Lewis life update: the season of building

As my family finds ourselves in Twin Falls, Idaho (it still feels so unexpected yet at the same exact time it’s like it’s all that makes sense for us now) we also find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a season of “building.” Building a family, a house, a new life, a community, and a church. Even though each form of building is different from one another, there are common links and threads that I’m starting to pick up on. That I’m translating from one form of building to another. This season feels long but all too soon it will have felt really short. So before I forget what I’m learning through all this building, I want to jot it down for myself and share it with you, too.

1. The energy

There is a specific kind of energy that comes along with the “beginning days” of anything. I think it’s some sort of mix of excitement, anticipation, and adrenaline. The honeymoon phase of anything is not always and only filled with bliss. But there is usually at least a sense of freshness. A happiness for what now is and a hope for what one day will be. These are the days, the ones right now, we’ll look back on and reminisce about. That we’ll say “remember when” about. There’s only one beginning. And right now, we are living in the middle of those beginnings. What a joy and privilege it is to be a part of something so unique. Something that a lot of other somethings will one day be built upon.

2. The exhaustion

There is also a certain kind of exhaustion that accompanies the beginning of anything new. The days that follow new birth inevitably include rookie mistakes. They include not only writing up the rule book but then by trial and error being the one to try to implement it. They involve running to Lowe’s 7 times because you don’t really know what you need until you just start. And start again. They involve rubbing shoulders with others- and sometimes bumping hard into them- because of living life so close together. They include a lot of the same get to know you questions, showing up early’s and leaving late’s, giving help and asking for help, and waiting around to see if all this work is really producing anything. These are the growing pain days. Because to grow up, you have to fail and to fall. And sometimes the fall is hard and the pain is heavy and the wait is long.

3. Our hands

As most things in life, anything we want to grow has to be tended to. Anything we want to stand with structure, has to first be built. It takes actually doing it. And that can be really daunting and frustrating. It can also be really fulfilling and rewarding. The reality is that good things really do take time. Time and determination and grit. Often a lot of hard, sometimes thank-less and show-less, work. But in both the physical structure of our house and the familial heart of our home, there are no guarantees. The storms of life are out of our control. And they can bring damage and destruction to even the sturdiest of foundations. So while we work to build, we also have to rest in knowing we ourselves can not force it or secure it. Not any of it.

4. His work

In this season of building, the most freeing and humbling thing that we have to constantly reorient ourselves around is that ultimately it is all the Lord’s. He is the one who has birthed all that is being built. And unless He builds it, we labor in vain. With our friendships and families and houses and churches. It’s a striving and a surrendering. Holding our hands open in trust and lifting them high in praise. Knowing it’s all His, in both the coming and the going. The change and the transition. And just like in our our house, we keep building from the ground up. Brick upon brick. Hoping we enhance what we’ve been given and make it something we love and something that lasts. Seeking even more deeply to make a sacred place of peace and of refuge. Of truth and of welcome. But it is ultimately The Lord who draws those who come in and leads us each as we go out. He sovereignly holds the house together as He tenderly holds those who dwell inside.

Oh how true this is of His Church. His beloved Bride. He is building up His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And here we are, getting in close to work hard and then standing back far to wait and watch Him really do it all.

My son, keep to the old roads

“When I look at you, boy
I can see the road that lies ahead
I can see the love and the sorrow
Bright fields of joy
Dark nights awake in a stormy bed
I want to go with you, but I can’t follow

So keep to the old roads
Keep to the old roads
And you’ll find your way

Your first kiss, your first crush
The first time you know you’re not enough
The first time there’s no one there to hold you
The first time you pack it all up
And drive alone across America
Please remember the words that I told you

Keep to the old roads
Keep to the old roads
And you’ll find your way
You’ll find your way

If love is what you’re looking for
The old roads lead to an open door
And you’ll find your way
You’ll find your way
Back home

And I know you’ll be scared when you take up that cross
And I know it’ll hurt, ’cause I know what it costs
And I love you so much and it’s so hard to watch
But you’re gonna grow up and you’re gonna get lost

Just go back, go back
Go back, go back to the ancient paths
Lash your heart to the ancient mast
And hold on, boy, whatever you do
To the hope that’s taken hold of you

And you’ll find your way
You’ll find your way
If love is what you’re looking for
The old roads lead to an open door
And you’ll find your way
You’ll find your way
Back home”

This song by Andrew Peterson has been slowly wrecking me. As all beautiful songs, that mix simplicity and complexity together, seem to do. It’s so basic yet so profound to me. And it encapsulates my heart so well in a way I didn’t even know I meant. So I will sing it and pray it and plead it over my son for his days.

My dear boy, keep to the old roads.

I know the fast lane is flashy and fun. With all its fantasy and fame and flare. It’s a rush of one high hill to the next. It’s exhilarating. The gratification is instantaneous. It flies past the boring and bumpy dirt road and offers the thrill of a chase. But no matter what turns it keeps taking you on it eventually comes to a halt. You will meet it at it’s dead end, no matter which route you wind around. While the slow road takes a painful amount of patience to navigate the fast one will whip you around before you even have the chance to know that you’re not ready. It’s a thrill while you’re riding but a crash while it’s ending.

Come back, come back to the old roads. The old roads that lead to an open door.

The fruit will draw you but the root will keep you. Yes the fruit is fresh but it will quickly fade. It will entice you and enamor you but it does not stay around long enough to actually enjoy you. It wants to use you yet not know you. It wants to invite you but not inform you. It springs up but spoils away. It rots and it withers. The fruit is beautifully bright and the roots are boringly brown. But the brown is what is buried deep. It is solid and sturdy. Even when it is cut down to a stump, it gives you a place to sit and to stay. It might look a little lonely at times, but it will be the one that offers you rest and gives you life.

Come back, come back to the old roads. The old roads that lead to an open door.

Because success at the top of the ladder means nothing without the anchor at the bottom of the ship.

Because what is slow and steady is what will keep sustaining you. And what is shiny and shimmery is what will eventually shrivel you.

Because money can ease you but it can never free you.

Because the click of a button is a fleeting fantasy but that same wrinkly hand of hers is your faithful friend.

Because only the wood of a cross brings forth death before life, all else dangles life but breeds death.

So go back, go back to the ancient paths
Lash your heart to the ancient mast
And hold on, boy, whatever you do
To the hope that’s taken hold of you.

And you’ll find your way.
Yes you’ll find your way.
Back home.

30 lessons in 30 years

1. Be the kind of friend/mentor/spouse you want to have, and not just to get it in return

2. Christ is the anchor. All other ground is sinking sand- even when it feels firm

3. Sometimes love keeps pushing when it wants to back off and sometimes it backs off when it wants to keep pushing

4. Relationships really are a mess worth making

5. Sometimes we need the bodily reset of a hug, or sleep, or food. We’re simple and limited human beings. Other times we need the deep and ongoing soul work of therapy. We’re complex and whole human beings

6. Allow others to laugh at you by laughing at yourself first

7. Life is hard, be soft

8. Belonging is one of the most powerful means to ground us and keep us

9. What’s done for Christ will last

10. Feelings make excellent indicators and awful masters

11. We can only do the best with what we know at the time

12. We need the church (the church is people)

13. The best things in life are free to give and priceless to receive- like time and presence

14. Quiet faithfulness bears much fruitfulness

15. Listening just to listen/learn is a lost art and it’s what those who are speaking and grieving are desperately longing for

16. Compassion grows when we see a hurtful person as a hurting person

17. We’re all looking for a safe place. So create one and be one and then invite others into it again and again

18. Being heavenly minded changes earthly good

19. Water the grass you’ve been given, even if it’s one small chunk of your yard at a time

20. Push past the awkward

21. Relationships are about giving people the space to both be who they are and change who they are

22. Let your bar of enjoyment be level with the little moments of life, not the big ones. A beautiful life is lived in the ordinary

23. Truth is unshakable. Therefore we move around it, it does not move around us

24. Gods love is not desperately searching out of its own lack but it is relentlessly pursuing out of its own abundance

25. It doesn’t always have to be hard to be good, but often the best things in life take the most work

26. Who I most deeply am is not found in what I do or what I have

27. We can feel and embrace and live in more than one thing at one time

28. The world is really big and really beautiful. Don’t live life in a bubble

29. It doesn’t have to be seen or acknowledged for it to count

30. I have so much to learn