Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Date archives April 2015

Family / Life & Faith / Marriage

To Listen is To Love

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One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 16/52

My sons sit in the back seat of our mini-van, having a little conversation that I missed the beginning and the end of.

Son #2 says excitedly, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?!?!”

Son #1 replies with a deadpan expression, “No, I am not ever thinking what you are thinking.”

I laugh to myself because, even without knowing any context, the two lines say so much about their (very different) personalities.

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The two of us stay up talking awhile. And when I say we are talking, I mean I am talking. He is listening, attentively, and inserting random quippy remarks between my heavy-hearted sharing. It’s like he knows that I’m all worked up about things that either have a solution or are completely out of my hands. I’m grateful for his patience, and his willingness to let me say it all out loud. I speak it, have a good cry, and laugh in between the conversational bullet-points because of his witty antics. No matter what is on my mind, he finds a way to make me laugh about it, if only for a moment until I get back on the serious train.

He seems satisfied with even a little laugh. There is no shushing me, or rushing me through the list to get it over with. In our years together, he has learned how to hold my stories, to give my wrestling heart the space it needs. It no longer scares him like it once did, and I no longer feel like I have to tuck the edges in around the stories just-so for him to understand or validate me in a certain way. Whether there is understanding or not, there is love…selfless, gentle, steady, listening love. It is an indescribable gift.

In earlier years, I wanted a certain kind of interchange between us, where I would share, and he would think about the topic just how I do, offering insightful responses and a comrade’s faithful corroboration. You know, for smooth seas and all. That didn’t often happen. We have often disagreed, and and our perspectives have clanged together like cymbals of different sizes. At times, our differences have annoyed me because I could not always see the beauty in them, or the reality that the rich and full life we share together is rich and full largely because of what we each uniquely bring to the table. Our differences, the very things that make life together sweet. At times we both have insisted on our own way at the expense of an opportunity to strengthen our love or encourage the other.

As the more stubborn of the two of us, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for grace that is all-encompassing if we will only entertain it, sow it, and see what grows in the garden of listening love. We are learning together. I gather his comedy in my arms and let all my cares blow away as I breathe out and his embrace tightens around me.

“Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19

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Update on goals for week 16:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 16 ~ 10.5 Run/Walk miles traveled, 167mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 16 ~ 1,000 words completed, 58,925 words in 2015

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711. early morning misty walk, 712. peace after days of inner-wrestling, 713. listening ears that love well, 714. baby kisses and spastic dancing, 715. a little weekend sewing time, 716. an afternoon out to give my wardrobe some attention, 717. a successful thrifty adventure, 718. waterfall jokes, 719. limits and the goodness they bring, 720. little white flowers

Family

Park Shirts, Revisited

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One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 15/52 The park shirts made their debut last year in this post.

We busted out the park shirts for the first time this year. Don’t worry, we have been to the park many times this spring, but the neon shirts were strewn about the house and car, and only this past weekend did I manage to get them all back to one place where they could be useful once again. Unfortunately, I did not think ahead enough to take my fancy camera along to the park, but daddy’s iPhone filled in for us.

Health-wise, we’re all doing great, but I am still catching up from the lost week of illness, wherein I did absolutely no household maintenance. It all feels a bit overwhelming, and this week I have struggled to find my groove again. We’re plugging along, and I’m really grateful to be healthy again, but it would be really nice to get my groove back as well. I suppose we have to take the dips with the swells.

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“You, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, You lift my head high; With all my might I shout up to GodHis answers thunder from the holy mountain. I stretch myself out. I sleep. Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady, fearless before the enemy mobs coming at me from all sides…Real help comes from God. Your blessing clothes Your people.” Psalm 3:3-6,8 MSG

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Update on goals for week 15:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 15 ~ 6 Run/Walk miles traveled, 156.5mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 15 ~ 2,000 words completed, 57,925 words in 2015

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701. small victories, marching forward, 702. warm sun, 703. ice cream and waffle cones, 704. dance parties, 705. forgiveness, 706. laundry monster teamwork, 707. wild ideas and hope, 708. freedom to wait, 709. lightness of heart between us, 710. park shirt revival

Family

Laying Low

I’ve been very sick this week. No fun at all. So I’m late on my update, and my brain is fuzzy, but here we are. My husband has been taking really good care of me (thanks love), and the crazy crew has been tugging my heart strings as they care for each other while I pile up on the couch for most of the day. As much as I dislike being sick, I have to say, I am grateful to see all my people step up and keep the house moving with relative peace while I lay low and recuperate. That said, I think everyone (myself included) is ready for me to be back in commission. Hopefully soon.

In Grandpa & Grandma’s back yard…Same beautiful tree pictured in this post from last year. They each grew a little bit…

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One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 14/52

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Update on goals for week 14:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 14 ~ 8 Run/Walk miles traveled, 151.5 cumulative in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 14 ~ 1,700 words completed, 55,925 cumulative in 2015

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691. a few days away, 692. rockhounding adventures, 693. sleep, 694. a selfless, hard-working, and understanding husband, 695. little hands that pat my head when I’m laid out on the couch, 696. relief from aches and pains, 697. dreaming, 698. semi-successful homeschool days despite illness, 699. the peaceful moments, 700. new books

Family / Life & Faith / Prayer

Inspired Prayer // Strength

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One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 13/52

This week, I spent several hours reading some hilarious serious entries in a journal of mine from 2004. As I read, I revisited pages of pre-married (and actually pre-engagement) angst and sappiness that made me laugh out loud, but I also rediscovered a thread of continuity that I’m still learning to accept about myself. I have always been annoyingly serious about life.

For as long as I can remember, I have believed that there is a spiritual reality that is something unlike what we can see with our physical eyes. The natural and spiritual worlds are interconnected, and while I have plenty of questions about how all that works, I have repeatedly experienced things that reinforce my belief that Jesus is the hope of the world, that the Bible gives us a reliable look into the heart and story of God’s work in humanity, and that engaging in prayer puts me in a position of openness, connection, and communication with God.

Through prayer, I have had countless tangible, real-life needs met in unlikely ways. I have seen emotional wounds healed, relationships mended, babies conceived and delivered to parents who endured years of unexplained infertility, brokenness redeemed, depression turned around, life-long anxiety replaced with unexplainable peace, deep sorrows turned to joy, profound purpose in ordinary life…the list goes on.

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A few years ago, I began creating themed collections of scriptures with paraphrased written prayers interspersed between the verses to help me stay focused in my prayer times as I began to engage in prayer more intentionally. It was a quirky thing I found a fair amount of joy in, and while I shared a few of the collections here and there with friends in different tough circumstances, I have mostly kept the practice a private/personal one. For some reason, I now feel prompted to share these collections in a more public space, in the event they would be helpful for others who desire to grow closer to God through prayer. Do I think this is the best/only/right way to pray? Definitely not…but perhaps this resource will enrich your life the way it has enriched mine? My prayer is that it would!

So without further ado, I present to you “Inspired Prayer // Strength“, the first of many themed scripture collections with paraphrased prayers that can be used as a springboard into more intentional prayer. Feel free to print it out, tuck it into your Bible, hang it on your wall, write on it, or share it with someone you know. As the first of it’s kind, I welcome your feedback, encouragement, and suggestions as I prepare to make more guides to share going forward.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16b (NIV)

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Update on goals for week 13:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 13 ~ 14 Run/Walk miles traveled, 143.5 cumulative in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 13 ~ 10,025 words completed, 54,225 cumulative in 2015

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681. easter egg coloring, 682. fuse bead fun, 683. raising one voice in worship together, 684. meeting my weekly writing goal for the first time this year, 685. being on the other side of family-wide sickness, 686. personal breakthroughs with self-discipline, 687. promise of restoration, 688. flowering trees at green lake, 689. easter meal with new friends, 690. truth

Life & Faith

Good Friday Reflections

Salvation, rescue, reconciliation. On this side of history, the hope of the Cross rings in our ears. Love and good news: Jesus overcame death to make right our brokenness. The part of the story we hear the most is, of course, beautiful in its own right, but it is not the whole story. The reality is, every step toward that beautiful end is gruesome, offensive, troublesome, and uncomfortable for those who will entertain it close to the heart.

We see death in so many corners these days. Wars and cancers and mental illness gone haywire. Children harmed and discarded in unfathomable violence. Hate and division and frantic searching for the wrong kind of love. Lust, corruption, and greed that is so pervasive, it literally robs life from others without so much as a blink. We close our eyes as our hearts beat fast and we wipe our cheeks of the tears that fall, some for sympathy, some for fear that we, ourselves, will not be able to avoid hardship or certain death if we do not cleverly step around the mines that are surely everywhere.

But friends, we are not able to live with our eyes closed. As difficult as it is, this is the world we live in. Every one of us will die. Every one of us will see and experience and wrestle with the darkness that seeks to smother out life. We will be courted by evil in the sneakiest ways, and we will be invited to raise up walls as our own defense…walls which will certainly fall as soon as darkness rings the doorbell.

We cannot hope to be our own defense. Our confidence cannot be in ourselves. For what refuge does the clay pot have of itself, except in the hands of the One who formed it?

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Even Jesus did not defend Himself. He chose not to, remaining silent as He was wrongfully accused, mocked, beaten, tortured, and raised with nails in His hands and feet, to introduce the world to a love that it can barely recognize, let alone accept. He chose, with His own tears and fast beating heart, to obey His Father and walk the hardest road…a road that we are invited to join Him on.

We cannot expect to be spared suffering if we are truly on the road with Him, taking up the Cross He invited us to carry in His footsteps. We must choose love at great cost to ourselves, live obedience at great cost to our egos, and become the broken bread for the lost ones around us who are in desperate need of the Gospel’s hope; a flesh-and-blood encounter with Jesus.

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Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11

681. the greatest price, paid for me, 682. the greatest love made real to me, 683. the hard surrender that brings about joy, 684. the example of ultimate self-sacrifice, 685. the beauty of all things made new through Him, 686. the hope of glory for those who believe, 687. the invitation to be love on the ground, filled to be poured out, 688. redemption and rescue, 689. unfathomable mercy, 690. treasures found in the obedient life