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June 29, 2018

When Life Feels Like You’re In a Rock Tumbler

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It’s been a month since I last blogged, and for that, I apologize!  I wasn’t planning on taking a break from blogging, but once June hit the calendar, I quickly realized it was either take a break from blogging, or blogging with everyone home for summer would break me!

To catch you up on our summer so far, Caroline turned 8 on June 3rd –










Lillian turned 12 on June 15th –

Lizzie turned 10 on June 18th –


And to start us all off, Jason turned a very young 47 on May 16th –

Added to the June mix were two nieces’ and one nephew’s birthdays, my brother-in-law’s birthday the same day as Lizzie’s, and the celebration of my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary.

I have to echo the sentiments of my father-in-law who said at the end of June, “I CANNOT eat one more piece of cake!”  Amen, Papa, amen.

So here we are the first week of July, birthdays behind us, finally settling into the slower, blessed rhythms of summer.

And with my three oldest girls being at camp this week, I’ve had plenty of time to think about the rhythm of where we’ve been the past few weeks and where we are headed.

And one place we’ve been is in a rock tumbler.  Not a real tumbler, but a proverbial tumbler of sorts.  And I’ve learned that I don’t do well in tumblers.  Because in tumblers, you do one thing – you roll around and around in the same small space with no way out of hitting other rocks.  And that’s what the past few weeks have felt like to me.  Fun?  Yes.  Celebratory?  Yes.  Mayhem?  Yes.  But margin?  No.  Order, rhythm, and routine?  Not a chance.  Bumping shoulders with other people who demands things of you and need things from you from a 7am to an 11pm basis?  Yes.  Coming face-to-face with your own short-comings and short-fuse and quick temper on a regular basis?  Yes.

Remember my blog post about how to make the most out of your summer by inserting margin?  LINK HERE Well, that hasn’t happened here.  Not in June anyway.  I’m now needing to take my own advice.  Because as someone who likes order, routine, margin, and rhythm, after tumbling around in the chaos of June, I always emerge with bumps and bruises from the other rocks in my small space.

I wonder if you can relate.  I wonder if you ever have seasons in your life that feel tight, narrow, cramped and confined, with not a lot of space to breathe.  I wonder if in that small space you have people with sharp edges who hit your sharp edges, and because of the small space, you end up hitting and bumping into each other over and over and over again.

It’s not a fun feeling, is it?

But check out what a rock tumbler produces:

Through the process of remodeling our home, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a carpenter named Chris.  Chris is close to my age, but life looks like it has given him quite a few tumbles.  His sharp edges have worn into rutted wrinkles, and no matter how down and out he’s been, he’s always got candy, a cookie, or something fun to share with those around him.  Several months ago, he gave Mia Grace her first twinkie, and they have been fast friends ever since.

Several weeks ago, the last time we were around Chris, he emerged from his car holding rocks.  Lots and lots of rocks.  Apparently, he collects them.  Finds them in driveways, scoops them out of dirt, brushes off their grime, and then tosses them in his tumbler.  And for weeks on end, his regular old driveway rocks tumble around and around and around.  And when they emerge from the tumbles, they have been transformed from regular old driveway rocks no one would give a second look…to treasure.

Colors that were once buried burst forth in deep blues, greens, reds, and clearest crystal.

Edges that were once sharp and rough are now supple and smooth.

All that was hidden to the eye because of a dirty outer shell is now visible because of the knocks in the small space of the tumbler.

That puts a different twist on tumblers, doesn’t it?  Because as painful and undesirable as they might be, tumblers have a way of putting us into contact with people and circumstances that knock the edges off of our hearts, the sharpness off of our personalties, and the grime off of our souls that has accumulated for years.  Tumblers have a way of forcing us into tight spaces we cannot leave or escape from, spaces that feel dark, narrow, painful, and chaotic, so that true treasure can emerge.

So here’s what I’ve learned: for tumblers to be effective, we need other rocks to be in there with us.  The idea of a quiet life, unhindered by children who demand things of you or personalties or people with sharp edges is appealing.  We just want to be left alone to enjoy life in a quiet space.

But why?  For what purpose?  If we were left alone, what would be the end result?  To remain an ordinary driveway rock, covered by layers of self and dirt?  No thank you.  I’ll take the tumbler.

I’ll take the tumbler of June and all the people and personalities that go with it.  I’ll take the knocks off the edges of my anger and frustration when I am left without margin.  I’ll take the exposure that comes when I am at my limit, stretched to the max in a small space, for the colors that emerge.  I’ll take the tumbler.

So today, think about the people and places that consistently rub you the wrong way.  Think about the small spaces from which it feels like you cannot escape.  And then press in to the Lord in prayer, and thank Him.  Thank Him for the gift of the hard things that have the power to rub off your edges and transform your heart into true, lasting treasure.

I’m going to be taking some time off in July to rest, pray, and be still with my Heavenly Father.  If you need time to rest as well, consider using my prayer guide, Secure, along with its companion journal to help you in the format of prayer and the book A Praying Life by Paul Miller to help you in the posture of prayer.  Secure is up for pre-sale on Amazon and will be ready to ship out on July 20th.  If would like a copy now and live in the Houston area, they are available at CornerBooks at Houston’s First Baptist Church.  I will be back, rested, recharged, and ready to write again in August.  I will look forward to re-connecting at the end of the summer.