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Gratitude is Heart Work

November 24, 2020

I’m happily married with three awesome kids, living in a home my husband renovated, with three dogs, four chickens, and a garden to boot. My husband is a discipleship pastor, and I am an English professor. Sounds like a good life, doesn’t it?

You would probably think I ooze gratitude. The embarrassing truth is, I struggle to feel, express, and live daily in a posture of genuine gratitude.

That’s not to say my life is picture perfect. Like anyone, I’ve experienced hardship, loss, and setbacks. When I dwell on those, I can easily get lost in self-pity and regret. But even when I’m not dwelling on my heartaches, I still find myself gritting my teeth and expressing far more frustration than grace.

An idealist at heart, I struggle to be thankful for the many good things that are always happening right in front of me. My life never looks quite as good as the picture I’ve painted in my mind. The more my life veers away from that picture of the life I want, the more tightly I wrap my fingers around the imagined life  to which I feel entitled…..Join me for the rest at The Glorious Table

Longing for the Familiar

October 12, 2020

In the tense uncertainty, I find myself groping for the familiar.

Newly married, newly a mom, and newly relocated, I craved familiarity when, for the first time ever, I moved 600 miles away from where I grew up. I baked my sister’s tried-and-true chocolate chip cookies often, because the tantalizing smell would immediately transport me back to her house. I’d throw together taco casserole right before the college football game broadcast because of the strong memories of Saturdays spent this way with my mom. The familiar became my comfort in all that was new and upended, a way to remind myself that the world as I knew it still existed, even if only in my mind (and kitchen).

Similarly, I find myself groping for the familiar now. I thought by this month, so close to the end of 2020, we’d be back to normal, back to the people and places and rhythms we all know and yearn for so deeply. And yet, we’re not. Are we closer to or further from it? Most days, I honestly don’t know.

COVID-19 has fractured our cities, our people, our families, and our plans. In this moment of history that seems to be stretching out endlessly, I’m tired and wearied, like so many of you. If I’m not mindful, I become consumed by the bleakness and harshness I feel all around me. All the loudness and fighting and divisiveness—I listen to it like I’d watch a horrific accident I’m passing, in seeming slow motion, on the interstate.

I seem to be able to peel my eyes away from this chaos only by…….join me for the rest at The Glorious Table.

Settling In

September 2, 2020

September marks, for me, a shift towards settling in as fall and then winter encroach and the world outside begins to close in for a long winter’s rest. As the weather cools, our own routines shift from open-ended vacation days to rhythmic school and work. I love this change in seasons, this annual shift in life, this exhale. And yet, as September lengthens into October and November, I can feel antsy and bored, too, somehow.

I’ve always kind of liked change. In the eleven years since I got married, we’ve changed houses almost a dozen times. And not just because we had to but because we wanted to. I cannot stay off Zillow (perhaps I should have been a realtor) and easily feel the pull for a change of scenery, a new project, a new space to make a home. “Oh, the Byxbes are moving again!” became a running joke of sorts among our friends through the years. I’m somewhat amazed that we haven’t run out of friends who are willing to help us move!

Next month, though, will mark two years of living in the same house, a milestone in our marriage. When we moved into this 1960’s-era home, replete with its shag carpet and avocado-green tiled bathroom, I dubbed it Gardendale Roots and began telling friends that this was our forever house. I had finally reached a point where settling in became appealing. Maybe it’s my ever-nearing approach to middle age or the fact that I have three kids and a dwindling supply of energy.

But I also felt the deep-down craving for establishing roots….

Read the rest at The Glorious Table today.

An Invitation to Listen

August 7, 2020

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In August, summer begins to give way to back-to-school as we trade in swimsuits and popsicles for school clothes and lunches. Even if we’re sad to see summer fade away, we often anticipate the routine and order the school year offers. This August, though, the routine and order looks and feels different from most of the Augusts we’ve faced before. As we grope towards a new “normal” dictated by COVID-19, uncertainty hovers around the borders of our hearts. Can we adjust to this new normal? Will our children, our finances, and our futures adjust? Without an anchor, uncertainty might hold too much sway.

As people who have committed their lives to Jesus’ way, how do we navigate these times of uncertainty that require us to adapt? We might put on our most courageous faces and plow ahead with determination to make it work. But what if, instead, we first slow ourselves, listen, and learn? What if, instead……join me for the rest at The Glorious Table.

To Honor the Time You Have, Show Up

July 22, 2020

If I’m honest, there’s so much about this time in which we live that I do not want. I do not want to live in a time when selfishness overrides our love for others, when global pandemics rearrange our lives, or with unlimited, unfettered technology that impacts every square inch of the way we live.

Yes, I do see good in this world, but sometimes the pull of the darkness is strong. My emotions and my mind reel and loop over and over again, yearning for peace, answers, and resolution. I long for a break from the constant strain of all that makes this world groan.

And yet, I know this truth: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Rom. 8:35). It’s gospel that I have to preach to my own heart every day.

To Honor the Time You Have, Show Up

Amidst it all, an ever-increasing sense of my own mortality sits with me. As I wake, as I stretch…….join me for the rest @ https://theglorioustable.com/2020/07/devotional-honor-the-the-time-you-have-show-up/

The Real Blessing

June 4, 2020

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The Real Blessing

I saw it in so many eyes, and it made me cringe. Pity. They pitied me, my husband, and our son. They pitied the life we had because it wasn’t normal or typical. They saw how our toddler struggled to (not) walk and (not) talk because of a genetic disorder. My sensitive, overly-raw mama heart, fresh off a diagnosis, just couldn’t take the pity. I felt sorry enough for myself. I couldn’t take someone else feeling sorry for us, too.

When life turns in an unexpected direction, seems somehow less-than, and our hearts turn all soggy, it’s natural to grieve, to feel sorry for ourselves, and to push away others’ good, if misguided, intentions. I did it for a very, very long time.

Threaded through my grief was the idea…..[join me @ The Glorious Table to read the rest]

His Presence, His Perspective

May 21, 2020

On a cold evening in late February, after a long day of teaching, I opened a letter from our son’s school. I assumed it would be another routine letter about this or that school event or meeting. What I found instead was a truancy letter.

Our family doesn’t get truancy letters! Except we just had. The embarrassment crept up my neck and flushed my cheeks red. How could we let this happen? The letter indicated that we would be expected to attend a meeting to come up with an “attendance plan,” and if we failed to cooperate, there could be legal implications.

My embarrassment gave way to irritation. Didn’t they know….Join me at The Glorious Table for the rest of the story. his-presence

Happy 7th Birthday, Lucas!

April 27, 2020

Dear Lucas,

I’ll start with a confession. I didn’t write your annual birthday post last year, and so tonight, as you rest in your bed (cause I know you’re not sleeping from all the excitement!) waiting for the clock to turn 6:10 a.m. (the time you’ve declared we all must start our day and the first order of business is opening presents), your daddy reminded me that we just couldn’t let that happen again this year!

You know your coming into the world story almost by heart now. It used to be that I got to tell the story to you, but now, you recite it back, hardly missing a single detail. Even though you were supposed to be a May baby, you just couldn’t wait. And on April 28, img_28072013, at about 2:30 in the morning, you wiggled just enough to break my water. The doctor on call told me to wait about six hours to come in, unless active labor started sooner. I didn’t sleep another wink! And at 9:31 a.m., the chubbiest baby boy landed in our lives.

Early on, you earned the nickname Joy to the World and more recently, the title of Loudest Person We Know. But, buddy, don’t ever let anyone tell you that’s a bad thing to be. Some people never learn to live out loud, but you bub, you are full of all the good things in life without any reservation.

Some of my favorite things with you are reading books together (mostly you reading them to me), you learning how to build things with daddy, swinging with Ansley and Reed out back, your love of cheeseburgers, and your absolute pure delight when someone sends you a letter in the mail.

You are an artist and a thinker. You are a lego warrior and short story writer. You love knowing and being known. You are passionate and kind. You are a leader and a helper. You are fully you!

Tomorrow we’ll eat grits for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, and hamburgers for dinner, per your request. We’ll have a vanilla cake with rainbow sprinkles and rainbow popsicles. You’ll get to play your favorite video game (Lego Jurassic Park), binge read your newly acquired Judy Moody books, and proudly wear your new watch (among other gifts).

We’re excited to celebrate you and love that you are ours. No one I know with greater passion or zest for life. Happiest of birthdays to you!

Love always, Mama (and Daddy)

Rising Again

April 9, 2020

I recently succumbed to the flu, and for several days, all I could do was stay horizontal on my couch or bed while the aches, fever, and general dis-ease ran its course through my body. Any time I become that sick, I inevitably reach the point of wondering if I will ever feel normal, right, and good again. As much as I enjoyed binge-watching Call the Midwife, I longed to return to health and normalcy.

 

Have you ever reached a point, emotionally or spiritually, where, like me with the flu, you wondered if you would recover?

Saved you a seat over at The Glorious Table with the rest of the story.

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Finding Your Way Home

March 10, 2020

“There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place,” ~G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Many people spend some portion of their adult lives trying to get back home spiritually. We sense we’ve lost our way or God seems distant or perhaps we even lose our faith 89588392_10157376922163661_7750417813054947328_naltogether.

My own faith came to an abrupt flatline on July 20, 2007, when a baby my family had prayed for and rejoiced over died. Her mother, my sister, had picked out the name Zoey (which means life) months before she died as a result of a cord entanglement at 36 weeks’ gestation. My sister’s trauma—and by extension, our family’s—was too monumental for me to process. My heart shut down.

Loss, trauma, betrayal . . . join me at The Glorious Table for the rest.