Simplicity

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“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” -Charles Spurgeon

“God wants our joy rooted in His grace rather than our goods, in His mercy rather than our money, and in His worth rather than our wealth.” -John Piper

“Indeed, doing justice often involves the sacrifice of one’s comforts and pleasure. For example, to give generously to the poor deprives you of wealth, which can bring physical comforts. But there is a deeper joy that is the by-product of deprivations for the sake of God and neighbor.” -Tim Keller

Less than 2,000 square feet. That’s the size of the home that holds all of my fondest childhood memories, where my parents lived for 21 years. Now, that is by no means small. Let’s remind ourselves of that. It’s way more than enough space. But in this day and age, it’s easy to lose perspective.

The room you see in the photo above was the center of it all – every movie night, game night, late night talk. It’s where they brought me home from the hospital. It’s where we blew out the candles, where we took the prom pictures, where we decorated the Christmas tree. It’s where my parents waited up for us. It’s where they made us breakfast. Like I said, more than enough space for all of the best memories. It all happened there. There was no game room. No media room. Just the family room. And boy did it make us a family.

Not that there is anything wrong with a game room, a media room, or a bigger house. They can certainly hold beautiful memories as well and knit a family just as closely together. But sometimes I struggle with comparison and need reminding that more space doesn’t equal more memories, more happiness, or more opportunities to serve the Kingdom of God. Despite our home being “small,” we always had a house full of people. I learned so much about genuine hospitality in that family room, and I’m so thankful that my parents didn’t let comparison get the best of them – that they just opened the doors and opened their arms and let the Lord do what only He can do.

I love the picture above. You can’t even see my eyes I’m smiling so hard. This photo and the memories it represents still have so much to teach me. Like Corrie Ten Boom said, “Today I know that such moments are they key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do…Certain moments from long ago stood out in focus against the blur of years. Oddly sharp and near they were, as though they were not yet finished, as though they had something more to say.”

My parents chose to live simplistically and give generously. This is what stuck out in my mind as Hunter and I searched for a home. We were fortunate to find one that I think embodies the simplicity we were going for, but also allows room for our family to grow. Again, it is more than enough space. To me, it is actually a very spacious home. But sadly, many people will see it as too small – as a “starter home.” I want to be content with living small, and to be incredibly cheesy, this is our starter home. It’s only temporary. And if the Lord blesses us with children someday, I pray that He will use us to instill the same values of simplicity my parents instilled in me.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
2 Corinthians 5:1

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-21

I see a long road
In this house we’ve chosen as our home
Refusing the American Dream
Living simplistically – below our means

Because living counter-culturally
Can be ever so lonely
As others may resent
What makes us so content

But I’m not convinced extravagance
Can cure the emptiness
God created to fill with Himself
Because man cannot love both God and wealth

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Victorious in Vulnerability

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I have delved into distrust
And drawn the drapes
Fearing fear itself
Instead of fearing God with faith

But I have grown weary of believing the worst
Instead of trusting the Father first
So never mind if people can see
I want the windows open, light covering me

I’ll be victorious in vulnerability
No other way makes sense to me
An open heart before their open eyes
Tearing down walls, discarding disguise

The only way to be seen and known
Is to let the light stream into your soul
Allowing your heart to be fully exposed
Allowing your fear to be dethroned

Let those without sin be the first to cast a stone
Or let them turn their backs for home
But the alternative is to suffer alone
And how then is His glory shown?

Love Fully Immersing

I’ve been needing to reevaluate
Where did we miscalculate?
And decide we need to validate
The criteria the world calibrates?

The Kingdom is about reversing
The worldliness we’ve been rehearsing
Exchanging endless striving and searching
For His love fully immersing

It is a gift that we receive
And some just cannot quite perceive
That we are saved by The One in whom we believe
Never by what we have achieved

Emmanuel

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400 years waiting for the light
In silence, blindness, no hope in sight
But faith doesn’t look to what is seen
While patiently and prayerfully awaiting the King

But we all, like sheep, have gone astray
We have turned, every one, to our own way
We have loved the glory that comes from man
More than the glory that comes from His hand

This reality should rattle us, until like leaves we fall
Yet after the fall is the rising, the Good News for all
For the Shepherd leaves the flock to seek the lost
Regardless of logic, regardless of cost

But before the rising, before the spring,
After autumn comes the birth of our King
An infant in his mother’s arms, a picture of fragility
Emmanuel, our Savior, embodiment of humility

 

I’ve struggled with sharing this poem.  (Correction: I struggle with sharing all of my poems).  This could easily be just the beginning of a long poem I would love to write  about the meaning of Christmas.  It sounds that way to me – like it’s just an intro.  But the words above came to me, and then when I got to Emmanuel, I was at a loss for words.  I simply don’t have them.  And isn’t that just like us?  To feel like we always need to add something more, like what comes naturally just doesn’t cut it?  I’m learning that my words will never be adequate, but Jesus is.  He is all-sufficient without any perfectly articulated lines from me.   My poem is an intro, and so am I.   I can introduce our Savior with my words and point to Him with my life, but I can’t save souls.  May we be content to marvel at His majesty this season, and may we experience the joy and exultation of what Christmas means for us in a real and personal way all year long.

Awake

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“I hope that all the misery in the country and the world in general will deepen your hope for the kingdom of God, will strengthen your eschatological perspective, will make you more interested in the last book of the Bible, will make you more critical toward psychology and political sciences, will make you simple of mind and heart, make you pray more and love more and make your heart and mind open toward Him who is the Lord of life and who called us to transcend all human endeavors.” -Henri Nouwen

This has not been my default lately. It actually hasn’t been happening at all. In fact, circumstances of the world have hardened my heart and darkened my spirit to a point where I am sounding like a stranger. Why would the Lord allow such a coma of character? So He could shake me awake and stir my soul. “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14). He is light, and if I want light, I need Him. Not every once in a while when I’m weary, afraid, overwhelmed, or confused, but every second, every hour, every day. I need His strength, His peace, His comfort, His decrees.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm”
(Ephesians 6:11-13).

We can’t win without Him, friends. I’m done being fooled.

I’m catching on
And I’m not fond
Of who I’ve been

It’s more than doubt
I’m calling you out
We are not friends

Oblivious to your deceit
I drank deeply of a poison discreet
And my eyes began to close

You whispered suggestions
And overwhelming questions
But now I know

Disguised as assitance
You created resistance
To joy, peace, and capacity to feel

I would have let you win
But He stepped in
And crushed you with His bruised heel

(Genesis 3:14-15)