I need an anchor for my days, even the hangry ones.

It’s amazing what lack of sleep can do to a person, isn’t it? I’m generally a fairly even-keeled gal throughout my day. (Some of my family members are laughing because they might disagree with that sentence.) Let me make a more truthful statement. As long as I’ve eaten (stay away HANGER -> hungry + angry), slept, and things are under control, I’m really pleasant and easy-going.

HAH.

I just reread what I wrote. So maybe I’m not as even-keeled as I would like to imagine. Having a child has illuminated this fact to the nth degree, because my friends, I HAVE NO CONTROL. This is a good thing. It brings me to a place of humility, dependence, and empathy for others. But I don’t really like it. I don’t like waking up in the middle of the night and hanging out with a teething baby for two hours. My emotions run the gambit during that period. First I’m calm and caring. Then I’m tired and desperate. Then sometimes I’m weeping and asking WHY ARE WE AWAKE ALL THE TIME, FOR THE LOVE? Then I can drift into a prayerful and thankful phase. . . but if this phase continues for an hour and my child isn’t getting any closer to calming down, then bring on the bitterness and desperation again. It’s quite the cycle.

I’m not in control. WHAT?

The sleepless nights over the past week were compounded by a busy schedule and lots of speaking and writing requirements. Exhaustion + high expectations = tears and prayer and more tears and more prayer.

After some soul-searching and talking through why I was actually feeling upset, I came to the root of the issue. I don’t like when I’m not in control. Not at all.

But if I try to hang my days on an anchor other than the Lord, I will find myself adrift. As soon as I turn to my own resources I end up frustrated and overwhelmed. Nothing else is weighty enough to see me through the challenges. My performance, recognition, perfection, roles; these are a one-way ticket to a meltdown.

“I’m a bad mom.”

“I’m not cut out for this.”

“If I just try harder.”

“I can’t let them see me fail!”

Sacred Echoes

Enter Hebrews 6:16-19. The phrase “anchor for our soul” came to my heart one challenging morning and I pulled out my Bible to find the verse and context. I have been reading the passage repeatedly every day since.

“People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (NIV)

anchor

During one of those nighttime parties last week, I began singing my old favorite, Come Thou Fount. After about 15 minutes of singing every verse at least three times, I determined a new song was required. The first hymn that came to mind: On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand. I couldn’t remember all of the verses, but I knew enough to get me through that night.

As I sang I began to see the connections with Hebrews 6 for the first time. A smile crept across my face in the dark, early hours of the morning.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
-Edward Mote

The anchor was showing up everywhere I turned. We sang this hymn on Sunday. My research for a lecture led me back to Hebrews 6. The echo was loud and clear. Margaret Feinberg describes the echoes this way,

“I call them sacred echoes because I noticed that throughout my relationships, daily life, and study, the same scripturally sound idea or phrase or word will keep reappearing until I can no longer avoid its presence.” (The Sacred Echo)

As I walk through my days I now find a new course of action for my heart.

Rather than, “Am I good enough?” my question is simple. “Ginger, what is your anchor?”

What is your anchor?

When I’m desperate for approval or recognition – His anchor holds.

When I’m exhausted, frazzled, and worn – His anchor holds.

When you feel less than – His anchor holds.

This is a truth I will tell my soul a hundred times today and then a hundred times tomorrow when we wake up at 3am to do it all over again. . . because let’s be honest, the waves just keep on coming. But thankfully, His anchor holds.

Following and learning,
Ginger

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

season

Friday afternoon I was sitting at a nail salon getting a pedicure for the first time in five months. It was a delightful little gift to have my in-laws watch my kiddo while I stole away for an afternoon of errands. I took the book that I’ve been reading since that last pedicure in June. Reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts is like eating Thai noodle soup. The bowl is huge, and it takes focus and precision to get all the goodness with your chopsticks. I’m loving every bite, but I feel like I must savor it. Back to my story.

My toes were being painted with a coat of Guy Meets Gal-veston (Texas, represent!) while I poured over the latest chapter. I was pleased when I entered the salon and discovered they were playing classical music and there wasn’t a TV to be found in the place. There’s nothing worse than trying to focus and having your brain power stolen to watch Extra. So I’m reading and relaxing when all of a sudden the first stanza of Come Thou Fount begins to play, the single notes of the piano stilling every muscle in my body. I look around but no one else is stopping, no one else seems to be hearing. As quickly as it starts, the music stops and another song, a classical rendition of a One Republic chorus begins to play. I don’t know if the CD was changed at that moment, all I know is that for a few brief moments, I heard my song. If you’ve been following this series, you know what it meant to my heart to hear those notes. Even as I sought rest and relaxation, God was continuing to speak to my heart: I have true rest for you. I know what you need. I know how to encourage you.

 aha moment

I cannot tell you how refreshing that moment was, and I am so thankful my ears were listening for it. Because I wasn’t busy  thumbing through the web on my phone, my ears were ready to pick out the tune. Limiting distractions has real benefits. Because I had spent time in the Word that morning, my heart was attuned to hear… tuned to sing of grace.

stepStep #5. Listen for the Echoes

I love how the Lord uses every possible avenue to speak to our hearts. It can be easy to brush things off as coincidence, but I believe that we can discover hope and joy when we are willing to look for God’s voice in our lives, the sacred echo in our world.

“…Like an echo, God often uses the repetitive events and themes in daily life to get my attention and draw me closer to himself…  I call them sacred echoes because I noticed that throughout my relationships, daily life, and study, the same scripturally sound idea or phrase or word will keep reappearing until I can no longer avoid its presence.” (Margaret Feinberg, The Sacred Echo)

When you hear it, take note! Take a picture, write a line in your journal, say a prayer of thanks, just don’t let the sacred moment pass you by. When we pause to recognize the supernatural in the midst of ordinary, our hearts cannot help but to sing His grace.

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

Listening and Following,

Ginger

 

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Tune My Heart

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is the song I sing most often to my daughter as I rock her to sleep. She goes down easily at night, but boy does she fight her naps. I sing this song over and over in the oversized rocking chair and watch her eyes grow heavy…

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

The second line, “tune my heart to sing thy grace” lives on the tip of my tongue these days. The picture drawn by Robert Robinson’s lyrics are clear and to the point. We all know the ear-piercing quality of an intrument out of tune, and the pleasant sounds that come from simple attentive tuning.

tune

Tuning has become my theme for the month. My prayers are asking the Lord to oversee it and I am consciously looking for ways to identify areas that fall out of tune. My prayer is that my heart would be tuned to live out of thankfulness, grace, and joy. This is an active request. I will ask God to provide the opportunities for training and tuning, but then I must also commit to exercise these muscles.

I know the holidays have the potential to leave us overwhelmed and exhausted, but let’s commit right here and now to have no part of that. Deal? I’m aiming to be proactive. That’s why this week we will start checking our alignment. It’s time to take our task lists and minds and set a course for the coming months that won’t leave us empty. I hope you will join me in the coming weeks as we take very practical steps to keep the peace in our hearts and homes. (How many metaphors can I throw out in one post?)

If you are looking for a beautiful rendition of this song, I recommend this version by Sufjan Stevens…

Do you have a favorite recording of Come Thou Fount? Do share!

Following and tuning,
Ginger