The Road Home to You

Finding faith in a broken world

The Intentional Life

March 19, 2018
The Road Home to You

I’ve been thinking a lot about intentionality lately.

There are so many areas of my life that end up getting the ‘left-overs’ of my time, thoughts and action. I think some of that has to be with being a stay at home parent. It’s easy to get sucked into reactionary living – preparing meals when kids are hungry, driving everyone to their classes and activities, comforting a broken heart and helping to navigate a child through the difficult teen years. Not to mention breaking up fights, disciplining sass and saying ‘No’ to a toddler more times in a day than even seems possible.

I also tend to be highly gifted at the art of procrastination. I am currently writing this in the library with my daughter across the table working on her school. This is the first day we decided coming to the library might be a good place to do our work, as we’re both prone to distraction. I’ve been ‘meaning’ to write for days, yet there is always something that demands my time and attention. Sometimes that thing is Netflix, but that’s another topic for another day.

Needless to say, unless I am FOCUSED, DISCIPLINED and INTENTIONAL even basic things like laundry and dishes end up getting piled high before I think to do them. It needs to hit a critical ‘we-have-no-clean-underwear-or-spoons’ level before something will get done.

Now, I’m sure there are a bunch of pyschological things going on inside my brain that keep me stuck in this cylce of procrastination – anxiety, depression, fear of failure, fear of success, laziness, overly ambititous to the point of ineffectiveness – I’m sure it’s in there somewhere. What I KNOW though, is that I’m not alone. I have heard the word ‘intentional’ tossed around for the past several years. Clearly there are other people wrestling with how best to use their time to make the most of the life they’ve been given.

Recently I’ve begun the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. I exercise daily, eat more whole foods and am drinking water…at least I’m trying to, but let’s be honest, the siren song of coffee is real and I am captivated by it. I’ve also started writing out a routine for household chores. One would think that 20+ years of marriage would mean I’d have that figured out by now, but it seems that every new season of life uproots whatever system I’ve incorporated and now I find myself back at square one.

But the intentionality that I most want to pursue, that of a deeper relationship with God, seems to somehow elude me.

What does it mean to be intentionally relational with God? Is it daily Bible reading and prayer? Is it journaling? Is it volunteering my time at a shelter or in the church nursery? Is it weekly Bible studies or fellowship groups?

I think it’s all of those things and more. Honestly, if I evaluate my life, I’m doing most of those things on a fairly regular basis. I’m plugged in at church, both in serving and with small groups. I read the word and pray daily (honestly, the reading isn’t quite that consistent, but close). I have friends that call my bluff and don’t let me get away with things. And yet…

I still feel like something’s missing.

Listen, this is a journey, I know. That’s the nature of relationships – they are ever-changing and growing. I just don’t want to get stagnant or complacent in my pursuit of God. I want to know Him more. I want to hear His voice more clearly and see the works of His hands more evidently in and through me. I want to be ever-awed by His amazing grace, weak at the knees when I think how far He’s brought me and how far we still have to go. I want more.

Maybe that’s the first step of being intentional. Just the simple desire for more – more order in your life, more energy for your body, more depth in a relationship.

I’m going to spend some time over the next several months exploring this idea. I really don’t have any answers or insight right now, just a desire to invite you on the journey with me. What do you do as an intentional pursuit of God? What areas do you think you need to grow in (reading, prayer, fellowship, giving, etc)?

As for me, I am wanting to incorporate other spiritual disciplines into my life, beyond reading the Bible through and praying. I want to have a solitude retreat, to fast, to memorize scripture and hide it in my heart. I want to use my artistic bent to journal my walk with God.

I’ll definately come back to this topic again and give y’all an update. In the meantime, drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts. I’m open to suggestions if you have any spritiual disciplines you practice that have been beneficial to you. Also, why not lift each other up in prayer?

After all, we’re all on this road home together.
-Brandy

A Word of Advice

March 10, 2018
The Road Home to You

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
-Proverbs 16:18

I hate Pilates.

This is a relatively new discovery for me, as I have recently taken up exercising regularly for the first time in a long time. Part of my routine includes both Pilates and Yoga, two days a week. Here’s the thing: I keep hearing from everyone how much they love it! So as I warmed up for my first round, I was pretty excited, thinking that I’d finally be one of those sleek mamas, wearing her yoga pants and feeling great.

Nope. Didn’t happen. Not even a little.

Here’s what does happen when I partake of this particular endeavor: I get angry. Seeing. Red. Angry. Like, I want to punch someone in the face kind of angry! Now, I thought Pilates and Yoga were meant to not only work out your body, elongating your muscles and such, but also, to help you focus and bring clarity and peace into your mind. Let me tell you, that is a bald-faced lie.

Here’s a little back story:

I grew up in a little mountain town with only boys for neighbors. We ran loose in the woods for days on end, jumping creeks and building forts. It was required that I kept up if I wanted to have any friends to play with. The one thing I couldn’t/wouldn’t do was climb. (My fear of heights was real, y’all.) But everything else…oh, you can be sure, if the boys did it, I was going to do it, too. I hated being made to feel like I wasn’t tough enough or strong enough or smart enough.

As a kid, every time something came up in my life that I wasn’t good at, I felt the crushing weight of being ‘less than’ or ‘not good enough.’ I hated that feeling. As an adult, I learned that I could, for the most part avoid having to do those types of things. I mean, how often does the average person really need to use algebra? (Honestly, I don’t know…I don’t even like balancing our check-book because you guessed it, I’m no good at math.)

Anyway

The other day I got to doing some self-reflecting while I was praying and felt kind of burdened by this word: humility. So I did the only rational thing and asked that God would teach me humility. But, y’all, I’m not stupid. I’ve prayed for things like patience before and then been stalled out on the freeway behind the world’s S L O W E S T drivers, so I know not to just write that kind of blank check when I pray for God to teach me things. So I phrased it real smart. I said, “Lord, please teach me humility in little bite-size chunks – in little ways – so I don’t have to have a monumental fall.” See how smart that was?

The next day I did Pilates.

I was humbled. And here’s why: my body, created by the God of this Universe, has been endowed with a very short little torso. Add to that the extra weight I’m packing (hence the exercise) and the absurdly short arms I have (painting quite a picture here, aren’t I?), and what you have is the very picture of a person who will never – no matter what – ever be able to do some of the moves that Pilates and Yoga require a person to do. Even with modifications. I have tried. It does not work. It will not matter if I lose every ounce of fat and become as flexible as I was the day I was born, my body will not do it. And that makes me super mad!!! I don’t want to do something that I’m not good at!

So, apparently I’m not going to be stretching my body as much as I will hopefully be stretching my spirit twice a week as I work to do what cannot be done. And hopefully I will realize that it’s okay to struggle and even fail and not be good at everything you try. Maybe I’ll even learn to accept that my body (as goofy as it is) is fearfully and wonderfully made.

But the biggest lesson is this (and I’m giving it to you for free): be careful how you pray, people. Because even when you think you are being clever, God knows your heart and He will do what must be done.

That is all. You’re welcome.

-Brandy

 

Between the Cross and the Crown

February 14, 2018
The Road Home to You

“And You are sovereign over all that’s been broken by the fall/ So give us strength, Lord, here and now/ In the days between The Cross and Crown.”

-Newsong, One True God

I’m a sucker for road trips. Seriously. I love them. If all I have is my camera, a notebook, coffee, snacks and good tunes or podcasts to listen to, I can drive anywhere for any amount of time.

This last June, my 15-year old daughter, Molly and I hit the road from Portland, Oregon to Anaheim, California. Just the two of us. We were headed to Vid-Con and to meet her internet bestie for the first time. It’s a 16 hour drive without stops.

Inevitably, things never go quite as you hope, but after I remembered how to pump my own gas and got over the fear of motorcyclists passing between cars, it was pretty smooth sailing. We stopped about halfway to stay the night in a hotel then rushed out the next morning, eager to get there. Molly had made a variety of playlists so we sang and giggled and snacked our way south.

The way back was a different story. It turns out that Molly and the friend she’d met didn’t want to say goodbye. (Go figure, right?) So we did the logical thing and drove to her house, near San Francisco and hung out for a few hours. The plan was to drive a couple more hours north then get another hotel. But…plans changed. As Molly drifted off to sleep beside me around 10:00 pm, I just kept driving. By the time I made it across the state line back into Oregon I felt like I was so close to home that I might as well keep going. Medford, Roseburg, Eugene, Corvallis, Salem…every mile I was getting closer and closer to home. Closer to my own bed. Closer to my own shower. Closer to my son and husband. I just wanted to get home.

I finally gave up somewhere between Salem and Oregon City. I honestly don’t remember where. I just pulled into a parking lot and slept. Hard. And 45 minutes later, we were back on the road. I couldn’t wait to be back where I belonged.

Isn’t that true for all of us? We look around at this world and we recognize that it’s broken and somehow ‘not right’ and that we don’t quite fit in.

It doesn’t take a genius to look around and see a fractured and fearful people. Between the threats of war, political leaders and Hollywood celebrities falling off their pedestals as women cry out, ‘Me too,’ and the moral fabric that’s always been associated with the American  Dream, baseball and apple pie collapsing, is it any wonder that we, as Christians, feel torn and ill-at-ease in this world?

In speaking of His disciples as He prayed, Jesus said, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:14-17).

Even the earliest disciples of Christ felt the pull between their earthly life and the knowledge that there was something yet to come. They not only felt that pull, but Jesus himself recognized it and prayed for their protection. Why do we feel like we should be exempt from the same struggle?

The fact is, this world is vastly different than when I was a teenager. I didn’t have a home computer until I was 22 years old and married, in 1995. As it is now, my 15 year old daughter has never lived in a home that hasn’t had a cell phone. She’s never known the joy of getting wrapped up in the extra long cord that leashed you to the kitchen wall while you tried desperately to have a private conversation as your mom cooked dinner nearby. Conversely, I don’t have any idea the pressure she faces as her every move is being documented and watched by thousands on myriad social media sites.

Regardless, there are some things that never change. Sin is sin and truth is truth. God has set boundaries for His followers and we will always try to push those boundaries. We will want to follow Him and be used by Him for mighty purposes and we will struggle with overcoming our basest, most selfish desires that directly oppose the very thing He’s taught us. We will long to be at Home with our Heavenly Father but will also long to see our children grow and have children of their own, taking our final breath as we sleep at a ripe old age.

We are caught between the cross and the crown; the finishing work that Jesus did on the cross as He bore our sins and nailed them to a tree as the ultimate sacrifice and the time when, at last our bodies are restored and perfected and we will be able to worship at the literal feet of the One who saved us.

Until that time, we are on a long road home. Sometimes, it takes us through some very treacherous terrain; the road is winding and narrow with cliffs on either side. Other times the road is broad and gentle, with nothing but blue skies and birdsong. Either way, we are all travelling along, crossing paths with some who see the world as we do and others who don’t. We have to navigate this road. And we are called to navigate it well.

We know where our destination is: standing before God and answering for the life we have lived. How we get there is what this blog – and eventually the podcast – are all about. Our journeys will look different; we’ll have a variety of experiences along the way. In the end, we hope – Matt and I – that this will provide you with a little extra glimpse at the roadmap. We certainly don’t have all the answers. But we know Who does.

Happy travels, friends! We’ll see you on the other side.

      -Brandy and Matt

 

 

 

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