Hey mama, don’t take it personal: A Guest Post from Suzie Eller

Every once in a while you meet someone and you instantly “click”. That happened for me recently when I met Suzie Eller. She’s a former Broken Girl whose life reflects the beauty that is available to us all when we allow God to mend our hearts and walk us through forgiveness. 

Growing up in a dysfunctional home doesn’t set us up to be naturally good parents (if such a thing exists) but Suzie’s life proves that even broken girls can be great mamas!

Welcome our dear friend Suzie…

angrygirl

When your memories as a child were painful, you can become super sensitive to the words from your own children. After all, you want better for your children.

So when you try hard and they still throw a tantrum, or say “I hate you,” or embarrass you in the grocery store, you might want to take it personal.

Hey, don’t you know how much I love you!

Why are you embarrassing me?

Don’t you see what I do for you?

But this is the scoop:

Your child is a work in progress.

She has no idea of your past pain and that’s a gift. You’ve given her innocence and a childhood.

He isn’t big enough or wise enough to make your hopes for a good family come true. It’s not his job, and his shoulders aren’t big enough to carry that burden.

So, what do you do?

memories

Mama, we take personalization out of the equation.

It’s not about you.

Your child is a little warm body with a brain that is still developing (and will be until their early twenties), and you and I have the most amazing responsibility and gift of teaching and loving and shaping them.

So, when they throw a fit in WalMart, forget the people around you. Don’t worry about what they are saying, and focus on your child.  Stay calm. Be the adult.

Because this is a defining moment.

Your child has what you did not. . .  a calm, reasonable, loving parent who is willing to tough it out through the bad moments.

A mama who knows that parenting is wonderful and hard.

A mama who sees this as a teachable moment so that her child can grow into the amazing adult he or she will one day be.

A mama who teaches rather than loses it.

When we don’t take it personal, we shape our children’s memories, instead of our old memories shaping our child.

Suzie

I hope this will be a helpful resource: The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past      to Give Your Kids a Great Future.

1382155_10151922746615266_1676766425_n

Suzie is an International Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author, former radio co-host, and Bible Gateway blogger.

She’s a woman who believes that our past shapes us, but does not limit us! (Read Suzie’s story)

She is an author of articles, columns, and seven books including her most recent books:

The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness and The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.

Most important, she’s a mom, wife, and “Gaga” to five beautiful babies.

Suzie lives in NW Arkansas and when she’s not writing or speaking, she’s with her family, or hiking, or filling the kitchen with smells of her love language of cooking.

Link

Nana Becky Jane

Whitley & Nana. I love how happy she looks in this picture with her Nana.

People inspire me. I’m captivated by a good story and most of the good ones have a little crazy in it. When you love words and people you find something to inspire you if you are brave enough to slow down and listen to words that define a heart. Sometimes a story has a little sadness and sickness in it, things we can’t edit out like a bad sentence or storyline. But, if I could I would edit out the hurt.

I love a good underdog story, the one that has bloody knees like mine from trying, flailing, and repeating as often as needed until faith returns and reminds me why bloody knees make better stories and people. Most of the time it’s not something featured on the news, or a blog that’s gone viral that moves me to the core. Although it happens and I love it when it does. It’s the stories of the people I love the most, just everyday people doing the best they can when life leaves them breathless and sometimes broken by something they can’t control.

I’ve watched my mother-in-law and loved her for over sixteen years. No one else has sacrificed more for God, her family, and ministry. I’ve been blessed by the efforts of what love has built in her and through her.

You will never ever meet a perfect woman, but sometimes life gives you the sweetest gift of loving people who find love perfected inside of them. A selfless heart giving to her family, spending up her days knowing that days are fragile and days are wasted. But we will never regret loving and living for God and our families. Everything else is just bonus.

I’ve heard it. I’ve said it. I’ve whispered it. I’ve wanted to scream it…WHY ME? 

I have been invited to pity-parties and I have been the honorary hostess of pity-parties. I’ve seen anger on faces and worn out creases leaving tracks on faces and hearts. I’ve seen the fear and fist-clenched questions, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to think it and ask why me? I’m saying that it’s a waste of heart and mind space because of one woman’s faith in really difficult situations wrestling with an illness that leaves her no choice but to take a cocktail of pills and trust in an unseen God who has guided each step, even her recent, shaky ones.

I pray I’ll never say those two words again, but I can’t be sure. Although her body and sometimes her mind gives her fits, the core of who she has always been shines through the most beautiful blue eyes.

You’ve done everything right. You’ve lived the good life. You’ve fought the good fight. You’ve loved. You’ve sacrificed. You’ve given every ounce of all your beautiful things for everyone else, why does this bad thing have to happen to you?

When she was asked, ‘Why you?’ by someone she loved, words spilled out and taught us all a better way to ask hard questions.

Without hesitation she added one more word: Why not me?

Questions fade out to a beautiful God space, where He always wins and we win with Him. Cancer might silence a beautiful voice and take people way before we are ready to part with them. Parkinson’s might leave them shaky or cloudy, and we can’t fix it or control it. But, we still pray for it to go away and leave the ones we love alone. We ask God to give us strong limbs and minds to carry them through a season of uncertainty.

We don’t ask them to be strong; we pray that we can be strong enough for them. We take each day as a gift and love each other fiercely as we press through the crashing waves of fear and tell it to go away as His perfect love casts out the fear of the unknown inside of us. We come as we are and take turns being the cared for and the caregiver. I can assure you of this, it’s much harder on the ones who are being cared for.

Dementia makes me a stranger to my grandmother, but she is not erased from the slate of my heart, mind, or my memories. Love lives on inside of the hearts that remember. As I think of what all she has faced, the people who have broken her sweet, selfless heart…I say to myself, “Maybe to forget isn’t such bad thing.”

The lists of why me and why her and why us could spin a tangled web of fear and spill over into whatever our days, months, and years look like. Or we could ask a better question and steal back a bad moment where the enemy tries to do a number on our wobbly faith.

Why not us?

Why don’t we tell an unfinished story?

Why don’t we honor the ones who have given us so much?

Why don’t we shake our fists at the enemy and cry out to our God, and ask God for us to reach more than we could ever dream imaginable from a moment where we add one more word to our why me?

Why. Not. Us.

Why can’t we defy broken statistics and bad reports from doctors where the odds are stacked against us?

I grow weary of seeing my people tangled up with the noose of ‘why me’ tied around their necks, especially if it’s the only thing I hear repeatedly coming from their mouths.

A broken lyric stuck on repeat, a snapshot of pain, a scene that makes you want to turn your head and yet it is replayed over and over again…until we have had enough.

I grow tired from hearing my own, same, complaints. So, I’ve decided to be proactive in making changes in my life and relationships. I’ve overused my frustration when clearly my words and my actions can take on a better and more useful-non-doormat shape. I want to ask better, more helpful questions. I want to stir up faith in my heart and others, not frustration and endless ‘venting’ that is exactly what it is, barren, fruitless complaints that will not motivate others, or even myself.

We can still believe and beg for our miracles for the ones we love and for our big mountains that we can’t climb alone. But, until we have no more breath left we pray without ceasing. By serving others we give better space to the selfishness in our hearts. Often our mundane and miraculous moments are sometimes the same because it takes place in a heart that refuses to “check out” for the redefining of who we are. If we are still breathing God is not finished with molding our hearts and lives into who He destined us to be. Not more or less, just better and more like Him. Not like flawed humanity, but perfected love from telling the selfish side of you to die a little and take the backseat to someone else’s needs.

I’m better because of all the ugly, unwanted moments. The times I felt rejected. The times my body failed me and I questioned my sanity. God help us to ask better questions, because ‘why me’ is overdone and overused and it hasn’t helped one person that I know. It sure hasn’t helped me.

After I lost two babies to miscarriage and one son through a failed adoption, I was heartbroken. They slipped through my hands like sand until I was left with nothing but a clenched fist from trying to hang on to something that was never meant to be mine.

I asked God, Why me? Why did I have to be the frail, unfinished, wannabe mother?

Now I know why.

During my time of grief God showed me that He wasn’t mad at all that I was mad. It wasn’t a sin to be angry, but it was up to me to find out what to do with those feelings without opening the door to sin. I could travel to a place with moments of anger, but not set up camp there. My heart healed while doctors strapped me on tables to fix what was broken inside of me while I prayed for all the pain to be worth it. I promise you this, I’m better because of every single tear and broken, unwanted thing I have faced. I have learned to embrace the beauty of being shaped into someone with deeper faith roots because of my broken spaces and ‘why me’ moments. Yet from now on, I will add one more word and rearrange the way I see pain.

Why not me?

With so much love it hurts,

Jennifer Renee

BVAG_Pastor_Appreciation_2008_063[1]

Missing my hero, Reverend Harry Melvin. He had Parkinson’s but Parkinson’s never had him.

 

 

IMG_3328

My sweet, beloved Grandma. I love her.

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:12-19 NKJV)

Linking up with my sweet friend, Holley Gerth. Would love for you to drop in and read all the encouraging words!

 

20140618-101923-37163604.jpg

Vulnerable Hearts

keri-3 (2)

Last week Dave Frey from Sidewalk Prophets was in studio with us talking about his new single “Keep Making Me” and the story behind the song. He quoted C.S. Lewis “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” Those words stayed with me for days.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of guarding our hearts, of keeping them locked up and secreted away. But love can’t grow there. I remember sitting in the studio listening to Dave and asking God to make me vulnerable, to make me willing to be vulnerable so that I would be capable of giving and receiving love. Just a few short days later I got the opportunity to put in practice C.S. Lewis’ words. I was at lunch with a group of ladies that I meet with on a fairly regular basis. They are my safe group, girls I trust with my heart, girls that don’t sit around and talk about surface things, but are willing to dive into the deep places of the heart with you. Our conversations are those without filters, and I love them for that.

It had been a rough week for me, and I sat quietly during lunch, listening to the other ladies share about the exciting things God was doing in each of their lives and their ministries. They talked about big dreams they have for the future and how God is opening doors for those dreams to become reality. I felt like I didn’t have any exciting news to add to the conversation because my heart was hurting and I was afraid if I opened my mouth what would spill out would take the conversation from a direction of excitement and rejoicing to one of tears and concern.

I had all but decided to just put on a smile and keep my mouth shut when I was reminded of C.S. Lewis’ words “to love is to be vulnerable”. I knew if I didn’t say anything I’d be passing up a gift. A gift from the hand of God, who had placed in my life three women who knew me and loved me, women who wouldn’t judge me or tell my secrets, but would simply listen and encourage and pray. To have friends who love without trampling your heart is a gift, to not be vulnerable with those friends is to snub your nose at that gift.

I finally got up the courage to speak and the minute I opened my mouth the tears fell from my eyes as fast as the words fell from my lips. None of my friends were mad at me for changing the direction of the conversation, none of them were upset that I was having a bad week and needed to process. I was hugged and loved and prayed for. That day I received healing and strength to carry on because I risked being vulnerable.

The truth is… vulnerability scares me. It didn’t used to, but being vulnerable has taught me when you give someone access to your heart odds are pretty good that they will break it; at least that’s how my history has gone. And after one too many times of experiencing a broken heart it’s all too easy to lock your heart up and throw away the key. But I’m realizing that there’s something more dangerous than a broken heart… a heart that’s unbreakable. A heart that’s hard and cold and closed off. A heart that’s afraid of love is a lot more damaged than a heart that is hurt by love.

We have to be willing to risk. Part of our healing, part of our finding wholeness on the other side of brokenness is taking a chance to risk again. We have to learn how to let go of the pain that love has brought us so that we can receive the love that God has for us. So how do we do that?

This week I was watching one of my favorite shows, Call the Midwife (it is serious British drama, and I love it!) when these words grabbed my heart:

“Next time there’s a storm leave open both doors. Don’t let your misfortunes find a home.

History needn’t be a trap, we can escape its web and shake off its weight of pain.

We can change our minds and open up our hearts.

We can let forgiveness speak and allow it to be heard, let friendship flourish,

and let love in so it might feed and sustain us all our days.”

 

There it is… the secret! Don’t let your misfortunes find a home. Don’t let the pain of the past take up residency and live in your heart. Let it pass through. Open the back door and let it free. Don’t hold the hurt hostage. Because if we do we don’t leave room for forgiveness and friendship and love to enter in and find a home.

The sad truth is, not everyone can be trusted with your heart, and not everyone should be given full access to your heart. God gives us wisdom and discernment for that reason. But He also places us in good community and surrounds us with brothers and sisters in Christ who want to love us and be the hands and feet of Christ extended to us. To reject them because of the hurt inflicted on us by someone else is to reject God’s healing for us.

We need to ask God to give us eyes to see the people He’s placed in our lives that are safe, and when He shows us who they are we need to ask Him for the guts to open our mouths and speak the vulnerable words, to uncover the hiddenness of our heart, to reveal the hurting places.  To let love in so it might feed us and sustain us all our days.

With love~

Keri

Image by Chelsea Rustad, used with permission.

When Marriage Is Bumpy Roads & Walmart Flowers

20140320-140311.jpg

I found a prayer that I wrote a year ago and because I’m either brave, or the people with the white coats need to come and take me away, I am going to share it with you.

Lord,
I need you to help me love him the way you have called me to. I refuse to carry bitterness and make long lists of yesterday’s junk or my record of wrongs. I seek Your face, You alone can be all that my heart needs and longs for. In You I am whole, loved for who I am, and not lacking.

And then I wrote some other things and prayed on paper asking for help because sometimes loving your man is hard and we have to say “I do” all over again with a greater realization that our love had to grow up and take on new shapes. We’ve both changed into people that I’m so proud of. We’ve grown up together, we’ve fallen in and out of love, and at times I’ve hated his guts and wanted to punch him in the face…and then all the anger drains out of me as I watch him be the father and steady leader we have needed desperately. The truth is, I wouldn’t trade this sometimes bumpy ride for anything.

I still “do” because together we are better and sometimes terrible. We are messy and real, sweet and sour, and worth fighting for.

I’ve learned something so profound by falling in and out of love and I’m pretty sure that the best parts of me are because of him. He’ll probably be completely bald by the time he’s forty-five and I’ll probably have to cross my legs every time I sneeze.

I’ll tweeze his ear hair and tell him he’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and he’ll have to pretend he still loves my cooking and eat cereal right before he goes to bed.

We will keep loving and forgiving one another. We will keep kissing in front of our daughters and laugh because it “grosses them out”.

I’ll keep writing out prayers and asking God to help me be soft and loving, and not the broom-riding hag that I feel like sometimes. We will keep saying “I do” and loving this messy, beautiful life we have been given because it’s a gift.

Write out your prayers, ask God to change your heart first before you ask God to “fix him” and then throw away your record of wrongs. Chase after softness and forgiveness. Chase after the messy, redemptive love that comes with bumpy roads and Walmart flowers.

A Weekend with Grace, No More Labels

IMG_3058Sometimes life affords you the honor to stand before a group of broken girls who feel like they are just another statistic, labeled, left out, and scared to death that perhaps the numbers don’t lie and they will end up as just that…forever broken and a girl with no place to call home. The system failed them, even their families failed them, and then a woman comes alongside of them like Becky Shaffer and says, “Baby girl, let’s go defy the statistics and let God shine His light on the cracked places in you because I’ve been there too.”

Love takes you into a place like Saving Grace and there you find a home and deep hope that brings you past the victim label from a broken past and calls you “Sister and God’s Daughter” and for the first time you have a home and guidance to help you build a beautiful, unbroken life.

Last weekend Keri and I had the privilege of speaking and ministering to the Saving Grace girls, mentors, and staff. It was our second time to be with these girls in a camp setting and I can’t tell you how much we love being apart of something that is actually helping girls find lasting hope and life skills. God seems to always confirm our calling when we are with these girls and we can’t walk away from a weekend like this without shaking our heads in amazement at how much God can do in such a little time. A weekend really can change your life when God is in it.

When I’m with these girls it feels like home and this time I cried after everything was over because I didn’t want it to end. The beautiful thing about pouring your heart out is that it’s a love that stays with you forever. A moment of crazy laughter, a sweet embrace that is unhindered by fear, a mother who longs to “mother” you just as much as you long to be mothered, a sister by choice not by birth. It’s kingdom business and the heartbeat of God. It’s a love that kisses a wounded heart and holds your hand as you heal. A weekend really can change your life and one thing that I’ve heard Becky saying over and over again is “Be the one.” So, with tears streaming down my face in amazement at why on earth God chooses to use us to reach broken girls I say to you…whatever you have to give is not small when you love on the broken places in others. You can be the one. You can’t out-give God, when you pour out He pours back into you in such a way that lights your safe-little-world on fire.

More than anything I want my safe-little-world to be on fire, I want to be a light in a darkened world and when I see the transformation in these girls and watch joy unleashed in them…I know that the greatest thing that I could ever do is love fearlessly because I want to be the one. God is calling a bunch of orphan girls for such a time as this and He longs to adorn them with worth and value that the world can’t take away from them.  Life might have wrecked them up until this point, but because of places like Saving Grace, God is pulling them out of the wreckage and tending to the tattered places in these girls.

Saving Grace Girls,

When we are with you…it feels like home. It was a privilege to help you trash the victim label and replace it with the truth. We love you fiercely and feel so honored that you trusted us with your heart. 

All our love,

Jennifer & Keri~ your fearless speakers & former broken girls

IMG_3026

Link

Washing the feet of a little princess while a cancer survivor washed the feet of a beautiful girl in the fight of her life sat beside me.

Washing the feet of a little princess while a cancer survivor washed the feet of a beautiful girl in the fight of her life.

This weekend our church hosted an outreach called Samaritan’s Feet for children and teens in our community. My husband wanted our church to provide shoes for four hundred students with the understanding that twenty percent of the children who signed up would never walk through the doors to receive a new pair of shoes. We aimed higher hoping to reach at least four hundred who needed new shoes for the school year.

My job was to help assist the workers washing feet and fitting the children for shoes, I secretly hoped that I would get this station. I had some pretty incredible encounters with little people, but when I noticed a teenage boy walking towards me I wondered how he would respond to me or if we would connect. He sat down in front of me and I asked him if he was okay with me washing his feet or if he would prefer a man. Our youth pastor was right behind me and I knew I could recruit him if he was uncomfortable.

“I’m good with you doing this…ma’am, you really don’t want to wash my feet. I just got off work…”

He was worried that his feet were too dirty. I worried that mine weren’t dirty enough. I know how to work hard and I certainly remember what it’s like to live in a place of lack. But now I live in the land of more than enough and I long for a risky faith that reaches outside of comfortable Christianity and clean feet. I don’t want to just read the Word; I want to live it.

I smiled and looked down at his worn out shoes covered in grass and dirt.

“You mow lawns?”

“Yes, ma’am, I mow lawns to pay the bills. My brother and I work together.”

“I’m not worried about your dirty feet, I just want to serve you.”

He took off his shoes and socks as I asked a few questions about this man-child with sparkling blue eyes and dirty feet. He was fourteen, respectful, and working hard to pay bills. His mother came up in conversation two times and the third time he lovingly referred to her I wondered where his father was. Where was he and did he know that he should be beaming with pride?

I began washing his feet and my words spilled out, “I’m so proud of you and impressed by you.”

His eyes met mine filling up with tears as he lowered his head. I continued to speak softly as I finished drying his feet.

God is a father to the fatherless and advocates for the woman widowed by the one with a wondering heart. He fills in the gapped places and crevasses when daddy’s walk out. He stands in tattered places when daddies take their final breath and meet eternity leaving a void and emptied, priceless position.

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy. (Psalm 68:5 NLT) 

This is our God, the defender and provider for those who walk in lack and worn out shoes. He lifts up the head of the lonely woman and makes her strong enough to do the job of two, working  hard to make up the difference for the absentee father. And He hears her cries in the night as she wrestles with guilt wondering if she’s doing right by her children.


He put on his brand new shoes and put his worn out shoes in a plastic bag. I wanted to give him so much more than new shoes. But I gave him love from on High and gave him my words to affirm him, applauding him for being someone who stepped up to the plate to honor his mother and help pay bills.

I asked him if I could pray with him, over his future and his home. And I did what comes so naturally to me; I mothered him. I took his arm that had the wristband with his name, age, and shoe size on it and prayed. And I cried as I asked our Daddy God to take my prayer and allow it to carry him through this tender transition from a loss of carefree boyish things to manhood as he shouldered responsibilities most boys his age couldn’t handle.

I wept for the fatherless gap so in awe at the human condition that takes a broken boy with empty pockets and makes him stand shoulders above the rest. This is a boy that could change the world. If he is our future we are in very capable, calloused hands. I want to be like that boy, bright-eyed and humble. I want to work just as hard as he does never expecting things to be handed to me.

I think we are barely scratching the surface of what we could do with our hands and feet extended to those in need, but I think we really tapped into something huge this weekend and I hope we continue to fill our church with families crying tears of gratitude over the way we loved on their children. I’ve always said that if you love my children, you are loving me…and I guess that is what Jesus was trying to tell the disciples

He asked him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was deeply hurt that he had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” So he told him, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you!” Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17 NIV)

If you really love me, then you will love my people in a way that makes you uncomfortable at times. And when you get this, I’ll stop asking you to confirm it because your servant hood will prove it with actions that run so much deeper than what you think is above or beneath you.

In the end it’s all about obedience, not job requirements or comparing lesser, unglamorous roles to those we deem more important and make us feel like we are God’s gift to humanity. It’s not about “arriving” or seeing your name next to big, lofty titles and accolades. It’s about kingdom work and being the least and really being good at that.

26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:26-28 NIV)

As I watched my church family serve and work so diligently, I fell in love with our congregation all over again. You made God proud and I just love you so much that I want to lock shields and continue to walk uncomfortable, uncharted places with you. I pray for dirty feet and diligent hands eager to tend to the tattered places in those who feel forgotten and orphaned. I really want to be good at being the least, never expecting life to be handed to me on a silver platter. I’ve learned the best way to get over brokenness is to tend to the broken. Today I just want dirty feet as I ask God to help me with the things that often distract me in this world, allowing them to grow strangely dim fading into starkness of selfish pride and ambition.

Much love to you,

Jennifer

Selah

photo (23)

I don’t know about you, but my life feels like I just move from one crisis to the next. Oh sure, some moments would probably better be defined as irritating interruptions to my schedule than a full on crisis. But still. It. Never. Stops.

So I pray for a break. Just one week where nothing goes wrong. Just one weekend in a cabin, in the woods, alone, with no alarm clock. Just one evening where I don’t have to cook dinner or drive anyone anywhere or clean up gold glitter fingernail polish off of every single surface in my bathroom (yes, I’m serious). It’s always something.

This week I’ve said at least a dozen times that all I want is a moment. Just a moment to breathe. A selah. A holy pause in the midst of all of the crazy. And guess what? Life was determined that I wouldn’t get my moment this week. But sometimes you just have to push back on life. Sometimes you just have to set responsibility to the side for a moment. Sometimes you just have to TAKE a break. Because if you wait for a break to be handed to you on a silver platter, well, I’m afraid you’ll be waiting an awfully long time.

Today I decided to stop. It’s raining. I love rain. It’s 72 degrees in July in Arkansas (that’s just crazy y’all). And I’ve done nothing but go full steam ahead this week. So I stopped. I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop next to the window. It’s distracting me. The rain forming rivers on the pane of glass. The leaves on the holly hedges drip, drip, dripping. The rain dancing in the puddle. I’ve paused at least a hundred times in the last hour as my attention has been drawn out the window. And each time I look outside I hear a gentle whisper “selah”. So I pause. I let myself enjoy the simple pleasure of rain in July. Then I hear a “ding” in my headphones and my attention is brought back to my laptop and the new email in my inbox.

Back and forth. Work, pause. Stare at the laptop, stare at the rain.

As I stare I whisper, not with words but with my heart, Father, rain on me. Refreshed my dry and parched soul. Send your living water to dance in me.

“Selah” is a musical term to denote a pause or an interruption in the music. It’s a holy hush before the next line of the song. A breath. A time where the baton in the conductor’s hands sits still and every eye rests upon him waiting for the signal to continue their song. Selah lasts just a moment. It is not the silence between songs. It is not the absence of song. It is the breath within the song. The musician’s eyes follows the music on the stand until the selah. Then she looks up and watches. Watches the hand that leads the song. Her eyes re-position. Her heart stills. Her hand waits on his direction. And as he lowers the baton, she continues her song.

Today, in the midst of emails and phone calls and kids who need my attention and grocery shopping and piles of laundry and, and, and…. Right here in the middle of it all I chose to pause and look at the One who’s orchestrating my life. I choose to fix my gaze on Him. I choose to lock eyes with Him and breathe.

Selah.

Keri