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Friday, September 21, 2007


Stretch, Beloved. Grow. Be malleable...

He whispers to me when my heart begins to beat faster in anger. Fear. Worry.

From our third floor apartment, the autumn breeze is blowing through the screen door on our deck. We sniff appreciatively and smile to ourselves; our favorite season is beginning.

But before too long, our noses wrinkle. My head begins to ache, and I realize that the cool breezes we were inhaling have been tainted with the smell of cigarette smoke, from the neighbor on his deck below. In irritation, I slam the sliding glass door against the smoke, and, unfortunately, against the beautiful crisp air we were enjoying.

Heads bowed over school books, the dining room is quiet. Eliana, for a moment, is also peaceful in the living room, poring over her board books from the library.

But in a moment, it is over. Through the thin walls, shouting can be heard, and the voices are not kind. I rub Corban's back as he tenses, and gently turn Micah's chin back to his work as he looks up in anxiety. Mama holds it together on the surface, but below the surface, emotion is roiling.

As I stand at the kitchen sink peeling carrots, my boys wrestle in the living room. I smile as they tumble over each other, shouting in laughter; from time to time, someone cries out in pain, but soon they are rolling again. They move out onto the deck to continue their wild play - a 4x8 space that can hold little else but our grill and my husband's bike, and yet they find enjoyment.

All too soon, I think of the home we left. The wide open country spaces, no fences; rivers, trees and tall grasses for little boys to explore. I begin to fret that my boys will be stifled in this small space. I regret that I cannot send them out to run for a fifteen minute break from their books. I feel guilt that I do not pack things up more often for a walk or a roam on the grass down below.

Beloved, I do not send the fear, nor the guilt. I send opportunity.

An opportunity. Yes, Lord. I understand.

An opportunity to smile as I pull the glass door closed quietly, instead of with a bang. As my children look on, I show them how to handle these moments with grace. Stepping lightly to the baked apple pie candle on the counter and lighting it, filling the rooms of our home with delicious, autumn scent.

An opportunity to speak words of truth to my little ones as the voices we hear through the walls bring fear.

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)
Let's pray and ask God to help them, shall we? Bowing our heads and offering up our neighbors to His care. Singing aloud the song of David. Remembering that perfect love drives out fear.

An opportunity for creativity in the face of what seems a stifling of that gift. Heading to our storage unit and pulling out a box of games we had packed away for lack of space, making room for these good things. Preparing a schedule that runs the day in a way that makes individual time with Mama a priority, and bringing me to my knees in the morning for inspiration.

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20)

I turn my face to the Son, unafraid to send roots down, even here. Bloom, Beloved.

I intend to.

You are always welcome at my little place - A Path Made Straight

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Blogger Grafted Branch @ Restoring the Years said...

Very lovely, Elise. When I lived there before I knew Christ, I *was* the neighbor that other's had to close their windows against.

God is good; love them for Him.

September 20, 2007 at 10:44 PM  
Blogger henryteachers said...

That was just beautifully written. I'm sorry your apt. here in Utah isn't as inviting as it could be. You always have such a positive outlook on your trials and I know it is because of your strong faith in God. Thanks for being an example to me.
Mindy :)

September 20, 2007 at 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Mommy-fied said...

I live in Singapore and in an apt. I understand exactly how it feels and how I long for space esp for my kids. And how I wish nieghbours were not so easily heard! Tks for being an example to bloom where He's planted us.

Grace. I need to pray and ask God to help me be more gracious.

September 21, 2007 at 3:37 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Oh, how I can relate. *smile*
God is there, and He is listening to your heart. :)
You just keep obeying, and He will pour out His grace.

September 21, 2007 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

beautiful, always. and ever so inspiring. i know i've said it many a time, but you have such a gift of gentle encouragement through your words and your example. keep writing, lovely mama!

September 21, 2007 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Tami Boesiger said...

Mmmm, Elise. Thank you for showing us how to rise above our trials. You are an inspiration.

September 21, 2007 at 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Patti said...

I had been wondering how you were doing down there in Utah. I hadn't checked in before because we had been on vacation, and now I am trying to limit my internet time (it is a thief). Anyhow, I can see that you have made the choice to bloom where you are planted. What a wonderful example you are!

Patti (homesteadblogger)

September 21, 2007 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

Your bloom is beautiful, your fragrance sweet.

Keep flourishing in Him, friend.

How I send love,
All's grace,

September 21, 2007 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger deb said...

Elise ~ this doesn't sound like a temporary arrangement until you find another place, but maybe I'm wrong. Praying that you'll be a blessing even there where the Lord has placed you for a time.

September 21, 2007 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

That was an awesome post, bless you.

September 21, 2007 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Love your undercurrent of trust and peace in the midst of personal and outside turmoil.

September 21, 2007 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Beka said...

Praise the Lord for His grace: that you are able to see this as an opportunity to grow in grace. Your gentle spirit is such a blessing to all of us!

You will be able to say with Paul... "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11, 13).

That said, though, I'll pray for your uninterrupted enjoyment of those lovely fall breezes :-)

September 21, 2007 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Jenn Lynn said...

What a wonderful way to be an example of grace and love for your children. Its hard, trust me, after living in my parents basement for 14 months, I wanted so much for my daughter to have "space" to run, laugh, and play. Soon, He promises, soon.

Thank you for your words Elise!

September 21, 2007 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

I've lived in that very same apartment, except mine was in North Carolina...

For me it was Elijah's cave - I've never been more distraught nor seen more of God in the small things.

Blessings on you as you set down those roots...


September 21, 2007 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Blessings on you as you bloom where you are planted! May He bless you with beautiful "flowers" around you that will remind you of His grace and His sovereignty! Thanks for sharing and being so genuine!

September 22, 2007 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Lynn said...


Beautiful. I will not forget this int he future when I face changes. You are living an example for all of us. thank you.

September 24, 2007 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Maxine said...

Oh, Elise, I didn't know about all this. I think I must have missed something with my sporadic attention to blogs these days. I have no doubt that the Lord will allow the desires of your heart to become real. So it is with missionaries, some who must reside in most difficult circumstances. You will grow while you are there, dear, in ways that you haven't even thought of. I'll pray for your family in this place which can be thought of as a part of "Judea and Samaria."

September 24, 2007 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Wendy WaterBirde said...

Well as you know i can relate with bells on here Elise lol. With the chemical sesnitivity it seems i am having to close windows every hour sometimes. But you have left such a healing image here, of lighting that candle, and that being your peaceful roots in the chaos. I really love this!

Peaceful Week : ) Wendy

September 25, 2007 at 1:24 AM  

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