20 Jun

Love will break you but it is good

storm

In the distance the thunder rolls.

In the house a door slams.

A storm is rolling in…inside and out.

storm

I sat on the edge of the stairs and watched the storm move in.

Slamming doors, banging on walls, a little voice filled with rage and fear.

The storm was picking up steam.

Here, I sat…weary.

Beyond weary….exhausted…drained…broken.

The thunder rolls…the sky gets dark.

Slamming…banging.

Tears build up in my eyes and in that moment I’m not sure how this plays out.

I’ve got nothing left. I whisper. Hoping…praying…that the God who brought the rain will somehow bring the sun.

I begin writing a blog post in my head about what love looks like….

Love whispers when you’d rather yell to be heard.

Love knocks on the door that just slammed again.

Love promises to stay through curses and cussing and being pushed away.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7

hopes….perseveres….I’ve got nothing left. I whisper again.

Then from the living a song rises that I’ve never heard before.

The storm rages — the wind blows, little feet kick doors, the thunder shakes the house, slamming doors rattle the hallway, the lightening is so bright and close that it is almost blinding, a little voice spews anger at deafening decibels — and here I sit on the stairs. Tears streaming down my cheeks and Jesus singing into my soul from the living room.

“Love’s not safe at all
Love might let you fall
Love’s not easy
But it’s good, it’s good, it’s good
Love will take your time
Love might feel unkind
Love will break you
But it’s good”

It is not my love or my energy or my efforts that will reach our foster peanut…our someday son….it is Jesus. His love pouring through me…and when I’m empty it can only come from Him…that…that is perfect love…love that is kind…love that casts out all fear….love that will always persevere…love that is eternal.

Like all storms, this one passed. The thunder rolled on and a little body grew tired.

The sun shone. A faint rainbow glimmered above. And I rocked a small body in my arms while he cried and let go of all that was battling within him.

This is exhausting work…this work of parenting in the wake of trauma, abuse and neglect….

Love will break you…It’s not easy….but it’s good.

 

 

 

11 Nov

When Your Life is Burning Down

When your life is burning down

Blind with tears I penned these words…

I don’t know what road you are on or what hell you will go through to get to our arms. If I did I’d walk there. To hell and back. Through hell and back. Just to hold your hand and whisper that you aren’t alone. (read the whole post about waiting for the child God has for us here)

As I read my own words hours later, an image very clearly came into my mind.

Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods. (Daniel 3:25)

My torn heart teaches me something of a grace I still cannot fathom. I ache for the child we are waiting to adopt from foster care. If I could take on her hell I would, but her hell is what brings her to me. It is what will grow him, mold him, and build in him a testimony of God.

And in the dark, quiet hours of night as I wrote about waiting I tasted the salty tears of a heart made in the image of my Jesus. I longed to go to our child…right where he is…and hold her, whisper to him, wrap them in love.

When we find ourselves in the furnance heated seven times hotter than normal. When our lives are burning down around us.

We are not alone.

The grace of heaven descends like a dove. Through the flames, in the flames, of the flames.

When your life is burning down

{Photo courtesy of Creation Swap}

Jesus comes to us.

His heart full of love and unspeakable mercy He walks through flames, through hell on earth, through death and back to whisper of grace.

In your job loss when uncertainty reigns. When cancer ravages the one you love. Under the heavy cloud of depression. When your heart’s longings are unfulfilled.

We look for rescue and curse when it doesn’t come.

We struggle with our suffering and miss whispers of grace.

The very heart of God – the holy and powerful – it beats for us. It is His breath that fills our lungs, it is His hand that leads us through.

When our lives are burning down around us there is One that walks in the flames with us. We are not destroyed because we are in Him – eternal. We are not singed because grace is our skin. We do not smell of smoke for it is His fragrance that lingers.

My heart hurts as I wait…for I don’t know our child’s details – where to find him? What she is going through? How long we will wait?

But, Jesus knows right where you are sweet friend. Your circumstance is not lost on Him, it is used by Him.

Look for Him all around you….

…in the simple gifts like the sun warming your skin, a stranger’s smile or the giggle of a child.

…in the impossible circumstances where provision can only come from Him.

…in the prayers seemingly unanswered…for He always hears us and is always working on our behalf…even when it feels like our prayers aren’t answered.

…in the waiting…for you do not wait alone.

Parts of my life are burning. They are hard and painful, and, in all truth, I don’t want to go through them. But, I am. It is my prayer that in this fire and on the other side of this fire all people see is a girl who walking with Jesus.

30 Nov

Love-Shaped Holes

jesus 2

There’s nowhere to hide when it hangs in your living room.

The one with her name on it.

The one he carved.

 

The one from her favorite store.

There they hang.

Here I sit, a puddle on the floor. Tears flowing down my cheeks, the cold bitter sting of grief.

Christmas has come. It didn’t ask for permission or pause to breathe in my hurt. It has arrived full of sparkle, tinsel, child-like glee and memories that bear painful witness to the holes in my life.

Scented candles, yummy baked cookies, cold crisp air that begs for snow. Yet, it is hard to breathe when grief hangs heavy.

Twinkling lights, flickering candles,  brightly wrapped packages of every shape and size. Yet, it is hard to see when tears blur your eyes.

And as if haunted by memories I’m scared to forget I try not to remember. The faintest trace of a memory and I blink it away…don’t want to remember what it felt like to hold you when my arms still ache from losing you.

I don’t know Christmas without you….perhaps the truth is, I don’t want to.

And my eyes drift to the ornaments that remind me of my why…of our why…of the reason for the season. {as cheesy as it sounds}

The one who hung on a tree, for me.

The one who died on a tree, for me.

And I beg in my heart, Jesus help me to see you as enough. To hold you higher and greater than I hold my grief.

Help me to celebrate you…YOU.

As our children decorated the tree this week, their laughter and excitement nearly hurt my ears. Oh, for just a bit of that bottled!! They meet each Christmas carol, twinkling light, box of decorations, wrapped package and Christmas card with wild abandoned.  Their excitement and love are contagious as they hurl head long towards Jesus’ birthday and the gifts He gives us.

And, even as I grieve, I want that. I want a childlike spirit that chooses Jesus’ joy over tears. That embraces memories and adventures with the same excited passion.

And again, I ask you, my Jesus…will you help me to celebrate You?

Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5:4 promise there is comfort yet for me {for us…those who hearts have love-shaped holes}….Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Oh, the sweet promises of Savior who comes close.

As I sit at the foot of my tree, hands clenched, eyes burning, tears falling, I know.

I have a part to play in this mourning-comfort equation. These clenched hands that hold grief like a blanket over a raw and scared heart…they have to let go. Open hands receive grace…receive Jesus…receive Comfort. Letting go of grief, letting go of mourning, allows my sweet Jesus to pour into my hands the blessings of Christmas…of grace…of Himself. And those love-shaped holes in my heart are filled with memories of people who were gifts for a season and promises of greater love and reunion in eternity.

And as I open my eyes, I see…

You see, my grief-filled reminders hang on a tree that stands in remembrance of gifts Jesus gave us. That my grief hangs on our Jesus tree is not lost on me. That this picture of what He has given me is bigger than my heart can take in. This life — full of grace-filled memories, love -filled relationships, God-blessed breaths– this life!! Grief hangs on my tree. So do memories — of trips, travels, loved ones, little hands, my hunky hubby. So do dreams — of  travel, of some days, of my girls, of writing, of ministry.

You see, this Jesus tree, it is a reflection of my life and I can sit and stare for hours at one spot, one piece.  And that piece will become overwhelming, all-consuming for me. Too much. But it is when I back up and see it as piece among many…as a part of whole…not the whole. I remember….I see…

There is much to be celebrated even when grief hangs heavy….especially when grief hangs near. There was life lived in those love-shaped holes, and there is life to be remembered and love to honor. There is grace to share.

And, there, in the midst of it all…holding it all together…making it all stand apart…is Jesus. And I know He knows how my heart feels….for He wears love-shaped holes on His hands for me….

26 Nov

A Defeated Holiday

thanksgiving table

I laid in the dark, eyes closed.

Echoes up the hallway delivered the sounds of the holiday…laughter, cups clinking, football on tv, kiddos feet running back and forth, stories, chatter, smack talk, dishes being scraped or piled high.

It was a day…a week…a month…a season…to give thanks and as I lay in the dark thanks seemed far away.

Buried under piles of blankets and cold medications my week of Thanksgiving preparations had been pushed off onto another; one goal, now, to get over it. To be healthy enough to cook for the family that would gather round in days…hours…minutes…..

Super-sized balloons and Rockette kicks filled the living room and my determination pushed me into the kitchen. I was well enough to push through and enjoy this day of my favorite things (or many of them)…cooking, eating, family, giving thanks….living.

And yet as the meal drew closer and the house filled up I found myself fading quickly. I managed to eat a few bites of food and help serve those pies that looked so good.

And then while others were busy I whispered to my hubby, I need to go lie down.

Defeated I lay in the dark.

This cold, strep, flu monster thing had won. I was down and hardly thankful.

But as I laid in the dark, I began to listen to the stories and the laughter. The love that fell from Grandmother voices into child ears. The cheers and smack talk of football fans gathered with coffee and second pie servins. Thanksgiving was filling the house — the scents still lingered, the love was being lived out, and the sounds swirled around me.

And there in the dark, I found something….my thankful.

I’m thankful for our family (near and far).

I’m thankful for this house where we host Bible studies, throw parties, celebrate holidays and live our slice of Jesus.

I’m thankful for grace….the gift of unmerited favor that flows into my life from a God I can hardly comprehend. This gift that allows me to love and serve Him and those He blesses me with.

I am thankful for you….yes, you my friend. Some of you I know and I can think of your sweet faces as I write. Others, we’ll not know each other this side of heaven perhaps, but I pray for you, I dream of you, I write for you, I laugh at my life with you and I pray that you are looking for kisses from our God who loves you so much!!!!

There in the dark of Thanksgiving I felt a nudge in my soul….you’ve got it all, every day, don’t lose sight today. And I had, I had lost sight of all the reasons to say thank you…of the feeling of counting grace.

My grace is sufficient for you…{2 Corinthians 12:9} When I saw my life through His filter the truth of these words NEVER rang so true.

Happy Season of Thanksgiving, my friends.

22 Aug

Hear This

he who has ears

“Mom, hear this.” His small voice calls from the stairs. He’s asking me to listen.

How profound this request seems to me….so much deeper than asking me to listen to him. He’s asking me to see him. To take in what he has to say. To really be in this moment with him.

It is in his pleas for attention…for hearing…that I see myself…hear myself.

Longing to be heard I raise my voice. I shout. I rant. I talk over. I feel lost in this world of hustle and bustle.

In our world of: “pick that up”

“put that down”

“don’t do that”

“didn’t I tell you to do this”

“quit touching her”

“don’t ride the dog”

“use your words”

“stop yelling”

“speak up”

“sit still”

“hurry up”

“follow me”

“give me a moment”.

This ebb and flow of words. Of constant talking and giving orders to keep our world in order. I feel lost. Like I have no voice. Like beyond the mother-hen-isms of our day-to-day I have nothing that is heard….even when people are listening.

I suppose I feel that way of God too, now and then. When prayers (as the song says) feel like they are bouncing off the sky and there is no sign of acknowledgement or answer. When the Bible is words on a page that seem to be full of sayings I don’t get and rules that I can’t figure out how to apply. When God feels distant and I don’t know if I’m heard. I wonder if He really hears me.

Does He hear my dreams of big things for Him? Does He hear my anxiety over new curriculums, ministry, and losing friends? Does He hear when I’m tired and don’t feel like I can go on? Does He hear when I feel like I can’t find Him and the Bible seems like words written for someone else?

God, please hear this. Hear me.

I understand our son’s want to be heard. The younger brother of a very verbal, very talkative older sister. The son of a father full of life, stories and words to say. The son of a mother who talks, sings or seems to make noise all day long. HEAR THIS! He shouts. HEAR ME!

Oh, how I know those cries.

Hear me.

I had the pleasure recently to lead a ladies’ Bible study on the book of Matthew. Walking through Jesus’ life and words. Searching for Him.

And as we discussed the phrase, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” I thought of that little boy on our stairs. Of the little girl in me crying out to be heard.

Jesus whispers, Hear me, child

Enter into this moment with me. Hear me in this moment.

He’s asking me to see him.

Hear me deep in your soul…make my truth yours. Make me part of you.

Hear this.

Oh, how hard the hearing can be.

When the phone rings,

email pings,

texts vibrate,

the tv shouts,

the radio sings,

the dryer hums,

the washer swishes,

the vacuum roars,

the children recite,

the news drones on and on.

When everyone needs a minute or has something to tell me.

When there are lessons to be taught and studies to lead.

When there are relatives far away to catch up with and friends you never get to see on the phone tonight.

With noise. And stuff.

Where is the moment to listen? Let alone hear. Apply. Live.

The answer…easy and hard. Make time.

That little voice on the stairs pleading, “hear this,” stops everything for me. I pause whatever I’m doing…eyes and ears on him. Listening. Entering into this moment with him. It isn’t always easy or convenient, but necessary. That’s what love does. It pauses to engage. To listen. To hear and to know.

Oh, how much more should we be listening when our Savior says…whispers…calls…he who has ears, let him hear!! 

And there it is my friends. The truth of my life (and maybe yours?). I have to choose, daily — moment by moment — what I will listen to, what will capture my attention, my focus, my heart. I can’t hear Jesus if I am not listening for Jesus. Seeking Him. Studying, praying, praising, listening to a talk/sermon…being still and centering my life, heart and ears on Him.

Do you have a daily quiet time? Some time you carve out for you and God. A time to fill up with His words and listen. A time to hear?

I encourage you, start today…it doesn’t have to be long or involved — just you and Jesus. I’m willing to bet (if I was a betting kinda girl) that as you begin to develop the habit of listening for God, you’ll want more. You’ll pause more, lean in harder and your heart’s cry will become, “Speak Lord. I’m listening. I want to hear you.”

 

16 Aug

When Grace Comes in Goodbye

goodbye 2

Hands that…

…washed lanterns before electricity

…held guns in war

…held the hand of his bride

…rocked his babies to sleep

…swung a hammer

….seemed still only in sleep

…worked in the garden

…swung a golf club

…delivered meals to those in need

…played cards with his brothers

…hid Easter eggs for hours with his grandchildren

…kneaded bread

…mixed the best ice cream sundaes

…held his granddaughter’s hand as we danced at my wedding

…fed his great-grandchildren

…held his wife’s hand as age and illness robbed her of every memory but those of him

…gripped her hairbrush in his sleep after his love of 63 years passed

…hands that held my heart and shaped my world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even in the final hours of his life, my grandfather’s hands brought me comfort.

Kneeling by his bed side, I fought tears and heartache. He was ready to go. Heaven was readying his spot. But, even as the logic of death and life well lived played in my mind…my heart broke. What would my life look like without my Grandpa? Who would adore me and make me feel like no one in the world could hold a candle to me?

And there in those moments, a breath away from each other he mustered the strength to hug me, to tell me loved me…to rub my cheek with his hands. To say goodbye.

I was blessed to call him Grandpa. And my life will forever be a tribute to his love and what he taught me. And I know, that I know that I know, that God gave me a glimpse of His love in the hands and heart of my grandfather.

How blessed I was to share a goodbye that echoed a life of love. That the Lord would give me a graceful period to end the chapter filled with stories written in the life of a man many knew, most respected, but only a few called “Grandpa”.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

14 Aug

The Rhythm of Normal

answers

The school year was ending and I pictured summertime full of lazy reading days with the peanuts. Water. Beach. Fun.

Somehow this summer didn’t quite meet those expectations…wasn’t even in the ballpark. Instead it was a summer full of illness, surgeries, excessive heat, changed plans, and juggled schedules. The kids watched more movies than books read. I took more pain pills than vitamins. And we seemed to scramble from one drama to the next holding our breath. Although while I fought to keep my emotions in check.

Summer was a bummer.

Last week I began to gear up for the new school year. The homeschool bell was fixin’ to ring (if we had one, of course). And school would be back in session.

Instead of a lazy weekend getting ready to start the new year we were hours away saying goodbye to my loving grandfather as his life ended. I was a mess.

Through texts and emails friends and family urged me on Sunday not to pursue the start of school on Monday. “Take a few days off.” “Rest.” “It will wait.” And while their worries and sentiment were appreciated no one understood.

We needed school to start. Because that is our normal.

Crayons. Glue. Storybooks. Projects. Laying on our bellies in the living room discovering far off lands in the pages open between us. Reading Bible stories and singing scripture. Homeschool is the breath of our family. And we needed a deep breath. We needed normal.

Over-tired and overstimulated from the weekend. The kids slept in. That’s okay, they’ll be well rested.

Trying to take some fun back to school pictures. The kids began to cry because the sun was in their eyes…everything was too bright. When I called off those pictures. The kids began to cry, again. That’s okay, I’ll find a way to turn this around.

We had tears pictures. Arguments over who wanted to sit where or how they looked at each other. There was wiggling, complaining, back talk. This is not okay, I want to throw the book across the room and just cry.

This was not our normal. This is not what I craved. Longed for. This was hard.

But normal is a rhythm. Not a goal. I breathed deep, spoke softly and kept going.

And then somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, it came. A few minutes where I taught, they listened. We laughed and poured over books together. Like a cool drink of water on a hot day it felt refreshing all the way to my core.

The phone rang. The moment was broken. But it was there.

Romans 5:4 tells us that perseverance builds character and character builds hope. Yesterday God helped me over a huge hurdle and I began to teach my children a lesson. We don’t quit when it is hard or not what we expected. We were buildin’ some character, let me tell you!!

Life isn’t pretty. And it rarely goes as we’ve planned. If I had stopped we’d never of had those moments of peace, those reminders of why we do this.

As I write to you to now, my little man is laying on the floor next to me (flanked by our dogs) working on his phonics. Happily. Our sweet princess is sitting in the living room singing praise songs while chipping away at her math. Joyfully. Contentedly.

Normal.

Father, I thank you for the normal days of life. For the rhythms of family, home and life that whisper your grace to burden hearts and tired bodies. Amen.

13 Feb

He Will Wipe Away Every Tear

wipe away every tear

Tears roll down my cheeks.

The inches between us become miles.

My stomach is in knots and I choke back sobs.

As truth rolls off my tongue, tears roll down my cheeks.

The weight of fear, misunderstanding, sin and hurt pushes down. I nearly hold my breath.

When I admit that my trust waivers, that I expect the worst. That I’m not the wife I should be because I don’t trust him…for no reason other that the baggage I’ve taken on in life.

The inches turn into miles. Miles into worlds and I wonder if the truth of my unbelief and mistrust will make this separation permanent.

The tears pour down my cheeks. The cool, damp trail reaches my chin.

Before I can blink or cry or exhale. His rough skin is against mine….thumb wiping away my tears.

His green eyes bore into my soul and a smile hangs gently on his lips. He’s wiped it away, this sin and folly. The worlds become miles and miles become inches…inches becomes a breath as he presses his forehead to mine.

And as we linger in this moment of forgiveness…of grace…I fall in love with him more…again…deeper still.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church… Ephesians 5:25

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Revelation 21:4

In this moment of sweet grace inhaled and foreheads pressed together.  I see it. I get it. I am humbled by it.

Jesus whispers of repentance and grace. Of longing to hear my heart cry out to Him. Of the day when He will wipe away every tear.

Wipe away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As my sin hung between us today and I held my breath I felt the weight of separation. Repentance bridges inches and miles. I realized the gap I create when my unbelief lures me into this space empty of love. Into a selfish pit where marriage struggles, where pride stirs up chaos, where Jesus is hidden from sight.

A rough, calloused finger…the touch of forgiveness….it made me think of His hands…the ones with the scars in His palms. Rough. Manly. Tough. Protective. Loving. Real.

And where repentance meets love, grace rains down.

Not tears. No, tears are wiped away. Instead there is the warm flow of grace that pours from Creator heart into created souls.

Bathed in afternoon sunshine we sit close on the couch and I get the picture.

How I push Jesus away too. Don’t trust. Don’t believe. Choose things that put space and time and sin between us.

Our inches become miles. Miles become worlds. And without Him there is space to fill. One that food, and stuff, and worldly pursuits don’t fit and leave empty. The Jesus space shaped by Him, for Him…of Him.

But when I offer the truth of the girl I am. When I name my sin and lay it down. Repent. Turn Away. Look to my Jesus. Worlds become inches. Scarred hands hold my heart and we are one step closer to the somedays and the eternity with Him. And one day…He will wipe away every tear.

Intimate. Close. This gesture of wiping away our tears. A tender moment with a bridegroom anxious to comfort and protect his bride. A Savior that knows the day, the hour, the moment when Comfort comes and grace rains down eternally.

I pray that I am becoming a woman worthy of the man I was blessed with. That my pursuit of Christ becomes the pursuit of my husband. That our marriage would be one of exhaled grace, of living but a breath away, of Christ honoring worship and life altering love.

 

07 Feb

Grace is the Space Where God Whispers

grace is the space

 His face contorted. His breath came in gasps. Tears poured from his baby blues.

“I don’t want to.”

This was the moment. The moment to take a stand. Not for the room that wasn’t clean. Not for the lie that claimed it was. This moment was about so much more.

Face to face with my crying son. Face to face with the want to deny our sins. To give these moments euphemisms. To gloss over our wrongs. Is to gloss over separation from God and the mercy of the cross…of forgiveness. Of redemption.

Such deep lessons he’ll learn later in life. He won’t grasp those now. And I won’t try to force them in.

No tonight is about honesty. Recognizing that we sin. That our actions hurt others. That if we aren’t honest in our repentance, it isn’t repentance.

Finally, through tears and sobs. The words came, “I lied.”

This wasn’t new information to me. Much like our sin isn’t new to God. He knows. He sees it before it comes. He sees it when we hide it behind “I forgot” “You know” “I don’t want to”.

He sees.

He knows.

He waits.

Oh and when it comes. When we open our mouth and confess the things that have separated us from God. The things that have made us less than the children He calls us to be.

The relief.

The forgiveness.

The warmth of mercy and grace descend. Like a hug from a mama just waiting for the moment to comfort and reassure. God whispers in that moment.

You are mine. And nothing, even these moments of dishonesty, can separate you from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as he buries his face in my neck, his sobs calm, his tears slow. He melts into my arms. Settles into forgiveness and the enveloping relief.

His lips pressed against my chin he whispers, “I’m sorry.” Barely audible….his heart to mine. I whisper a kiss, “I forgive you.”

He pushes closer and I feel him sigh. Closer. Looking for that bond, the touch that says…you are mine…this hasn’t separated us.

And like so often happens in these everyday moments of motherhood, I feel closer to God. I understand our a connection…His and mine. I know the relief of grace, of forgiveness, of a bond that won’t be broken by my sin or my want to sweep it under the rug.

Settled into His arms I relax. I smile. For grace is the space where God whispers, “I forgive you.”

06 Feb

Her Mama Heart

Her Mama Heart

I don’t know her, but I lie awake thinking of her.

Worlds away. Oceans apart. Likely, we will never meet but she weighs heavy on my heart.

As she lays her head down tonight how is her mama heart? Do her children cry in the night? Are their bellies empty?

Just today my son was crying, nothing major just childhood disappointments, and I just wanted to comfort him…to soothe the wounds and quiet his sobs. I rocked my baby boy and in minutes he scampered off to do little boy things.

And as I tucked him in tonight I was aware of our blessings. Of comfortable pillows and fluffy blankets. Of full bellies and stocked refrigerators. Of home and heart. Of God and hope.

The house is silent around me. Little heads rest in little beds. And again I think of her.

How is her mama heart? When the basic needs of life lay unmet and heavy how does a mother soothe? When bellies are empty and hope seems dim how does she push through the day?

And what can I do?

Nothing seems real or tangible or doable from here. There has to be something between her and me…someone to be Jesus….to share Jesus…to meet her needs like Jesus would. Because I cannot reach. And I cannot imagine.

This is why we partner with Compassion International…my husband and I…our family. That’s what we are partners…we invest money, prayers and letter writing time…..a few loaves and a couple of fish. Compassion goes in Jesus  and our meager crumbs and flakes become food and clean water; education; medical care; life skills training; and Jesus in love, deed and Word!

The space between us is half a world, the hands that carry our little to her need are many, but when I close my eyes its nothing…just Jesus between her and me. Whispered grace that knows no boundaries of language or economics. The sun that warms her cheeks was created to give her the same warmth it gives me…her sun is my sun. My Jesus…I hope…is her Jesus.

And in this late night silence when my children lay tucked in with prayers and wrapped in our home’s blanket of faith,  I pray for her babies. That our partnership carries the Truth to their little ears into their hearts. That they would grow up knowing that Jesus came here for them…was for them…from them…loved them…and calls us all to reach out and care for “the least of these”.

That they would know it is circumstance that makes them least  and that there is a Savior that made them first. Made them rich. That it is His wealth that is their wealth. That it is His wealth that carries them now. That it is His wealth that He placed in our hands so that we might find a partnership…so that we might find them…love them.

And as I lay my head down tonight, I ask God to touch her mama heart. When little hands carry home letters, food and life’s joys may she see Jesus in them. When little bellies growl and her little is not enough may she seek Jesus with them. And when the the day is done and little eyes close for rest may she hear Him sing over her. For she is His delight…they are His delight…and it is in Him that we partner to touch her mama heart.

05 Dec

Expecting the good things of God

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I was saved in February. There were no Christmas decorations up. No carols played on the stereo. Just me in my little bedroom under the eves offering my life to a Savior, in return for love. Grace.

There I sat crying and waiting. The moment was glorious and humbling. Full of expectation. Full of hope.

As a new Christian I lived in full anticipation that everyday Jesus would show up and doing something amazing in my life.

Last weekend we lit the Hope candle on our advent wreath in our home. When asked what hope means our six-year-old replied, “expecting the good things of God”.

Aw. Yes. Hope. Expecting the good things of God.

As we watched the hope candle flicker and dance in front our Christmas tree I was transported back to that little room where I first breathed in Christ.

Waiting.

Hoping.

Expecting the good things of God.

From where I was sitting, over the top of the advent wreath I could see the December calendar. A month full of preparation and celebrations loomed just on the other side of this sacred moment. Christmas parties, baking, shopping, family celebrations, decoration, church celebrations, visiting, wrapping, cooking, stress and more.

Planning was beginning to throw a shadow over my hope.

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on Jesus.

Her sweet angelic voice broke through the silence. Her face lit by candlelight and the tree, her beauty never shone so brightly. My daughter was singing Christmas carols.

For those that don’t know my daughter, let me catch you up. Whew. That child. She’s full of life, and drama. She puts on concerts and tosses a hat on the floor in case anyone wants to get rid of their extra coins. Often her singing and acting are ways of searching for the spotlight, the center of attention.

But this moment was not about her. Or us.

It was about Jesus.

In the warm glow of that room, Jesus was all around us. We were wrapped in His love and peace. And I couldn’t help but think of the smile on His face, as He received Isabel’s tiny offering of worship. Her good thing for God.

That moment has lingered in my memory all week. I’ve worked to get back to that place. To find that feeling because that, my friends, is Christmas. That feeling of warmth and peace. Of hope. Of celebrating the good things of God. Christmas is a celebration of hope. A celebration of God born man to touch our lives. To transform our hearts. To fulfill the promises of God – to embody the good things of God.

Jesus is our Hope.

Right now there are sales everywhere. Decorations are filling up every mantle and store window. The bell ringers and carols fill the air. We are here. The season of Christmas is upon us. And it is so easy to get caught up the trappings of “celebrating” Christmas.

It is so easy to let planning, and pleasing others begin to overshadow the sacred moments. As we strive for the bigger, flashier, more memorable holiday we strive to create the magic and mystery that arrived in a stable so long ago.

We don’t have to recreate Jesus. He’s here.

Allowing the moments of Jesus to unfold this season will radically alter your family, you…even Christmas itself.

What if we lived every moment of the next few weeks in full anticipation that Jesus was going to show up and do something amazing. As though it isn’t amazing enough that God became man and chose us from manger to cross unto eternity.

Standing in full knowledge that Jesus chose you before He drew his first earthly breath, what could you receive as a gift this year? What can you anticipate this season?

Search out those grace filled moments this December. Linger there where the world falls away and the good things of God fill the air around you.

Listen to the children caroling. Teenagers laughing. Inhale deeply the smell of fresh-baked cookies and Christmas trees. Sit with your family and share memories, plans or Scripture. Sing. Dance. Wrap gifts. Serve others. Smile at the cashier who is dealing with the Christmas chaos all day long.

Accept every moment as a gift from Jesus. And offer your thanks back to Him…as your good thing for Him.

My prayer for all of us over the next few weeks is that we can wake every morning filled with childlike anticipation of Christmas celebrations. That we will launch into every day ready to unwrap the gifts Jesus chose for us. That we truly celebrate this season of Hope. The season of celebrating the good things of God.

14 Nov

Dirty Windows

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One child clamped between arm and hip. Snot dripping down his face. Hair messed up and cheeks smeared with a days worth of dirt, play, and food. He’s reaching for the apples, but she doesn’t notice. She is too busy trying not to drop him, putting apples in a bag and trying to keep her other children from playing toss the produce.

I hope she doesn’t see me. I just want to shop and go home.

But, she does. Our eyes meet and she gives me half-hearted smile.

Ugh. I sigh. And turn my cart around.

When you stand at our mostly glass front door it looks clean, save for a few dog nose prints in the middle of the glass. But as I sat on the floor cleaning the molding I realized the glass was really filthy. A film of dust, life and dog drool and settled over the beautiful door. Making the world outside seem dim and dull. I began to wipe it away. Stunned I looked at the difference in the view through the pieces of glass.

How often do I see the world through my eyes? A filter of selfishness, anger, sadness or fatigue hiding the true beauty God has laid in front of me. How often to I miss what He sees in people because I am busying judging them by what I see? Or think I see?

Standing there in the produce section of the grocery store. Tired. Feeling selfish and worn out. I didn’t want to see His daughter, I wanted to see the woman who is hard to love and her out of control children. I wanted to turn and go about my business.

But I couldn’t. I didn’t.

Father, give me your eyes for this woman and her children.

And then…He did.

The closer I got I began to see her features. Fatigue and stress hung heavy over her face nearly veiling her deep blue eyes and flawless lips. Her laugh lines emerged as she forced a smile for me. And as she shifted her son on her hip she grazed his forehead with a kiss. A fleeting gesture of love that lit his face and showed his dimples.

Beautiful.

As I approached we exchanged pleasantries and I asked how she was. Tears in her eyes she looked at the ceiling and told me she was okay. Looking from her children to me and back to her children I followed the mommy code for I’m not, but I can’t say it in front of them.

I took her little boy out of her arms. Wiped his nose and gave him my keys. He flashed his dimples at me and at his mama.

There over the din of rattling keys and squabbling children we chatted. Nothing deep. Nothing intense. Nothing life changing. Just two mothers exchanging stories of life in the trenches of diapers, school, sibling rivalry, housework and more. I gave her my number and promised I was there if she needed someone to talk to, someone to listen.

I gave her back her son and extricated my drool-covered keys from his tight little grasp.

Days later. A text message shared with me how much that random moment had meant to her. A brief reminder that life is tough and we moms are all doing the very best we can.

I see her differently now in my mind’s eye. I see that beautiful woman with deep blue eyes and lashes that beg to be at the center of a mascara commercial. I see a mama with so much love for her children that she puts on a brave face for them and kisses their messy faces when the rest of the world is scowling at them. I see a woman so in need of love that Jesus’ love overwhelms her and scares her to tears….I see shades of me.

Father, thank you for showing me how important is to see people through Your eyes. Continue to clean my lens, Father God, help me to see the beauty and the need for you….no judgements, no worldly standards. Thank you for a reminder that we are all broken and in need of love. And thank you, that for just a moment I could point someone to the love the pours from Heaven. Amen.

Is it hard for you to see someone for who they are in Christ vs. who they are in our eyes or judgments?

Do you find it is easier to view someone you’ve never met through a clean lens? Why or why not?

How can we continually clean our lenses so that we might see people clearly through Jesus?

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