Finding a Peace-filled Schedule

Spoiler alert: I haven’t found it.

Schedules and routine are glorious things.
When I was a new mom, I followed a sleep training schedule just to keep me sane (postpartum emotions are no joke). Second baby came 15 months after the first, and getting my babies to sleep at the same time was my end-all-be-all goal.
Now, with three children ages 4.5 years, 3 years, and 16 months, schedules have been an vital part of our home for just about 5 years!

Schedules = sanity

Or do they?

For all of my motherhood, I have searched for peace and security in schedules. Yet, I still battle with anxiety (the kind where you just sit alone and cry for no reason, or can’t find it in you to get off the couch or even out of bed).

Why?

There is only one place where we can find peace, security, sanity, purpose, and all the other things we really are looking for in our ideal schedule.
That place, is actually a person, it’s Jesus.

Jesus is the source of lasting peace.
Jesus is the anchor for our fluctuating emotions and circumstances.
Jesus is the only cause for life-long and minute-by-minute purpose.

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

Schedules are good and often very helpful, they are fantastic guidelines, and give us (and our kids) things to look forward to. However, helpful tools were never meant to calm our souls, give us disaster-proof security, or motivate us with an all encompassing purpose that would fill every moment of our days and last our entire lives. Nothing on this earth can do that, only God can.

The book of Romans has a lot to say about peace, where it comes from, and where it does not come from. Let’s take a look at a few verses:

“Their throat is an open grave;
they¬†use¬†their¬†tongues¬†to¬†deceive.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe¬†venom¬†of¬†asps¬†is¬†under¬†their¬†lips.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúTheir¬†mouth¬†is¬†full¬†of¬†curses¬†and¬†bitterness.‚ÄĚ
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the¬†way¬†of¬†peace¬†they¬†have¬†not¬†known.‚ÄĚ

Romans 3:13-17

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 5:1

For¬†to¬†set¬†the¬†mind¬†on¬†the¬†flesh¬†is¬†death,¬†but¬†to¬†set¬†the¬†mind¬†on¬†the Spirit¬†is¬†life¬†and¬†peace.¬†For¬†the¬†mind¬†that¬†is¬†set¬†on¬†the¬†flesh¬†is¬†hostile to¬†God,¬†for¬†it¬†does¬†not¬†submit¬†to¬†God’s¬†law;¬†indeed,¬†it¬†cannot.¬†Those¬†who¬†are¬†in¬†the¬†flesh¬†cannot¬†please¬†God.

Romans 8:6-8

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Romans 15:33

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace  of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Romans 16:20

True, lasting, unwavering peace comes when our trust is in Jesus alone. Why? Because unlike every other thing in the universe, including ourselves, he is unchanging. Peace founded in Jesus Christ because no matter what we go through no matter our circumstances, our emotions, our relationships, our mistakes, our health, any of it, he remains steadfast. He is our peace.

No matter what faces you today, tomorrow, ten years from now! God remains faithfully the same. We can rest secure in that.

Soli Deo Gloria!

At the Vineyard – Father and I

We are at the Blasi family vineyard! We have been here now for two weeks. It’s been all very exciting and busy, so I haven’t had time to write until now because… but I’ll get to that in a minute.

When we first got here, I got to see Laura, Gabriel, baby Leo, Mrs. Blasi, Mr. Blasi, and Mami, but I didn’t get to see Papi for another whole day. I was sad, but Mami told me that Papi has to take things slowly, and to be patient. Finally, Mami took me into Papi’s room, and I understood what she was talking about. He has gotten so old and little. He sits crumpled up in his bed, like he’s shrunk into a wrinkled little boy. I don’t know if he is sick, or just old. I asked Father why Mr. Blasi didn’t just move Mami and Papi to Italy and he said it was because Mr. Blasi’s father can’t get out of bed anymore, so they came to him.

I asked Mrs. Blasi how it has been moving all the way over here. She said it has been “an adventure”. That’s probably an understatement (I just learned this word. I like it. It’s a great word.) Now they have a new house, new family to take care of, and a vineyard to take care of too! It’s quite a bit more than “an adventure”, I think.

I heard Mr. Blasi tell Father that it is good that his brother also gave them a good amount of money to run the vineyard, I don’t really understand that. A vineyard is where grapes grow, and grapes are plants. Plants don’t need money to grow. They need water, sun, and good soil.I have been learning a lot about plants while we’ve been here. Father says it’s a very hands on way of learning about the science of plants, or botany. It’s a huge vineyard, so there is a lot to learn

I’ve been playing with Gabriel and Laura a lot, but mostly on the weekends because they have ‚Äúreal‚ÄĚ school. They call my kind of school “home” school. I think that’s a silly name for it, I’m never home when I do “home” school. I’m usually on a train, or an airplane, or in a car.


Last Friday, when Laura and Gabriel got home from school, they took me on their bikes to see the old church, Father and Mr. Blasi came too. I rode on Gabriel’s handlebars, he was being nice. I had seen it before, but not up close yet. You can see it from their house if you stand in the front yard or look out from one of the upstairs windows on that side of the house. Father took lots of pictures when we got there. It was very pretty in the sunset. Gabriel said the church is not the only thing that looks pretty in the sunset, which made my cheeks get really hot, and made Laura make a barfing noise.

I liked riding on Gabriel’s handle bars, no matter what Laura says or the noises she makes.¬†

We haven’t been able to ride at all now because it has gotten very wet and cold. It’s getting colder everyday I think, and it should have started snowing at least three nights ago, but instead all we get is frigid rain (I ran out of words for cold, so Father taught me this new one. It’s a good one).¬†

Today, for example, is Saturday, and Laura, Gabriel, and I should all be outside playing around and exploring, but it is too wet and cold to leave the warm and cozy house. 

So, instead we are playing inside things. Laura is playing with some paper dolls I brought for her. Gabriel is attempting to play scales on his guitar (Mr. Blasi is teaching him to play). I am writing.

Disclaimer:
Photograph is not mine. It is beautiful and fits with the story well.
Photograph credit:
http://www.studentshow.com/gallery/60216757/Swiss-Church-Study

Over the Mountains – Father and I

I’m so excited!
We are going to the Blasi’s vineyard, farther into Switzerland. I love the Blasi family. Father has known the Blasi family for a long time, even before I was born. My Mother and Mrs. Blasi were friends in college, before Mother and Father met. Our families have been close for a long time. I’m so excited! We are going to spend a few months with them.

I’ve never been to their vineyard, or any vineyard. Father says it is beautiful, but we aren’t actually for any of Father’s work. Mr. Blasi asked Father to come and help him at the vineyard. Apparently, it’s a family business, but Mr. Blasi’s brother and father had been taking care of it on their own. Mr. and Mrs. Blasi have just moved back to the Swiss vineyard from Italy, because Mr. Blasi’s brother died last year, and his parents are too old to handle the vineyard alone. It’s very sad. That part, I am not excited about. Mr. Blasi’s parents are like my grandparents. I call them Mami and Papi, and I love them very much.

I’m mostly excited to spend time with Mami and Papi, and with the Blasi children, Gabriel, Laura, and Leo, especially Laura. She’s 8, just 6 months younger than me. She’s like a cousin. I’m so excited to play with her!

I love traveling with Father, but sometimes I want to around someone else, someone my age, or close to my age. I’m with grown ups a lot. They’re usually very nice to me, some even play with me, but they aren’t kids. Sometimes I wish I had a sister, like Laura. Or a brother, like Gabriel, though he’s 12 and sometimes he’s annoying.

The train is going through the mountains now. It’s magnificent. Father says that word may not mean what I want it to mean in talking about the mountains, but I’m pretty sure it does.
Magnificent means: “impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.”
The Swiss alps are magnificent.

(Father printed this picture out for me once we got to the Blasi’s home, so I could paste it in my journal)

Disclaimer:
The above photo was obtained from this website: (it is not mine, and is in no way property of Gracious Purpose Blog, credit goes entirely to the following site and their gifted photographer)

https://www.muchbetteradventures.com/magazine/10-of-the-best-adventures-in-the-swiss-alps/

Pandemic, Manna, Contentment, Anger, and the Idol of Me

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, ‚ÄúWould that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.‚ÄĚ

Exodus 16:1-3 (emphasis added)

This was my Bible reading this morning, and it got me thinking….

Two months after the miraculous ten plagues, Passover, and crossing through the middle of the Red Sea on dry land, the entire congregation of Israel is grumbling.
This is more than the casual complaining, “just saying”, or venting type attitude we excuse ourselves of now. Or was it?
They were a good two month walk from the greatest civilization at the time, the only place they had ever known, and were now on a never ending camping trip in the middle of the wilderness. Oh, and they had run out of food. The people had some legitimate concerns! Food is important! Being in the middle of nowhere lacking food is deadly!

So what’s the problem?
Instead of seeking God’s guidance, instead of calling out to him for help (he clearly had the power and willingness to help them out), they looked to their own knowledge, their own understanding, and their own situation as being ultimate.
They had grown discontent. Following a miraculous pillar of cloud by day, and warming, light giving pillar of fire was not good enough.
They had let that discontentment take root, and now they were angry, with Moses and Aaron. Really? No. They took it out on Moses and Aaron. They had seen in Egypt what happens when you shake your fist at God directly, people die!
But God knew their hearts. They were angry with God, not Moses. They were not trusting God. They were trusting their eyes, their heads, their stomachs.

Those silly Israelites! Come on guys!

Well, how different am I? Just two weeks into public spaces being closed because of this current pandemic, and I feel discontent, a little angry. Justifiably so! A lot has changed in a short time, but if being in the wilderness and running out of food was not a good excuse for idolatry, then safer-at-home orders are not a good excuse either.

Idolatry? Whoa, hold on there. I see no statue worship, no fist shaking at God, no out right denial of his work.

Yes, idolatry. Whenever our peace, our hope, our security is relying on something other than God it’s idolatry.

Comfort, control, predictability, family, community, health, finances, “me time”, independence, whatever! If you are willing to sin to keep whatever it is, then it’s an idol. Not trusting God is the foundational sin, it’s what got Adam and Eve in the garden.

Yes, things are crazy. Yes, it is scary, nerve wracking, and we need to exercise caution (extreme caution in some cases). Yes, there is suffering (there was before COVID-19 and there will be after it).

But! God is not surprised, this is not outside of his plan. His good, pleasing, and perfect will for the good of those whom he has called, and for his glory forever and ever, has not changed and will not be stopped. Nothing can thwart his will.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

Romans 8:35

What happens in the next verses of Exodus? God gives them Manna, literally raining bread from heaven to feed them. Just before giving them the Manna, God gave Moses instructions about the Manna. God said to only collect enough for one day, except for the sixth day of the week collect enough for the seventh day also because the seventh day is the Sabbath, the day of rest. Even in God’s provision, he is requiring that the people trust him.

God did not take the people out of the wilderness. God did not lead them on a quicker path to the promised land. God did not have them settle down and start growing crops to solve their food problem. No, God did not change their circumstances, but came to them in the midst of their circumstances and provided for them even in their difficulty and even provided for them in their disobedience.

Praise God he comes to us before we come to him! Praise God he gives us grace before we ask for forgiveness! Praise God he allows us to see our weakness, so that the beauty of his provision is vibrant! Praise God he permits suffering so we stop clinging to our flimsy idols of self, and cling to our all sustaining, holy Savior!

Soli Deo Glroia!


Not Disneyland – Father and I

Hello from Switzerland!
Father’s next article, after the one on the snooty fashion lady, is on the Alps, and Father insisted I see the REAL Matterhorn. 

It took us about 6 hours on trains and buses to finally get there, but once we did I can say for sure, it’s not like Disney’s pretend mountain. For one thing, it’s not alone. There are probably thousands of mountains and with it! I mean it is THE ALPS, with an “s”, meaning plural, as in lots of alp.

We are staying in a very tourist-y town called Zermatt. Everything is in German here, and I don’t know German very well. Father and I don’t stay in German speaking places as much, because we don’t have family here, like we do in Milan with the Detti’s. 

We are staying in a tiny hotel room that is decorated in an old style, with lots of dark wood, and dark reds, and pretend oil lamps, and frilly curtains, and that kind of thing. It is all very nice though! There is a little eating-area-thing downstairs where we eat. There is even a balcony where we can sit out and look at the mountains and the town!

Zermatt lake sunnegga - website 800px w-0167

This is a postcard of the Matterhorn. I got in town (but I think the picture was taken somewhere else, not in the town).

The balcony is my favorite. 
Not only can you see all the mountains around, the old style buildings in town, breathe the outdoors-y mountain-y air, but also there are these boxes with flowers everywhere in all the windows! I wish I could take one with me and have a box full of flowers everywhere we went. It would make every place we stay in feel like home. Father and I have a home, but we aren’t there very much, so sometimes it’s hard to think of the-house-we-are-never-in as “home”.

Tomorrow Father and I are taking our cameras and going to climb mountains! I am so excited to get out there! I love hiking and climbing, and I’ll be with Father while he’s working, not like in Milan when I had to stay away from him. I like being with friends and little Camilla is super cute, but I like being with Father the most.

With the Detti's – Father and I

Yesterday, Father and I left Venice. We took the train from Venice to Milan, which was like 5 whole hours of train riding (it was exhausting). Father has to meet up with some fancy fashion lady. I can never remember her name, just what she looks like. She’s tall and skinny with a pinched up face. Her lips are constantly pushed together in what is supposed to be like kissing fish lips, but they are so thin that they just look wrinkled. She has huge eyes, and they peer down at you out of her equally huge glasses. Her hair is probably gray because she colors it all the time, so it’s always a different color whenever Father goes to see her. Father is seeing her today, he left early this morning, before I woke up.

We are staying with our friends, the Detti‚Äôs, who live just outside of Milan. I say friends, but I have known them pretty much my whole life. Father says he doesn‚Äôt like to just have friends wherever he travels, he likes to have family. Lorenzo Detti is a funny man, with thick, dark hair, glasses, and the loudest voice I have ever heard. Isabella, his wife, has happy, blue eyes, and her fingernails are always painted red. Their little girl’s name is Camilla, she‚Äôs almost two with her always in pigtails. She is adorable!

While Father interviews and photographs the pinched-faced fashion lady, I stay the day with the Detti’s. Father will be home tonight, late, way after dinner, just before I go to bed.

Camilla is napping right now, Lorenzo is at work, and Isabella is resting too, so I‚Äôm in ‚Äúmy room‚ÄĚ writing here in my journal.

Father is staying in their guest bedroom, but I’m staying in the study. It’s a small room, but I love it. The sun comes in the room almost all day, keeping it warm and cheery. One whole wall is just books. A large, brown leather chair sits next to the wall of books. I’m sitting in it now, with my knees all curled up, and there is still plenty of room. It’s a huge chair. There is a nice lamp that comes up over the back of the chair, so in the evening, it’s a great reading spot too. Wall of books, comfy chair, and a lamp. Perfect!

The wall opposite the window is the single murphy bed. The sides of the bed just barely touches everything else in the room, so it’s pretty cozy.

Decided to add a little doodling to my journal entries.

Tomorrow, Father and I plan to spend the day at home with the Detti’s. It’s Saturday, so no work for Lorenzo. I love listening to Father talking with Lorenzo and Isabella. I’m hoping that in the afternoon, we can go downtown to see the sites. I know I’ve seen it before, but there is something about it that is so interesting. Milan almost looks like a big city in America, but the skyline (new vocabulary word this week) is filled with new things and old things. Skyscrapers and cathedrals. Apartment buildings and red tile roof buildings. Construction cranes and marble statues.

The day after tomorrow will be Sunday, which will be our last day with the Detti’s, but we will miss them in the morning. They go to church on Sunday mornings. Father and I don’t. I don’t know why we don’t go with them. I’ve been to church before, but I felt weird, like I didn’t belong there and everyone was looking at me.
Maybe we will do something fun Sunday afternoon before our train to Switzerland Sunday night!

I hear Camilla waking up from her nap! I’m going to go see if I can help Isabella with a snack. I love playing with little Camilla!

Praise deep in the woods… or cave.

Psalm 57

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! Selah

My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts-
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

It’s a weird time. People are afraid, acting in ways they never thought they would. Children are home, stuck inside for the most part, and driving their parents up the wall!

Yes, I chose to quote an entire Psalm, because right now, more than usual, context matters. David wrote this song of praise while running for his life, hiding in a cave. If you’re familiar with the story, this is the cave where Saul comes to, ahem, relieve himself, and David is hiding in the shadows close enough to be able to kill him.
Saul had been pursuing David, to kill him. David, legally, had the right to defend himself, and his men, and strike first. What does he do instead? He sneaks up, while Saul is- um- yeah, and cuts off a piece of his clothing. Then, when Saul leaves the cave, David and his men emerge and show the cut piece of clothing, showing how close Saul had come to death, except for David choosing to show mercy towards Saul, and love to God.

Let’s be clear on a couple details here:

Saul was the man God had allowed to be king of Israel. Saul was the government David was called to submit to and obey. Saul was pursuing David, because God had anointed David to be king, taking his favor from Saul.

David did not pursue becoming king while Saul lived. He never raised up an army to take over the kingdom. Actually, David supported Saul, fought along side him, served him.

This context of the brokenness in David and Saul’s relationship, magnifies the dependence and strength of David and God’s relationship.

David relies on God.
Why? Not because of who David is, not what David has done, not what David has refrained from doing, not what David will do, but because of who God is.

David’s situation is not the best, he’s hiding for his life in a cave.
The situation of the world currently is not the best, many hundreds of thousands of people are effectively hiding for their lives in their homes (much better than a cave, but you get the point).

But God is…
Merciful
A Refuge in the Storm
Most High (none is higher!)
Fulfiller of Puposes and Promises
Savior
Just
Steadfastly Loving and Faithful
Exalted
Glorious!

Because God is, We can be…
Steadfast
Joyful Noise Makers
Awake and Alert
Thankfulness Shouters
Praise Singers
Glory Heralds

This crazy time reminds me of this song (it’s just constantly playing in my head!)