mini-post: ode to the one-year-old

little O is one year old today. my heart and mind can barely believe it, but, nevertheless, it’s true. today was simple, a few presents to open, a trip to see the home we’re building and a little dinner out. his true celebration with friends and family will be on sunday, but i just had to mark the moment a bit today. i’m working on a broader post that tries to do just a touch of justice to the past year that i hope to publish later in the week. Image

Owen Everette Perry
August 2, 2012
7:31pm

owen darling, your entrance into the world was sudden, abrupt, beautiful, emotional, thrilling, captivating. i’ll never forget the sound of you, the sound of myself as i murmured “hi, baby” in the moments before they could lay you on my chest. you spent your earliest moments snuggled inside your daddy’s scrub top, and the doctors and nurses were so touched by that choice that they asked us if they could take pictures of the sweetness. the moments following are simultaneously hazy and lucid in my mind, i remember the harshness of healing, the flood of hormones and instinct, but most of all i remember the wonder of you. your tiny mews, the way you slept “kangaroo style” on my chest, the grasp of your wondrous fist around my finger. my heart was stolen in every way and nothing, nothing has changed in these 365 days since.

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the past year has been a whirlwind of joy, pain, confusion, growth, laughter, exhaustion and hope. you’ve stretched and deepened my heart, strengthened and broadened my belief, deepened and widened my resolve. i can’t wait to share more about you in a post to come, but for now i’ll just say that i love you, little sunshine, and the greatest urgency of my heart is that you would know the One who loves you even more greatly than i. i cannot wait to teach you more about Him, and to learn more about Him from you. we’re in this together, my dear, you are my pride and joy.

mama

 

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.

altar.

and just like that, it’s been a month since i put pen to paper.

celebrating, packing, graduating, enjoying, cleaning, working, goodbying, wondering how the past four years could have flown and crawled by simultaneously and weren’t we just getting married and 20 years old and soaking up the lack of certainty in our future?  we work through piles of paper, of mother’s day out forms and insurance verifications and bills and gifts and cancellations and we hope that in the drudgery and constant upkeep of daily life there is meaning and something beyond. we assemble boxes and fill them full and give away whatever we can because this stuff of earth spins the head and muffles the heart and quenches the soul. we plan times with friends focused on “see you later” rather than the dreaded “goodbye” and find ourselves branded, imprinted, penetrated by the depth and breadth of impact we have had on each other. we think back to the moments in time before we entered these seminary housing walls and i realize how many of my thoughts, beliefs, hopes, dreams, realities have been shaped by the people who have breathed and struggled and lived within them alongside me and i wonder at the goodness of God and his provision through the body. i think of abby the newlywed, abby the (short-lived) seminary student, abby the working wife, abby the stay at home mom and i am hard-pressed to find a single evolution not shrouded in the evidence of God’s mercy and joy and kindness, and isn’t it beautiful to recognize that while we feel ourselves spinning in circles he is making our paths straight?

we have 8 days left in this apartment, the boxes and memories closing in on us and taking my breath away. dinner with dear friends at that table, the shock of a cancer diagnosis on that couch, a nursing newborn in that chair. coffee brewing on the counter, music beckoning from the record player, shower awakening us to days of school, work, play and where did all those weekends, semesters, holidays, plans go? we feel robbed yet overwhelmed with riches, left empty yet filled to the brim. we find ourselves anxious to move forward yet every friendship and memory leaves an imprint that during these heart-wrenching seasons feels ever so much like a break. this place has been a lifetime of learning and growth bottled up and pouring over and i’m not sure there will ever be words to describe. we grab hands and we mourn and we celebrate and we dance through the doors but let our hands linger at the knob a few moments longer, awash with remembrance and the hope that all we have become will be to His glory and for the people of God there is no true goodbye. He leads us on and links us together and in Him we live, we move, we have our being and we are one. what grace He must have to allow us lives of such feeling and fullness, impact and intimacy. may we never forget this place, building an altar in our hearts for all it has been and all that has been accomplished in His goodness. we give thanks, we rejoice and we carry on.

blood cries out.

Just a few hours ago, I re-blogged a post about the Gosnell atrocities by my dear, talented friend Chelsea Williams. I thought she said it so well that there was nothing left to say. It turns out that she did what the greatest writers always do, inspired thought and word that had to emerge. Here’s the product.

I’ve been trying to work for over an hour. Suddenly, I’ll realize I’m looking out the window, staring at Twitter, Gosnell, Gosnell, Gosnell pulsing in my mind. 

I am reminded of Jen Wilkin’s post the day of the Newtown slaughter. “Today is a day for hatred,” she wrote. As is today.

Today is a day for hatred. Not of any human being, but of death, of murder, of the sickness of our broken world. Today is a day for repentance. Today is a day for sackcloth and ashes. Today is a day for sitting in the darkness and craving the light. Today is a day for pleading with God on behalf of the exploited and lost and murdered. The blood of our brothers and sisters cries out to God from the ground and we must join their cry. My God, My God, why have we forsaken You.

I cannot read these articles without seeing my baby’s face. I will forever know the image of him the moment he was born…creature of life and struggle awash with blood and fluid and all things earthy and all things soul. Babe of need and hope and craving and body and want. I know what the cry of a newborn does to a heart and I know what the surge of hormones in the days and weeks to follow does to a mother. Exploitation does not begin to describe what has been so deceivingly, so despicably hidden in our own country that claims life and liberty, in our own world created by a perfect, holy God whom we have utterly rejected.

Fellow man, must we remind ourselves? We nourish life, we do not take it. We celebrate life, we do not eliminate it. We fight like madmen for human rights and when we are scorned and scoffed and mocked we scream louder because these are the ones declared to be made in the image of God. He rescues and redeems and our hearts rejoice with the Truth that He will make all things new. 

Today is a day for clinging to the gospel and today is a day for being a voice for those whose voice has been silenced, our hearts beating outside our chests for those whose hearts beat no more. We speak. We fight. We pray. We hope. This too shall be made right.

already condemned.

“I’m already condemned,” I quipped over coffee with a friend yesterday afternoon.

Another baby philosophy book opened, another first page leaving me awash in confusion, doubt and ridiculous concern that my child is perhaps already losing his chance for success because of my alleged errors in sleep training, feeding, wake time activities. I smiled as I joked with my friend, and I smile as I write this now because when my mind is clear and heart is right, I’m thankful for those books. I’m thankful for their perspective, however much of it I adopt as my own. I’m thankful that they point out ways I can help the babe grasp onto life for all it has to offer. I’m thankful for what they reveal about my own heart.

I’m already condemned.

A joke to a friend in one moment, a terrifying truth pulsing in my soul the next. The cost far greater than a full night’s sleep or a baby who loves vegetables, the standard far more strict than one doctor’s perspective or prescription for success.

I’m already condemned.

I hear it every day. In my head, in my heart, in the words of those around me. Gathered with women of God last night, we struggle and study Romans 8 and pray that we will be those who help others see, those who believe ourselves, that his grace is enough. That though we were condemned from conception, the shed blood of Christ, the victorious resurrection, the promise of new life, restoration, covenant, renewal has set us free from our bondage to decay. That though we were bound to the law, already condemned in light of its heart-baring requirements, stripped naked and shamed by its demands, Jesus stood in our place, stripped naked and shamed that we might be free. That we might live, breathe, move, take heart

In the same way that I could do nothing about my condemnation, I do nothing about my salvation.

He has made the way where there was no way. He has fulfilled the law, it culminates in Him. He has born our condemnation, it finds its end in Him. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He has stood in our place and declared victory over our sin, shame, death, depravity, hopelessness before the perfect standard, the perfect God. He has bought us with a price and we stand before the Holy One redeemed, unblemished, spotless, before we can utter a word, perform an action, obey a law.

The law my standard, already condemned.
The shed blood of Christ my plea, already redeemed. Already justified. Already holy. 

Nothing to Obey?

I feel the truth, the theme, the battle cry simultaneously burrowing deep in my soul and bursting through my veins to my skin’s very surface, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” It pulses through my body, hot, loud, fast, waiting for the response, the marching orders. Yet all is quiet. Where are the trumpets? Where is the loud gong of new beginnings, the gun at the starting line? Do you hear me, Lord? I’m ready. What do you want me to do?

Words read long ago creep up, up, up to the top, overpowering my attempts to shove them aside as I sneer at their simplicity.

“Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it.” – Oswald Chambers

Nothing to obey? But I’m ready to go. I’m ready to work, to adopt, to serve, to ______.
Nothing to obey? But I’m available. Things are easier now. My baby is happy. My husband is on the seminary downhill slope (yes, dear friends, it actually exists). It’s go time.
Nothing to obey? But I’m prepared. I’ve read/am reading the books. I’ve had/am having the conversations. I’ve studied/am studying those who have gone before me.
Nothing to obey? But I’m…bored. I’m hungry for the excitement. I’m afraid of missing what He has for me.

There’s the rub.

The answer isn’t in the excitement. Victory is never birthed by fear. The true adventures don’t come to those who grasp for them. They come to those who wait.

Nothing to obey doesn’t mean that I sit here aimless. Nothing to obey means that I see what is in front of me, that I see who is in front of me. I love my husband, I love our son, I love our friends whose role in our life is rich and joyous and grand, and will soon change immensely as we all embark on new phases and dreams. Nothing to obey means that I don’t go looking for the next phase due to discontentment with the phase I find myself in, it means that I pray, I seek, I read, I study, I believe, I know that He will lead. I pause, I breathe, I make the pot of coffee and send the text and host the spontaneous moment. I close my mouth and open my ears and listen. I ignore the phone and lay on the floor and let 8 months of energy and curiosity wrapped up in a tiny boy give kisses and squeal and discover. I put aside my lists and computer desktop covered in stickies and create space to simply dream with my husband about our life together.  I research and ask and beg God on behalf of the orphan, the oppressed, the lost, the poor, the undervalued and trust that He will make my path straight and lead me to them, in His timing.

Nothing to obey? I will love the Lord my God. I will love my neighbor. I will wait.

This post was inspired by many things, including:

Dr. Mark Young’s Plenary Sessions at Dallas Theological Seminary WEC Week 2013
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Stuck in the Doldrums: An Attack Plan by Jen Hatmaker