and our Fountain and Source is He Who grants us wisdom, Who gives us mercy, Who keeps our paths straight. in the marriage of belief and action are sweetness and joy and i can sense His spirit spurring me on toward good deeds and i rejoice. what better place could there be than standing upon His truth and promises as He gives us the ability to sort through the rest? He takes my hand and guides me on and i trust that He will bring me to positions and persons and possibilities that make His name greater. may that be the foundation for my dreams and endeavors and conclusions, always.

[an epilogue, if you will:

i hope this can be a space in which we learn and grow and dream and encourage conversation, recognizing the broad place in which He sets our feet as we cling to the Truth and wrestle with its implications, realizing that some are non-negotiable, and others have room for disagreement that need not breed dissension. interestingly, an overwhelming number of these issues nearly force a conversation about how Christians engage the world in a way that speaks Christ’s love clearly, unashamedly, boldly and gently.

let us not shrink back as those with no ground on which to stand. let us be a generation that both thinks and applies, believes and acts, promises and does. He will supply the effort and the empathy, the resolve and the rest. let us both ask and answer with confidence in the grace of His approachable throne.]

….

currently pondering:

Examining Adoption Ethics
(via Jen Hatmaker)

Get Ready for All Those Babies
(via The Baptist Standard)

White privilege, and what we’re supposed to do about it & What I want you to know about being a black middle-class suburban mom
(via Rage Against the Minivan)

hope in the midst.

the little one awakens at 4:45am and the coffee can’t flow fast enough and the daylight can’t break through quickly enough. i can feel the shaky ground beneath and sense the roaring clouds above and my muscles tense as the clouds crash. collide. pour our their contents and could it be that i am jealous that they have found a way to empty themselves upon being filled to the brim?

there were seasons that made more sense to me. the words to say fell like rain and trickled out like a brook and (could this have been?) i knew what my heart was hoping to say before my mouth said itbut five years of filled to overflowing in all the ways good and some of the ways bad put my mind, heart, soul into overload and i think my mouth is still searching for the words three years past in relevance. i’m trying to catch up. i’m trying to empty myself yet remain full,  keep up yet be content lagging behind. is it possible?

“just give yourself grace,” she said.

i pondered not long enough to conjure up a prettier answer and the truth spilled forth,

that’s the hardest part.”

transition. it’s where we are right now. somewhere between the season gone and the one to come and i’m painting pictures of Egypt and stalling for just a few more seconds and looking into the eyes around me for a rope to grasp. i’m barreling ahead yet analyzing the implications of the moments gone by until my mind is panting and my heart wilts beneath the pressure of what could have been, what should have been, and what i can do to make it be so.

what was that Jesus said about rest? healing? making things right?

i’m in the already but not yet, aren’t we all, and He tells me that as I anticipate what I do not see, He’ll provide the strength to wait for it with patience.  there’s the waiting to be fulfilled in this shadow of reality and the waiting to be fulfilled beyond and He’s the one who breathes life into both and grants the peace between.

He brings hope in the midst.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has put eternity into my heart.
He will complete all that He has begun.
He who promised is faithful.
He is good.