My Words and My Rhythm

Well, today it’s back to the grind.  We just wrapped up a week and a half of vacation…glorious, glorious vacation.


There were numerous moments during this furlough that renewed my spirit and challenged my heart.  This was more than a break on the beach with a margarita in hand…although I’m not denying that happened.  This trip will forever stand out in my mind as very transformative.  And, so, in true “life after rehab” fashion, I feel as though I need to intentionally ponder and reflect on the meaningful moments, so that I can treasure them in my heart and share them with you.

However, as I open up the computer today after the long hiatus, I struggle to find my words and my rhythm.  I sat on the beach last week and actually read a book from cover to cover.  It was amazing.  Not only was having the freedom, time, and ability to read a whole book without interruption amazing, but the content of the book I chose has also left me somewhat speechless.  Ann Voskamp’s one thousand gifts has been so enlightening and transforming.  If you haven’t read it, please do.  It is worth every minute of your time.  The combination of her poetic prose and down-to-earth writing is a humbling joy to read.  There is no way I could ever write in such a masterful way.  It is truly amazing.  In her book, she writes of her own revelations on thankfulness and recognizing God’s gifts in the every day.  It has made me realize how much I neglect the sacrament of thanksgiving and how often the Bible speaks of its’ importance.  I feel as though there is a whole undiscovered path to joy whose trail head I have been aimlessly walking past.  I am anxious to unearth more of “eucharisteo”, as I have been inspired by Voskamp’s own hunt.

The “sleuthing” that she refers to–this treasure hunt for the things to be thankful for–urged me to seek God and His blessings during our vacation.  I found myself swooning over tiny sand-dwelling creatures and huge panoramic views of slate blue sky meeting shimmering crystal waves.  I stumbled upon restfulness, with my eyes closed and ears focused on the hush of the waves, the rhythm of their meter, rocking my soul to peacefulness.  I can’t really explain it, but as I sat still and took in some of the amazing sights and sounds around me, I felt as though I was being wooed my the Creator, reminded of His serenading love.  

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Voskamp is on to something here…and it’s more than “positive thinking.”  In counting my blessings, I am forced to not merely count, but to consider them, and the Giver who gives them to me.  I am forced to be still and know that He is God.  I see how big He is and how infinitely small I am.  That doesn’t really fit the criteria of American dream setting and the “do what makes you happy” kind of joy in which we are encouraged to partake. Being small–knowing my mortality–these are not “positive” thoughts.  All things will come to an end…including me.  Reminding myself that I don’t have control over anything in my life sounds like depressing pessimistic water-cooler talk.   But in actually seeing the God I believe in, feeling His endless pursuit of me in the form of beauty, and knowing that He is bigger and grander than me, I am fueled by a humble peace, a sure contentment, and a deeper, more satisfying joy than simply seeing the glass half-full.


This kind of detective work requires sitting at the private investigator desk searching through files of evidence.  It takes time and intentionality, which eerily sounds like the slow process of Family Rehab.  My journey to restore family and home isn’t done.  Jesus is restoring my heart–my joy.  Life After Rehab looks less like returning to normalcy with all the appropriate sobriety tools gained from being secluded in a rehab facility and more like continued study and rehabilitation with the distractions of everyday life now being added into the mix.  I still have so much to learn.  And as Voskamp also mentions, learning takes practice, practice, practice.

In addition to reading books, Paul and I had the opportunity to watch a documentary entitled,  Holy Ghost.  (You can watch the trailer here:  The whole movie was guided by the Holy Spirit.  “What the what!?!?!,” you say?  No plans were made, except ones that were the result of ‘inner voice’ urgings or visions.  As a “conservative” Lutheran, some of the conversations recorded in the street scenes, in which the Holy Spirit was called upon to send a physical sensation through a person’s body, were a little wild.  But, honestly, it was no more untamed than what we read about in the book of Acts.  The movie features such celebrities as Lennie Kravitz, Brian Welch, and Fieldy from Korn.  As I watched people step out in faith, taking risks, and even entering into places that are dangerous for Christians, I again was struck by how intentionality and stillness were key in seeing all that God had in store for them.  How can one discern the voice of the Holy Spirit if they are not still enough to focus their hearts and minds to intentionally hear Him?

I think about all the practicing I do.  I consider all the rehearsing that goes on in my mind.  I add up all the time spent mulling over the lies of the world that tell me I’m not enough or of any value without the perfect body, successful children, or tons of money.  I compute all the energy and time I’ve spent repeating the same failures or hurtful behaviors.  What am I learning?  What am I teaching myself?  How much of the life-giving lawn of truth am I repeatedly treading worn down paths of lies over its’ surface?  What opportunities have I lost in the meantime?  What holy risks have I avoided or squashed because I was busy in the practice of listening to another’s voice?  What routines, patterns, and new trails have disabled my senses from hearing God’s audible voice?  What amount of blind ignorance has limited my vision for His kingdom, His glory, and my ultimate joy?

Jesus says in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

“Life After Rehab” might as well be called “practice”.  I haven’t yet learned.  I need training.  I need the Holy Spirit to teach me.  Sometimes it will be hard.  Sometimes it will bear fruit that I could never have imagined.  My prayer is that I am teachable, moldable, and pliable.  My prayer is that my senses are so overwhelmed with the Spirit that I can’t help but walk in unabashed gratitude and risk.  Life is about to get busy and hectic with school and work.  I pray that I find the words of the Spirit in the midst of the mayhem (that they fill me with truth and with holy pomptings) and the rythym of His grace, blessing, and spontaneity in the mundane (that it moves me into new depths of sobering joy).

Treatment Initiation

Treatment Initiation: the first stage of recovery marked by ambivalence, resistance, and denial. Also one of the most emotionally fragile stages in recovery. Treatment staff concentrate on giving the patient hope, bonding them with the rest of the group, and helping them identify with others.

This past week we went on a much needed and long awaited vacation. With all the curriculum research and TEKS reading I have been doing in preparation for our year of rehab, I thought it would be plain irresponsible to take a week at the beach and not study the different ecosystem, the physics of waves, and the salinity of salt water. Okay, it’s obvious that I need help defining the word ‘vacation’. Needless to say, my academic plans for vacation time didn’t result in little geniuses who eagerly traded in boogie boards for a magnifying glass and science composition book. Instead, we talked about my cool experiments I prepared and immediately dismissed them for the pool or a Tinkerbell movie.

I found myself so discouraged. “Some teacher, I am…”, I mumbled under my breath one night about the middle of our trip. Paul reminded me that it was vacation and to give myself a break! But I couldn’t help but doubt our rehab ambitions. I was letting fear of failure blind my previous convictions of obedience. A friend reminded me in a text that “You’re being obedient and God is going to bless that. I’m sure it won’t always be easy, but there is peace in obedience.”. Thank God for godly friends. And for husbands who remind you that it is vacation after all.

I think my little trial run of rehab was alot like the first stage of a drug or alcohol recovery program. First of all, I think I was in denial that we really need family rehab. I think if I really search my heart there is a little voice in there that thinks, “We aren’t really that bad. This is more of a little experiment or just a special opportunity for us.” Let me put it this way: when I envisioned my lesson plan involving carrots and seawater, I pictured my glowing children enamored with my wisdom saying, “You are the coolest mom and the best teacher!”. Then they were supposed to turn to eachother and encourage one another with compliments and hugs, only to yawn and suggest that they all go to bed early so that Mommy and Daddy can rest and have an evening alone to talk. I tend to romanticize everything! Needless to say, that was not their reaction to my lesson, in fact, we didn’t even do that experiment!
Enter resistance. “This was a stupid plan if ever I’ve had one!”. My feelings of discouragement were very much marked with a resistance to comply with what was being asked of me- which very simply is to intentionally love my kids and teach them about Jesus. In all my prep and worry, I had forgotten that it is that command that I am called to obey. God said nothing about carrots and best teacher of the year award. And meanwhile, as I am working on being cool, my kids are getting in the way of my ambitious walk towards awesomeness. Man, do I need rehab, or what. I don’t want to look over their hearts in another selfish campaign.

Well, after resistance came the ambivalence. “Well, whatever…”. Maybe that’s not too bad of a place to be, as long as it’s a surrender to Jesus and his plan, and not laziness and slothfulness. And again, if I’m honest, I probably hung out in slothful for at least a couple days. All the work that I had been pouring into “family rehab” had been tiring and all the work yet to do seemed overwhelming. So I just sat still for a couple days. “Whatever…”

But, just like Treatment Initiation, my therapist (Jesus), surrounded me in my fragile emotional state with love and support. He gave me hope, bonded me with others, and helped me to identify with others. Through texts, messages and phone calls from friends who can relate to skimming the surface of their kids’ hearts, Jesus gently reminded me that, yes, there is work to be done in our family. He reminded me that the need for rehab is there and valid. He reminded me that I am not alone, that He does provide, that He is so faithful.

I’ve got to be honest that there is still a lot of fear of failure and anxiousness thinking about this next year. It was a crazy idea to hold myself accountable through a blog…because it’s working. Knowing that I let all of FaceBook in on this next year is holding me to it! But as the first day of school approaches and Jesus keeps reminding me through His Word and His people that this is a good thing, I am reassured and comforted.

God calls His people to some crazy things. I think if we assume that He wants us to only do the mundane and normal, we haven’t searched through His Word. In the bible, time and time again, He asks much from His people and asks them to do things and go places that seem downright outlandish to us today. But He is the same unchanging God. As scripture also points out, at the end of everyone of those crazy request or adventures, God is glorified. Do those who follow ALWAYS end up with what they originally wanted? No. But God is ALWAYS glorified in the end. My desire is that He be glorified. I’ve just got to remember that!