Why Lent Matters

Chris Tomlin’s song Here I Am To Worship is, for me, a perfect Lenten song. Imagine a completely darkened room, no light from any sources (have you ever been in a cave and they turn off the lights, you place your hand directly in front of your face and you cannot see your hand…or anything). That is a life without Christ.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4 & 5). Now imagine a light, slow and steady growing and filling the room, illuminating every corner, every crevice, until the darkness is overcome. That is Christ, into the world, into our hearts, our lives, every hidden place in us.  Lent for me is creating intentional time to allow the Light of Christ to illuminate my life. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22)

Here I Am To Worship, Chris Tomlin

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter Sunday). This time, for me, has become a season of reflection and pressing in. Most of the time when someone hears about Lent they think it is about giving something up (chocolate, social media, coffee, etc..). I believe that it is a time to gain. Gain perspective, allow Christ to show me the hidden places in my heart, Psalm 139:23 says Search me God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. ~Gain a greater understanding of who Christ is and His plan for my life… For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ~Gain greater peace and wisdom for the days ahead… If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

Spending intentional time for the forty days leading up to Easter has opened my heart more, to the wonder and excitement that is Easter. The sacrifice that Christ completed on the cross, that sacrifice is for me and you.  On Ash Wednesday receiving a sign of the cross on your forehead is an acknowledgement and outward sign that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. The priest says “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

From dust I came and to dust I will return. More of God and less of me… This is my Lenten plea.

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Time spent in worship, study and prayer, seeking God and asking Him to reveal more of who he is to you. Asking Him to show you the hidden places of your heart and change you to become more like Him. Forty days of seeking, repentance, praying, worship and allowing God to illuminate your life; preparing you to be the light of the world. This is why Lent matters.

There is no magic formula, no perfect Lenten study, say these prayers, abstain from these things, do this, not that. I can’t tell you what time of day to seek God (all day, while you go about your life, is best) or what translation to read, or what church to attend. What I can tell you is this, you seeking God and Him being found by you and in you, that is what Lent   (and our whole Christian journey is about…even after Easter celebrations are over).  Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 

Take that picture of you standing in the darkness, with no light and one candle is lit and then another and another and another and another and another….until the whole space is filled with light, dispelling the darkness that is all around. Each of those candles is a person, a full of the Light of Christ person. If we, with the Light of Christ burning inside of us; go out and shine our light for Christ….think about what the world around us can be transformed into. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 said: You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 

Do you participate in Lent? How do you celebrate Easter?

 

Linking up the Tuesday Talk hosts:

Beth at Our Pretty Little Girls, Crystal at Hall Around Texas, Jessica at Sweet Little Ones, Stefanie at Lexie Loo, Lily, Liam, & Dylan Too , Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me , Becky at BYBMG, Lindsay at Lindsay’s Sweet World, Sarah at Sarah E. Frazer , Justine at Full Hands, Full Heart, Christina at Waltzing In Beauty, Meghan at The Adventure Starts Here, Tina at Go Big or Go Home and Whitney at Polka-Dotty Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weeds

This past Sunday afternoon was a perfect weather day.  The skies were just overcast enough and it was cool and inviting outside, all day.  I have been eyeing my backyard flower beds and staring down the weeds that just seem to grow faster than anything else.  I grabbed my gloves and headed outside to enjoy the day.  My Ren came outside after a while to see what he could help me with why I was not inside and then promptly went back inside to get me his Weeds book. “Here Mama, read this so you know what is a weed and what is not.”

weedbook

This kid never ceases to amaze me. I asked him to look through the book and find the names for some of the weeds we have.  He was walking around flipping through the book and matching the pictures to weeds.  Isn’t that the way it is sometimes? We need someone else to point out the weeds in our lives. The character in our heart that needs to be refined. For me, mama-hood is just that; my weed identifier.  Here I am thinking that I am doing ok with my heart, my life, my character and then…up pops a weed: an attitude, anger, resentment, frustration, yelling…all the things and all the ways I do not want to be.  I have to sit and pray and ask the Lord to pull these things out of me and fill the space with the Holy Spirit. I wish it was just that easy…..one pull and done. But it’s not, the roots are crazy deep and wind every which way. Sometimes we don’t identify the weed and it is allowed to grow and spread it’s seed.

niligardening
The good thing is that God is faithful. He searches our hearts and he knows us (Psalm 139) and he loves us with an unfailing love (Zephaniah 3:17).  Even when we have weeds growing too fast in the garden of our life; he is there. I am forever learning to let God garden my heart. For him to search me and know my heart. To be more like Jesus in all that I do; that’s my goal.
Linking up with Stephanie and these Tuesday Talk Hosts…
2016_01 Tuesday Talk 13 Hosts Image Names copy

 

Babies Don’t Keep

If there ever was a mantra, a mama-motto, a prayer for my mama-hood… Babies Don’t Keep would be it.  Maybe it is because I am an older mama (I had my first at 34 and am now in my 40’s) and I realize that I will never have “all the stuff” done and my home will never be perfectly clean. Maybe it is because I have older nephews and nieces that I marveled at when they were young and had woken from a nap changed and grown, somehow. Maybe it is because I come from a large family or that I have three babies of my own.  Whatever the reason…
Babies Don’t Keep…they simply don’t. 

Mrs Ruth Hulbert Hamilton must of been some kinda mama, a woman that I wish I could of met in her mothering, a mama I am sure that I could have learned from.  This affectionate poem that I know as Babies Don’t Keep is actually titled Song for a Fifth Child. Mrs Hamilton recognized the beauty in the moment, the sacred of motherhood and reminds us all that time is fleeting and the stuff of life can wait but time with our babies cannot.

There are days when I have piles of washing, lots of cleaning to do, dinner to be made, shopping to be done and on and on. Those days when I start to get overwhelmed at the demands of my life, my day…I stop and I remember that babies don’t keep.

This remember-ing effects my days, my mothering, my house, the way I homeschool..all.of.it.  Somedays are messier than others, somedays we don’t do much more than lots of hold-you, book reading on Mama’s lap and just the basics of homeschool. Other days it seems like I can get it “all” done.

We (mama…you and I), we have to be easy on ourselves. give grace to ourselves (and accept that grace because our Creator gives grace abundantly) and change our perspective to see the holy, the sacred in our days, in our mama-ing.  Isaiah 40:11 tells us, He tends to his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.  I am one of those that He gently leads. There are days that I need that gentle leading more than others (I am so grateful that it is gentle). I remember a time when I was pregnant with my third and I was tired, my two boys were carrying on like boys do and there were messes to clean and dinner to cook and calls to return…and I couldn’t take the noise or really anything any longer.  I went to the tiny hall bathroom and closed the door; with tears streaming down my face I called out to my Creator, my Shepherd and reminded Him of this verse….and asked Him to gently lead me. To give me wisdom for my days and fill me with His peace. He did. When I stepped out of that bathroom I had a peace in my heart and new perspective on my day, on the noise, the messes, the things left undone. Those things could wait, it would be ok, it would all get done. My boys however needed me, they needed their mama to sit and read a story, to build blocks, to have a hold-you and that needing, this mama-ing it is the sacred.


These three, my babies…they are growing too fast and I am grateful for the wisdom in the perspective that babies don’t keep. Grateful to recognize the sacred in my days and most of all grateful for my Shepherd who not only holds my little ones close to His heart; He gently leads me as well. 

Do you have a “where you are at in life” mantra, motto, prayer or scripture? I’d love to hear it about it, please leave me a post in the comments!

Joining Tuesday Talk with Stephanie.



Stories to Tell

I picked up Shauna Niequist’s Savor, a 365 Devotional for this year and I meet with a group of friends once a month to discuss the days and enjoy the recipes that Shauna provides.  Savor, has proven to be a fairly easy devotional; one that I can sit and read the scripture she provides along with her words and reflections for that day in the morning over my coffee and then think about them as I go through my day. 
Somedays resonate with me more than others; one of the days last week has really stayed with me. February 18th devotion, Only You Can Tell Your Story. Shauna writes “If you have been longing to hear a new language of faith, one that rises and falls like a song, may I suggest that you start singing? If you want your community to be marked by radical honesty, by risky, terrifying, ultimately redemptive truth-telling, you must start telling your truth first.”  
 

This spoke to my heart, not so much in the telling of my truth; more in me believing my truth wholly, first. The truth that God starting writing in my heart when I was in my early twenties.  Things He spoke to me in the quiet of prayers and praise.  In marrying a military man, which requires moving often and re-establishing myself again and again; I often questioned the Lord, HOW….How are you to train and accomplish these things in me when it seems that I start over all the time? He responded to me several years ago at a conference with “Nili, I AM the how, you just walk one step at a time in faith.” And so I began… Waiting for His leading and then taking a step in faith.  The flame of the truth that God placed in my heart 20 years ago began to grow.  Now, now I find myself needing to own my truth, believe my truth; so I can walk with confidence in what the Lord has called me to do. So I can tell my story.


Shauna ends with “Only I can tell my story. And only you can tell your story.” This is what God is speaking to my heart.  My story, my truth that He wrote in my heart; it is mine for the living, mine for the telling and I must live it and I must tell it.  Knowing that I am where God wants me to be is empowering.  Not that I don’t doubt myself, worry, make mistakes, stumble and fall….I do all of those things daily.  I also get up, make amends, dust myself off and keep walking. Relying on God to direct my steps…He said He would and I know that I can count on Him. 
Has God been speaking to your heart about the story He has written for you? Be encouraged to live and tell your story…someone you know needs to hear it.