Category Archives: 31 Days of Belovedness

Day Thirty-One: Behold the Beloved

Our thirty-one day journey of belovedness draws to a close today. But I hope it is only the beginning for us, of experiencing love from our Creator, and the freedom, creativity, security and grace that love brings. I wish for all of us wider eyes to behold the beloved, in the mirror, over the fence, in the family album, across the breakfast table and around the world. May our hearts and hands and voices make belovedness beautiful, tangible, audible.

He calls you Beloved.

It’s true.

 

Day Thirty: Beloved Beyond Boundaries

As I consider how to begin to wrap up these thirty one days of musing and meditation, I find the same fears with which I began resurfacing. I fear sounding trite about deep and holy things, I fear running roughshod over someone else’s pain. Because the truth is, we are beloved. We are beloved, but. . .

Belovedness is not bubble wrap. Life is hard, every life. There may be moments of heart-stopping tragedy, or months and years of the dusty, weary wear of living, or a combination of both. Loss and pain and struggle are part of life in this world, and our beloved status does not insulate us from that.  Some days all I can do I return again and again to the hope that a day will come when all is made right. I’ll quote again the Sandra McCracken lyrics I love that express that hope:

“…what was incurable, desperate blindness
has been bound up from all sides with loving kindness
comfort for sorrow,
rivers for dryness
come and drink you who have no money”

All will be bound up with lovingkindness, but here we are. Living in the meantime.

What I’m considering is that there is a kind of flip side invitation in the inevitability of trouble. (John 16:33) If we cannot hide from suffering, if holding ourselves aloof won’t keep our hearts from being broken, and if we have a beloved status we did not earn and cannot lose, what can we risk? Can we love that hard to love other person? Can we risk being thought foolish or crazy? Can we say something, paint something, make something, write something that puts our most authentic selves all the way out there? Can we dive all the way in to serving and giving and loving itself?

A couple of years ago I was reading the blog of artist Kelly Rae Roberts. She had gone on a retreat with other artists, writers and photographers. One of her friends painted words on all their bodies that expressed their stories. Just below Kelly’s collarbone were painted the words “brave in love.”

I was captivated by the phrase. Sounding it out I felt all the places where I was still fearful and curled, small and dark. But oh, to be that? To be brave in love! It was an open door I wanted to walk through. I believe really knowing how beloved we are can make possible that kind of boundary-less life. It can break down the fences of isolation and fear that won’t keep us from pain, but only from the expression of our brave belovedness.

Day Twenty-Nine: Beloved in Every Season

There are seasons to life, Creation and Scripture say so. My sons, taller every day it seems, remind me my season of littles at home is done–  these are the schoolboy years. Quickly, too quickly I know this time will roll away into one when the house is quieter and there is less laundry but perhaps a little less laughter, too.

In some seasons, our belovedness shines. Or rather, our blessedness reminds us how beloved we are. It is easy to receive. But we aren’t beloved based on our circumstances, even when they’re gifts of grace. We are the beloved creation of God, in a relationship that began before we could mark time and will extend beyond our timekeeping. Wrapped in the love and sheltering grace of an eternal God, we are beloved in every season.

In June I first heard these words, sung by Christa Wells:

“. . . as long as my life stays like this, I’m feeling good

Until my bones become brittle against my will

My heart is home, oh, to make the earth stand still

All the things I pursue

Well, they stay for a season,

Then everything moves,

Everything moves, oh,

My towers fall,

But you aren’t leaving me

‘Cause everything moves but you.”

This mother heart, wrapped in the belovedness of these fleeting years with my boys, definitely knows the urge to still the spinning world. But Christa goes on to sing of the One who exists beyond our changing seasons:

“You…I never outgrow you

You are a tree always in bloom

You are a hall of endless rooms

A living fountain springing up

I’m satisfied but never done

I’m never done

With you.”

“Everything Moves” by Christa Wells

No flying years can outrun Him. And He calls me beloved in every season of life, if I can tune my ears to hear the beauty of that Voice.

 

Day Twenty-Seven: The Beloved Life Keeps a Record

A few pages, written scrawled and excitedly fast, chronicle my first few dates with a boy named John, fellow English major, drummer, and ROTC cadet. Heady spring days spun out on lined pages between hard covers. Stacks of soft-worn envelopes hold letters of courtship, while he did pushups by the dozens at Fort Bragg and learned to jump out of airplanes, and I worked on campus and wrote volumes back. Beneath shiny cellophane our impossibly young faces smile back at us, mess blues and ivory lace, flowers and promises.  Over time, paper and ink and photos that have become incalculably precious.

As we’ve already pondered in this month of belovedness, the past can hold pain that seems a river between us and our beloved identity, between us and the forgiveness and hope we long to step into. But keeping a record of our days and years can also enrich the present. As we photograph, write, film and make, we can tell the story of our belovedness, In harder times, those journals and albums and objects can remind us of the extraordinary belovedness inherent in our lives, that is too easily swept away and forgotten by the relentless pace of passing time.

I used to be a scrapbooker. I carefully selected paper and stickers to go with my photos, and filled baby books for my boys, recording their early days with zeal and love. But then something happened.

I fell in love with photography. At first glance, this love would seem to enhance that scrapbooker craft. But reality is that I discovered my passion and my limited time, energy and money went in that direction. To put it in the language of this October, photography is a way I creatively live out my belovedness. Scrapbooking was a hobby I could do, but it quickly fell by the wayside.

Still, it is undeniable that I take lots of pictures and I want a meaningful way to use them to chronicle my family life. These days, I’m using Project Life, a memory-keeping system by Becky Higgins. I’ve taken a photo and written a few words about it on a small journaling card nearly every day this year. It can take as little as five minutes. I am loving the result —  a patchwork of the lovely ordinary, the hard and the lighthearted. There are Lego creations and recipe disasters, last day of school grins and crutches and sick days. Hikes and  craft projects and birthday cakes and daily bread. Altogether in images and a few words, it is a tapestry of the belovedness that is this life, festive and familiar.

This is my primary way of recording the beloved life. But there are many methods to planting a morsel of the present to feed the future. Journaling in any form can keep a personal record of both our thought and spiritual lives as well as day to day events. Creative forms of writing can both chronicle life and help us process it in verse or paragraph.

Sewers and quilters can turn outgrown garments into warmth and beauty and memory, as the coming home from the hospital dress or even a beloved old T-shirt becomes a patch or piece of something new. A gardener plants trees and roses to commemorate life events and can revisit the memory as she tends them.

How can you keep a record of your beloved life? In doing so, your present, be it blessing or struggle, can become future encouragement.

 

I am not being compensated in any way for my mention of Project Life. I am just an enthusiastic memory keeper

who is thankful to have found a simple system that works so well for me to record my beloved life.  MK      

Day Twenty-Six: The Beloved Life Celebrates Others

I can (however faintly) remember being a teenager. Common ground with peers was the firm footing my feet always sought. If we bought our clothes at the same places, listened to the same music, laughed at the same jokes, I was somehow stamped as okay. Accepted. Real. If my friends cared about what I cared about then I must be caring about the right things.

But the grown up beloved woman is already validated. Beyond valid, she is accepted. Beyond accepted, she is known. Deeply, by the One Who made her. Beyond being known, she is cherished. She does not need outside uniformity and conformity to give a green light to her expression of who she is.

Earlier in her 31 Days to Change the World series, Emily wrote so eloquently that we must know our passions. What is the most important thing to us to create, move, do, change? Answering that question and accepting that our answer will be different from others we admire and respect is essential to the beloved life.

It is also the first step to a beloved life that celebrates the beauty in the diversity of creation. When we can move beyond seeing others as mirrors in which we check out our own validity or tuning forms by which we try to pitch our voices, we not only start living out the unique story to which we are called. We have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to appreciate others’ passions. It adds a humble richness to the beloved life to celebrate others without scrambling to replicate their work and words in our own.

When we are living out our beloved story, there is rest and peace in that, knowing we aren’t called to everything. Life is not a huge game of Whack-a-Mole, trying to throw a bit of our souls at everything that is important to everyone. Rather, it’s weaving ourselves into the greater story, thankful for all the threads, all the colors and textures.

 

Day Twenty-Five: The Beloved Life Creates

May I admit a pet peeve?

It is like nails on a chalkboard to me when a woman says, “I’m just not creative.”

I quell my quick impatience with the knowledge that many a woman utters those words from a place of deep insecurity. There is perhaps in the back of her mind the echo of a parent or art teacher’s harsh criticism over her second-grade masterpiece. There’s the older sister or friend who wrote songs, painted pictures, and put together the perfect outfit with no discernible effort. Or maybe it is just that her reflection, her home, her life never looks like a feature in a magazine, and she imagines that everyone else’s does.

Simply put, God makes. God made us in His image, and therefore it is part of our beloved birthright that we are makers as well. And when God made, He delighted in His creation. He beheld it, and saw that it was good.

That experience, of participating in the act of creation and then enjoying the work of your hands, your heart and mind, is part of the beloved life. Don’t miss it. There are all sorts of ways to create. Yes, there are oil paints and musical scores and dressmaker forms and poetry, but there are also yarn and wood, flour and milk. There are lenses and potting soil and paper and furniture to move.

There are children, raised surely with the best we have in us to pour into them. There is dinner, not only the food we eat but the candles we light and the table we gather around. There’s a bed made smooth for the rest of the weary, there’s medicine and soup and a flower in a vase on a tray for a sick one.

The beloved life itself is an act of creation and of hope. Each day is ours to make. And because our belovedness is not meted out according to our output, creation can be an act of love and joy and praise to the One Who made us to make.

What can we create today? And what can we step back from, smile, and say, “It is good.”