another one bites the dust...

oh, 80's songs. thank you for being so perfect. to describe my life...

this is our middle child. waving goodbye to us. after we left him at belmont university a week ago. 

i didn't take many photos. i didn't really want to. some things can't be photographed in a way that truly shows their weight. and i think taking photographs would have made the transition feel heavier than it already felt. so i snapped a few moments on my phone. and those will have to stand for perpetuity. 

it was a beautiful weekend in nashville. a hint of fall. a promise of a new season. 

belmont was just as efficient (if not more so) than when we brought millie for her freshman year. hordes of belmont tshirted co-eds lined the roadways CHEERING as we arrived. even CHANTING maxx's name (once they learned it.) they descended upon our truck and picked it cleaner than a group of hungry piranhas... then quickly climbed three flights of stairs with even the heaviest of boxes and the truck was emptied in 5 minutes flat. i have no doubts that the belmont women's volleyball team will be undefeated this year, as i saw one volleyball player carry maxx's box o' books up the three flights in some kind of stair sprint worthy of olympic glory. 

THANK GOODNESS MAXX PACKED TWO VERSIONS OF THE AENEID. you never know when you'll need to cross reference...

THANK GOODNESS MAXX PACKED TWO VERSIONS OF THE AENEID. you never know when you'll need to cross reference...

everything happened so fast that it is a blur. adam build shelves. and more shelves. and a little bench over some piping (maxx is in the oldest dorm at belmont. and a corner room. which is awesomely HUGE.) i made a target run with maxx and checked off items on our handy dandy college packing list app (oh yeah, there's an app for that.)

it was so comforting to see a devotional book on each student's desk to welcome them to belmont. and how about that university ministries motto...

LOVE GOD & LOVE PEOPLE

IS THIS A GREAT SCHOOL, OR WHAT?!?!?!?!?

maxx and all his boxes (brought up in less than 5 minutes flat) and his RA going over some instructions. i hope his RA (whose room is next door) isn't too jealous of maxx's hair game. this could be bad...

in the end, it all fit into 6 boxes (2 large trunks and 4 plastic bins). plus an accordion. a guitar. and a keyboard. that was it. boys are so much easier to pack for college than girls. and middle children. well, we all know how resilient and easy going we are...

we went to a professional bull riding event with nashville friends. of. course. cause our life = hilariousness. and in some ways it was a perfect metaphor for our life right now. crazy and trying to just hold on to sanity for 8 seconds and score some points.

we matriculated at the matriculation service on sunday morning. i cried when they cited these lines from amazing grace for the students...

Tis Grace hath led me safe thus far.

And Grace will lead me home. 

one more lunch out with our nashville dwellers and then it was time for us to hit the road. and leave them to the mercies of the music city.

all throughout the campus are these belmont flags that state "BELIEF IN SOMETHING GREATER." which is their motto for their 125th year. and it is what drives everything they do as a university. i truly believe that it is this Something Greater that has brought 2 of our children to belmont. we have felt this Something Greater every time we walk on campus, talk to another belmont family, or share with prospective belmont families our belmont stories. i am so grateful for belmont and the opportunities my children are having there and most importantly the Something Greater that is a part of every decision that is made for this university...

on the back of each WELCOME TO BELMONT tshirt worn by the multitude of welcome week co-eds, there was this reference ROMANS 12. so you know i had to spend a little time looking over those verses...

Romans 12 (the message)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

another mom who was dropping her son at vanderbilt that same weekend sent me a photo of her and her boy... and these words "it is well with my soul."

and that was exactly how i felt. it was poignant. it was difficult. but it is well with my soul. 

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” {c.s. lewis}

i declare...

someone (that i love dearly) posted this on facebook a while ago. and it kind of made me throw up in my mouth a little bit... & so i snapped a photo of it & let it sit in my photos to see if it was just that day that made me so weirded out by this "declaration" or if it truly was as nauseating over time as it was on that first sighting... & the answer was that it really made me feel a little bit sick every time i kept seeing it. so here is the "declaration"...

We would never imagine that getting our heart's deepest desires might be the worst thing that can ever happen to us. {tim keller}

so i tweaked the declaration a bit... 

I DECLARE that God will take His own perfect timing in accomplishing His plan for my life as I put my trust in Him. And maybe the waiting IS the most important part of learning to trust in Him. I will accomplish my dreams ONLY if they are His higher and better dreams for my life. And they will be accomplished in the perfect timing that He ordained from the beginning of time. Because the goal isn't the accomplishment of the dream, it is the faith that each step takes me further away from my own self, and closer to the REAL lea that He has known and fashioned from the beginning of time.  It may take years to overcome an obstacle, and maybe that very obstacle is the thorn in my flesh that is His strength perfected in my weakness and dependance on Him. And maybe that obstacle is the BEST DAMN THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME but i live in an upside down kingdom and can't tell north from south. and i will never get out of my ultimate debt that was totally paid by His Work on the cross which means that ALL things (even the things that look like horrible things) can work for my good and His glory. God is doing things faster and slower than i could ask or imagine. And His clock is eternal and actually exists outside of time itself. He will give me victory in the strangest of ways and some of the GREATEST victories will most likely look like abject defeats. He has blessings that will last through eternity and may not show up until then. and i will be grateful for it all. this is MY declaration.

i wish i could DECLARE things and they would happen. but usually it is the LORD who declares things... and i am learning to trust His declarations over mine.

Isaiah 30:1-3  “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine...
Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

 

“The term is over: the holidays have begun.”

from c.s. lewis' the last battle

“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” 

for my dear friend, ed hague, the holidays for him began right as we went back to school.

he wrote his own obituary to be published on his blog. you can read it by clicking HERE. it is beautiful, hilarious, poignant, and full of hope with a touch of snarkiness. which is so perfectly ed. who is actually even more perfectly ed today than he ever was here on earth.

and his obit made me think about my obituary. WHICH SHOULD BE ALL IN LOWERCASE, am i right? but it made me think about the things that i want to LIVE into during whatever days God can stand for me to be a mere shadow of the perfection of lea that He has in mind for me. and let's hope it isn't too much longer, cause this mortal coil is really a bummer. 

and in typical lea fashion (and my love of musicals) i have some musical aspirations for my life... there are a couple of songs that i listen to in the mornings that really help me to focus on my intentions each day...

FIRST: that i would not be AFRAID to love anyone, anywhere, at anytime. and that i stay so close to that Source of Love that i can't help but leak it out on anyone close to me...

Stir in me a love that’s deep
A love that’s wide
A love that’s sweet
And help me Lord to never keep it to myself
And if my heart should dimly burn
And if my feet should fail to run
Call my name and I will come right back to You

There’s no fear in love

I want to stay close to You
It’s really that simple
I want to stay close to You
Just as simple as this song

I want to stay close to You
It’s really that simple
I want to stay close to You
My whole life long

 

SECOND: that i know the ART OF CELEBRATION. that i celebrated everything and anything that i could. that i never was afraid to bodily approach the Throne of Grace. because one day i am totally looking forward to approaching that Throne and that is going to be one awesome celebration!

 

By grace alone somehow I stand
Where even angels fear to tread
Invited by redeeming love
Before the throne of God above
He pulls me close with nail-scarred hands
Into His everlasting arms

When condemnation grips my heart
And Satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear
The Great I Am the Lord is here
Oh praise the One who fights for me
And shields my soul eternally

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I'm running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

Behold the bright and risen Son
More beauty than this world has known
I'm face to face with Love Himself
His perfect spotless righteousness
A thousand years, a thousand tongues
Are not enough to sing His praise

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I'm running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

This is the art of celebration
Knowing we're free from condemnation
Oh praise the One, praise the One
Who made an end to all my sin

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I'm running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

THIRD: everything by ryan stuart. really there is nothing to add to this song. other than it has woken my up many mornings. woken up my heart to be fixed on the One that gave up Everything so that He could be my Everything.

God in my living     There in my breathing
God in my waking    God in my sleeping

God in my resting    There in my working
God in my thinking    God in my speaking

Be my everything    Be my everything
Be my everything    Be my everything

God in my hoping    There in my dreaming

God in my watching    God in my waiting

God in my laughing    There in my weeping
God in my hurting    God in my healing

Christ in me   Christ in me
Christ in me the hope of glory    You are everything

so, ed hague, i will see you in the next chapter... it is going to be AMAZING and ETERNAL and full of HOPE and HILARITY. the best kind of HILARITY.

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Last Battle